Musings

Patong is a Lady (boy) of the night

The heat hits you like a slap in the face as you walk out of Phuket airport. Thai men are lined up along the airport pick up area all vying for your attention, “Where are you going miss? I take you there!” Luckily, I had received the best piece of advice I’ve needed to date from my friend Moff – keep your head down and walk straight to the metered taxis!  Finding the whole scene so hectic and surreal I tried to reason with the men, “Sorry I have a ride already.”

“Who with?” they replied.

“I am going to take a metered taxi”

“There are none!” a particularly brazen man pointed to a stand that had ‘Taxi Meter’ emblazoned across the top, which to my horror had a sign ‘No Taxis’.

“I’m just going to go talk to him and come back ok” and I wandered away. Arriving at the stand I inquired, “are there really no taxis?!’

‘Where you going’ the man replied so fast I could hardly understand him.

“Patong” and I showed him the address.

“500 baht! You wait!”

And so I waited about twenty minutes by the taxi stand taking in my surroundings. Others were doing the same as me, some having the luck I did and others being turned away for unapparent reasons as it seems I wasn’t the only ones having the language problems with the fast-talking taxi-dealer.

The window of the taxi stand was roughly pushed open “Miss your taxi two minutes away! Go now!” Being said incredibly fast so I can only assume this is what was said.

Getting in the air conditioned taxi was like finding heaven on earth. The heat in Phuket at even 8:30pm was incredible, and such a dry heat that I could feel my clothes sticking to me immediately.

My taxi driver was all smiles but unfortunately spoke little English. I was disappointed as I was hoping he would double as a tour guide as I took in Phuket through the window. He did try though and pointed out things he thought I would be interested in, “Shopping Outlet” he said gesturing eagerly, followed by “Sea Pearl Resort” for which the entrance was quite magnificent set against the run down surrounds we were driving through. I followed up with an obligatory “ohhh, wow” and he was pleased with himself. There was a huge billboard for a Fantasea show and my tour guide pointed and said “Show!”, “Good show?” I replied. “Yes, good show” (I have since been warned by another friend that this is not the case). This was the extent of our conversation, although it was a blessing in disguise; I was exhausted from a day of traveling and trying to take in everything I could.

The cars are the king of the roads, swerving and ignoring lanes and speed limits. My heart only stopped about three times – I take this to mean my taxi driver was a good driver. Scooters outnumber the cars and have their own lanes – they are chaotic, and many, each with anywhere between one and four (probably more) passengers, and some with so much cargo that I wouldn’t have thought would fit in a car let alone a scooter. Some of the locals didn’t wear helmets and I shook my head – they must have more luck than me on those things.

For a Monday night there were people everywhere. It appears Phuket, especially Patong, never sleeps – it is a lady (boy) of the night and through it’s boisterous charm and smiling, friendly people it has utterly seduced me.

*Meter taxi to Patong Terrace Boutique Hotel was quoted as 500 baht and ended up costing 312 Baht. Knowing that tipping is customary but still getting used to the currency I still paid 500 Baht and was offered no change, although satisfied with the drive I decided to let it slide.

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Categories: Musings, Thailand, Travel Diary, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My favourite Hawaiian Souvenirs

Sometimes if you have limited space in your suitcase (like I always seem to) you need to be a bit picky about what souvenirs to take home. This is why I always leave my souvenir shopping until the last few days of my trip.

When going to Hawaii I knew that I definitely wanted Hula girls to give to my friends and that I should buy them on one of the smaller islands. Unfortunately, I hardly found any, other than at the ABC Stores which are a mass-produced items. I held off buying as long as I could but in the end they were the best quality and price. I particularly liked the chubby hula doll!

I also stumbled across vintage-print postcards and thought they were a great find, until I kept seeing them again and again.

I bought these from islandartstore.com and love them!

I bought these from islandartstore.com and love them!

Of course, there are leis and frangipani hair pieces available everywhere and markets stock bracelets and other beaded jewellery. In Waikiki there are high-end souvenir stores with higher priced and unique items, although I know that I never put my souvenirs to good use (unless they are gifts) so don’t buying cheaper ones – there are much better things to spend your money on when on holiday!

Categories: Hawaii, Musings, Travel tips | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

A note for my father…

Dear dad,

If I happen to go missing somewhere among the crazy streets of Bangkok, the remote Koh Tao island, the isolated Kerala backwaters, or trekking through the Himalayas please watch the movies below and do exactly what Liam Neeson does.

Love,

Abby xx

P.S. You can consider me missing if you haven’t heard from me for three consecutive days… not three consecutive minutes.

