Our trip back to the mainland was characterized by bright blue skies and glassy-calm waters, though I personally barely noticed – for me, it was yet another journey spent recuperating from the previous evening’s (Christmas) festivities 🙂
Our route to Phuket took us first to the docks by taxi, then to Surat Thani by boat and finally to Patong by minibus. It was one combination ticket, meant to get us there no later than 7:30pm.
Or so we were told.
Only an hour into the ride we were taken to an unexpected “rest stop.” Here, the driver informed us that we’d have to pay 300 more baht to get all the way to our destination. It was the typical shameless scam, meant to illegitimately separate tourists from their money.
But to be fair, at least they gave us an option. If we didn’t pay, the bus would still take us to Phuket Town – on another part of the island – but from there a taxi to Patong would’ve likely cost more than 300 anyway. By paying, they told us, we could skip Phuket Town entirely and take a direct route straight to Patong.
So in favor of saving time, we paid. Low and behold, they took us to Phuket Town anyway – to a travel agency to “reconfirm our destination.” Which meant demanding more money for the ride there.
At this point I’d had enough. I got pretty pissed, told them I was done f*cking around, and they’d better take us straight to Patong immediately. They did, and we arrived at midnight.
But on the plus side, at least it felt nice to get back to civilization. After more than a week on Ko Phangan I’d almost lost sight of how “out there” it really was; here, there were big roads, fast food, 3G internet, and all the modern conveniences of Bangkok. Although it’s an Island, Phuket is enormous – and one of Thailand’s top destinations, linked to the mainland by bridge rather than boat. So while I may’ve been expecting just another isolated Thai Island, I soon learned that Phuket is nothing of the sort…