The getting-to-airport/flight bit was pretty boring. Continuing the tradition of years gone by, Emily met me at good ol' Kingsford Smith and saw me off on yet another adventure - thanks Em, love ya!
When my backpack finally came off the conveyer belt at Phuket airport, it was covered in some white powder, but as it was on the outside, it was clearly someone else's stash.
After some confusion at the airport as to which form of transport was best to get to my hostel (mainly due to my initial mantra of "everyone's trying to rip me off"), I was pointed towards a minivan and then expected to hold on for dear life. Kidding. We did, however, overtake an ambulance at one stage, which was pretty impressive.
At the hostel, a really sweet Thai girl who reminds me a lot of Kae checked me in, and then a girl who must've been about Kim's size tried to pick up my 17kg backpack (yes, Pel, I overpacked). I tried to grab it off her, saying "no, no, you're tiny!" to which she just gave me a determined stare. I eventually got her to let me carry it up to my room, which I'm sharing with a nice Canadian girl named Caitlin (two single beds in the one room - most impressive for only $7 a night!).
Around 3am there was an almighty thunderstorm. Someone forgot to tell me Thailand is about to go into it's wet season. But the clouds had thinned out a little by this morning, and I was woken at 6am by the neighbours' rooster, just in time to see the sun rise through the palm trees.
Things then got rather interesting. It's a little bit too-much-information, but I think it's just too funny not to share. I desperately needed to use the ladies', but as the toilet was in the same little room as the shower, there was no toilet paper. That makes sense. But there was no toilet paper to be found in any of the three toilets on the three floors I looked into. Even the mens'. Luckily, as per Emily's suggestion, I'd stolen a big handful of tissues from the plane, so the crisis was averted. After I was showered and dressed, I went downstairs where the nice girl hehind the counter served me breakfast. She popped a cup of coffee in front of me, then cooked me two pieces of toast (very traditional Thai fare) and disappeared for a few seconds before coming back with the napkins. Or her version of a napkin. A roll of toilet paper. I had to try really hard not to laugh out loud!
Having not brushed my teeth the night before (for fear of tap water and fear of going out to find a 7 Eleven at night in an unfamiliar place in the middle of woop woop), first order for the day was to find some bottled water! I then wandered up to Wat Chalong, the nearby temple, where there were a number of monks praying - including a little boy who couldn't have been more than 10. He was very cute in his saffron robes. After popping back to the hostel to brush my teeth, I headed off to find the office of the company that I'm diving with tomorrow. Being the confused lass that I was (and will continue to be in respect to public transport around here), I walked for a good 40 mins down the road before biting the bullet and waving down a tuk tuk. My pointing to a piece of paper with an address on it and gesticulating "scuba diving" obviously didn't get the point across quite as clearly as I'd intended, and the driver ended up dropping me at a different dive shop. So I walked, again.
When I got to the dive shop, I tried on fins, a BCD, a mask and a shortie wetsuit, and each time, the first item I tried on fitted perfectly. So, alas, my walking had been somewhat pointless, but at least tonight I can sleep soundly knowing that when I turn up at the boat tomorrow, I won't be expected to squeeze into an il-fitting wetsuit, or have a leaky mask.
I conquered the buses (well, one stopped near where the dive shop was and I jumped on, hoping I was doing the right thing), and am now in Phuket Town. I just had a delicious lunch of Pad Thai at the local fruit market, made on a cart attached to the side of a motorbike. The lady cooking it was just lovely, and put up with my sad attempts to pronounce "vegetarian" in Thai.
[my Tuesday: lots of walking, blisters, and my first real Thai food!]
So - I'm safe, I'm well fed, I'm still a little confused about the buses, but am enjoying myself immensely and looking forward to swimming with lots of fishes from tomorrow.
Next update probably not til the weekend at the earliest, as I will be at sea until Friday night. And from there, I think I'm off to the Phi Phi islands and then Krabi. Any recommendations from those who've been there before will be most appreciated!