When I woke up this morning, it was pitch black and my phone was trying to tell me that it was 8AM. Apparently, taking the SIM card out of your phone so you don’t spend all your money also means that your phone no longer has a brain. So, I did the smart thing and rolled over so I could sleep for another few hours. The next time I woke up the sun was out and it was now 7AM, Thailand time. But my roommate, AKA my sister, was still asleep. I didn’t want her to wake up on her first morning in a foreign country by herself. So I read for about an hour, which is how I knew I am really on holiday: I never get to luxuriate and just read in bed.
Eventually, I felt myself falling asleep, so I turned on the TV. Out of all of the channels I lucked out and found one of the very few English channels. And it was British! I amused myself for a while watching the Jeremy Kyle show, basically the British Maury Povich. The yelling and accusations on screen must have been a smidge too loud and my roommate finally woke up. Which meant that I could finally open the curtain:
The view was a lot less intimidating in the morning. It was actually really relaxing. The neighbourhood we’re staying in gets a lot busier at night. So, after leisurely throwing an outfit together, I went downstairs and hunted for some food. Much easier than I thought it was going to be. Not only did I not have to worry about paying but the food, which included coffee, was brought up to us on a tray. I felt incredibly spoiled. Even though I took the plates back downstairs when we were done and I knew that I would have to pay for the food on our last morning. But still.
After we dropped off our breakfast things, we ventured out into Patong Beach. The humidity, while not as violent as last night, was still a surprise after the air-conditioned sanctury of our room. And Patong has a certain smell. It’s hard to describe: part stagnant water, part discarded food, and maybe just a whiff of sewage from the open drains. But we forgot about it pretty quickly once we started browsing through the stalls that line our street. Basically the perfect tourist traps. Unfortunately for the lovely stall owners, I’ve been a uni student for far too long to be able to just buy things I want no matter how cheap they are. But my sister, Dani, bought out half the stalls. She basically shouldn’t have brought any clothes with her.
We were looking for a shopping centre that I had looked up via TripAdvisor. Although the centre was supposedly only 300 metres away, the fact that we couldn’t use Google maps was a little worrying. But the GPS gods were smiling on us and the Jungceylon Shopping Centre was just around the corner.
Not only was there a shopping centre, but there were markets out the front, with all sorts of things. And the first thing Dani bought? A smoothie. It was actually fairly delicious. Smoothie in hand, we went into the air-conditioning, only to discover that Jungceylon isn’t really that different from Aussie shopping centres. Just a little more disorganised. There was even, basically, a Myer. Only, in Thailand, it’s called Robinson. We browsed through the clothing shops and a few more of the tourist traps that littered each level. But our true adventure started on IT Island (that’s not me being clever, the IT section really was called that).
We noticed travel adaptors sitting in a basket on a counter and, seeing as my adaptor was actually Thai-to-Australia, instead of Australia-to-Thai, we went in for a closer look. We had borrowed one from the front desk, but there are two of us and we are sisters, so sharing is a little problematic. Dani asked “how much?” and the guy, a young relatively attractive guy, behind the counter kind of did a double take and started earnestly trying to explain the adaptors to her, while also trying to sell her this awesome wireless speaker. He demonstrated how it worked by setting up the Bluetooth on Dani’s phone and we stood for a while, in the middle of a Thai shopping centre, grooving to Wake Me Up by Avicii.
In between talking price and colours, the guy turned to Dani and said “you’re so sexy!”. Which was a little unexpected. My sister is a beautiful girl, but guys aren’t usually that abrupt with their praise unless they’ve had about a six pack of beer and there’s a bass line thumping along to the changing colours of flashing lights. Once the speaker and adaptor (later found to be defective) were slipped into a translucent green bag, we quickly shook off Dani’s new beau and escaped back to the markets outside. And this was where we discovered the Doctor fish.
According to their pamphlet:
They have found that these tiny fish, when they work, secrete an enzyme called diathonal which is said to improve skin regeneration. So these little dermatologists are used to give relief to people with various skin disorders.
You know those pedicures with the tiny fish that swarm over your feet and do something to the dead skin? Yeah, that’s what it was.
Imagine a million champagne bubbles popping along your feet while someone runs a feather over every ticklish inch of them. I had to grip the seat so hard that I kept lifting the cushion up. Especially when one of the Doctor fish got stuck between my toes. Every once in a while I felt a slight pinprick of uncomfortable almost-pain when one of the little doctors sucked a little too hard. Although they don’t have teeth, the little buggers have the suction of a plunger crossed with a vacuum cleaner. But mostly, it’s just tickle torture.
After our foray into the world of the Doctor fish, we found a place to have lunch. As we sat and put our bags down, the heavens opened up and the streets were flooded in a matter of minutes. Of course, by the time we were finished, the floodwaters had receded into the drains and it was safe to cross the streets again.
As for what we had for lunch, a picture’s worth a thousand words and I don’t think I could choose the right ones, so:
And it was absolutely delicious, even if we weren’t brave enough to try the octopi or scallops clinging to the edges.
We got suckered back into the tourist traps on our way back to the hotel, but this time it was because of the stall owner with a fascination with Australia. Once he found out we were from Australia, he started pulling out the “it’s bloody cheap, mate” and the “only three bucks for you, mate”. I bought a dress almost only because his Australian accent was a million times better than most of the horrible approximations you hear on TV. The dress is pretty cute, though.
Still slightly suffering fron jetlag, we collapsed in the room and somehow managed to find a movie channel which played This is War and Bounty Hunter. I was pretty impressed with our luck. While watching the antics of Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine, Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, I managed to confirm our Phi Phi Island tour for tomorrow via email, given that most of the technology in our hotel seems to hate me. Anyway, halfway through Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler falling back in love, Dani and I went to look for food. We were all set to eat at the hotel cafe, but the lady from the front desk told us about the markets that we missed last night and suggested we go there instead. The fact she was telling us to spend our money elsewhere was reference enough for me so we ventured out into our first Phuket night.
The markets were amazing. The miasma of smoke and steam carried so many different smells. There was sushi and chicken and curries and fruit drinks and homemade coconut ice cream. We ended up with two chicken dishes, a couple of chicken kebabs, and two dragon fruit drinks; one milky and one icy. They were delicious. But a note for future reference: anything in Thailand that looks to be covered in sesame seeds is more than likely covered in chilli seeds; and if you end up with one of those dishes, no matter how delicious it is, make sure you have a milky and/or icy drink handy. Otherwise you might just start breathing fire.
We were just about to leave when who should appear but Dani’s new beau from IT Island.
“Hi sexy girl!” he called.
“Oh, hi!” Dani replied. “This must be destiny,” she added without really thinking.
The next five minutes were pretty awkward. Well, for me. I had to watch as this guy tried to pick up my baby sister, with his “do you have a boyfriend?”, “where are you staying?” and “can I come with you?”. Dani finally shook him loose with some laughs and an “I’ll see you tomorrow about that adaptor!” and we made it back to the hotel for dinner, paramour-free.