All good things must come to an end, pretty much. So, enough of the pampered, lah-tee-friggin-dah luxury blogging.
For the next leg of our journey, although we may have kicked it down a notch. It was really when things got interesting. As we left Krabi Beach, The Sheraton, the luxury of Phulay Bay, we headed to Phuket. Our only research — the words of a Thailand veteran. “There are thousands of hotels in Phuket … don’t worry.” On we went …
The roads from Krabi to Phuket were pretty self explanatory, if you watch for the signs. Make sure you stay on the left side of the road. Don’t run over a motorcycle with no lights in the dark and don’t drive off a cliff. A downpour here and there added a little bit of a challenge, as did nightfall. But the signs … most along the way included English instructions along with the Thai. In addition, we soon noticed that the world Phuket when printed in Thai, looks very much like our English or Spanish name/word “nina.” So … we started looking for the signs that said “nina” … piece of cake.
Briefly … Phuket is an island, and Phuket Province stretches across the island. Patong, the hotspot for tourists is a crazy beach area along a half-circle inlet on the West side of the island. Phuket (city) is on the southeast side of the island, away from the world-famous beach.
So easy was the journey to Phuket Island, that we got a bit complacent. Yes we discussed finding a hotel first and then hitting the strip in Phuket. But the bright lights sucked us in. Soon we had parked and headed to The Hard Rock Cafe, Phuket. (I had made contact with them in advance and had planned to visit … and as luck would have it, we drove right to it.) Typically, I wouldn’t consider something as — shall we say, trendy — as a HRC t-shirt … but the thought of it having the old Phuket location on it made it seem a little more out of the norm. So … we shopped for a while. Ha …. so hard to please … I found nothing I liked for me or anyone else for that matter … everything had huge, non-breathing artwork all over the fabric. Yuck. I digress …)
But, on the other hand, we had a great time at the HRC. YES … they have Wi-Fi! The hotspot is free, but password protected. Don’t tell anyone … the password is “rocknroll.” I left my laptop and iPad in the car, and just got online with the iPhone. But that was all I needed to check in … tweet … surf … send e-mails and click off a few photos of the floor show.
And about that show … The HRC Phuket has an excellent cover band of 6-7 musicians that belt out some pretty convincing versions of Western rock ‘n’ roll classics, with a guy and two females sharing the lead vocals. It worked … and talk about high energy … the ladies did the old neck pump, head banger hair swoop thing for about three hours non-stop … except for the intermission.
Now about that intermission … that is when the ladyboys came out. Five or six transgender, trans-whatever performers took turns lip-synching to American pop hits … most notably Beyonce … and the “boys” did their best to look the part as well. Pretty darn interesting …. that’s all I’m saying.
Western food, uniquely Thai entertainment and free Wi-Fi that Rocks! — The Hard Rock Cafe, Phuket gets six platinum pings … sorry we couldn’t stop by on the way out.
OH … you know what? We still hadn’t found a hotel. We walked to the Courtyard… to the Holiday Inn and several other independent hotels near the HRC. Not a single room available. We started to drive up and down the strip, popping in hotel after hotel after hotel. There were no vacancies. We drove on. We had been advised to try some of the extra rooms advertised in the back of the businesses throughout the district. Nothing. Back in car.
Everywhere we went … people were still hanging out, on porches, in bards, at food stands … pretty much all night. Need an icebreaker? Ask to be in a photo or take someone’s photo. These Thais love to have their photos shot.
Soon we drove up over the huge hill that we encountered on our way into the tourist mecca of Phuket. We though surely we were off the “drag” — Patong — and could find something. We were wrong. Happy Chinese New Year … zilch.
Probably now driving in circles, we encountered a nice apartment complex, whose non-English speaking security guards thought we were crazy when we asked about renting a room. We were not crazy, just desperate … what had begun as one day had already become the next. Nearby we whipped into a huge private gate and stopped at the guard booth of The Hilton. They invited us on in, so we drove to an outside lobby area, parked, walked to the desk … but there was no one there. I picked up a phone and called the operator, who said she would send someone. Soon a shuttle arrived. It was basically a bobtail truck that had been altered, so that the rear end looked like a wooden-framed street car. Weary, we climbed aboard and the driver took off, not saying a word.
The drive whisked us away to a second lobby. Ha … you should see this lobby. It is about the size of a shopping mall in the States … but open air, with a high ceiling or roof or whatever … nice furniture everywhere. We walked the long walk and many steps up to the concierge. It reminded me of the tin man, cowardly line, etc., intro to Oz as they walked the long walk to see the Wiz … finally, we made it. So happy that they had accepted us and soon we would have rooms, with a few hours left for sleep.
I guess The Hilton just liked to give the shuttle driver practice. They picked us up at Lobby A and delivered us to Lobby B, without mentioning that no … there wasn’t a place to stay. Seemed a bit insane at the time … but go with the flow, I always say. Remember the big, big lobby? I begged them to just let us sleep on one of the dozens of plush couches spread about the place. Ha … there was a little grandmother doing just that nearby, as a matter of fact. But … they said no and informed us the mosquitoes would not be kind to us.
If interested, go to this link, then click on the video tour of the Andaman Lobby.
OK … any suggestions, Mr. Concierge? The English-speaking Thai gentleman at the desk said we were S-O-L … an American term that I bet doesn’t translate accurately. Everything in the immediate area was booked for the holiday. He suggested we drive another 20 minutes to Phuket Town. We did.
And that led to one of the more interesting hotel stays in the entire trip … more to come.
Know what I saying?