Welcome to Thailand

I wasn’t able to book a hotel in Phuket before I got to Thailand. I tried, but the 3G internet is just a fucking joke in Malaysia. You can sit there for half an hour retrying over and over and not be able to load Google. It’s absolutely unusable. So I was little bit worried about what was going to happen when I arrived in Phuket well after midnight.

The trip down was in an 8 person mini-van until Hatyai north of the Thai border, and then we transferred into an even more crowded 14 person mini-van for the rest of the 13 hour trip. I was sick as a dog with the flu and I bet everyone in the van HATED me coz I just sat there coughing and wheezing and sniffling mucus for 13 hours solid.

Getting into Phuket at half past midnight, I had no idea where I was going to go and the bus driver asked me where I wanted to be dropped off. I said I had no idea and he said “Ok, bus station near the city. You will find hotel nearby”. I nodded dumbly and wished I had a Thai SIM card so that I could get online and look around.

When we arrived I stepped outside the bus and a taxi driver said “Where you want to go ?” and I said “Cheap hotel. No more than 800 baht” which is a bit less than $30. He said “I know good place nearby, only 500 baht or 600 baht with airconditioning”. I said “Sure, that sounds great”, and he drove me there.

I walked in and the first thing I saw was a sign that said “Automatic motorbike, 200 baht per day”. Shit yeah ! That’s like $6 a day for a motorbike. Half what I paid in Malaysia ! I checked into my room and asked the dude about the motorbikes and he said “Yeah no problem. You get one tomorrow morning at 8:30am”. The hotel was pretty old looking and had no lift so I had to lug my bags up to the 3rd floor myself, but for $18 a day, I wasn’t complaining.

To my surprise the room was MASSIVE. I mean you could play cricket in here it was so big. It had a huge king size bed, a TV, and it was the first hotel I’d stayed on on this trip that had a fridge and freezer in the room which I was extremely happy about. Sadly, the WIFI wasn’t free, and I had to pay 80c an hour for access, but as long as it was fast I didn’t care.

Unfortunately I didn’t get enough signal on the third floor to connect, and I got dressed again and went downstairs barefoot and said “Hey, you get no WIFI signal on third floor !” and he nodded and said “Yeah, first and second floor get signal, but not third. You have to come downstairs”. “No way” I said. “I want WIFI in my room. You should have told me. You knew I was on the third floor but you sold me 4 hours of WIFI anyway”.

To my surprise, even though I’d already opened the password voucher he said “Very sorry sir. I give you refund” and gave me my 100 baht back. I asked “Can I get SIM card nearby ?” and he said “Yes. 7/11 just down the street. Very easy”. I wandered off down the street barefoot to find the 7/11.

Even though I wasn’t really in the city centre, the place was very vibrant. There were lots of colourful, brightly lit bars pumping out all manner of Thai and western music. There was a big girly bar called The Pink Lady with a huge security guy standing outside. There was a few restaurants, but I’m pretty sick and not hungry even though I haven’t eaten since yesterday evening so I just continued on to the 7/11.

I bought two SIM cards without requiring any ID (unlike Malaysia where you need to show them your passport) for 50 baht each. One came with 50 baht credit while the other came with none, but the guy assured me it was the better one, so I bought 100 baht credit for it and some Fanta for the cheap duty free Smirnoff I’d bought when we stopped at Immigration on the Malay-Thai border.

I walked back to the hotel, slipped my SIM in and it worked instantly with all the settings detected. I breathed a sigh of relief and tested the speed. I got low pings and had no problem getting 2 and a half megabit. Ahh, finally, civilisation. Malaysian internet was abominable. Worst I’ve experienced anywhere in the entire world. Every hotel’s ADSL or Fibre would just disconnect constantly every minute or so, and the 3G was just unusable so I was so relieved to finally have cheap, fast, 3G internet again. Thank god !

So, less than an hour in Phuket and I’m really glad I came. Just as everyone told me, Thailand is more interesting and vibrant, has better facilities and is much, much cheaper than Malaysia. While I did enjoy Kuala Lumpur and Penang, I am so glad I didn’t choose to stick around any longer because so far, Thailand really seems like a tourist paradise. So many beautiful temples and things. Even the bloody prison here is a veritable work of art. In the morning I will go rent a motorbike and look around Phuket. Look forward to it.

Oh but one last thing. I have only taken one photo so far. When I got out of the van in Hatyai I was confronted with the most amazing introduction to this country one could possibly imagine. I literally just stepped out of the van and right in front of me was a freaking ELEPHANT just walking down the street through the bus terminal with a handler like it was the most normal thing in the world.

Welcome to Thailand.

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10 Responses to Welcome to Thailand

  1. Keesha says:

    This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for wtriing!

    • Fabiane says:

      Talen , as you know I am a great lover of elephants , Moll-Lee is one of my fvairote girls and I think that getting to interact with these gentle gaints does at times change folks attitude toward all things wild, and causes them to appreciate and want to protect more than ever all creatures both graet and small, I am sad for any that are abused and am like you thankful that there are those that set aside land and spend their time and effort taking care of and protecting the elephants.And it is true they never forgrt , no matter how long between visits to the Kanchanaburi Elephant Refuge , whem Moll_Lee sees me she will start walking over to me and there has been a time or two when I was leaving that she lifted her trunk high into the air and let out a voice that could be heard for miles telling me good-by The plastic huggers will never win in Thailand , it is a way of life , ha ha .And as far as colestrol goes thats why I take Lipitor, I don’t want to miss any of the good fruit and food out there , ha ha . Malcolmmalcolm recently posted..

