After a few days in Bangkok, we headed south to Phuket. White sandy beaches and turquoise water were the drawing cards.
Phuket is an island (but just barely) about 1.5 hours south of Bangkok by air. Our friends, Paul and Gina had recommended Phuket, so we went there first. Also, the name “Phuket” appealed to Dan’s juvenile sophomoric humor. Paul and Gina were kind enough to sponsor us for a 3 day visit to the Marriott Time Share on Phuket. It was a lot of fun to vacation in luxury for a few days – we took advantage of many activities including a Thai class, Zumba, a bike tour, and hobie cat sailing. In between we explored all the swimming pools and tasted all the drinks.
Kids on the school bus
One of Dan’s favorite memories from Phuket does not have a photo. He was running in the morning on a very narrow country road when he came up behind a school bus full of what appeared to be 1st graders. The bus was like a tiny cattle truck, with 2 benches in the back, and a roof overhead. When the kids saw Dan, they all crowded to the back for a good look. There was a tiny old woman whose job it was to make sure the kids got on board safely and the gate was closed before the bus started moving. In summary it was a tiny truck on a tiny road, full of tiny kids, with a tiny chaparone.
We were staying in a small country resort, and across the street there was a barber.
The barbershop was basically a tin roof supported by some poles. Inside there was a barber chair and a bed where the barber slept between haircuts. Dan went over one morning to get a haircut. The barber got off the bed, put on his shirt, and started to cut. The cut included shaving Dan’s neck with a razor, which made Dan a bit nervous, but it all worked out OK, and it was cheap!
One unusual aspect of this barbershop is that in one corner there is a gas station. Many little businesses sell gasoline. They have gas in old beer bottles, which they sell to the motor scooter owners. They also have a roughly 20 gallon can of gas and a pump in case a car wants to buy gas.
Dan’s brush with the law
We were driving through Phuket town in a rental car when a policeman waved us over. Dan pulled over and rolled down the window. The policeman asked for Dan’s driver’s license, looked it over, put it in his pocket and wrote out a ticket. We eventually understood that we needed to park the car, walk to the police station, pay the fine (about $12), and return. He would then return the license. However when we got back to the corner we found that the original policeman had gone off shift, and taken Dan’s license with him. We were a bit concerned about this but found another policeman who told us to return to the police station and retrieve the license. When we got there, the guy who was collecting the fine joked with us that it would be 100 Euro, but it was really about 100 Thai Baht. It was never clear whether Dan had violated some subtle law, or this was just a tourist trap.
Char found that her name, Charean Thai means to flourish or develop. Actually they spell it Charoen, but that is pretty close!