Travelling days are always exhausting, no matter the distance you go. Though the flight from Bangkok to Phuket was under 1.5 hours, by the time we packed, got to the airport early, waited around (ate at the Dairy Queen that was conveniently located near our gate), flew there, bartered with the taxis, and got to our final destination, most of the day was gone.
We heard that everything is slightly more expensive on the island of Phuket, mostly due to the influx of tourists. Certain places are worse than others (ex: Patong is pricier than Phuket Town), but we also heard that the local people are a little more rude on this southern island. Our first experience with this came right at the airport. “Taxi to Phuket Town? 900 THB” Whaaaa? When we’re used to paying 200 THB for the same distance? No way. Unfortunately, the taxis have a giant monopoly at the Phuket International Airport, so the lowest we could pay was 650 THB. Mind you, that’s 25 CAD for a 32km ride clear across the island. The point is we were getting ripped off and we couldn’t do anything about it (we already checked and the busses were not running, convenient for all the taxis). Being the budget travellers we are, we found a lone guy and asked him where he was off to. We’re so thankful Lucas from Quebec was headed in the same direction! Cab-sharing made the price a little more bearable.
We stayed in a very Thai-style airbnb. I’m slowly learning that Thai-style means a very hard mattress (maybe that’s what the Thai massages help combat!) and minimal everything. I’m all for minimal, but when a rented place doesn’t have a knife/cutting board, nor any toilet paper, I find that a bit extreme. The views and the pool were amazing though. And that blue sky! We were excited to see that after smoggy Bangkok.
The downfall of living in Phuket is that we’d absolutely have to have some sort of transportation. Public transit just doesn’t work and taxis are, we hear, crazy expensive. So… I had to learn how to ride a motorbike this week (we rented one from our host!).
When I wasn’t riding on empty side streets, Graham would do all the driving and I’d just hang on tight 🙂
We managed to explore a bit of the island during our week, mostly to see if we’d enjoy living here.
There were some lovely views, albeit hazy when we went.
There’s a massive Buddha atop a high hill in the southwestern part of the province (between Chalong and Kata) and it’s 45 metres high. It’s made out of Burmese marble that shines in the sun, which apparently makes it a natural symbol of hope (source).
One of the way-too-touristy beaches on the island isn’t too far away from Phuket Town (20-25 minute motorbike ride maybe?), so we decided to go there and see what it was all about.
As I mentioned in my last post, community makes a huge difference when deciding where you’re going to live. Graham couchsurfed in Phuket two years ago, so he knew the couple he stayed with when we arrived here. Lucky for us, they attend a home church and bible study every week. We were, of course, invited, and never have I felt more welcomed and more hugged than when we walked into D&J’s house last Sunday morning. It’s a small home church, maybe about 20 people on a great day, but it’s so intimate, so real, and so in love with Jesus that we’re excited to be able to grow with them over the next year. That’s right, we’re choosing to live an “island life” for the next year and live in Southern Thailand. Hurray!
I’ll save the “Why did we choose Thailand, and why specifically Phuket?” answers for the next post. Our one week in Phuket will now turn into one year! Let the house hunting begin…