Phuket; The first stop on my Thailand Vacation

Ok so flying solo wasn’t too bad, I just didn’t dwell on the fact that I was alone. I watched movies & dozed off when possible. After customs in Bangkok I grabbed my luggage & headed upstairs to check in for my flight to Phuket. (By booking separately I saved time & money) I had booked a later flight in case there were any delays so I was expecting a 4 hour stopover, however the airline asked if I would like to check in for the earlier flight so that was a bonus. The one thing I noticed was how there were signs with power banks everywhere. You have to carry these in your hand luggage & not in your check in. They are strict about this.

I didn’t prearrange transport to the hostel & though I did look at ways to save money on getting there, I ended up getting a cab. It cost 800 baht but after nearly 20 hour travelling & the humidity enveloping me from every direction I didn’t mind paying it. It took about 40 minutes to get to the hostel.

On the drive I was amazed at two things;

  1. The electric wires running from post to post & the quantity of them grouped together
  2. The scooters, multiple passengers facing all directions with no helmets to be seen

Safety obviously not an aspect in this country.

The driver had to ring the hostel for directions. I had booked Bearpacker Hostel due to the reviews on Hostelworld & the proximity to Bangla Road & the beach. I also wanted a private room which they could offer for approx. €20 a night. The reception is bright & airy but before you step in you have to remove your shoes & be buzzed inside. Security is a big thing in this hostel. There are signs everywhere warning of penalties to any guest sneaking a non-guest inside. Check in was easy & I was shown to my “room”. Each floor is named after bears & come equipped with male & female bathrooms. The floors also have washing machines beside the bathrooms. My “room” was more like a pod at the front of the dorms. I am small (5’2) so it wasn’t much of an issue for me, though it could be claustrophobic at times. However if you are over 5’6 I recommend the dorms. I have to say the aircon was very good & effective compared to others I encountered, also the locker provided was large. After getting changed into a bikini & shorts, I made my way upstairs to the pool. There is a lady serving food from the kitchen in the common area up there, beers in the fridge & a sofa in front of a tv. Outside there were tables and chairs, the pool and bean bags on the decking. There was nobody there so I decided to explore. 

I headed down the street, past the various women offering massages, fast food restaurants and made my way to the beach. I found a place on the sand and took in my surroundings. The weather was overcast but the beach was still busy, many traders offering goods or refreshments, however once you say no thank you they move on. I like this as I hate being rude to people. I stayed about an hour before moving along. The beach wasn’t spectacular at all, nothing I haven’t seen before in Spain. This is most likely due to tourism taking over.

I was quite tired after traveling so I headed back to the hostel. Though there was people in the pool this time there was no effort at making conversation. They all seemed to be in groups. Though I tried initiating conversation, I was politely answered and that was that. I got some food of the lady in the hostel, it was nice and also only about €2 for dinner. I then headed to my room to FaceTime home (wifi was good here) then fell asleep early enough. 


The next day was similar. I spent a few hours at the beach, walked up Bangla Road and grabbed a cider, then went back to the hostel. Again failing to get proper conversation out of other guests! I gave up and spent my time reading and texting home. I had a nap before getting changed and heading back to Bangla for dinner and to watch Manchester United play terrible football. I went to the Aussie sports bar and I have to say the chow mein was lovely. Though I wasn’t finding Thailand as cheap as what people made it out to be by any means. For example most bars that served wine were charging €5 per glass. Cider (if served) was €2/3. Your best bet is beer if you can drink it.

I headed home wondering if I would ever make friends, also looking forward to the day ahead where I was being picked up early for a trip to the Elephant Sanctuary. I had to email them to confirm booking as luckily enough I had looked online where they mentioned they were having issues. I would recommend doing this if you booked well in advance. 

I was collected early and I was the first. By the time we got to the sanctuary we had an Australian family of 4, a solo young English girl, an English guy and his Polish girlfriend. For the first time in days I had conversations with people!! It was already a good start. They even shared mosquito spray with me. We had an introduction about the sanctuary and where our fees were going (€70 approx). We then were asked to help prepare the sugar and bananas before we went to meet the elephants. There were a few babies and they were very cute, but at the same time when one runs toward you get out of their way!! We got to feed them, pet them then bathe them. They were never tied up. We got a small lunch, a group photo then headed on our way. A good experience I have to say. 

After I returned from the sanctuary I headed up to the bean bags to chill out. After a while I started conversation with two Swedish girls and one engaged properly with me thank god. We had a few drinks when more people came up and when the two girls left I got to join them. They invited me on their night out and I gladly accepted. Everyone was ten years younger but when talking about travel and experiences age doesn’t seem to matter. We went to Bangla road and tried a few bars. It is an experience, very commercial and full of drunk tourists! I was so happy though to be mixing with people and having fun.

