We weren’t expecting queues at customs at Phuket International Airport to be phenomenally long and slow. We spent a little over 2hrs waiting in line before we finally made it through. No drama like in JFK, and we don’t get yelled at here. But the wait was certainly a pain. Interestingly, a group of men dressed as the Mario brothers who were on the same flight we were on made it through rather briskly – and they were the last few out of the plane. Bounce powers must work. The plane cheered when they got on, it was quite funny.
We made it to the hotel after midnight, but not before a tad scary swap of taxi ride not 400m out of the airport parking. We hopped on to the shuttle we booked online to take us from airport to hotel because we thought it made sense to have one waiting for us since we were getting in late. We were relieved we didn’t spend any longer at the airport, and were looking forward to starting our weekend break. Barely 5 mins later, our taxi driver, an elderly man, slowed to a stop by the side of the road, and said we had to change to a different taxi. He was on the phone speaking rapidly in Thai, and sounded exasperated. The other taxi appeared quite quickly, and two burly males stepped out. It was like a scene out of a movie right before a kidnap. My heart dropped all the way to my knees and I was ready to run all the way back to the airport. But they didn’t put a burlap sack over our heads, and instead were apologetic due to the mix up, and were decent – though they certainly didn’t look it. Maybe it was a pre-requisite for taxi drivers who do night shifts to look like bouncers. Lesson learnt here – don’t take your safety for granted, always be on the alert.
We spent the weekend indulging in massages and pampered ourselves a bit. There were plenty of little flea market type set ups across the stretch of Patong Beach that were interesting though most sold fairly similar things. Tourist traps, they are. The fun part about purchasing things from them is the haggling. Not as easy as the time before the catastrophe hit them but fun nonetheless. The 2006 tsunami flattened Patong but it is as alive today as I last remember it. New shopping centres sprouted up too, and must give the stalls a run for their money. JungCeylon was a 5-minute walk away from our hotel and so we find ourselves there when dodging from heat and rain. It is a huge complex, complete with cinemas, a supermarket, Robinsons, restaurants, cafés and hotels linked up to it. It has seemingly become the heartbeat of Patong since most things seem to radiate outwards from its location. Bangla Street, the lane filed with pubs left and right, was a mere 30-second walk from JungCeylon. There is a little cafe, a hidden gem, that sits in one of the small lanes off Bangla, opposite the SeaDragon Pub. I cannot remember the full name, but it is Eurasian something – their Pad Thai is awesome!!!
The massage place we went to came highly recommended by a friend. We highly recommend it too after having experienced the spa-tastic treatments twice over. It’s called Let’s Relax, and is found along the main thoroughfare of Patong. You can’t miss it. Nice rituals, good technique and is reasonably priced too.