Greeting web slingers,
I woke up in Hat yai ready to try to figure out how to get to my next stop in Phuket but found the general information available to be fairly inaccurate. So i decided I would head to the bus station and figure it out from there. Now, as I had arrived in Hat yai for Hari raya weekend, there was only 1 hotel left, which was 3km from the train station, The bus station was another 2 km beyond that. So walking with bags was not an option. There is also no taxi’s per say in Hat yai so I left my bags at the hotel and jumped on a moto(aka motorbike). I was delighted to find the bus was only 250 Baht and takes “5 and a half hours”(more on this later), but the bus was leaving in 30 minutes. So I frantically grabbed a moto man, negotiated a price for 1 trip as the return was over priced. As an aside, something I do not quite understand is he was happy to not take 40 baht for the return trip and instead drive back minus me…..so with no money. Anyway, I grabbed my stupidly heavy bags and achieved the balancing act of a bag on my back, my camera bag on my lap and the giant hold-all grasped with one arm and balanced precariously on my knee. This was, as you can imagine, not comfortable and a fine mix of balancing and strength training. Think of it as poorly planned yoga, on a moto, frantically driving through a town in southern Thailand. I could not help but think back to the first time I visited Cambodia and marveled at their ability to fit absolutely anything on a moto.
So on I got to the bus, and began my “5 and a half hour” trip to Phuket. You will see from the pictures below that the scenery is quite nice, this can be said for all land transport in Thailand. At this point it is a good time to introduce you to a concept called “Thai time”. Which basically describes the, sometimes vast, difference in time estimations you will be given in Thailand compared to how long something will actually take. For any Irish folk reading this, its similar to when we say “5 minutes” as we are just leaving the house or “I’m around the corner” for when we are about half way there. So it was actually 5 and a half hour to Krabi. It ended up being 9 and a half hours to Phuket. Thai time, always full of surprises. There was a really amazing moment on the bus however. We were about an hour away from Phuket, it was dark but Thailand is generally very well-lit. So as we waited at a crossroads, the power went out and all of the street lights disappeared. This allowed the sky and stars to be properly visible and so the sky was suddenly the most amazing tapestry of stars. This is the moments you simply cannot catch on camera so simply close your eyes and imagine.
While I did not mind the extra hours on the bus, it did bring the inconvenience of arriving in Phuket town at 11:30 at night and me needing to get to Patong. At this time there is one option, a taxi which is 450 baht for the 15 min drive to patong. So yes, the 15 mins taxi cos almost double the 9 plus hour bus. Taxis and tuk tuks are stupidly over priced in Phuket, but I will go over that in a Phuket “fact file” post later. Arriving in Patong at around 12 with huge heavy bags is not an ideal experience and I hadn’t booked a hotel yet so I got dropped at Soi Sansabai and went to my buddies tattoo shop, because they have wi-fi. Booked my hotel, dropped my bags and stopped to think about how to not spend too much money in Phuket.
Now, iv never been one for paying for lady drinks or contributing to the sex industry of Thailand, but even avoiding this, Phuket is the most expensive part of Thailand and I was aiming for a 500 baht a day budget(and failing due to the cab). I decided the best and least expensive course of action was to visit my friends bar. The “mamasan” of this bar(her and her bars name will remain nameless as her boss/boyfriend may not appreciate her generosity to me) is an old friend of mine and therefore I knew I wouldn’t be hassled for any drinks or “lady drinks”. For those who do not know, the mamasan is generally an older lady who is the boss of the girls working at a bar, massage shop etc. I had not been to Phuket for a few months and I was greeted with a big hug like I had just returned home. Sure enough, after filling her in on the news that I quit my job to travel, I didn’t pay for anything for the night.
Along the night, as is inevitable in Phuket, some members of the female species started to congregate. I ended up chatting with 2, who were friends of the mamasan, whose bar was in Tiger stadium and had finished work earlier. The usual suggestions were made that I should perhaps bring them home to which I politely declined. It was however agreed that we would get some pork noodle after my friends bar closes, their treat. It may only be 35 baht a bowl but I was getting dinner bought for me, it is the simple things and truly a rare thing in Thailand. My mamasan friend then grabbed her scooter, collected me and dropped me off home. My first night in Phuket was free drinks, food and a lift home.
Perhaps I could do this living on a budget thing after all.