                        image                                              film-poster

Categories: Musings, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

My Top 20 Travel Tips

travel-tips

This holiday satisfies a couple of firsts for me – the first extended holiday I’ve ever had and the first time I’ve ever travelled solo. To bring some of my anxiety in check, I did a bit of research on experienced traveller’s tips. These include tips that I find helpful for my particular situation and some that I thought might be helpful to others.

  1. This one is for the girls: When travelling in locations where safety might be an issue, add pockets to your bras. This can be done on a normal bra by adding a small piece of fabric or if your bra has removable padding, you can take the insets out and add a couple of stitches. You can put a bit of cash in here, or hotel keys etc.
  2. Be prepared: Do your research! There is nothing more liberating than going on a whirlwind holiday last minute, but to make sure you make the most of your trip research travel guides, read travel diaries (I’ve found travelblog.org really informative and most importantly – ask people that have been there! They can tell you special places they found that aren’t listed in guides, what to expect, how much you will pay and more. Even if you don’t know the person well once you start talking about the travels it will be hard to get them to stop! I have already picked up so many pieces of information for my travels from people I hadn’t talked to before. It is even a good way to strike up conversation with strangers whilst there.
  3. Make sure you have a couple of ways to access cash in case something happens and your credit card is lost/ stolen. I’m thinking of taking a travel card, cash and a credit card and never taking all three out with me at the same time. You don’t need a lot of cash – ATMs are everywhere.
  4. While we are on the subject – take copies of EVERYTHING and keep all your information all together. If you are anything like me, you will lose and forget stuff (constantly). I’m taking a diary with me and writing all necessary information on each day, such as flight information on the day of departure. I’ll also have all my itineraries and booking confirmations kept all together in the diary. If you are a bit more technologically literate than I am, use your phone to store everything – this will also save space in your luggage.
  5. If you are travelling alone like me and want to socialise, keep an open mind – easier said than done I know, talking to strangers is a big fear for a lot of people. If you fancy a drink go to the bars earlier rather than later as it will be easier to talk and get to know people (although everyone is friendlier after they have had a few!). Also utilise hotel and backpacker bars, there will always be people in the same situation as you. 
  6. To save money, time, and space buy an international adaptor rather than having to pick one up in every country. Mine cost me $19 (AUD) on a sale website recently. You might also want to consider taking a four-plug power board if you have multiple items requiring charging.
  7. Don’t plan everything. I always want to do this but if you don’t it means you are more flexible to do something you are recommended whilst there or join a group of people you have met along the way.
  8. Walk as much as possible! You will find little corners that you wouldn’t have found otherwise and get a feel for how the locals live and what this place is all about. It will add to the authenticity of your holiday.
  9. Don’t pack something you have never worn at home – if you don’t wear it there, you will definitely not wear it on your trip!
  10. If you are travelling alone, be careful of who you ask to take your photos – so many cameras are stolen this way. I suggest getting used to selfies. Practice them at home – you might not think selfies are acceptable when scrolling through your Facebook, but if you don’t have photo evidence of you on holidays you will most certainly regret it later.
  11. Try to fit in to the local culture so as not to draw attention to yourself, but don’t be afraid to be a tourist – take LOTS of photos (you can delete some later), ask loads of questions and ask for a coffee terribly in another language.
  12. Without a doubt you will forget something when packing – don’t worry, there will be somewhere you can buy it later (and probably cheaper!)
  13. Pack too much underwear – you might not get to do a wash that often and although you can reuse clothing, it’s a different story with underwear. They don’t take up much space either (stick them in your shoes!)
  14. Buy a Mircrofibre towel – they are cheap, light and dry quickly. Nothing worse than a heavy, wet and smelly towel!  
  15. Always ask for an emergency exit seat on a plane – if you get there early enough often they are free (monetarily and physically). On a long flight this makes the world of difference. Don’t be afraid to ask for your preference in seat though. I generally go with an aisle seat so I can come and go as I please, but then you have to get up for other people which is annoying, especially when you are trying to sleep. It’s a tough one!
  16. Budget hotels often offer free wifi but nicer ones generally charge you for it – go figure!
  17. Always take a metred taxi (especially in Asia) otherwise you will be overcharged.
  18. Never assume you will have a working TV on your flight – take some sort of entertainment (or sleeping pills!)
  19. If you are arriving somewhere late at night make sure you have already booked your hotel – it’s not nice being exhausted, not knowing where to go in the taxi and having to find somewhere to stay.
  20. Last tip and my personal favourite – it is your holiday – be selfish for once in your life. You are making your own memories so do whatever the hell you want!

I’d love to hear any of your tips!

Categories: Musings, Travel tips | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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