Phuket Exposed: Michael Paul Stephens
Friday 3 February 2012, 04:08PM
Author, corporate coach and wellness practitioner
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU MOVED HERE?
I’ve been in Thailand for 18 years now, but before I moved to Phuket I lived in Pak Nam Pran, near Hua Hin in Prachuab Kiri Khan. I spent much of my time while I was there working on my first book, Provolution, as well as doing a little corporate consultancy and wellness work.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED ON THE ISLAND?
I have been on Phuket since moving here to open Six Senses Destination Spa in October 2007. My wife was pregnant with our first child at the time, and I moved down a couple of months before her. Our son was then born as a true Phuketian in January 2008.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIFE HERE?
The beaches, sun and great food are obvious, but I also appreciate the blend of Thai and expatriate culture, which means that there is a diversity of options. The fact that Phuket is now becoming quite a regional hub with convenient flights to and from other major cities and capitals around the region is also cool. It makes living and working here very convenient.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?
Actually, what I do professionally is my relaxation, so I’m very lucky in that regard. I love writing, teaching, developing corporate programs and meditation. It’s quite a life. My non-guilty pleasure is watching movies, I suppose.
WHAT HOBBIES OR SPORTS ARE YOU INTERESTED IN?
I have always followed football and been a fan of my home team Ipswich Town since I can remember. I write songs and play guitar as a hobby and love performing music live when I get the chance.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY?
It has to be the many years of Christmas Eve passing into Christmas Day and the tension and excitement that built up as a child. There was nothing like it. I was the youngest of six kids and we all had to wait until our parents were up at 6am before we all went down stairs together to see what Santa had brought. That excitement is absolutely synonymous with my childhood.
FAVOURITE FOOD OR DISH?
I must admit that I am very, very English in this regard and would never pass up a Sunday Roast. I recently went back to the UK for the first time in six years and the generosity of my siblings and friends meant I had three roast dinners in 10 days. Yes, I put on weight. Yes, it was wonderful.
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC ARE YOU INTO?
My favourite musician as a young man was, without a shadow of a doubt, Bob Dylan. These days I love Athlete, Coldplay, Keane and a whole lot of British indie.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIP YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE MOVING TO PHUKET?
Save lots of money! Phuket is seriously expensive for Thailand at least. And make sure you can drive without dying. The transportation infrastructure does not help mobility.
WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU HERE?
Oh where do I start? The one my wife and I still giggle about is our anniversary dinner to an Indian restaurant on the island, which will remain nameless. The waiter was so eager to please and so intent on being professional that every time he would bring a beer to the table he would hold it up against his arm as if allowing us to approve the vintage of a fine wine. We nearly wet ourselves when he did exactly the same thing with a bottle of mineral water.
THE PERSON YOU ADMIRE THE MOST AND WHY?
There are so many in the spiritual field like Thich Naht Hanh or the Dalai Lama simply for their incredible compassion and wisdom. But, while it may sound cheesy, I have to say my parents for achievement in the physical world. My wife and I have two children and my parents had six. I simply am in awe of how they did it, paid the bills, stayed sane and are still in love with each and every one of us. Incredible.
WHERE IN PHUKET WOULD YOU TAKE SOMEONE ON A FIRST DATE?
Well, obviously Soi Bangla is first choice, with McDonalds a very close second. My wife just loves my romantic side. A close third would be Dining on the Rocks at Evason in Rawai. The rooftop restaurant is just fantastic on a clear night.