A typical travel day
My day began at 4:30 am. Not on purpose, but because my hotel was surrounded by bars that blared music until at least 6:45 am (I left after that and it was still blasting).
I packed and got ready to leave. Since I had extra time, I decided to head to the 711 mart for snacks. I made my way downstairs to find a door blocking the stairwell. I could get out but it was locked and I was afraid I'd be locked out on my way back so I gave up and went back to my room.
Only thing is, my room key now decided not to work! It was 5:55 and my car was coming between 6 and 630. My bags were in the room. This was not good!
Luckily, as I was heading back from my second Thai massage of the week last night, I peered into an open room and saw that staff lived there. I knocked on their door and they got a man with master keys to open my door. I figured I still had a few minutes (the pickup timeframe window is quite liberal here) so I grabbed some kettle chips :) and talked to the girls who helped me out until the van arrived.
I tried to pay attention to the conversation, but for the most part I was too distracted by the street scenes in front of me. Everyone was still at the bars (it was almost 7am) and stumbling around the streets. I was surprised to see that the majority of them were Thai and were "dressed" quite scantily. I try not to judge, but it's hard not to when I see a western guy with an Asian woman dressed this way, especially the older men. This happens all over.
My shuttle finally arrived close to 7. The drivers didn't speak much English but were friendly. They squeezed 12 people, each of whom had giant backpacks and personal bags into a minivan and then drove like maniacs about 40 minutes to the pier. We were relieved to arrive alive.
The relief didn't last long as we were then herded onto a run-down bus with twice as many passengers as seats and no air con or working windows. We were all concerned since no one knew what was going on except that we had at least an 8 hour journey ahead of us.
Turns out the bus drove us to another pier where we caught a ferry. I was happy about this because my pinched nerve in my back has flared up again and sitting/ traveling are extremely painful for me. At least on the ferry, I could lay down and shift lots to try to find relief. I was also fortunate to have black charcoal blown on me from the boat so I'm now covered in black smudges!
After an hour an half ferry ride, everyone forgot their manners to push ahead of the crowds back onto the bus. I'm lucky I'm little and had no problem sneaking in and grabbing a seat. I was glad I did because in addition to even more people, there is now a motorcycle taking up seats so half the passengers are standing in the aisles. At least the air con is on now.
Everyone is still concerned as we don't know how long we will be on this bus--There's no toilet, we haven't had anywhere to buy food or water, and we are all headed to different places. I'm headed to another Thai island, Phuket. The guy standing next to me is headed to Malaysia. I hope to go there eventually, but not today so I'm crossing my fingers that's not where I'm headed!
It's now 11:50 am and I'm not much closer to my destination, although I at least know I'm headed the right way. After an hour an a half on the bus, it stopped to let more people on and I jumped off to pee. Yup, I peed in the middle of the town, in broad daylight. I didn't know when the next toilet would be and I had already been holding it an hour. Ten minutes later, we stopped, an there were toilets.
A lady for on the bus and told everyone going to Phuket to get off. I was asked to show my ticket (4th time today so far) and was given a "phuket" sticker for my shirt so the driver knew where to drop me. I was then sent to the back of a pick-up with 8 people and bags. This was right after I finally got my food order across through gestures so that was canceled. :(
After a 20 minute truck ride, we had to walk another 10 to the bus station. Why the truck didn't take us all the way there is beyond me. Once at the station, I threw my stuff on a seat to reserve it and hurried to the toilet, to buy pain meds, and to eat. I had no idea when he bus was leaving so I was anxious.
I had fun gesturing to the old lady that I needed a pill for back pain. She enjoyed the charades game. Even more fun was ordering a fried egg and plain rice. They always want to make fried rice. We got that figured out...and then I needed salt. He gave me every sauce under the sun and at one point had all 5 Thai customers guessing along too. They were all enjoying the game and we were all proud when we finally got it right!
I'm back on a bus now. In case you lost count, that's 6 transfers so far when I was told 3. The air works and I have a row to myself, for now (update-that didn't last long).
I was told I'd arrive in Phuket at 3pm. It's now 12 and the driver just said the ride would be 6 hours. I hope he gets his 6's and 3's mixed up too!