As noted in the previous post, I’ve had the good fortune to have visited Phuket several times in the last 12 years or so. A few of the locals have become friends. We stay in touch through Facebook or I drop by their workplace when I come back.
In November 2021, I discovered that a number of acquaintances were no longer there. Many fewer tourists meant many fewer jobs for those in the tourist industry. The tourist industry has a fairly transient workforce in the best of times.
The majority of those working in Phuket’s tourist industry come from other parts of Thailand. Thais get some benefits from the government because of Covid but not enough to replace their lost income. After losing their jobs, most Thais returned home.
Bua and Bo, a couple of Phuket friends I’d known for a long time were still on the island. They lost jobs but managed to find others and remain on the island.
Bua lost her job when Surf House, a restaurant on Patong’s beach road, closed. Surf House’s main attraction was a pool where customers could surf on a manmade current. There was little notice or severance benefits. She was fortunate to find another job at Zaca Sushi and Sake Bar in Phuket Town.
I dropped by Zaca one evening for sushi, sake and beer. It is located in Phuket Town, which is a 30-minute drive from the Hyatt Regency. It was further confirmation that renting a car was a good decision on this trip.
Bo also came by and Bua invited her friend Mai. Bo’s husband was my go-to tuk tuk driver on a couple of visits. Bo speaks excellent English and works in the office at Hanuman World. The day I tried my luck on the ziplines turned out to be her day off.
The sushi was delicious and cold sake and beer was the perfect complement. The rainy night didn’t come close to dampening our spirits.
Café del Mar
The gang from Zaca got together again for my last night in Phuket. It happened to be Bua’s night off. A six-day workweek is typical for the service industry in Thailand. Workdays can be as long as 10 or 12 hours. Thailand has laws governing hours of work and overtime pay. I’m not sure how well they are respected or enforced for restaurant workers.
Café del Mar was selected as the location of the farewell party. Café del Mar is a restaurant and night club located on the sands of Kamala Beach about a mile from the Hyatt Regency Resort. This location also features a large outdoor pool and cigar bar. In non-Covid times, I suspect there is a DJ and dancing.
Café del Mar originated in Ibiza, Spain in 1980. It now operates in six idyllic locations including Bali and Tenerife. The Phuket location opened in 2017, but this was the first I’d heard of it.
The open-air, beachfront location was ideal for Covid control. Once again dinner was generous portions of mouth-watering sushi supplemented by fried calamari. Sushi is one of my favorites, obviously.
Service was excellent. The staff kept the food and drinks coming. My mojitos were overflowing. They were impossible to drink without spilling.
There were few customers which made the evening seem like a private party. We could have fun and act silly without embarrassment.
Bo joined later and we mover to a covered area when light rain began. Someone suggested shots. No objection from me. My flight to Bangkok the next day was in the afternoon, and I didn’t have far to drive back to the hotel on the twisting roads.
From the photos you might be surprised to hear that the ladies insisted that the Sinovac vaccines they received caused hair loss. I met woman from Australia on a tour in Bangkok. She works in Thailand and disputes the hair loss claim. Thailand ordered a large quantity of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. Distribution to the ordinary citizens was questionable.
Before any wrong conclusions reached, I should say that Bua and Mai have boyfriends who weren’t in Phuket. Bo husband did not come. She may have said why and it didn’t get through my brain fog.
Thanks for taking the time to have a look at the post. Enjoy your weekend.