So in the end, I ended up paying a little more for the taxi than I initially wanted to, but for peace of mind and the fact that the airport was a little out of town, I was happy enough to fork out a few extra baht for an actual taxi, with windows and a gear stick! Plus – I was actually on holiday now, so I could justify splashing out a bit. In all my haste to get to the airport on time, I ended up being a little too early for a domestic flight, but when it comes to flying, I always prefer to be early than 2 minutes too late. There’s an Alanis Morrisette song in there somewhere, I’m sure! In any case, it was a great opportunity to write more in my journal and catch myself up.
The flight was an hour, on arrival at the airport there was no passport control or immigration, just pick up your bag and get on your way. There were so many minibuses ready and waiting to take you to your hotel, so I bought a ticket to Patong Beach and got on my way. The minibus service was one of these where they took you to one of those little travel agencies that was promoting things to do in the area – scuba diving, snorkelling, island hopping tours, that kind of thing. I was willing to bet that the prices were maybe double that which you could pick up at the beach. I smiled and said no thank you, hopped back on the bus and waited for my fellow passengers.
I made it to the hotel in one piece, approached the check in desk, wondering how I was going to locate my travel buddies. Their flight was a couple hours earlier than mine, but I couldn’t get a ticket for that one, hence travelling separately. I needn’t have worried because I made really good time, and they had literally just arrived at the hotel too. I gave my name at the desk and good news! Free upgrade to a deluxe poolside room. Well, sometimes there are perks to last minute bookings! The hotel truly was beautiful. As I said before, a little steep, but what with the free upgrade and the 30 days of madness and the fact I was still recovering from my second cold of my travels, it was a welcome splurge.
The next couple of days passed with trips to the beach, sipping cocktails in funny shaped glasses and iced coconuts fresh from the trees. There was much lounging by the pool and welcoming the others as they caught us up having spent an extra day or two in Bangkok, dependent on their personal travel plans. Nothing much exciting happened, but that was kind of the idea. Oh no ,wait… there was a small matter of one of us getting hit by a motorbike! Don’t panic, no one was hurt, but I was seriously shaken up.
So two of us decided to grab a drink at a cute little rooftop place not far from our hotel. Just a beer, nothing crazy. We spotted the bar from over the road, and being the good Western people that we were, checked both ways before stepping out into the stationary traffic. As we walked out in front of a fairly large van, a tourist girl on a ropey looking motorbike swerved out from behind the van and collided into the side of my friend. She screamed, my friend grabbed her, she grabbed the motorbike, I darted across the road. Nobody fell, nobody got a scratch, the bike, which must have been a rental, was not damaged in any way, but my heart was absolutely pounding when I reached the pavement on the other side. It was possibly the most deserved beer on the trip!
On Tuesday, we’d booked to visit Raya Island, which is a beach resort island about half an hour’s speedboat trip away. We were promised a hotel pickup at 8:00am, they arrived at 8:45am. We were told that the boat would have no more than 20 people on it, there were at least 35. We’d seen pictures of a beautiful secluded beach, and though the views were pretty stunning, we were not the only boat of 35 people heading to the same strip of white sand. Don’t get me wrong, we had all learned to make the best of any situation, and though we’d been promised one thing and been delivered another, there was no way I would ever describe that day to be a waste. The weather was brilliant, the snorkelling was great, even if I still hadn’t quite perfected the art yet, and there was lunch included which was basic but tasty. And there were some pretty good photo moments too. Although Mr Minion did take a tumble through the wooden slats of the beach shack “restaurant” were had lunch in, and whilst I was ready to go and retrieve him, one of the lads played Action Man and rescued him for me!
That evening, we ventured to Bang La Road, which is the club street in Patong. It was a little bit Red-Light-District with the scantily clad women and most probably more than a few ladyboys trying to lure us in to their bar or club or whatever. We ended up going to this area where there were multiple bars in a sort of pod-like formation, with all these poles running from the bar-top to the ceiling. Naturally, where there was a bar, there was a lady in crazy heels gyrating suggestively. Some were dressed rather conservatively – tank tops and hot pants. Some were not – string bikini tops and French knickers. It was still quite early on in the night so it wasn’t overcrowded and sleazy just yet, and we got chatting to the bar staff. They instigated some games – if you win, you get a free shot, if you lose, you have to buy a shot for yourself and one for the barman too. The game was simple and purely luck-based. That didn’t stop one of our girls beating the absolute crap out of the barman! The game only used three dice and a glass. To avoid the messiness of dice rolling all over the place, cover the top with your hand, swill the cup and bang it down to stop the spinning. All you had to do was roll three of a kind. Our lucky lady must have gotten about four free shots, we told her to quit while she was ahead and we went back out on the street searching for a place to boogie.
Cue some rep guy who appeared out of nowhere who guaranteed free shots and discounted drinks on arrival. A round of tequila slammed and 5 vodka lemonades later and we’re drinking Smirnoff Ices down a funnel and dancing with tourists from all over the globe. In the early hours of the morning I was persuaded to grab a Burger King meal which was pretty good, and the only Western fast food I have consumed to date. In the morning we were all heading our separate ways and this really was a great way to spend our last night together. The following day, I was to start my new life in Cambodia (I plan to stay for around 6 months, before I head of to Aus for another 6 or so… I’m not moving for good!).