I realize I split Day 5 into two blog posts, but Phuket has been so interesting that it definitely deserves its own post (at least for today).
First off, I love Malaysia Airlines. It’s your general comfy 737, seats nicer than Southwest, and we were served a snack box and a chicken pastry (and free wine was a drink option hehe) Apparently this is how it works for all flights longer than an hour, and definitely beats getting a bag of Nabisco crackers. So basically our flight from KL to Phuket was a-ok :).
The most prominent difference between Malaysia and Singapore, and Thailand, at least straight off thenplane, was language. Whereas the first two had a good mix of cultures, and thus English and Chinese were readily available, Thailand was just Thai. There were very few English translations along the road (except for some location names, and at the airport).
Getting to our hostel was pretty easy. Upon exiting the airport, we requested to use the shared minivan service (this is pretty popular here it seems). Even though we started with one minibus company, we got switched out to another due to our location. It seemed that they all worked together to even out the profits, which was pretty cool, but confusing to us since we had no idea what was going on as we were led between multiple tables.
Halfway through the ride (we were all on our way to Patong Beach) the driver pulled us into a tourist agency. Each group of people (per hotel) was given a travel agent with the excuse that we were only giving them our address so they could put together a drop off order for the driver. After that, they proceeded to ask us how long we were staying, if we were interested in any tours, etc. it’s a pretty smart tactic, since they catch you early on to book tours (at full price/expensive rates). We made our excuses, saying that we had already booked a tour with our hostel, and escaped back to the van relatively quickly.
The rest of the trip to our hostel was probably the scariest driving I had ever encountered (that’s saying a lot considering I have some friends with serious road rage). There seems to be little regard for traffic laws, tailgating is a norm, and people weave in and out so you’ve got to be constantly vigilante. (Sorry, I’ve been reading Harry potter). There were multiple times where our driver would accelerate then stop suddenly to avoid the car inches in front of us. It was a fun ride though, and we made it to our hostel ok.
We spent the rest of the night exploring the road our hostel was on (it was a pretty thumping road of bars and restaurants) and grabbed some food with people we met in the hostel. There were a bunch of people from England there, and the general default activity (for night times and when there’s nothing else to do) was to drink and smoke. Thank goodness drinks were much cheaper here than in Singapore (and Amurica), making me an extra cheap drunk.
I did get my first taste of the pancakes that they sell on the street. They’re crispier versions of crepes, folded into a square and filled with fruit and condensed milk, honey, or other spreads, costing about 50 baht. They’re delicious as a snack (or a meal) and definitely took the edge off the spiciness from the dinner we had before (we ordered some seafood dish that turned out to have an extremely spicy green curry base. Obviously I had to have a coconut here, which turned out to be a little sweeter than the coconuts in Malaysia (I think I might become a fan of coconuts after all).