Phuket, Visa Run and trip to Samui

Trip Start Nov 26, 2007
Trip End Apr 17, 2008

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Well if Phi Phi was heaven what to call Phuket!!  It was like landing in a different planet, from the chilled atmosphere and cobbled streets to bustle, hassle (mainly from Inidian tailors trying to to get your business  - 'Hey mate, where you from'...yeah mate, I'm from Manchester and wanna buy a suit for my job...what job...), Swedish families on holiday and sex tourists.  Got myself booked into a reasonable gaff and went for a walk, was looking for a Thai mobile phone but all I could find was tourit tat.  So in the end grabbed something to eat and went to bed at 8.30 as had to be outside the hotel for 6 in the morning for my visa run to Burma.

The visa run was a bit like a military operation.  I was picked up on time in a flashy minivan complete with air con and first class sound system.  I was 1st pick up and was starting to get very nervous as the bus gradually filled up with various sex tourists (mainly old but one Italian lad younger than me who I got talking to and was explaining the delights of Phi Phi to him when he interrupted to ask me if Phi Phi had 'lady bars'; I said no its not that kinda place and he said he wasn't interested...oh what a nice side of Thailand he's gonna see in his three months in town!!) but the last pick up was two young Austrian chicks who promptly sat next to me and one spend the entire journey falling over on top of me while asleep which was much better than some fat sex tourist.  So we drove like maniacs (with ethe exception oif a short stop for breakfast..spicy food for brekkie..mmm..not that sex tourists had any as they reckoned 'it wasn't clean' shagging some Thai whore clean?!?!?) to Rangon where we queued up and checked ourselves out of Thailand, we then boarded our little bus again anjd drove to the harbour where we boarded a fishing boat.  All passports then went to some Thai man who kept saying prayers all the time who got off at Thai customs and police checked (all at different little islands) and then we docked in Burma.  Once in Burma we went to immigration entered Burma and then left again immediately...getting our pictures taken (I remarked to this guy Jim that I didn't think they had such technology in Burma and he said (a little too loudly for my liking) well it's a police state isn't it.  Me and Jim went for a quick walk around Burma, not much to report except little kids following you trying to get you to buy Burmese dollars (think they are worth next to nothing except as souvenirs), whiskey, Viagra and opium.  All aboard the boat again and the guys who had accompanied us then spent the rest of the journey either trying to sell us Viagra or stashing the packets of Viagra they had brought with them in hides in the boat.  I never new there was such a trade in Viagra but I guess with all these sex tourists it's what goes on.  Off the bus again and back to Thai customs.  Just in time to watch a cattle truck packed full of Burmese refugees being unloaded!  Back into Thailand again on another 28 day visa, lunch and hurtling down the road to Phuket again.  All in all 14 hours of journey.
The lad Jim was quite interesting.  At first I thought he was some posh southerner rich boy but it turns out he had been in the RAF for 16 years and 2 years ago had finished his stint so him and his missus had been sailing round the world for 2 years.  It sounded idyllic, dropping anchoir on reefs and going diving etc.  Apparently its possible to hitchhike around the world on yachts' as people are always wanting crew....better get a job when I get back soon or else...
Met up with Cuz and Heather (Matt's friends who have a flat in Phuket) for a couple of drinks in the eve.  They had their little boy with them who was really cute..and apparently doesn't get bothered by mossies which is really strange when you think how soft a babies skin is!!
Anyway, as Phuket didn't really seem like the place for me I had booked myself on a bus to Samui for the next morning.  This was advertised as 5 hours on a bus which sounded fine to me...I didn't get a government bus (like I did down from Bangkok as getting from the beach at Phuket to Phuket town just sounded like too much hassle...silly mistake).  So I get picked up exactly on time, we pick up everyone else very efficiently and then we just stop while the driver and his lady friend get out and talk on mobile phones and look at maps.  We do this (with some short loops round the block in Phuket town, regularly buying those flower garlands to go on rear view mirror for luck) for 2 hours and then another driver appears...we then appear to be getting somewhere only for the driver to stop at his house and go in for 20 mins and come out with his phone charger...Ok now we're off...nope, next we go to the local polling station so that our driver can cast his vote!  Eventually we get off and batter up the road to Surat Thami...once in Surat Thami we bypass the ferry terminal and go out into the countryside and get chucked off the bus into a sort of little holding terminal where they charge you 10p for a piss (not me I went in the bushes) and try sell you taxi's in Samui (for 600bhat when actually it costs 100).  We sit there for 2.5 hours, good place to meet people but not ideal when you spend 14 hours traveling the day before and wanna get to Samui before nightfall.  Eventually a big coach turns up, all our bags go on the downstairs floor and we all gho upstairs to settle down to the Bourne Ultimatum (2nd only to the beach in films they play in Thailand).  We then drive at 30mph for 2 hours to a totally different port.  Once we arrive there we get tossed off the bus at panic stations as the ferry is about to leave as indeed it is.  I can only think that the whole scam revolved around giving them opportunity and time to go through bags in the bottom of the bus.  Mine seemed fine anyway...and anyway I was up for the day as there had been no one at all around in the hotel to pay for my previous nights accommodation...the 1st westerner ever to rip off a Thai I suspect (tho the guesthouse was called something Australian so it probs wasn't even a Thai owner anyway!!).  I spent the ferry journey talking to a Zimbabwean man and his Belgium wife.
Once at the ferry terminal in Samui everything went smoothly.  Taxi for 100bhat without argument was a 1st.  Shared it with an Irish fella and some lads from Bristol who had been here before so gave me lots of info.  The driver had no idea where my 'resort' was so we drove randomly for quite a while before he asked enough people and we found it.  The place isn't bad.  Fairly simple wooden bungalow but solid, clean and no rates.  Resort backs right onto the sea.  Saw the end of the united game and went to bed shattered...a bit of a shame as I had some missed calls from Ronan later on.  The rest of crew arrive tomorrow..but rumour has it Ang couldn't find her passport..I hope not..
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