Where it all starts again

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Remember the time Steve...

Many sentences regarding the indestructible force that is Steve Swim, or "Truck" as I now call him, start with these words.
As Brandon passes out from sheer exhaustion, Steve and I power on, fueled by significant amounts of warm beer. Quick shower, change, and a 2-second conversation about how we should really be going to bed go by, and we're off.
In true SE Asian tradition, we start with a massage. Finding one is simple, but expressing our desire for simplicity and no cheek-clicking is not. To explain, the girls in Phuket will give you a little flick on the cheek, their way of asking you if you would like anything on the side. You can spend your entire afternoon outside the massage place saying "I only want a massage" and they'll still harass you. Don't be fooled, though, you will get a good massage. Steve and I walk out totally relaxed, very happy to be hanging out with each other once again, in this new and strange land. The bar-hopping starts.
In the space of around 4 hours, Steve and I manage to walk most of the main Patong town, drink a beer in every bar, and meet a weird German-American who guides us to the good spots. Regardless to say, Steve and I are absolutely baloobas by this point and manage to take moto-taxis at random, for no reason, even if we don't need to go anywhere. After a brief stint to a completely empty - but actually really cool looking - karaoke bar someway out of town, we lose each other. I get a few more beers into me, realise I've drunk my weight in liquor, and head back to the hotel.
One hour passes and there's a knock on the door; I open to the door to Steve and one of the security guys from the hotel. Steve proceeds to mumble something about a roof, saying he was trying to get to the room, and he'll see us in 6 months. "I love you guys, I dunno, the roof man, I'll see you in 6 months, I'll see you. BAAAh! Yeah, I see you. Boom." I convince the guy to leave Steve with us until the morning. We head to bed.
Next morning we find out what happened; Steve, the eternally lovable guy that he is, really didn't want to wake us, so out of pure respect for his friends, he decided to climb into the hotel room through the balcony. The problem here was that Steve was actually already in the hotel, and had proceeded to climb over some fiberglass roofing at the other end of the hotel and try to reach THE WRONG ROOM. Not only the wrong room, but the wrong hotel. Then, as Steve crushed the paper-thin roofing about half-way through, he fell two and a half stories, bouncing off walls and air-conditioning units.
No broken bones, no permanent damage, no facial disfiguration. Steve fell the height of my house and got a scrape on his back and a little, albeit painful, hole in his shin. Like I said, the man is indestructible. I would go to war with the man. With him in front of me, to be specific.
So, after starting the trip on the right note, we rest up for a day on the beach (which results in all three of us being impressively sunburnt, even Steve... who spent the entire time under his umbrella) and get up nice and early on Day 3 of our trip, heading to the ferry out of seedy Phuket and onto the majestic island of Phi Phi Don.
From a travel guide point of view, Phuket is simply a tourist trap. I had a hard time picking up my jaw when we walked out onto Patong beach, but this is Thailand. You'll find phenomenal views, incredible landscapes and pristine, heavenly beaches to be plentiful in this country. The tourism-oriented business and over-pricing of the Patong area really takes away the beauty of where you are, so if you haven't been to Thailand before I suggest giving it a miss and looking more at Phi Phi, Koh Tao, or Chang Mai.
A quick drive to the pier and we're on our boat, eagerly awaiting departure for the reputed paradise of beaches, cheap restaurants, world-class dive spots and hammocks galore. Despite the pictures I've seen, and the research I've done on the place before coming, nothing prepares me for the truly magnificent sight that appears before you as you near this unbelievable island.

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