Phuket: The Sights and Sounds


Phuket has changed a lot since we last visited. Several large shopping malls now replace the low-rise shophouses of the past. One of these mega shopping complexes is Jungceylon, which I’m fairly certain was not in existence that last time we were there. We were not really looking forward to shopping in Phuket (there’s nothing much to buy unless you are into sarongs, beach wear or swim wear) but we were running out of things to do in the day. Nights in Phuket were much more exciting and we had no lack of activities to occupy us.


Typical Street

It was a bright and sunny day. After shopping at Jungceylon and having taken lunch, we slowly walked our way back to Patong Beach. A long, sweaty walk but an interesting one nevertheless. Patong is a place that thrives at night, but is mostly sleepy in the day. We didn’t see many people, much less tourists, walking around. Most must have gone island-hopping or were sleeping in after a wild night of booze and fun. Not that we were complaining. Without throngs of tourists, we saw how the locals went about their daily lives without trying to be overly friendly in attempts to secure business deals. Less conditioned to be agreeable, more real.

Simon Cabaret Sign

Come night time, we chose to go for a show at Phuket Simon Cabaret. In case you are unfamiliar with cabarets in Thailand, in general they tend to be catered for mature audience and the ladies in the shows are not born females. All of them. Especially the attractive ones. Most, if not all of them would have undergone sex reassignment surgery.

Simon Cabaret 1

Simon Cabaret 2

Simon Cabaret Montage

The show was entertaining (though cheesy at some parts) and throughout the show, I was simply amazed at how pretty some of the ‘ladies’ looked. But there were also some who just looked wrong. I don’t wish to make a stand on sex assignment surgeries here and now but I do think it is very sad if an individual chooses it so that he could be part of a cabaret as a performer just so to feed the family. It’s one thing to claim that you feel like a woman when you are born a man, but it’s an entire different issue when you are born like a man, feels like one, but forces yourself to become a woman due to circumstances. I suspect the latter happens more often than we care to admit. Or that there is simply a large concentration of men in Thailand who feel like they are women and want to live as one. Statistically this just doesn’t make sense, doesn’t it?

Whichever the case, these ladies have my utmost respect. They made their choices and are at least making a decent livelihood being part of a cabaret.

If watching cabarets is not your cup of tea (as I have realised is not mine), you would most likely not be interested in Tiger Shows as well so skip that. There are other family-friendly shows like Phuket FantaSea, which we had already watched on our last trip. Otherwise just go bar or pub-hopping. Or have dinner on a Chinese junk. And round up the night with a Thai body massage. Numerous options out there.


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