I have finally arrived back in Phuket after a long day of travelling. I’m staying in Phuket Town for a couple of nights to see a non-beach side of the island and to experience life in a less touristy Thai town. Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to see much as I arrived quite late and I’m completely exhausted but I’m glad to be here.
This morning I planned to get up early to watch as we raised the anchor for the last time but they left early so I was still asleep when we started sailing. The journey back was largely uneventful and most of us spent the time repacking, relaxing and chatting about our experiences on the trip. It seems we all had different memories, highlights and low points on the trip but there were some things in common. I would say my highlights were the trek, even though it was hard, along with the time spent on Swinton Island as it was just magical. I’ll also never forget our local guides as they were so hard working and really made the trip what it was. Hein was so knowledgeable and friendly and Win worked like a machine – one thing I’ll remember forever is how one night when I was talking to Marie we saw that Win was still cleaning the deck after everybody else had gone to bed. Marie said to him “Win, it’s very late” to which he replied “I know. You go to bed now, goodnight”. This made us both laugh so much, and it made him laugh too when we talked about it, but it showed how much of a hard worker he really was.
There was one downside to the trip which was that I didn’t get to set foot on the mainland after all of the problems I had encountered with the trip being changed before arriving. I really wanted to at least set food on the mainland to see a Myanmar town so myself and Ashu came up with a plan to go ashore with Hein when he was processing our passports and luckily he agreed so as soon as we anchored off Kawthaung the three of us jumped in the dinghy and headed ashore. We were told we would only have 15 minutes but we didn’t mind.
We didn’t really have much of a plan other than to walk around and see the town that we would have stayed at for a day if we had been on the original version of the trip. We wandered around taking photos of the streets, markets, shops, pagodas and waterfront for a while before heading back to the pier to meet Hein. In general the streets of Kawthaung were rather busy, smelt of fish, and didn’t offer much other than the experience for travellers but it was nice to see a Myanmar town.
When we arrived back at the pier Hein wasn’t ready yet so we wandered along the shore a bit further to the southernmost point of Myanmar. Along the way there was a cafe, temple and a few children who followed us begging for money but the views we were treated with when we arrived were really nice. However we couldn’t enjoy them for long as by this point Hein was ready and waiting for us at the pier to take us back to the boat ready for our crossing back into Thailand.
I couldn’t find the arrival card that I was given when I departed Thailand so there was a short delay while I completed another one but the queues were short so it didn’t make much of an impact in the grand scheme of things. However the Thai authorities didn’t look impressed so try not to lose it if you come on the trip. I have found it now but wasn’t able to in the rush between getting back on board the boat and heading to Thailand.
The journey from Ranong back to Phuket was like a rally race. The driver was crazy and was continually speeding, tailgating, going around traffic lights to avoid having to stop for them and just generally swerving like a maniac the whole way back except for at police checkpoints. There was a short break for lunch, at the same restaurant we stopped at on the way up, before the rally driving recommenced and we were all thrown around like rag dolls again. We all agreed mid journey that this was the only bad point so far, and I didn’t exactly feel safe, but we got back which was all that matters.
There was a bit of an issue with language and communication. The driver had a list of where we were all staying, both in Thai and English, and asked us all several times to confirm it but he didn’t really pay attention and just drove where he wanted. After dropping Ashu at Khao Lak and a few people at the airport he completely missed the Airport Inn where one of the group was staying even though he went down the correct road and there was a big neon sign with an arrow pointing at it. There were issues with me and Sue too as we were both staying down south – Sue in Karon again and me in Phuket Town. After some argument we managed to get him to drive us to Karon but then he drove where he wanted and we had to give him directions to Sue’s hotel and he then moaned at me for having to drive to Phuket Town even though he knew I was staying here.
It took around an hour to arrive at my hotel in Phuket Town due to traffic but the hotel is so nice. I decided to stay here as it has a free breakfast, wi-fi, restaurants close by, big rooms and offered airport transfers. It’s also not too far from the town centre which is good as I intend to do a lot of exploring during my time here but there won’t be any time for exploring tonight, however, as it’s late so all I’m going to do is pop out for some snacks and head straight to bed.