We spent the last evening bartering between tour vendors to find a suitable way to get back to Phuket Town perhaps a 5-6 hour trip away. We are keen for an express public transport option and we even had a chat to the assistant in the pharmacy to try and get an honest idea of what is around. There is a bus but it apparently stops frequently and nobody has any idea when it leaves. Figured that after we pay for the shared tuk truck and possibly wait around for hours at the bus station, the 300 bht probably isn’t that bad., We ended up choosing the vendor that sounded like she had our interests at heart as she wasn’t prepared to get a random guy who rented a vehicle to take us. So we got the lowest going rate around and promised a nice shinny white van to take us.
After a quick and yummy breakfast practically next door we waited on the step outside with an oversized yakult bottle; 7-eleven’s fridges are packed with plastic yakult shaped bottles of all sizes and brands. Anyway we have our snacks and ready to lunge our luggage on the next van to be looking for a couple of backpackers. The van is slowly coming past with a man’s head and arm scouting the streets, see’s us, yells phuket and we jump up to confirm we’re his next bundles. To get the bags into the back of the van, he pulls everyone’s out onto the road, puts ours in, pushes forward the back seats despite white-tys (anglos’) still sitting in them. We pile or the bags up vertically with every pair of hands holding them up including the white-ty’s , the door comes door, then the seats push back onto the bags. Anyway at least we’re in, filling the last two seats.
But wait, the driver sets off looking for more people… the white-tys in the van look around perplexed and concerned, me included. We seemed relieved that maybe the last person will fit between Gerard and the driver, a place a little to close to the gear stick and the mr driver for me. We pull up, 2 big burly English lads are waiting to get on, I’m nervous as I don’t really want him on my lap for 5 hours. What is the driver thinking? Sure 15 thai people probably fit in a tuk tuk but us white-tys aren’t used to this. The English lads complain and the driver comes to his senses and calls them another mode of transport. Everyone is relieved.
We are dropped off at what looks like a restaurant. There are only white-tys and we all are getting yelled at by a lady with a book of stickers. I end up with “phk”, Gerard ends up with “town”… Everyone here is now just a farm animal with a destination separating us. We all sit down, watching the newbies pile in with the same perplexed look we had. It becomes clear we are being re-herded for our next destination. In this time I reteach Gerard the card game Koon Can (?). We finally are prodded into another van on our own, which I find a bit odd. Already annoyed that we’ve been waiting here instead of our non-stop comfortable van ride to Phuket. Driving along we start to notice in our minds that we’re heading in the wrong direction but we let it go for now. Next we pull up at the public bus station and hurried into another van with other thai and tourists. My blood is starting to boil, and I want to be mad but the people here at the bus station are the innocent bystanders doing their normal job, but I’m angry with no one to be angry at. Why have we been herded around 3 vans over several hours just to be end up on a public van to Phuket that would cost a 10th of the price. The seats left at the back sit practically vertical. I’m angry and uncomfortable. Thankfully the trip is many hours because I do calm down by the time we arrive. We ended stopping mid way at a food/stuffed toy outdoor warehouse. You end up purchasing equal parts dust to product here. We humour ourselves at the strange toys and peculiar foods. We’re wondering if the driver gets a kickback for dropping us here. We pick up a sweet old thai lady, unfortunately the middle aged cow lady (thai) in the front seat behind the driver didn’t want to move across the 3 empty seats to let her ease in. I wanted to be the robin hood of the nice people, be rude to those rude and give to the nice ladies and gents.
We arrived in Phuket Town bus station and took much joy walking past all the taxi drivers hassling us. We went back to Sunwest Lodge and secured a dorm bed, each with their own little fan and locker. Fabulous. We still had the afternoon to walk around and find the beach. This we did successfully and found the tide was so far out, we couldn’t see where the sea started again. Dropping in at 7-eleven we picked up some warm popcorn, cheap cornettos’ and some angry chick 2 minute noodles. It was nice to see thai people kick back on the grass with their families for a picnic by the sea. A man carrying boiled eggs around and other wondering vendors with all sorts. The street food nearly tempted us, but Gerard was too chicken, admiring from afar. Seeing little school kids hop into little pancakes after school waiting for their parens was very cute. We stumbled across a supermarket and to my much delight we found frozen wontons! They were to be cooked up like two minute noodles, heaven. The other handy purchase was a bigger lock for the oversized locker holes in the dorm room. I enjoy a wonder through a big supermarket. Finding a moisturiser wasn’t proving easy, everything seemed to have whitening qualities to it. Here I am trying to get a all over tan and the moisturisers are going to wipe it all away… not to mention what the hell does it contain to make me go whiter. This product reminds me how ludicrous we all are in society, trying to change our colour and what it represents the world over.
Hindsight… the internet and/or a travel book might have the answers but where’s the fun in that?
Trust instincts - they are usually right.