Our rejection from Syria would send us back to the Turkish border. Hopping in a cab, we headed straight for the nearest airport. With only one operating flight a day, and flights to Istanbul only scheduled every other day, and as much as luck hadn’t been playing nice on this particular day, we found a deserted airport and scored a flight – we’d just have to wait 6 hours. Normally this type of airport wait isn’t too much of a problem since there’s generally lots of food and shops to waste your time, but this airport was in the sticks. There were no shops, but there was a food vendor selling only chips and chocolate. We’d just have to wait four hours first for him to show up, as the sign read. Arriving back in Istanbul, annoyingly in the wrong dirction from which we had intended, we’d buy a flight to Bangkok, Thailand.
Yes there’d be beaches, buckets and lady boys, but we were also going for educational purposes. And not the kind that comes from any of the aforementioned. Morgan would be taking a TESOL course to teach English for the next four weeks in Phuket, located on Thailand’s south western coast. Getting there would involve a pink Disney VIP bus, a midnight bus transfer, a broken tuktuk and a local bus. Ironically it would be the happy, smiley Beauty and the Beast Disney experience that would leave us soured. Sometime during the night ride to Surat Thani Morgan felt something brush up on his legs which he had splayed out in comfort as we’d scored the prime front seats. Opening his eyes a crack, he noticed a body reaching over his leg and an arm touching our bags. Stirring him awake, the body ducked away back down the double-decker stairs. We’d check our bags in the dark, but all seemed good. All except my little case of ear plugs that is. Yeah that’s right. The jerk snagged my plugs. I would spend the next month in Thailand scoping the markets for them and conclude that Thailand was in the middle of an earplug shortage crisis.
Making it to Phuket after 30 hours of solid busing, we’d find our studio room we’d call home for the next six weeks. It came with a TV, fridge, AC, a balcony, a bathroom with a western-style toilet and a shower that would only run cold water, that’s if the water was running on that particular day… Making it home we’d find a laundermat just down the road that we couldn’t resist, Dang Laundry. No kidding.
While Morgan would spend his days in school, I’d make my way down to Patong Beach – listed in Lonely Planet as the ugliest beach in Phuket. Sun tanning, swimming, repeat…it was a busy life what can I say. I do believe it is against the law to go topless on the beaches of Thailand, but that doesn’t sway many a Euro traveller. Most days I would find myself in the midst of an all ages boob party. Jugs every which way I’d turn. On one particular day, a group of three young Swedish girls decided to park themselves right infront of me on some sun chairs and go topless. With the chairs comes a little dusting brush to keep the sand off you, and the girls found it amusing to start frolicking about smacking eachother with it. As you can probably imagine this would attract quite a lot of attention. So much so, I actually watched two over-oiled dudes walk SMACK! into eachother. One being much shorter got a face full of man oil and sweat. It’s a fine skill, people watching and sometimes it’s just about luck. I think it was some days later I’d spot an elder gentlemen who’d had his white chest hairs braided and beaded. Sorry for the lack of photography here, I know how badly you all wanted to see the beaded man…Check out the Thai skin cutting being done just across from me (aka callus cutting).
On several nights we’d walk down to Bangla Road; famous for it’s night life, lady boys, and ping-pong shows. Of all the monotonous soliciting of suits, watches, massages and ping pong show sales pitches, our favourite encounter would be when a man would ask us “g’day mate, you wanna suit, mate?” except in a very confusing Aussie accent. Was this guy some Thai-Aussie mutation? Possible, except for the fact this guy was very clearly Indian. For some reason after five months of travel we had become so easily confused for dirty Aussie bums.