Flying into Phuket from Kuala Lumpur took just over an hour and well worth the whole US $42 that we paid on Air Asia. Check out my thoughts on this low-cost airline HERE.
Mystical jagged islands appear every now and then through the sea mist like a scene from a pirate novel, awakening my imagination.
We get the full working at the airport exit by a thousand and one taxi drivers offering huge prices to get us to our hotel near Patong Beach, about forty minutes away, but with a bit of patience we finally pile into a shared shuttle paying 500Thai Baht each, around US $20; a third of the original price.
We congratulate ourselves on our good fortune until five minutes out of the airport the taxi driver pulls into a little road where a very persuasive woman tells us we “must all get out to check our tickets, right now!” What kind of scam is this? We all refuse flatly, and after ten minutes of heated discussion the woman gives up and we get on our way again.
Apparently if you DO get out, you are held up for an hour while they try and sell you tickets to all the tourist activities and islands at high prices and by the way this woman was getting rather agro I doubt if we would have been allowed to leave without purchasing anything from her – scary!
Bamboo Beach Hotel is a real gem; huge pool, ten metres from the beach at Kalim, which is a five minute taxi ride away from the frantic hustle of Patong Town.
After a quick, blissful dip in the ocean as sun was going down and the near-full moon was coming up, we head down to the little local food carts for my first Pad Thai which was cheap and delicious.
We catch a free hotel shuttle into the madness of Patong Town to check it out, get dragged down the street by touts promising the ‘best ping pong show in Patong and make a narrow escape. We find ourselves in the heart of sin-city, with bars full of near-naked Thai girls gyrating on the bar-tops, seedy old men with their Thai brides in tow, hundreds of tourists drinking up the atmosphere with big bottles of Chang beer, and every other person throwing flyers for bars and massage parlours in my face. Pretty full on for this small town kiwi girl; we have a beer and decide to head home to regroup and leave Ping Pong Patong for another day when we have a few more drinks tucked under our belt.
We do manage to haggle a great price on the way home for an open ticket to the popular island destination Koh Phi Phi from one of the tour vendors on the main road; US $20 for a return trip, pick up transfers from the hotel to the Port at Phuket included, perfect end to a crazy night.