Day 11 – Phuket to Surat Thani
While most of the temporary residents of Phuket were recovering away in their hotel rooms, I decided to flip flop my way down to Patong Beach. Away from the tawdry sights of the tourist streets it was very beautiful, with long sandy beeches receding into the distance and a cool sea in front to swim in.The sun baked me till I was soft and golden, which took about 2 hours at gas mark 4. I felt very relaxed walking back, feeling like I could cope with the hectic streets infested with masseures and taxi drivers. I began walking away from my hotel, taking pictures here and there. Unfortunately, about an hour away from my hotel, the relaxed feeling in my head was overtaken by the strong realisation that I was actually burning horribly. My legs and feet especially, where I had forgotten to put sun cream, were beginning to smoke. I had to almost run home as the burning intensified – there was no shade, save for the few umbrella fronted restaurants. I finally crawled out of the sun back at my hotel, where I retreated for most of the hot middle of the day. Looking in the mirror, I realised the small of my back was also bright red. I thought I had been flexible enough to suncream every bit of my back, but obviously I need to practice my yoga a bit more.
The next day I headed across the island to Phuket City – the largest town on the island. Since it’s not really focussed around a beach, its much less touristy. I had meant to head to the coast, which was a little walk away, but obviously I got lost. But, I still had fun taking pictures of the back streets. Here are a few:
On my walk, I lost track of time and geography, and realised I was going to be late for the coach I had booked for Surat Thani – a district further north where I could catch a train for Bangkok. So, I endeavoured to look as touristy as possible. I unfolded my map, put my camera round my neck, and put a more-confused look on my face. Within seconds, a moped driver rolled up asking if I needed somewhere to go. I was a bit apprehensive – I had hoped for a taxi – but since I was late I braved the concrete jungle. It was obviously a very tame journey for the driver, but for me it was one of the scariest times of my life. Lorries lumbering around us, cars changing lane like we weren’t there, pedestrians stepping out without looking. I arrived with seconds to spare at the bus station, but thankfully in one piece.
I hadn’t done much planning on this leg of the journey (who am I kidding, on any leg of it), and assumed that when I arrived in Surat Thani I could easily pick up a night train ticket to Bangkok. However, as the train attendant told me in a very strained bilingual conversation, all trains to Bangkok were fully booked for the next few days. I was in the middle of nowhere here – the train station of Surat Thani is in quite a populated area, but it seems to be mainly houses going on in every direction. Luckily, I met two similarly stranded tourists who pointed me to a cheap hotel – which was cheap in pretty much every sense of the word. Better than a non-existent sleeper train carriage I suppose.