I never got around to finishing my holiday recap. Remember, that holiday, from so long ago? I had barely gotten started, when work, finishing notice period, figuring out life and other such nonsense got in the way. But I am nothing, if not determined. So I am now slowly ploughing through the many photographs, taking myself back to July, and retracing the big holiday for the year. I said before that this had the potential to be long and tiresome, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!
One dingy evening, exactly a day after we set foot in Thailand, we found ourselves at the Bangkok Bus Terminal. Which felt like any bus terminal in India, except much cleaner, with better signage and designed to aid travel. I was a bit nervous because I am not good with traveling by bus. Scarred by too many recent attempts at taking a bus to nearby destinations featured projectile spewing of puke, consequent attacks of claustrophobia and the inevitable need to throw up myself, I have vowed never to take a bus in India, for as long as I can help it.
In Thailand however, I was willing to break the rule. Why, you ask? Turns out that whole Thailand-is-cheap notion, is a load of bollocks. Well not all of it, but you see, getting to and back from Thailand is cheap. And when you’re married and all holiday expenses double, you might even find flying to Thailand is sometimes cheaper than flying to Delhi and back. But when we had just 10 days to spare and so much criss-crossing to squeeze into it, we decided to beat exorbitant air fares within Thailand and unreliable, vulnerable-to-rain train travel, by taking the overnight bus from Bangkok to Phuket.
There are plenty of buses to choose from, and we chose the highest end of the luxury coaches, which to my surprise was a double-decker bus, with a stewardess in a short skirt, manicured nails, short skirt and a hat. As soon as we boarded, she offered us blankets, snacks and a drink. Just like in an airplane, you guys! We had the front seats on the upper deck, with a gorgeous view of the road ahead, which really made me wish we had more time, so we could have just hired a car and driven ourselves. The highways in Thailand are a dream.
Contrary to my expectations, the journey was beyond comfortable. Fully reclinable seats, a mini pillow, warm blankets and lots of leg room. Oh, and no winding roads, bad driving meant we had no pukey co-passengers either. Win. The only disadvantage was most dinner stops are in rural Thailand, at government rest-stops where the food is limited, and really authentic and quaint. I’m taking dried, salted fish, rice porridge, steamed Morning Glory and the like. Not very appetizing, not really palatable when you’re on holiday, and even worse when you don’t speak the language and can’t ask for anything else. Luckily though, we had stocked up on biscuits, juice and the like, so we shared a bowl of noodle soup between us and turned to junk food for the rescue.
I was woken up to a cup of coffee and a cheese puff, and views of rolling lush green paddy fields that seemed to never end. If this was what Phuket had to offer, I was in paradise already. When we planned our trip to Thailand, both the husband and I were clear, that we wanted to spend as little time as possible in the cities, and as much time as possible lounging on a deck chair, on a beach. Maybe get a massage. Drink one too many Mai Tais. You know, the general holiday shindig.
But the real fun began when we got off at Phuket Terminus, still high from that overwhelmingly comfortable bus ride, and began to haggle with taxi drivers. It seems the “rate card” is as arbit, as any quote that would come out of the cabbies mouth. And I’m not sure if they pretended not to understand any English to exasperate us and get us to pay what they commanded, because it worked. The next thing we knew, the husband and I were packed off into a taxi, paying what seemed like an unfair price, and bounding off on the highway hopefully towards the resort we had checked ourselves into.
A mini wild goose chance ensued, with lots of exasperated sign language thrown in, and when we finally reached our resort, I felt like I had arrived home after an arduous sojourn.
The hotel was pleasant, and would have been nicer still if we could understand what the polite, every-smiling lady at the reception was trying to say. An elaborate and almost-painful check in later, we were shown to our room. I couldn’t help notice that the resort though clean and basic, looked almost nothing like the pictures we had seen online, which had convinced us to book. I wasn’t counting on 100% authenticity, but I was really not expecting such a shock either.
The room was spacious, neat, pleasant and overlooked the pool, which was gorgeous. One side of the resort was covered with the green hillside, and while I couldn’t really complain, I was a bit peeved by being slightly conned into expecting a higher standard of luxury. The room was more than liveable, but the rest of the resort had some construction going on, and the constant cacophony of rubble being thrown around and walls being pounded was not something I was prepared for on holiday.
I decided to breathe and wait to get to the beach, hoping that it would make up for it, and lure me to spend as much time outside the resort and on the beach instead. Little did we know that this was a small beginning in a series of disappointments to come.
For older updates preceding this one, look here: