Sunday, 3 November 2013

Phuket a no-no

Be prepared, about 70% of Thailand travel is spent on a bus
After traveling to Laos’ top cities and making the oh-so-very-long and winding journeys in between, it was time to plant our feet back on Thai soil- well sand to be exact. After weeks of soaking up the culture and, OK the bucket cocktails too, we were in need of a beachside sprawl. 

To say we’d been away for a good few weeks, we were still rather pasty and craved a bit of colour. In my case this is a shade I like to call poo brown. Bex does not go a dusty bronze, no no, for me it’s poo brown all the way. Nevertheless, I needed that cocoa dusting and so, it was time to cram into yet another MOT failed van, and chug our way from Vientiane to Phuket.

This was one hell of a long journey and involved numerous stopovers. We stopped in Nong Khai for a shifty visa check, then had one night in Bangkok before boarding another bus that would take us to those paradise sands we’d heard so much about. 

First, we actually had to get there in one piece though. The 12 hour Bangkok to Phuket journey was the one we’d been dreading. The guidebooks warned this was the dodgy one. The one where you’re stuff is more than likely going to be stolen. The one where they could gas you through the air con. The one where you’re pretty much going to die. OK, so slight exaggeration, but still this was the one that gave us the wobbles. 

Of course, me being me, gas or no gas, I was going to sleep the whole way there and leave Jenna to keep a faithful look out. Passports in one pocket, money in another and phones in our pants, we took all safety measures to ensure we survived the ride with at least our valuables. BEX FYI: On a journey never leave your valuables in your backpack. 

As it turned out, none of the above happened. Our backpacks were there when we got off the bus, we still had our passports and had only perhaps lost a bit of sanity. 

Of course this was a little too good to be true- we couldn’t complete the journey without a teeny tiny scam. Our bus stopped an hour outside of Phuket in the middle of nowhere. In order to make it on to the city we were forced to pay an extra 500 baht on top of the 1000 we had already paid. With no other option but to cough up this meant Phuket and I did not get off to a great start.

Once there, we began our usual hunt for accommodation and, having said goodbye to our American men, we  were back to fending for ourselves. As a top tourist destination prices were, not surprisingly, a lot higher and rooms were nowhere near as good value. Eventually we gave in and paid around 300baht for what I refuse to call anything other than a closet. Nevertheless, we made the most of it and began to explore.

Well, we might as well have been in Blackpool for all the neon lights glaring and the big house beats pumping. The bars were overrun with moustached men and half naked women. 

Jenna and I wondered why we just weren’t fitting in here, then we realised we were missing that vital accessory every girl needs... a 50 plus year old grease ball hanging off our arm. Phuket was every bit the cliche. Sleazy bars with western men sporting dirty facial hair chasing after little Thai delicacies. 

After one day and one night of searching for a quiet spot to catch our rays, we had to face the truth; Phuket was not for us. Whether we were too young, too tired or just too not into old men, we were not fitting in here.

And so, with the luxury that comes with backpacking, it was time to up and out. We booked our bus and boat to Koh Phi Phi and continued our search for that piece of Thai paradise...

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