After the harrowing ferry ride, we decided to posh it up and stay somewhere super swank in Phuket. It was monsoon season anyway, and the west coast beaches were ill advised to swim in due to high surf and undertow conditions. Besides, it rained all day, so, maybe it was nice to stay at a swank resort.
We headed to Ao Bang Tao, on the northwest side of the island, to a ring of six luxury resorts, “Laguna Beach,” away from the supposedly sketchy realms of Patong beach. We stayed at the Laguna Beach Holiday Club, for an incredibly low rate for the two room suite that we were given. I mean, it was a low rate for the US quality accommodations that we received, but actually not even bad compared to the prices for the places that we had been staying at.
Our room overlooked the golf course, so it was a bit cheaper (the more expensive ones overlook the beach). But whatever, it was super swank, and we were happy. I treated myself to another massage — this time, it was $45 for a 2 hour massage, which is more expensive than the usual $6/hour ones.. Then again, the usual massages weren’t in such a gorgeous setting — I mean, this spa was something straight out of a California retreat.. Super fancy shmancy. It was one of the most relaxing massages I’ve ever had, and then afterwards, even the shower was awesome — it was an open air shower, set in the jungle, with a cool stream of water pouring from a bamboo pipe in the stone wall. So nice.
Wandering around the beaches at night, we bumped into an Elephant. He was super friendly. Oh yah, the next day, we got to ride around on an elephant, but I didn’t have my camera, so I don’t have any pictures of that. But she looked and smelled just like this lil’ guy, only a little bigger. I must say, however, that riding on an elephant isn’t really that comfortable, and I can’t really imagine riding an elephant to be that great of a way to get around. But, still, it was pretty awesome.
Korby had to leave from Bangkok the next day, so we bought some plane tickets from Phuket to Bangkok via one of Thailand’s many low cost airlines, Nok Air. Before we left for the airport, Korby and I decided to skip the expensive resort food and head into Patong for some lunch. And, I also wanted to see just how sketchy Patong was.. After a spendy 600BHT cab ride, we get to Patong.. It’s pouring rain now, and we only had like 30 minutes to spend there anyway.. We hop into the nearest tasty looking restaurant, have some tasty Phat See You for 20BHT each, and then hop a mini-truck back to the resort for 500BHT. Wow. Talk about a mis-match in what things cost… I mean, where have you ever had a meal that cost 1/50th of what your cab rides cost? And yes, Patong was kinda seedy, with lots of old white dudes walking around with young Thai women, but I’m not gonna judge or anything.. It was actually a lot nicer than I thought it was — the beach is gorgeous, and there are definitely some non-seedy looking establishments amongst the seediness.
And then, we head to the airport, ready to board our 6:25pm flight for Bangkok. When we get to the airport, the staff at the desk inform us that our flight has been canceled due to a “runway issue.” Um.. what? We ask for more detail, but none is to be had, and we start running frantically around the airport to the other airlines to see if we can get on another flight. Thai Airways says that we might be able to get on standby, so we wait there for awhile, but that line doesn’t seem to move. We look into the bus from Phuket, but we had just missed it. Grrr. And then the real news comes.. A plane had crashed on landing at the Phuket airport. Wow. That’s really awful. All of a sudden, the inconvenience that we were experiencing didn’t seem that bad. It’s horrible. As the news slowly moves around the airport, the feelings of anger and inconvenience seem to disappear.
So, we have a few options.. wait for a flight the next day from Phuket, try to get a flight from Krabi (3 hours away), or try and get on the night train tonight from Surat Thani (5 hours away).. We decide that flying from Krabi is our best bet, and even if we can’t get a flight tonight, maybe we can get a flight that next morning.. We hop a cab, and after a slightly harrowing ride through twisty Thai country roads in a huge storm, at around 9:30pm, we arrive to an empty Krabi airport. We run to the front desk, and explain that we came from the Phuket airport. They explain that we had elected to take a refund for our tickets, so there was nothing they could do.
Korby asks, “Really? There’s nothing you can do?”
The girl thinks for a second, and then suddenly 6 Nok Air representatives appear out of nowhere. One girl is on the cell phone, another is barking orders into a radio. The dude is typing furiously into the computer, and another starts tagging our bags for check in. It was simply the most amazing act of quick acting customer service that I have EVER seen from an airline. I was in awe. So, it was just our luck, but the 19:50pm flight to Bangkok was delayed, and was sitting on the runway, just about to leave. They tell it to wait, and we start sprinting through the airport. We carry our checked bags along with us through the security gates, and even the security dudes were all cheering us on, yelling “GO! GO! RUN!” as we sprinted through the Krabi airport.
We scramble up the stairs to the awaiting plane. A full plane of people stare at us as we settle into our (first class, woo!) seats.. Wow. Now, we realize that after the whole Phuket disaster, we ourselves are attempting to fly out of this storm. Maybe that’s a little scary. But, the pilot does a fantastic job, and the flight is super smooth. Phew.
We get to Bangkok, which now feels comfortably familiar, and check into our hotel in the hopping Silom district.