      • pawz says:

        And you, sir, are one of the gentler creatures of our race for recognising this. Personally I am a cat person. I have been to many zoos to hand feed white and regular lions and tigers, pat cheetahs etc. Elephants hold little interest for me but I completely appreciate what you are saying. They are awe-inspiring if nothing else and make you stop and realise “Wow. Life is so diverse and these things are really, really amazing and we need to make sure they don’t disappear and become a picture in a textbook for kids to wonder about like animatronic dinosaurs”. Who wants to live in a world where a kid can only see a robotic elephant and fail to experience the emotional connection that you have Moli-Lee ? I guess in one way I can relate.

        As a sailor, I saw many whales, and they are frighteningly huge creatures and an incredible danger to sailors, but I just remember the awe-inspiring size of them that made you just stop and re-think your perception of what life is. Also I saw a lot of dolphins and it is just so amazing the way they will follow your boat for hundreds of miles, just playing and swimming and going “Look at these people on this floating thing. Aren’t they fascinating ? Let’s play and frolic and follow them” and I mean, I swear there were times they just HAD to be showing off just to entertain us. I truly believe dolphins are far more than just “intelligent”. I think they have complexity we cannot even understand. They humour, they have compassion (famous stories of dolphins rescuing people). They are not just merely swimming with people for the fun of it. They understand us FAR better than we understand them. They may not have built cities and computers, but nor have they destroyed the planet. I think they may be far more intelligent creatures than we are.

  2. I actually appreciate your piece of function, Fantastic post.

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    • pawz says:

      Thank you, on my last blog I never enabled comments, but on this one I am glad I have done so. I just need to catch up my writing.

      • Vera says:

        I’m starting to nctioe a slight change in Thailand. A few times in the past months the gals behind the counter have offered to put items in an existing bag or in my hands if a drink, etc. And you all know what a change that is in Thailand (most anywhere in SE Asia, actually).But what is needed are biodegradable bags, because there is still a demand for some type of rubbish container in the household. Where to put kitty litter after it’s saturated with poo and goo? Where does household rubbish go? They all go in plastic whether in the large black rubbish bags bought special, or smaller shopping bags from wherever.I use discarded cardboard boxes when I can, but those are not as easy to find as you would think.Catherine recently posted..

        • pawz says:

          Malaysia has a massive push for re-usable bags and you see nearly everyone in Kuala Lumpur carrying the “green bags” (though most often they are red in KL hahaha). In Penang there was a massive push, with signs everywhere “A cleaner, greener Penang” or even “Keep Malaysia Green. Dispose of your waste”. For a country with such a small population, they are so much more obsessed with keeping their cities clean, and in particular, unpolluted and sustainable with the aid of recycling.

          Thailand on the other hand, is just a throw-away society. Like they are just too busy to care, and of course if you buy bottles of soft drink (soda) you will always get it double bagged. Such a waste. If I live here, I will surely use re-usable bags. There’s too many people in Bangkok to just throw stuff away. In Vietnam they are poorer, and EVERYTHING is recycled. Even if you get a styrofoam box for takeaway food, it is possible and even expected at many restaurants that you will return it to be cleaned and re-used. If you buy beer in bottles, as much as 15-20% of the price is actually the bottles, and you are expected to return them to get your refund so they can be recycled.

          But Bangkok ? No, noone seems to care. I hope they don’t end up some filthy, dirty country like everyone who has visited India tells me it is. You have 12 million people now, Bangkok. Time to wake up and realise that you need to do more to live sustainably.

    • Timur says:

      I understood why your awsners were rather bleak to all those email. It is a challenge to find work in Thailand. Most available works are given to Thais to safeguard their livelihoods. A company employing a foreigner will need to justify that the work the foreigner will be doing cannot be carried out by local.I am looking to be a language teacher in Thailand for quite a while and I understand that it might not be rewarding in the monentary sense. I was exploring poorer areas where I can reach out to poor kids. However, up till now I am not successful yet as most required language teacher to be native speaker or with TEFL or TESOL certification.BKs last blog post..

      • pawz says:

        I have a friend at our lodge here who is an American. He has come here to teach and he is doing the one month intensive TEFL & TESOL combined course. He says the best thing about doing it is that if you say you are doing the course, you get an instant 1 year working visa to Thailand. They really want English teachers here. Thai people’s English is terrible. I swear, in Malaysia, Laos, even and especially Vietnam, everyone in the city under a certain would most certainly speak decent to flawless English, but in Thailand this is not the case. They have an urgent need to teach the middle generation. In Saigon, the average 35 year old in a city can speak near-perfect English, but in Bangkok, it’s not the case at all. But you don’t HAVE to be a native speaker. It is most definitely preferred, and in fact, Americans are preferred over British because they have a more desired accent that is easier for them to understand when watching English TV or speaking to Americans or Australians for instance. However, I met a German guy in Laos who had been teaching in Bangkok for EIGHT YEARS and he was obviously not a native speaker, being German, so it’s not impossible. The best thing to do would be to contact the TESOL type schools here (and if you email me at the address on my about page I can put you in touch with the school my friend attends) and apply through them, because getting a Thai working visa is VERY VERY difficult. You cannot simply do it by yourself. You NEED the aid of a company or a Thai speaker because it’s very involved and you have to go to embassies and immigration and you also need to apply from an embassy outside the country. You really need your employer to help you, so contact the school first, and if they think you’re good enough.. they will help you with everything you need to get here, stay here and work here legally.

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