Things in Phuket are a little different this year. Firstly, there are far fewer tourists. The fall in the value of the rouble has significantly reduced the number of Russians. In Ao Chalong we were able to rent a car for two days 3 days before Christmas - in previous years, no chance.
|Nai Harn beach - no traders|
Secondly, a crackdown on the black economy has removed some of the things that attract tourists. There are no masseuses or renters of sunbeds or beach umbrellas on the beaches. Apparently the police have even stopped people putting their own umbrella up, although we do see some. Restaurants and bars on the beach or squatting on national park or government land have been removed - by bulldozer we hear.
This adds up to the local Thai being more friendly to the tourists who are around
Understandably, with fewer customers, the big Christmas Eve party at the Ao Sane restaurant did not happen.