Monday, February 2, 2009

“Phuket! Big enjoy!”

2 February 2009 – Phuket, Thailand. I landed around 9am (+13hrs Houston, + 7 hrs London) and checked into the Phuket Hilton by noon. I have exchanged emails with Popeye and may meet him tomorrow. If not, I’ll spend the day at the beach. As far as I know we are still scheduled to disembark on the 5th so I’m booked here until then.

My arrival here was pretty anticlimactic… I was so deliriously tired all I could manage was this one crappy off-center photo of the sign at the airport. The drive to the hotel was 45 minutes during which I was nodding off in the backseat of the car, a luxury Toyota of some sort with a driver dressed in a Hilton uniform who didn’t speak any English (at least not to me, that is). Could barely keep my eyes open long enough to watch Phuket roll by like credits on a movie screen (to quote a Liz Phair song about flying on an airplane). My room is decent with a bathroom hand towel sculpted into the shape of an elephant. The view from my balcony is spectacular.

I had one wtf? moment on the plane when I was sleep deprived and my tv panel showed the map illustration of the plane going in for landing in Thailand close to the coast. It suddenly seemed irrational that I should get bored with my life, quit my job and fly to Thailand to meet a stranger with a sailboat. I freaked for a few moments thinking ohmygod what the fuck am I doing? No wonder everyone’s worried about me. Who would do this? Am I mad? This is nuts. But then it began to seem funny and I started laughing (lqoti)….and walking myself through the steps of why this isn’t crazy. People fly to Thailand all the time. Phuket is a luxury destination, a tropical paradise. Lots of people sail the oceans. Popeye sails all the time all over the world….and lots of people sail with him. So there you have it, this is perfectly normal.

The only other major event was getting through immigration in Bangkok. They take it very seriously here and I had a potential obstacle given that I’m here on a one-way ticket and they require evidence that you’re leaving in 30 days. Popeye had advised me to buy a refundable ticket then cancel it once I get through. But on principal I thought the truth should be acceptable – that I’m leaving Thailand on a sailboat set for India. I have my permission letter from the India Consulate to enter the Andaman Islands (restricted area) and the application papers to enter the BIOT….so I figured that should suffice. Turns out they didn’t even ask. Phew. Oh, and I met a nice older man in the queue at immigration control…he was British, returning to Thailand to memorialize his wife who died here a couple of years ago – it was sudden and unexpected. He hasn’t been back since but wanted to come to honour her memory and visit all the friends he made during the crisis that kept him here three months longer than planned. He and his wife visited Thailand all their lives and I could tell he was really happy to be back. His wife’s name was Sheila and she’d recovered from cancer four years prior to the year she died.

After immigration control, I had a quick 1:20 hour flight to Phuket. I sat next to a burly Italian guy who spoke little English but managed to piece together enough words to ask if I’ve been here before as he’s been several times. When I said no, he lit up happily and declared “Phuket! Big…big enjoy!” So I think I will.


Anonymous said...

Glad you made it there safely (no problems with immigration). I second the "phew". I'm looking forward to reading about your adventures. Have a safe trip.

Tim said...

And so it begins!!!

Good luck and enjoy being on steady ground while you can!! I never asked you get seasick?? Hope not!

Ali said...

Tim, I've never been seasick in the past, but I've never lived on a boat before. I'm sure I'll get seasick...the question is just when and how bad and how long...and if I can handle it. I'll try to get someone to photograph me when I'm green;)

Anonymous said...

I think we might have some kind of a book here. You're a good writer - great similes. I'm enjoying reading about your escapades. I was happy to see that you finally realized what we all have been thinking about your decision to pack it all up and go and have fun. More of us need to just say. "To Hell with it!" and take a risk. No matter how it all turns out, remember, there would be no memories if you hadn't tried it. At some level we're all living precariously through your bravado. Can't say I would do it or would have done it, but YOU GO GIRL! I'm proud of you for throwing caution to the wind and sailing off to the unknown. Just think, it won't be "unknown" anymore once you tell us what it's like. Love you.

Anonymous said...

I miss you Den and Adrea,great writing i love it,enjoy.