Tuesday 1 June 2010

Settling into Phuket. A visa run to Penang.


Four years ago I was waiting anxiously until the 12th June 2006 for the first leg of my global odyssey: a ₤1 bus trip from Newcastle to Aberdeen. Then the subsequent ferries to the Shetlands, the Faeroes and Iceland. It’s incredible to look at what’s happened to Iceland since then: economic collapse coupled with nature’s volcanic fury causing European-wide travel chaos. Three years ago I was exploring the wonderful Chiang Rai region of northern Thailand. I had just secured a return flight to magical Myanmar. Two years ago I was in the Maolin region of southern Taiwan. The beautiful national park provided the perfect backdrop for my encounter with the aboriginal Polynesian Taiwanese who still live there. One year ago I was celebrating Pat’s birthday in Trang. My ex-gf and I enjoyed a fancy meal in Trang’s plushest hotel before heading to a bar with her millionaire factory-owning boss. I wasn’t to know she would ditch me for a 61 year old bloke 5 months later! How’s that for your self-confidence? Being dumped for a pensioner! Today I am in Satree School in Phuket Town on Thailand’s largest island and tourism capital.


On Tuesday 13th April I celebrated the Thai new year with an old Swede, a young Japanese lad and all the staff from the On On Hotel in Phuket Town. Like last year, it was a wet drunken affair. Even old Richard from Trang made it up to Phuket for a few nights.


I wasted no time in heading for one of Phuket’s fancy cinemas. I found the big multiplex in Central Festival shopping mall on the edge of Phuket Town. My excitement was short-lived as the best movie available was Iron Man 2. I endured an intellectually demeaning 90 minute movie but enjoyed the English language, the popcorn and the aircon. I hadn’t been to an English speaking cinema for a loooong time.
I watched Robin Hood last week. Brilliant.


I’ve been to see the monkeys up Phuket Town’s biggest hill with many aerials. I’ve been to the small SiRe Island just east of Phuket Town. I’ve found Soi 11 where you can have a massage and possibly more depending on your negotiation skills. I’ve watched a sunset from Laem Prom Thep. I’ve been to Wat Chalong and the Big Buddha which sits atop a huge mountain offering glorious views of tropical jungle and coastline.


After 11 days the minging On On Hotel was starting to get on my nerves. Some parts of the movie ‘The Beach’ were filmed here. However, it’s the part near the beginning of the movie where they are staying in a shabby backpacker flophouse. Yes, the On On is the shabby backpacker flophouse. I smiled one night as I was reading the plentiful graffiti scrawled all over the walls. It said:

You will find the beach

Map under the bed

My young Japanese friend helped me to find a more permanent abode. I now stay in NaNaChart Mansion for a whopping 2700bt/month + about 300bt for water and electricity. This is very cheap by Phuket standards although it is the hottest room this side of Venus. I bought a small desk fan to help the ceiling fan but my room is just more like a fan-oven now!


I started work on the 3rd May so I had almost 4 weeks to hang out and explore the island. I have seen all the amazing beaches. I have swum and even attempted surfing again at beautiful Nai Harn beach. I have been snorkeling at a small secret beach Richard told me about near Nai Harn. I got stung by a jellyfish here which tempered the enjoyment somewhat.

I have also done a fair amount of boozing here too. My most memorable night so far was when I got so drunk I had to sleep in my friend’s bar. Dean is an interesting fella. He’s from Leicester and he has married a Ladyboy going by the name of Nancy. I slept on a bamboo bench before the girls who ‘work’ at the bar dragged me into their room. I ended up sleeping on the floor in a room behind the bar with about 10 girls. Sounds good eh? Not really. They can snore as well as any submariner when they’re all drunk.

My local bar in Phuket Town, ran by Manc Steve and Derbyshire Lee is called O’Malley’s? I lost my keys in there one night. I won a pool competition in Roxy’s bar which is owned by a canny Turkish lad.


My new boss ‘Ajarn Charoon’ offered me some extra classes at the end of April before my job started for real. I have been skint since leaving Trang so I jumped at the chance of some bonus income. I ended up doing basic Maths revision with some very small classes. It was pretty cool and the money was sorely needed.

I started working my new contract at Satree Phuket School on 3rd May 2010. I primarily teach Maths to 16-17 year olds. However I have two English classes of 55 * 13 year old girls which is pretty challenging. I’m on a much better deal here since I only have 15 contact periods and I get 38K. In Trang I taught 20 contact periods and got 30K. However, offsetting this is that everything is more expensive in Phuket – especially beer.


My last salary from Trang on 31st March has been depleted. I couldn’t make it last 2 months until the 31st May. I got paid yesterday into a new bank account. I’m now with the Thai Government Savings Bank since this is the only bank my school will pay salaries into. My Kasikorn bank account is empty and never to be touched again.
Just for the record the ₤1 = 46bt which is ridiculous. Before long it’ll be ₤1 = 1bt which’ll kill foreign tourism here in Thailand but probably boost Asian tourists visiting the bankrupt UK. Maybe then we can start thinking that all brown people are millionaires like they do to us here.


Pla from Krabi has been in Phuket a lot lately but now she’s back in Surin. Na stayed in my room for 2 weeks since she lost her job (and room). She stayed until she found a new job. Bee, who I first met in Bangkok about 3 years ago was in Phuket for 1 week at the beginning of May. Bew my new friend has also gone home. It seems that as the tourism low season kicks in, many people head back home to families.
I met Oi 2 weeks ago in Rawai and I’ve been seeing a great deal of her recently. She’s 27 from Nong Khai in northern Thailand. She is very nice and I’m hoping things work out but we have some initial obstacles to overcome. I want to buy a new phone with a 2MP camera so I can start posting pics again. Hopefully I can get a pic of her on my next post. I might do that tonight along with a scientific calculator since my last one broke.

Visa Run

At 2200 on Monday 24th May I took a bus to Hat Yai. Canadian Bill and I waited at Hat Yai bus station from 0400 until 0830 when we caught a minivan to Penang arriving at about 1500 Malay time. We shared a cheap room and submitted our passports for a Non-B immigrant visa. We dropped the passports off on Wednesday morning and collected them on Thursday afternoon. At 1500 we took a minivan back to Hat Yai and at 1900 we caught a bus back to Phuket arriving at 0200 Friday morning. This is the quickest and cheapest way to do it from Phuket.


Minivan + Bus = 1500bt
Non-B Imm visa = 2200bt
Room + food + beer = 1200bt
Total 5000bt or ₤100

And then back to Rawai where I have spent the past five nights with Oi – wow! She’s hot. We ate a shark dish at a cliff top restaurant overlooking the Andaman Sea and a superb sunset. On Saturday we danced away until 0500 in a Rawai disco called Laguna. I’ll keep you posted on how things develop there.

Keep living the dream
ฟานดีนะ Sweet dreams


  1. good to know you doing well

  2. Was starting to get worried about you after no update for so long! It's good to read that things are going well (except maybe for the jellyfish?!)