Day 74 – Heading south

Phuket, Thailand

After another restless night of waking up every couple of hours, I was up (relatively) early at 9am this morning.

I was going to Phuket today!

Phuket is an island on the southwest tip of Thailand about 800 km south of Bangkok.  There are actually a handful of flights that Air Asia runs each day from Bangkok to Phuket so I booked one of them.

I chose the 1:30 flight cause, well, I really don’t do well with mornings and I didn’t want to arrive in the evening either.  I find arriving mid afternoon is ideal as you have some time to settle and get to know your surroundings.

I checked out of the hostel at 10am giving myself a full hour and a half to get to the airport for an 11:30 checkin two hours prior to takeoff.

The trip to the airport actually took pretty much an hour and a half as I had to travel to the very end of the line (Mo Chit, 52 baht) on the skytrain and then take an airport express bus (A1, 30 baht) from there.

This way was different from when I had arrived from Cambodia as Bangkok is so big they actually have 2 international airports.  When I arrived from Cambodia I had arrived at the newer one – Suvarnabhumi – and now I was leaving via Don Muang.

Well, at least now I know how to get to and from downtown Bangkok from either of the airports.

After checking in and going through immigration for what seemed like the umpteenth time this trip I went towards my boarding gate.

As I passed the different restaurants and shops it suddenly dawned on me that I had briefly been in this airport a few weeks ago when I flew from Ho Chi Minh City on my way to Chiang Mai.

I staved off temptation by passing by the KFC, McDonalds and Burger King but could not resist the allure of the Krispy Kreme stand.

I mean, they had a strawberry cheesecake donut!  How can I resist that?

So I munched on that while I took full advantage of the free wifi the airport was doling out.

The flight only took just over an hour but it actually took almost 2 more hours after the flight landed to finally reach my hostel.

The airport here in Phuket is near the north of the island while everyone stays down in the south.  This works remarkably well for all the transport companies as they just shuttle people back and forth all day.

There are 2 options for getting to your accommodation – taxi or mini van.

I think the taxis run in the 600-800 baht ($20-$40) range while the mini vans are 180 baht ($6).

Although still quite a bit, it was obviously the cheaper option so I went with that.

I bought my voucher at a stall as I exited the airport and then was directed to wait at the side of the building with some other people.

And wait…

They were waiting to fill up the van and after waiting around for about 20 minutes they finally loaded 10 of us onto the van.

The van ride itself took longer than the flight from Bangkok as the traffic was horrendous.

By the time I finally reached the hostel it was almost 5pm.  Even though the flight was only an hour from Bangkok, the time between hostels was 7 hours.  This is why travel days are so exhausting – even for short flights.

The room I’m in is a nice 4 bed dorm with big beds, air conditioning and an ensuite bathroom.  There’s only myself and one other guy in the room so we’ve got lots of space – kinda nice.

I dropped my stuff off and headed straight back out.  I asked the guy at the front how much it was to rent a bicycle for the day and he said it was 200 baht ($7) or I could rent a motorbike for 250 baht ($8).  I only wanted a bicycle but $7 for the day seemed ridiculously high compared to what I’ve paid in other places so I just walked instead.

First stop – food!  I was starving and you know what I was craving…

Pad Thai!

As it so happens there’s a little setup of about a dozen food stands just down the road in a parking lot so I went there.

It soon became apparent that everything here in Phuket is much more expensive than other places in Thailand.  I guess it’s all driven by the tourists who come here and are more than willing to pay more.

And talking about tourists – like Mui Ne in Vietnam, there are tons of Russian tourists here.  So many in fact that once again there are stores with Russian signs and menus written in Russian along with English and Thai.

While I enjoyed pad thai for only 35 baht several times in Bangkok, it was 100 baht here – three times as expensive.

I passed and decided to see what else I could find down the road.

I looked at a menu at a restaurant a little further down and they had pad thai for 80 baht.  Well, at least it was cheaper.  How a restaurant price could be cheaper than a street food stall is beyond me, but whatever.

The pad thai was good but was also a smaller portion than what I had become accustomed to.  Oh well, guess I’ve been spoiled.

I was laughing about it later with my roommate that while I’m back home I think nothing of spending $20, $25 or $30 for a meal but here, oh my God – $3?  Are you crazy?!?

After my lunch/dinner I went to one of the many massage parlors here for another full body massage.

Seriously, so addicted.

The massage was 300 baht ($10) for an hour.  This too was more expensive as the same massage was 150 baht ($5) in Chiang Mai and 200 baht ($7) in Bangkok.

But still, 10 bucks for a massage – can’t go wrong with that!

When I left the massage parlor the sun had gone down and it was coming up to 7pm.

I once again did what I’ve been doing quite a bit at night lately and that was just camp out in my room for the evening.

I did pop out at 10pm again for dinner.  I made the wrong choice to walk back down to the main drag about 15 minutes away where all the bars and tourists are thinking for some reason that I could find nice cheap thai food down there.

Ah, no – just lots of tourists and people offering me taxi rides, massages and a great deal on blah, blah, blah.

So, I walked all the way back and figured, screw it, I’ll just get a hot dog at the 7-11.

I went inside and saw a bacon wrapped dog rolled around on the conveyor.  It looked a little old but it’s a hot dog so who cares.  I asked the girl for it and she looked at it and instead of taking that one she reached in a fridge behind her and took out a bag of raw bacon wrapped dogs.

She then proceeded to nuke one for about a minute and handed it to me with a stick.  No bun.  And the bacon wrapped around the dog was still raw.

I just looked at her and just laughed.  Ah, no, I’ll just pass.

I walked out and just ended up going to the market with all the food stalls.  It’s where I should have just gone in the first place.

I grabbed 3 skewers of pork at 10 baht each (30 cents).  Thankfully these were one of the very few things that were the same price as other places I’ve visited.

I took the skewers with me to my hostel hoping to order some steamed rice from their restaurant to go with them.

I asked the owner how much for just some steamed rice and he told me 40 baht ($1.25).

Are you frickin’ kidding me?

I told him I paid less than that for all the pork I was holding in my hand.

I declined the rice and just sat there and ate my pork.

Gotta say, from a customer service standpoint – the correct answer would have been:  Oh, you need steamed rice?  No problem, I’ll make some – no charge!

Think about how my impression of him and his place would be vastly different than what it is right now.

It’s the little things… always, the little things.

Anyway, sorry ’bout that little rant.  It’s just that coming from a service background like I do, it drives me crazy when stuff like that happens.

So, that was the day.  Exciting, right?

Well, sadly tomorrow probably won’t be that exciting either as I want to take the day to just explore the area and figure out what day trips or activities I’m going to do during my time here.

But you know I’ll put out an entertaining blog anyway…

Asia Trip 2014, Trip Journal

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