The Beach may have become a backpacker cliche for many by 2008, however it continued to be a big motivator for me to explore Thailand. My first few nights on Phuket were at the On On Hotel, which was featured in the opening scenes of the movie, when Richard was portrayed as staying in a cheap Bangkok hotel. The broken window in my room reassured me that indeed, the hotel hadn’t changed much since the movie!
Then, I took the short ride to Patong, Phuket for a few nights. I shot my first handgun, enjoyed good sushi, and explored the sex tourism capital of the world. Seriously, every night like clockwork, a legion of prostitutes would arrive on Bangla Road and get to work. The scene of tourists – men, women, couples, and even some children, walking down the street taking it all in was very reminiscent of Amsterdam’s red light district.
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In late 2007, I quit my job and left the comfortable life in the USA for the open road with nothing but a 20-pound backpack, a …
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