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Phuket

From Bangkok we went to Phuket for five nights. Our taxi driver from the airport was another scammer. His meter was already running when we got in and he wouldn’t reset it. Then he pretended to not know where Patong Beach (the largest tourist destination on the island) was and took us to his office to find out. While we were stuck in his hot cab with the meter continuing to run he went in for more than five minutes. A fellow employee, who could speak English, came out and tried to sell us tours. Finally he returned and took us to our hotel. He wanted us to pay him the full meter amount, including the amount that was on the meter when we got in the cab and the amount that accrued while he feigned getting directions so that we could be given a sales pitch. The bellhop at our hotel was no help. He sided with the taxi driver. I think we ended up giving him 450 baht, the amount we were quoted by the lady at the taxi stand at the airport. He drove off mad, unlike our driver earlier in the day.

The location of our hotel in Phuket was a major let down. I’ll touch on that more in a future post. Anyway, after crossing a street without sidewalks, traffic lights, or cross walks in which probably five times out of a hundred you will be killed (luckily we only had to cross it 94 times during our time in Phuket) we made it to our first meal on the island.

This food looked fantastic, but it was our second most disappointing meal in Phuket. It wasn’t horrible, but we had some absolutely excellent food in Phuket. More on those great meals later…

Here is Ellie doing the wai on the Andakira Hotel steps. I’m not sure if the poinsettias were for Christmas or not. It was Christmas Eve when I took the above picture. Christmas music was playing constantly while we were in Thailand. We heard it on the airplanes, in our hotel, and all over town. The music didn’t stop after Christmas either. We heard it on our flight back to Tokyo on the 29th. There is something a little strange about hearing “White Christmas” while you are eating breakfast in an outdoor restaurant in Thailand in 85 degree weather.

Getting to the beach from the Andakira Hotel is no easy task. Although the website says the hotel “is located at the heart of Patong Beach,” it is at the heart of the beach the same way the Eiffel Tower is at the heart of Notre Dame Cathedral (i.e., across town). Their website also mentions a free shuttle, but the shuttle only runs four times a day and can’t be relied on (as we found out when we waited an hour for it at one of its four scheduled times only to have it never arrive). The other options are to take an extremely over-priced tuk tuk for 200 baht or cross the aforementioned street of death and walk a while.

(Note that some internet sites say tuk tuks can be had in Patong for as little as 20 baht, but that is no longer the case. They all charge 200 baht, even to just take you across the street. This is very different than Bangkok where you can find drivers to take you short distances for under 50 baht. We paid just 20 baht for our tuk tuk in Bangkok.)

Despite the hassles caused by the location of the hotel and the needs of some of the natives to rip off the tourists, we were determined to have a good time. The beach is very nice, especially if you get there before the crowds as we did (and you can see in the above photo). The ocean water is practically warm this close to the equator and the sand is of the fine, soft variety.

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