When traveling solo, my typical trip consists of a balance between work, blog, exercise, sightseeing, and partying – with the emphasis shifted decidedly away from the latter. When traveling with a friend however, work and blog fall completely off the radar as nightlife assumes a far greater role. After all, having a like-minded buddy makes everything easier, safer, and altogether more enjoyable. Take my recent trip to Europe for instance; with Peder, I’d go out almost every night – but still arise early enough for a nearly full day of tourism.
This trip, however, has been pretty out of control – even by my standards. If there’s one thing I can tell you about Thailand, it’s that the nightlife sucks you in…and never lets go. Even my friends who’ve lived in Bangkok for the better part of a decade still find themselves clubbing until sunrise twice a week or more. For me, the past few weeks have become by far the most party-oriented trip of my life.
So with New Year behind us and Herb’s departure just on the horizon, we resolved that from now on, it would be nothing but good old-fashioned tourism. Our next stop was Phang Nga, a small coastal town, for a boat trip through mangrove forests, karst scenery, floating fishing villages, and a stop at James Bond Island.
…But before moving on I’d like to do just one last post on a few memorable encounters from our stay in Phuket:
• Remember back in Bangkok when I wrote about reconnecting with Steven, an old friend from Japan? Well, by yet another remarkable coincidence, my college roomate just happened to be spending New Year in Patong with his wife – so a few nights ago Herb and I walked over to their hotel and kidnapped him for a night on the town. As he’d moved to Australia for work several years back, this was the first time we’d seen each other since – God, who knows when.
Once again, I’d like to thank Facebook for the head’s up (that Ron would be in town)…and for reminding me of what an unbelievably small world this is 🙂
(For any really long-term readers, you might recall back in 2005 when Ron came to visit me in Kyoto, Japan. Same roomate.)
• One night at Club Hollywood, Herb and I were having a quick breather out front. Nearby, a drunken Australian was hassling – and pushing – a Thai prostitute. A few Thai guys stood around doing nothing to help, so against my better judgement I decided to respectfully step in. I didn’t even say a word – as soon as I approached he slugged me straight in the face, knocking me flat on the ground. Apparently at this point some bystanders grabbed him and tossed him into a cab, though I didn’t see it – it took me a few seconds to come to and by that time he was already gone. Great, black eye for a week.
• Our last day in Phuket was a leisurely day of recovery: strolling around town, checking out the beach (by day!), and in my case, one of the weirdest experiences of the trip: a “Fish Foot Massage.” The concept is you stick your feet into an aquarium where hundreds of tiny fish feed off the dead skin, leaving you “silky and soft.” It felt indescribably strange. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing.
• For our last night at the hotel, Herb and I asked to change rooms (for security reasons – don’t ask.) Luckily they did have another available, and minutes later we were settled once again. Until the following morning when the receptionist suddenly presented an unexpected surprise: apparently they’d moved us to a more expensive room and were now demanding a higher price.
The practice of changing the price after services rendered seems to be remarkably common in Thailand. We told them “no way, if you’re going to change the price you need to say so beforehand – not after the fact.” In the end, we came to an agreement: the receptionist would drive us to the bus station rather than taking a cab (translating to a huge profit for her, because remember, taxis in Phuket charge 10X what they cost everywhere else).
Luckily it turned out better for the both of us, as she was far more fun than any cabbie would’ve been – and spoke great English to boot 🙂
At last, we were on the road again. Phang Nga, here we come.