The town of Patong on southern Thai island Phuket falls considerably short of glamorous with its litter-fringed beaches of sunburnt holidayers and its neon 7/11 signs clashing with the mountain views, but I didn't care: I was going to meet Abbie and our friends Isabelle and Brodie, whom I hadn't seen for months.
We spent almost a week there in the most well-equipped hostel I've ever seen. Lub D has a pool, boxing ring, table football, pool table, reputable bar/restaurant and even free popcorn every afternoon. I do love my current nomadic lifestyle, but staying somewhere for more than four days was a new experience that felt like a deliciously indulgent cheat meal in the middle of a diet. Nomads gotta have a break sometimes, right?
And Phuket is not all bad. A short taxi ride from Patong are Kata and Karon beaches, much tidier and quieter than their neighbour. The magisterial Big Buddha, chiselled out of white marble, watches over the island from its panoramic perch. The nightlife is sleazy and unforgettable: thumping bass, laminated flyers for the infamous ping pong shows being jabbed in your face (we didn't go) and the smell of freshly poured vodka buckets are just a few of the barrage of experiences that make Patong's main strip legendary. The highlight was the Simon Cabaret – a musical extravaganza performed by Thailand's most talented ladyboys, clad in feathers, sequins and beaming smiles. A full rendition of Single Ladies was enacted, costumes and all, and I can sincerely say that they can dance better in heels than I or Beyoncé could ever dream to.
Next was Bangkok, where I was better able to continue my obsession with local street food and sampled prawn tom yam soup, fried morning glory with garlic, panang red curry and fresh coconut ice cream. It is also heaven for shopaholics – we spent the better part of three days loading our bags with haggled-price goodies from several of Bangkok's countless markets.
This week was just a taster of Thailand – I'll be returning in August – but it certainly whetted my appetite for what the country has to offer.
Next stop: Hanoi.