Phuket Opinion: Russian cold warms memories of Phuket

PHUKET: With all the recent talk about the influx of Russian tourists and expats to our island, I jumped at the chance to attend a Phuket Gazette exhibition in Moscow and see how the other half lives, as it were.

Moscow, like any other large European city, has a wealth of grand historic architecture, museums, galleries and cultural attractions – not to mention fantastic public transport, which Phuket can only dream of having.

And Moscow certainly has its share – the majestic Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the rich history of the Kremlin and the refined elegance of the renowned Bolshoi Theater. I was fascinated just walking the streets and soaking it all in, and was treated to a taste of authentic Russian food along with copious amounts of the national drink by a generous Muscovite, and now friend, I met at the exhibition.

Nevertheless, after a week of bitter, icy winds, pushing past the stony-faced denizens of the labyrinthine Moscow subway system, and having to enter restaurants through airlock-style double doors only to find that a bowl of french fries costs the equivalent of 500 baht – it wasn’t hard to see why so many Russians fall instantly in love with Phuket. That is to say, for exactly the same reasons I and countless thousands before me have fallen in love with this sometimes confounding, often chaotic, but always warm and beautiful island we now call home.

I have never felt quite so at home in Thailand as I did when the islands dotting Phang Nga Bay came into view through my airplane window. The sight instantly evoked memories of longtail boat rides, grilling pork skewers at a roadside barbecue stall, and swimming in the bathtub-warm waters of the Andaman Sea.

Any thoughts about the small, day-to-day problems and hurdles that sometimes face me as an expat living here couldn’t have been further from my mind and my plane lined up with the runway at Phuket Airport. My mind was entirely preoccupied with problems of another kind – what should I do first? Grab a spicy Thai curry from my local restaurant or hit the beach for a swim?

A tough choice, but no one said life in paradise was going to be easy.

— Mark Knowles

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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