Stimulus One
As the plane banked, I peered from my window seat over a city where everything was a shade of grey, quite opposite to the tropical country I imagined. Phuket. Residential areas adjoined by industrial estates and a mass of dirty, grey run-down apartment buildings had reminded me of the neglected areas of Western Sydney. Phuket hardly looked like a tropical island.   My first venture onto the island and everything looked so dirty.
I could never describe Phuket as a particularly clean, pretty island.   Despite there being a beautiful Buddhist temple in every neighbourhood, it seems I cannot escape the drab street markets, uneven and poorly laid footpaths and roads, derelict beggars and clusters of electricity and telephone wires hanging dangerously. The litter cluttering many roads, rats running around, all contribute to a very distinctive, awful smell I could never seem to escape from, while the air in some areas is so polluted it is just about thick enough to chew. The handful of temples, canals and even the gently swaying palm trees do their best to dress up the island but ultimately, they fail.  
Phuket is well known for its paradise-like weather and beaches, the exotic culture, the vast variety of activities, the delicious food and the extremely cheap prices.   But in addition to all of these attractions so often given, I found that the Thai people themselves are also a great attraction.   The majority of Thai people are very welcoming and friendly, and often when you smile at them you will receive a pleasant smile back.   Most certainly, of all of the places that I have been lucky enough to visit, I have never discovered a nation of people as friendly as the Thais.
Phuket’s paradise-like weather became extremely uncomfortable and frustrating; sweat was constantly running down my body as temperatures roared up to an unbelievable 43 degrees. Many of the locals would joke that they only had three seasons; hot, hotter and hottest. Apart from being hot most...