Published: August 11th 2006December 27th 2003
Today we begin our trip south. After packing my things Kay picks me up at the hotel and we transfer to Don Muang airport. There's not a whole lot to do over at the domestic terminal so while we wait we visit the stand of a travel agent to check if he has any good lodging in Khao Lak, where we intend to go in a couple of days. He tells me accommodation is pretty much fully booked nearing the New Year and gets on the phone to talk to a colleague of his, presumably over there. The call begins to drag out, and he asks us when our plane departs. I tell him no problem, we still don't have to leave in the next 20 minutes. Well, the time starts flying, and he picks up the phone to call someone else and waits for pick up on the other side. As our flight is being called out for boarding we're about to leave when he suddenly gets hold of a colleague who confirms that everything's almost fully booked, but lo and behold, he has found the 'last' two beds available for only 16.000 baht. Well, by now it has dawned on me that he's been playing me for a fool, trying to force a panic-induced decision to bite the hook, but we call his bluff and board the plane instead.
Arriving at Phuket airport we visit a hotel reservation counter only to have our suspicions confirmed, there are lots of rooms available, and we're given a big binder to glance through and pick something of our choice. We settle for a room at the Tropicana Beach Resort. However, we are still in Phuket, and we still need to find the hotel were we already made reservations for the night. The agent points us to the free city shuttle buses which will stop at all hotels, the catch of course being that the minibus stops halfway from the airport at yet another travel agent. We are whisked out of the cars and offered drinks and a chance to spend more tourist dollar. This is a little annoying as it is already getting late and we'd want nothing more than go to the hotel, but since we are looking for a Similan package we might as well give them a try and they (of course) have a decent offer available which after some thinking we sign up for. Well, another future concern has been taken care of, but wanting to live in the now we're quite pleased to finally be dropped off outside the Sinthawee Hotel downtown Phuket.
The first observation is that this place is quiet, very quiet. The lobby is practically empty, and we walk through a long corridor past empty karaoke quarters to find our room. The room is quite nice though, it is clear however that we've ended up in a part of town outside of the tourist ghetto. As we go out to find a restaurant the streets are almost empty and there are no neon signs or busy shops around, but we do find a Chinese restaurant a copule of blocks down which has quite nice food.