This Dude in Japan
Thailand Vacation Part One -Warm Christmas-
Me and Hiromi left for Kansai airport early on the Wednesday morning of December 22nd to catch our early afternoon flight. Very happy indeed. No work in the near future, not even the fact that my second bike had recently been stolen, and also my friends bike which was going to be mine after vacation was also stolen. Being bikeless in Osaka is wack, but let's not drift off on tangents. The international flight to Bangkok was nice as expected. Hiromi wasnt impressed, but compared to U.S. domestic flights Thai air was great. The short flight to the island of Phuket was also nice. Through my scanning of Lonley Planets guidebook of Thailand I had absorbed several bits of information that would prove to be useful and true. One thing the guidebook noted was Thai transportation on the island of Phucket will more often than not try to steer you in the direction of a business that gives them commission for herding tourist. So I was only momentarily surprised when the taxi van that promised to take us to our first hotel made a stop that had not been noted earlier in the itenirary. A stop that was in a town that none of our hotels were in. Tired from our mutiple flights, the passengers that shared the van were none too happy when were brought to a travel agency to be grilled on our plans and hotel reservations on Phucket. They didn't have a right to know they just wanted to see if they could persaude us to do business through them. However Hiromi and I had all, but one of our nights booked, and their business practices made it impossible for us to consider them as an option. We did make it to our first hotel later that night, about and hour or more later than necessary. Our first two night we spent on Karon beach at Casa Brazil. Very small beach town with only about two blocks of business, but Kata beach was only a ten minute motorbike ride away, and it was a much larger town. Casa Brazil was cheap, nice, and simple. One thing that bothered me when we first went out late that night was all the businessmen and women constantly requesting that I come into their shop. Literally I couldnt walk more than ten steps without my prescence being requested. At first I felt pretty rude, and I tried to keep my shunning as polite as possible, but over the days I became jaded, and I was able to walk away from the most agressive shopkeepers easily.
Nervous, nervous, I had hurt my hand in Japan so it was a little unwise for me to rent a moterbike so I rode on the back of Hiromi's. It was thrilling, but I didnt like it, couldn't totally relax which is essential for vacationing. We rode to Kata beach to take a look, and then we decided to check out the town. We were stopped by two girls that were offering prizes to couples, but when they found out we werent old enought they quickly snatched back their scratchoffs and motorbiked off. About 15 minutes later another two girls stopped us with the same scratchoffs. This time we lied about our age, and I won a T-shirt, and Hiromi won the 'big prize', which we had to walk to a nearby resort to claim. Once at the resort we were told we had to endure a 90 minute presentation to get our prizes. Since the ''big prize' was either $300, a digi camecorder, or a dream vacation, we stayed. Basically the presentation was on joining a vacation club, and it took a lot longer than 90 minutes and we were irritated. I felt for the guy since I've worked sales before (big shout outs to Cutco Knives, and Kirby Vacuum Cleaners!), and his presentation was textbook,(I even told him that, I think he found it insulting). We were polite on both sides, despite mutual irritation, but when the told us it cost $11,700, and the first payment was $2,000 it was easy to say no. The club is called QVC (Quality Vacation Club). and they seemed legit, I will definitely investigate them further in the future when I'm ballin a little bit more. Hiromi won the dream vacation which also seems legit, but due to some of the technicalities it might be a little hard to take, but its worth a try. Also it just hotel fee covered not airfare. After the presentation we ate at a mediocre Indian restaurant in Kata. When we left we found our bike had been chained...we parked on the wrong side of the streets, the parking side alternates on different days. We went off to find a policeman and stopped in a travel agency...their's one every 50 feet. And made reservation for the next day through a pleasant girl who was helpful, and we hoped she got a good commission. After the travel agency we found our bike unlocked, but we rode about seven kilometers to the police station anyway to pay the fine just to be safe. How or why the bike was unlocked...I don't know. On the way back to Karon beach we stopped by this Thai market. It was an open air market partially covered by umbrella like tents. It was a little smelly, but it had some nice cheap merchandise. After finishing up at the market we made our way back to Karon beach to give the small town a more thorough walkthrough. This day had two long distractions, but we salvaged it in the end with a Thai oil massage....word.