The next day, some were hungover so they remained in bed. Some of us went to the pool and spent the day chatting. I went off for a while to book my accommodation in Phi Phi which took forever as most hostels seemed to be party hostels which I’m too old for and the hotels weren’t getting great reviews either. Finally chose one and booked my transport at reception for the following morning. That evening I joined others for a meal on the beach which was nice then had a walk whilst paddling my feet. We got a few drinks and headed back to the roof for an hour before saying our goodbyes.

Overall I have to say it was tough at the beginning and Phuket wasn’t what I imagined Thailand to be like. Very touristy and commercial, not like paradise at all. However I was warned and some people like that. Everyone has different opinions.I didn’t  rent any bikes during my trip and maybe if I had I would have seen more amazing places. The hostel was lovely and would stay in it again. If like me you have a hard time getting people to engage, keep trying with different people. It isn’t you! Some people just rather keep to their own groups.

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My thoughts on solo travel now I’ve done it

Ok so I was nervous last year about the thoughts of going to Peru alone but when that changed and my friend accompanied me I felt slightly bummed. I realised I wanted to test myself to see if I could actually do it. I booked Thailand soon after I came back and without the big ‘will I won’t I’ drama I had put myself through previously. 

The travelling on airplanes was fine as I watch movies anyway so the first time it got strange was when I finally arrived in Phuket and had to decide on transportation to Patong. I quickly made the choice once I got outside to take the nearest taxi on offer no matter the price. 

Hostels are the best place to meet people travelling solo however I struggled my first two days. I work in sales so I am not shy however it took until the 3rd day for me to have conversations with people. Once I got going I was grand. I ended up having a companion for 6 days. 

I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how long you are travelling for, (2 weeks, 3,4,5,6….or longer) everyone who travels gets it and welcomes you. They appreciate the fact that you are trying to see outside the box. I did get asked a few times by a group of English guys on a typical lads holiday why I was on my own. I think they pitied me. I told them my friends have different priorities, I wanted to see Thailand so why not? For every one person who asks that question there are 5 people doing the same as me. I don’t think they realised it until they met others like me. In fairness I am 34 and it was only last year that I realised I could do it. 

Does it get lonely? Yes of course. It may only be two weeks but having multiple days of just your own company can get tiresome, and I like my own company! Then there’s the days where you would love to share your experience with someone you love and who loves you. I’ve had fleeting moments like that and I’ve had some a little longer than fleeting. However I remind myself I am in paradise, most people don’t see places I am getting to and that being in a relationship can be lonely too at times. 

My phone has become my ally. I lost my kindle to an infinity pool and a steep step I wasn’t expecting! So this phone has become my communication to home and people I met along the way. It’s my lifeline for travelling with my hostels/hotel/flight bookings on it. I also have now come to rely on it for my kindle reading (better than nothing). Also I forgot how happy music makes me and how I feel less alone with it. With all these uses the battery goes pretty quickly so my advice is to get a really good battery bank. I was lucky my friend gave me one of hers as she moved onto a different island. 

Eating alone is no issue. Again I had my phone with me so I was fine. Last night I looked around the restaurant on the beach with a fabulous sunset, filled with couples and noticed most people are on their phones anyway. Whether taking photos or talking or texting. One couple didn’t speak as she was on a call and he was on his kindle. So never feel self conscious, you aren’t the only one. 

If you aren’t sure I would try a solo weekend trip to test it out and stay in a hostel. As I got to go to Peru with a companion I was able to see how many people go solo without doing it myself. The ages range from 21-70, though in Thailand I mostly met 24 year olds so keep that in mind for there. Also do your research. Don’t expect luxury going to a hostel, whilst I have visited nice ones, most are basic. If they say party hostel Do not expect sleep as you won’t really get any, however you are guaranteed to meet people. It’s something I struggled with as I badly wanted to mix with people but sleep aswell. I chose a nearby hotel in Phi Phi as none of the hostels looked great, plus I already had someone to meet with. 

My main bit of advise is No regrets. You hear it all the time but sometimes we choose to go a different way due to fear. I looked at this trip as a way to calm my mind. I feel it’s better to regret something you have done than something you haven’t done. You will always wonder what if?? I now have done it and whether or not I do it again I have answered myself and know I can do it. That is an achievement I have done for myself. A box ticked. A lot of people wouldn’t be so brave and they will tell you that themselves, so if it’s in your head just do it xxx