Leaving Southern Thailand

Authored By Brian

The last three days of Khao Lak have been awesome. Awesome because we did absolutely nothing. We literally spent the majority of each day in an Internet café getting caught up on errands, onward travel, our travelogue (sorry about that 3 week+ delay… we’re almost caught up!) and some work-related stuff. We ate 3 meals at the same Italian restaurant that imports their proscuitto from Italy along with Colavita olive oil, warm bread and real napkins. We had Insalata Caprese (mozzarella with tomatoes) and it was like sweet manna from heaven because there was no rice on our plate. A nice respite and a chance to reset our palates.

It wasn’t until today, in fact, that Jennifer dared explore past the main street and found the beach while I wrapped up a few loose ends. I spoke to my dad over Skype and he guessed that it might be hard to find Internet but the truth is that Internet is everywhere. Everywhere! In Khao Lak (about 2 hours north of Phuket on the east coast), we found an Internet café where we could upload pictures at 100kb/sec which is about 6 times faster than the DSL line I had back in San Francisco.

With business taken care of and plane tickets from Phuket to Bangkok and Bangkok to Chiang Mai, we flagged down the local bus and rode to Phuket airport. In most of SE Asia, “catching the bus” means actually standing on the side of the road and waving at the bus as it barrels in your direction. If they have room (which they always do thanks to frequent service), they slam on the brakes and pull over only briefly ceasing forward motion as you step into the door and first gear is re-engaged and the bus pulls back onto the road. It’s like a choreographed dance where everything is simultaneously in motion and any party can bring the whole thing to a screeching halt with a mistake. Today we danced cleanly and settled into our air-conditioned seat for 100 baht ($3).

When we crossed the bridge onto the island of Phuket, we stopped at a traffic checkpoint and two police officers came on board. They seemed to meander straight to two guys sitting towards the front and asked to see the contents of a green plastic bag one had in his possession. It looked to just have some snacks and cigarettes. The officers quietly exchanged words with the two guys before escorting them off the bus. As soon as the door closed, the bus pulled away without a word. We can only guess what kind of beating those guys are getting now.

We grabbed a motorbike ride from the highway bus stop to the airport and as we hopped off, Jennifer spotted what I had been looking for since we ate that crappy-ass McDonald’s in Sydney: Burger King. The sweet smells of a juicy American burger with cheese and proper French fries soon wafted to our nose (right after passing the Dunkin’ Donuts with its own sweet smells). But damned if just seconds after ordering if the malaria pill I took a few minutes earlier didn’t start making me feel nauseous. The same kind of nausea as when I was laying hunched over the log on the Similan Islands hurling up my lunch.

I headed off the feeling by cramming some delicious, salty fries and a bunch of Orange Fanta down my throat. Bit by bit, I was able to nurse the Whopper with cheese down and enjoy every single bite. Ah. A little taste of home.

Editor’s Note: the Sydney McDonald’s was not unusually poor, it is that all McDonald’s are foul, foul representations of meat, bread and cheese and are disgusting excuses for eateries. By contrast, Burger King (or anything else) comes across looking like fine dining.

From Phuket we’re overnighting tonight in Bangkok and then heading into the north of Thailand to see Chiang Mai which everyone raves about. We didn’t have time in our itinerary originally but we’ve moved our flights around while Jennifer figures out what she is going to do in lieu of India.

2 Responses to “Leaving Southern Thailand”

  1. Nathan Dintenfass Says:

    I can’t help but point out that in this post, after travelling most of the way around the world, you seem happiest when sitting in front of a networked computer and eating fast food. Just sayin’ ;)

  2. Brian Says:

    I never said that wasn’t my favorite thing! Well, not the fast food part so much… :)