25 February 2011

Phuket Snapshot : Retiring in (Almost) Paradise

18 Feb 2011. Our second day in Phuket coincided with a holy day in Thai Buddhism. Like Vesak Day, the major Buddhist festival that celebrates the birth and enlightenment of Buddha, no alcohol is sold and all vices stopped for a day in respectful homage. All the pubs, bars and nightclubs are closed and devout hookers stayed home. I was resigned to having a solemn and early night in the hotel too.

Not a drop of alcohol is sold anywhere during a Buddhist religious day in Thailand. Not at the supermarkets, not at the 24hrs convenience stores, not restaurants, not cafes, and all the nightspots are not open.
Then I received an invitation to a house BBQ party by a friend I've made in Phuket during my first visit. Thank God!! And the house was really a sight to behold. It was just round the corner from my hotel, up a hill, and a total rip-off by the cab to get there (300bht for a 10-minutes ride; that's S$12 for a distance from Orchard Ion to Marina Square) but totally worth it.

Almost as soon as I stepped into the house, I had to bend down and pick up my jaw from the floor. The hillside villa was huge and the view was breathtaking.

The villa sits on the middle of a hill overlooking Patong Beach and costs around S$5 million to build.
This most impressive house I've ever been in has 3 levels - an upper hall that houses the kitchen, 2 dining areas and a generous patio that looks out into the horizon; a middle relaxation hub with a billard table, kick-ass home entertainment system, pool and BBQ pit; and a lower deck plateaued by a small garden carved from the hill.

Trevor invited me to this gorgeous villa he was house-sitting for a friend. He gets to stay there for 6 weeks! I am so jealous!
Initially, I thought Trevor must have struck it rich with his travel agency to afford a dream house like this then he told me he was actually house-sitting. Damn! I was going to ask him to employ me as a live-in butler.

By the way, if you're thinking about booking accomodation, transport or day trips in Phuket, you can look for Trevor. His company is Sby Leisure Travel and Tours. He can really get good rates. Got him to book Le Tong Hotel for me and got about 35% off the internet rates posted on the hotel's website.

Also befriended Gary during the party, the owner of Amethyst Residence in Patong. Didn't get a chance to check out the place or stay there to do a review, but I was told the 1 year-old hotel is pretty popular. It's currently ranked no. 74 out of 186 hotels in Phuket. You could book Amethyst Residence through Trevor too and maybe get a rate better than the internet's.

Imagine sipping wine at the crossroad where the ocean's breath meets the hilly breeze against a backdrop of gentle waves and mountain silhouettes... Feeling a little high and your thoughts sort of leave you... I didn't need to imagine. I was there to experience the divine!
I got to meet quite a few people during that gathering, mostly Caucasian retirees with a huge sense of humour. Amidst laughing at the so many politically incorrect jokes, I found out that to retire in Phuket, you need to be above 60, have 800,000bht (approx. S$33,500) and prove that you have a source of regular monthly income in the form of pension or any other means.

I was told what some Singaporeans do is that they rent out their whole flats for a monthly income and retire this way. Hmm... Maybe I should think about it as an option when my time comes. And hopefully I can own a property like this or get to house-sit it.

Anyway, in the middle of all the chatter and laughter, mostly provided by Ian who should really be a comedian, I lost count of how much wine I drank. I didn't feel tipsy or anything at all but the next morning, I woke up to this...

This is so tragic. It shall be my first and last time sleeping in my own puke!
I had no recollection at all that I puked! Nope. Zero. No idea. I woke up grossed out at the idea of sleeping with my vomit. I think I've been punished for not observing the no-alcohol-on-holy-day rule. Or was I nauseous because I saw this...

Fur pudding for dessert... anyone?

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