Its going to take a good 8 hours to get to Phuket, so I chose the earliest ferry the tour company could offer – which included me getting up at around 5.30 in the morning so I could be picked up in a minibus and get to to the dock in time (takes a good hour to get to the other side of the island). Got dropped off not too far away, and at 7.30 our second bus arrived, a big ol public-type bus that would be driven onto the ferry while we were on the top floor. No catamaran this time (thank god) but the Raja Ferry, which is bigger, slower and quieter, meaning I could lie down on 3 seats and barely felt the waves bobbing us up and down. Its a nice, simple trip, and can barely believe it takes 90 minutes to get us to Donsak and back on our bus.
However, this is not the bus we’ll be using for good. We’re all going to different cities, so eventually the bus stops and hands us over to a gentleman who takes us to an office-and-restaurant to get us proper tickets (and lunch) before one gentlemen and myself get hauled onto a truck-type minibus and sent off. Both go our seperate ways as he ends up in one minibus, and I end up at the bus station. Here I find my fourth bus, but this one is in fact the bus that will take me to Phuket, so hop on and pray for a simple journey.
It was simple…but dear lord did it take forever. First of all the company I went with loved the scenic routes. Instead of using the mains roads that I know exist, we ended up going through Khao Sok National Park. Don’t get me wrong, its a beautiful place, but when you’ve been travelling since 6 in the morning, all you want is to get to your destination. As it turned out, the 8 hour estimation the company gave me was woefully optimistic. Come 1600 we’re still on the bus. 1700, and I’m calling my hostel and warning them I’ll be showing up a little later than planned since they insisted on me giving a time of arrival.
Finally, at 18:00 hours (give or take ten minutes), we roll into Phuket Bus Station, and I all but leap off the bus in relief. I’m tired, frustrated and have little to no idea how I get to my hostel, so I grab a motorbike taxi and don’t even try to haggle – I just want to get checked in.
My home away from home for the next few days is the Phuket Backpackers Hostel, recommended to me by D in Koh Tao. I had planned on staying somewhere else, but she insisted this was a great place to be. Its pretty well located in the heart of Phuket, and looks like a nice place to be – the dorm rooms are strange though. Remind me of office cubicles with 2 sets of bunk beds inside them.
There is just one tiny problem with Phuket that I’ve spotted while looking at tours and just walking around town. This city is expensive. I’d thought the Koh’s were bad, but Phuket is going to do everything in its power to bankrupt me…