Patong is the largest town on Phucket, and its were you go if you want to boogie. We had one night to check it out, because we had reservations in a resort on Phi Phi Island on Christmas. We stayed a Tony's Hotel and Resort in Patong. Nice place...two pools TV in room..Casa didn't have one. First we went out to Ocean Plaza to do some Christmas shopping...if you want to know were your gift is...I gave it to you mama. Then chilled at the hotel for a minute. Later that night we ate a great Thai restaurant, the waiteress was trying to hustle us, and get us to order expensive...game recognize game and I didnt hold it against her. After that we did some unintentional shopping so we had to go back to the room to drop off our new purchases. Finally we were back on the main strip to how how Patong represented for Christmas. Crowded and crazy, street peddlers, inviting doormen, their were guys shoving photos of dancing strippers in me and Hiromi's face as we walked on the overpacked sidewalk trying to get us into their clubs. We finally decided on a place call the Tiger Bar.They were playing hip hop. Thier were some go go dancers behind the dj, and sometimes they would come dance on the floor. It was a cool scene. Hiromi was starting to feel some 'traveling sickness' symptoms. I read in lonely planet that useing tap water to brush teeth, and salad bars was a good way to get sick. Of course we had been involved in both. We were able to still party though and had a good night.
After waking up an exchanging gifts Hiromi's 'traveling sickness' was at red alert, but our taxi to Phucket town was coming at 7:30, and their was no place open to buy drugs. I was feeling a little ill myself, so niether one of us could enjoy the hotel breakfast. We caught our taxi van which brought us to Phucket town on the southeast coast of Phucket were we would catch a boat to Phi Phi. The boat was pretty big, it probably seated about 200 250 passengers, but the ride was long bumpy, as we were going against the waves. You could imagine how this left our stomachs feeling. I saw about a dozen people making use of makeshift barfbags. Once we reached Phi Phi and got off the bought we were immiedetly accousted by people trying to get us to come to their hotel or give us a taxi ride(Their are no roads or cars in on Phi Phi island, the taxi were wooden moterboates to take people snorketling.) Our first piece of business was finding a pharmacy and buying some drugs that Lonely Planet had prescribed. After coping the drugs we made our way to the hotel which was a short walk away. We had made reservations at the Phi Phi Cabana Hotel, which was the nicest place on the island. When we checked in they requested to hold onto our passports which was slightly unsettling, but I joked "they're probably safer down here anyway", to which the desk attendent nodded a strong yes.* Finished with the formalities we headed up to see our room which was the nicest so far on the trip, and as soon as I sat down on the bed I was 80% healed. We had a room on the second floor and we had a decent view of one of the beaches and the the hotels tennis and basketball courts, yeah they had a basketball court...instant five star in my book. After settling down we grabbed some food to go, and went snorkeling through a taxi that we secured through our hotel. It was my first time snorkeling, and I really like it. As a role model I reccomend snorkeling to the kids. After snorkeling we took a walking tour of the island. Phi Phi is very small, and most of the shops are snorkeling or scuba diving related, but they do have a 7Eleven. Before it got dark we played a little basketball, and then went for another walk through the town It had been a very good tropical Christmas. I slept happy and content.
The next morning I felt great and Hiromi said she was at 80% so we went and enjoyed to breakfast buffet. It was good..nuff said. After that we went for another short walk through town. Our boat wasnt coming until 3pm, and checkout was at 11 so I felt we should stay in the room and enjoy it while we could because we would have plenty of time as homeless to enjoy the island before the boat came, plus I was tired from getting up so early for breakfast, so it was naptime. After a short nap we began packing up our stuff. We went out to our balcony to take a few last glances at the view, and we noticed a guy running toward the beach and yelling at us in Thai. Then we noticed that the water was raising steadly, and it had gotten about three feet deep on the courts. I thought this was kinda interesting to I took a photo with my cell phone. After about five seconds we noticed a loud noise and water approacing out of nowhere that was definitely going to reach our second floor balcony."OH SHIT!" To be continued.....