Go Ahead Phuket, Make My Day
The Phuket Gazette.
Pessimism, doom and gloom seem to be touted from the rooftops of late, lest we forget – what a difference a day can make.
Clint Eastwood has shone on the silver screen for more decades than I can remember. Etched somewhere deep in my subconscious is the memorable line “Go ahead make my day”.
Phuket is not exactly the mean streets of San Francisco and Dirty Harry sounds better as the name of a beer bar instead of a movie.
As I type this out on a plane trip back from Hong Kong I recount my trip.
One day earlier, I was sitting in a meeting for a new large project in greater Phuket. While the group of investors, brand gurus and designers fielded issues over an endless stream of cups of coffee, one topic stood out clear in my slightly hazy mind.
A series of collective comments by island property brokers, hoteliers and support businesses presented in summary form, all of a sudden cast a specter of darkness on what had been a sunny day. The angel of death had somehow found his way into the boardroom and taken a seat.
The message subconsciously presented was disturbing a negative, almost end of days scenario. There was little hope for new ideas, niches, innovation or even the least hint of optimism. It's a bit like Phuket staring into the mirror, smiling with upbeat warm vibes but like those carnival mirrors the face staring back had no resemblance of the other.
A total disconnect, to say the least.
Tracing the roots to where our collective business psyche went from the light into pitch-black darkness is hard to trace
We've had Sars bird flu. a tsunami, political upheaval and economic plunder. And yet the destination has stood strong, grown and evolved.
Pessimism at its best can't fully explain our grand funk these days. A close friend once pointed out that people who look for only the worst in situations and launch livid attacks on friend and foe alike are only suffering from insecurity. But he's not Dr Phil and I'm not buying into that one.
Yet conversations, media reports and online chat rooms are filled with twisted angst foretelling our imminent demise. Tales abound of murderers roaming amongst us, a mafia that dwarfs the violent Mexican killing machine, of liars, cheats and nonstop mayhem 24/7.
My approach is to get up in the morning, glance skyward for rain or shine and proceed with some canned hope of a good day ahead. Once the two lattes kick in, things become even better.
Five years ago, everyone was buzzing, kicking it and spreading encouraging words of all things
Good. Yes a lot of hype, personal interest and BS was involved, but why sweat the small stuff?
Then someone turned off the lights in the middle of the party and only a few have found their way into the next room.
Those left behind have developed night vision and found the darkness to their liking or they've simply forgotten the warm feeling that the sun on your face can provide.
The great debate about whether Phuket is doomed or destined to thrive will go on, and critics' endless rants of despair are part and parcel of our community, and a bit like ombudsmen gone postal. Any bartender will tell you there's flavor in the mix.
As we head into what appears to be a very good high season, danger lurks around every corner, be it political factions threatening street action or unimagined global events.
As for me, I'm here at 35,000 feet with a planeful of passengers who run the gamut from giggling, smiling tourists to unsmiling, whining and visibly unhappy travelers.
A baby nearby opens his lungs with screaming that breaks the sound barrier for a solid 10 minutes and I make the choice to block out these short negative experiences and turn back to my laptop.
Just a few minutes later, the newly improved infant is sound asleep and dark foreboding clouds have parted into sunshine as the jet descends for landing.
Unbuckling the seatbelt, I mutter to myself, “Okay Phuket, make my day”.