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Published: January 9th 2007
02-Jan-2007, Phuket: I had my first run in with the Thai authorities. As Jen and I returned to our hotel in Kamala (see map) from an afternoon of sunbathing at Kata Noi, we were stopped at a police checkpoint on the outskirts of Patong (the Cancun of Phuket Island, where a fat pasty tourist can get anything he craves). The rather humourless motorcycle police officer with the pearl-handled Glock informed me that it was illegal, in Thailand, to operate a scooter without my driver's liscence on me. Fair enough. Welcome tax: 300 Baht ($9).
"Drive to Police Station to pay", he instructed. Jen had to remain as collateral with all the other Farang (Thai word for "much appreciated tourist dollar provider") girlfriends while I drove the scooter the 3 kilometers to the station, without my license.
I had no idea where the Police Staion was, and I got lost for a while, but once I realised that all I had to do was follow the stream of caucasions with sour faces riding scooters I found it in no time. Things are well set up to pay fines in a time-efficient manner and a most congenial atmosphere. I highly recommend it.
02-Jan-2007, Phi Phi Island: We left Kamala for Phuket Town, this morning, to catch a ferry to Phi Phi Island (pronounced pee pee eye lahnd), hoping to find a room. Communications with hotels on the island has been disrupted by the tsunami, and the few hotels we could reached were booked up solid, so we figured we'd show up and go from there.
No trouble fing a room; like so many tourist hotspots with ferry service, the room found us at the pier. We went to Maya Beach ("The Beach") to snorkel, and we also took in a day of diving. Very nice.
Wow! I don't think it would be possible for me to understand Thai any less than I do. The speech is lightly peppered with the occasional Thai version of an English word, but you'd be hard pressed to recognize it. I draw a lot to get through to people.
09-Jan-2007: We have returned to the mainland. We are now in Khao Lak, which was the area most devastated by the tsunami. Recovery, according to local business people, has been quicker than expected. There are still signs of the disaster, but the town is up and running. Jen and I will board the Mariner, a live-aboard dive boat, on the evening of January 11 for a three night/three day dive expedition to the Similan Islands (where the Thai Princess, who owns Island #4, is presently vacationing. As such, we can't dive anywhere near that island). Should be nice.
NOTE: Any spelling errors in this or future entry are due to 1) my exposure to Thai menus and 2) watching Borat on Phi Phi Island.
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