Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Phuket - Why We Should Have Just Flown to Singapore, w/ Token Nice Day at the Beach

April 9

The night bus got us in to Phuket in the morning. The nice hostel in town was out of air con rooms, so we checked in next door. We wandered Phuket town for a bit and then Mary got whiny and decided to go to bed, while Josh explored the town. Then we spent an unpleasant evening in Patong: the transport we took cost 10x the expected rate, and Patong is a tourist cesspool. Neither of which we expected ahead of time. And then our bed sucked. :(

April 10

Amid desires to *leave* (city, country, continent, maybe even the whole trip) immediately, we decided to go snorkeling on Kata beach. This time, we managed our transport well (mainly going during the day on public buses), and arrived with a few hours to explore. After a false start (bad fit on Josh's mask), we got out into the water and saw some coral, starfish, sea urchins, and tropical fish. Overall, it wasn't great snorkeling, with rather cloudy water, but as a first trip for Josh and a first in 10+ years for Mary (who was too chicken as a child to do much anyway), it wasn't bad. After a while the water started getting really dirty and we turned back. We were pooped when we returned to shore, as the tide was pulling us the wrong way, so it's just as well there wasn't more to see.

Afterwards, we decided to play in the water and walk the beach. We swam and body surfed and enjoyed the sun. We returned on public transit, but not before walking around the shops and buying some pineapple.

When we got back, we discovered that our sunscreen had utterly failed to do its job. Ouch!

April 11-13

The next day was a rest day, followed by 2 days of travel. We missed the overnight train in Hat Yai after waking up for a 5:30 bus to ensure plenty of time for the connection. Turned out even though we were catching the train in Thailand, the time was listed in Malaysian time on the website. We would have gotten there in time anyway, but we tried to navigate the 2km from the bus station to the train station on foot by the sun--not a great way to navigate at midday this close to the equator. Instead we took a minibus to Georgetown (Penang) for the night. In the morning we wandered around Panang trying to figure out the long distance buses before catching one to Kuala Lumpur in the early afternoon. Right now, we're about to leave on a bus to Singapore from Kuala Lumpur, as soon as the bus ahead of us gets out of the way (regular long distance bus station is closed for renovations). Malaysia has looked very pretty and transit has been ok so far, if a little pricey and confusing (there doesn't seem to be a public system, just a bunch of competing operators with no incentive to give you the full picture of options or be honest with you about departure time--it seems all buses are scheduled to leave at "now" o'clock if you ask for the next one). It looks like it deserves a return visit at some point.

Ferry Ride Away From Penang from Misc

Looking back at the past week, we're wondering why we didn't just spend the money for the flight from Siem Reap to Singapore. Oh well. Hopefully we will still be able to check into the hostel we have reserved for tonight when we arrive sometime in the middle of the night.

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