ARBITRARY PHUKET OBSERVATIONS…

Gugu / 13 Jun, 2018

PRIVATE/METERED TAXI HIRE VS. RIDE SHARE OPTIONS: AN INTERESTING PARALLEL BETWEEN PHUKET AND SOUTH AFRICA

Uber used to be available until the local taxi mafia/cartels violently shut it down. Grab, a similar ride hailing service, is the other option but only because it has gone into cahoots with the taxi mafia & its rates are apparently 4-5 times what they ought to be/should be when compared to licensed metered taxis. 

Also, why did this give me a strange sense of comfort? To know that it isn’t only South African public transport cartels that operate as a law unto themselves? Since when did it become OK to hold people hostage with regards to transportation options? 

On the other hand, it’s understandable why the smaller, traditional taxi operators feel threatened not just by new entrants but by the new models of operations that these entrants employ. One can’t help but feel that governance structures aren’t doing enough to protect the independent metered taxi operators; capitalism must be regulated, especially where the livelihoods of citizens are under threat from multinationals with unlimited resources for penetrating markets.

It is most unfortunate and disheartening when taxi wars erupt and escalate to the point of innocent people, simply trying to earn a living, being cruelly immolated.

ELEPHANT ABUSE

Also, I always thought the warnings not to ride the elephants in SE Asia were a little tree-huggy & a white people’s crusade thing until I saw the animal abuse with my own two eyes. They’re chained and jostled into submission by means of noosing and beatings, all in public view at the stations they’re kept. It’s distressing to witness. These animals really are abused.

Generally, I would say exercise discretion in terms of what animal activities you participate in or indirectly support. In many places, cruel animal practices continue because of the demand for those services. Pressure from the demand side for operators to handle and treat animals in a humane way can make a big difference.   

AFFORDABILITY

Phuket is cheap. I am inclined to say dirt cheap but that would be an exaggeration. Perhaps it’s because it’s the one country I’ve traveled to where I can DIVIDE the local currency by the rate to get the ZAR amount. Joy! Sheer joy!!! 

PHUKET PULSE

The few times I rode in a car around the south of Phuket, and from observing the locale I was staying in, I got the impression that the island is quite a hustle and bustle. I cannot imagine what it looks like during peak seasons. It’s a place with a palpable pulse and an appealing and unique charm to it along its beachfront areas. At night, these areas come alive and the flashy kitsch signage lights up the streets and is both memorable and expected given that SE Asian islands and countries are generally known for their ‘intense’ nightlife scenes.

DIVERSITY

It’s also a place that is a melting pot of the human race. I overheard some South Africans speaking SeSotho/Sepedi, a Coloured couple whose accent I couldn’t quite place vis-a-vis region but definitely South African, heard mandarin, Russian, and German among several others of the world’s languages.

Travelling to Phuket solo, as a black girl, I really was worried about what kind of treatment I’d receive, but I must say that ALL my interactions with locals dispelled any fears I had. I was treated with nothing but kindness, respect and indifference with respect to my colour. I can’t tell you how relieved this made me.

NAMASTE

I loved that one gets this gesture almost everywhere, even at the local 7-11 after making a purchase. Usually, it’s as a sign of thankfulness, acknowledgement or appreciation. It really does say ‘I see you’, even if we’re only just interacting for this brief moment in time and may never have another interaction again. It says, ‘I see you as a significant part of God’s creation’. There’s an “ubuntu” element that I relate to significantly as an African.

You can also find me at twitter.com/honeybmissg.

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