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Dena Rash Guzman    Contributor -- Nevada

     
               

 





                          Self-portrait of Dena Rash Guzman in Thailand

 

 

 

 

 


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Dena Rash Guzman is a poet. She resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with her family and her dog. She attempts to garden the desert soil, takes a lot of photographs, homeschools her son and fills up the rest of her time travelling near and far, posing as a literary pin-up model and working furiously on her manuscript, "Bitches in History." She has been accused of being a muse but shuns the label, preferring to feign modesty. 




 

 

                    DENA TRAVELS TO THAILAND

                                           part three
  

 

 

 






image one


Swimming with a friend









Thailand Part Three of Four: 

Phuket -


Mission: Las Vegas to San Francisco to Shanghai to Bangkok to Koh Phra Thong to Phuket to Bangkok to Shanghai to San Francisco to Las Vegas.

The little wooden boat ride from Koh Phra Thong to the pier on the mainland was supposed to be an eighty minute trip but by the end I was humming the theme to Gilligan's Island over and over in my head. It was raining very hard, seas were rough and it took much, much longer than eighty minutes. Soaked to our bones we met our driver and began what was supposed to be a 45 minute drive. It took much, much longer. It's a traumatic blur all these months later. Perhaps three or four hours? Lost driver. I knew he had gone too far up the coast of Phuket but how far? Two hotels with the same name in Phuket and one was decidedly not the one we were to stay at. Traffic, traffic. The AC was on full and we shivered through the language barrier. I can't begin to give the details regarding a rushed pit stop at a pool hall and my first encounter with a real Thai toilet. I still feel as though I should send a gift in apology.

Finally. Arrival at the hotel. Beautiful. Young Thai man on bended knee with a bouquet of lotus flowers and a lemongrass drink. "To refresh you after your long journey, Madame."

Room service. Food! It had been eight hours since our last real meal. A plunge into the villa's pool. Bed.

It's been months. I have little blurs left where once I could extract memories long as feature films. I have photographs.















image two



Another photo everyone takes. I am relaxing at the pool, tired and more tired but ready.
 






Phuket is a beautiful place that seems to have grown too big for its britches. So much development and many billboards announcing plans for more and more. Luxury luxury luxury for the fortunate few. The little thoroughfares between the resorts are interestingly undeveloped and non-commercialized. I remember thinking, "Where's all the stuff white people like?" It reminded me a little of the Las Vegas Strip and its immediate surroundings. Towers of money, kingdoms surrounded by something akin to serfdom. I sound a bit like a typical tourist: gosh, paradise is so crowded with places to stay. The poor locals. My thoughts about Phuket were entirely predictable. I wasn't there for bargirls or getting wasted at Full Moon parties, so my experience was different than that of others I've spoken to about it all, and yet it was predictable.

In between the pockets of carefully manicured decadence were seams of the sort of steaming energy I find so compelling about Asia. I tried to capture a few images of life in a place overtaken by invited visitors, a place in its own way a little bit like my own city.













image three 






A soi in surin beach
















image four  








Surin beach pharmacy - does it say pills make you very happy?


















image five  







Wait a minute. Back to luxury. Clean laundry at the hotel topped with a lotus. Did I say I dislike luxury? Did I intimate that I am above it? After three days on a remote island with no electricity and a salt water and rainstorm saturated boat ride to civilization, our clothes smelled like a cheesy, rotten hell and oh, oh did this beautifully scented laundry bring joy to my heart.


















image six
    







Chess at the hotel bar. There were a lot of flying bugs as the sun went down, and it was hot, and I was finding it very difficult to maintain any pretense of being an elegant woman. I was screeching and jumping and sweating, behaving more like a resident at an asylum than a guest at a five star hotel. I looked like hell. There I sat along with couple of wealthy and immaculate Thai women who snapped away the giant flying beetles like Snow White beckoned birds. They were in full makeup and beautiful dresses, composed and poised and bred to defy the furious insect life, heat and humidity of Phuket. I remember thinking, "Well fine. How would they look in Las Vegas? How would they deal with that?" My next thought was, "Fine. They would be just fine."




















image seven  


Chef at hotel restaurant











Phuket City is the capital of Phuket Province. It was called Phuket Town until a few years ago, when its population exceeded the official count for a Thai town. The residents are of many different backgrounds: Chinese, Portuguese, African, Southern Thai Muslim, European. Blended architecture is one result and Phuket remains free of the religious fighting of Southern Thailand and the political turmoil of Bangkok. I noticed a mosque, a Christian church and many wats during a cab ride and the driver said, "Muslim, Jew, Christian, Buddhist, we all get along here. We all love the King."




















image eight  








Mosaics like this in front of many shops. This one was laid out in front of a printing shop, an old school printing shop that smelled of ink and machines. We saw at least ten shops like that and all were occupied by busy Chinese people. It's a wonder I saw anything but the ground because the sidewalks were so beautiful.


















image nine 







Self portrait at the China Inn, a beautiful old shop converted into a peaceful store and garden restaurant. I strongly recommend stopping here for a rest. It's lovely and delicious.


















image ten 







A Chinese wellness temple set back from the main street. I saw a lot of white people walking in and out of a tiny alleyway and being a tourist, decided to follow suit. How did they know it was there? There were a lot of them. I would have walked on by. I love moments like this where I laugh at myself for being so predictable.



















image eleven  







Back at the hotel, a last sunset before departure for Bangkok. The lights on the horizon are Thai fishing boats just like the one that brought me to Phuket














      


image twelve







Departure from Phuket International Airport. What an interesting and busy little place. Long hot lines, strange security procedures. A tiny closet of a smoking area I refused to enter because there were no other women in it. For a woman who fancies herself as somewhat of a feminist, I tend to try to respect the patriarchy everywhere I go. Assigned monk seating. Hundreds of Muslim pilgrims bound for Mecca. Two days later, many of them would be stranded in Bangkok for weeks by an anti-government protest that brought the country to its knees. We would escape being caught up in that maelstrom by only twelve hours, learning of it over breakfast the next morning in China.
























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