Stop number 3; the final destination. We wanted our last stop to be in a place where the agenda was full of relaxation, and so we found Phuket. I was told by a friend that Phuket was the Hawaii of Thailand. Sounds so enticing, so off we went. Still on a high from Chiang Mai, I was optimistic, but I set my expectations low. The Hawaii of Thailand could not be better than what we experienced in Chiang Mai. Maybe I’d be wrong.
As we arrived at the airport and walked to the exit, it was hectic. I’m not famous, but I felt like I was. The flashing of the paparazzi cameras replaced with a chorus of “where you going,” and “taxi…you need a taxi.” It felt like there were 30 people around us hoping we’d choose them from a ride. The P.I.C yelled “easy,” to get them to back off a bit, which they then used to mock us. Not off to a good start. But alas, we made our way to the taxi stand (the one I read was the legit stand), and after a minute or two, we were on our way….or so I thought. About two minutes into the ride, we made a stop. She’s back to her old tricks again, I thought. The taxi driver hopped out, and a young lady approached the cab and motioned for us to open the door. Brochures in hand, she asked us if we were interested in any excursions. I had heard about this, and from what I read, I knew that we’d be here for awhile, though the legit taxis weren’t supposed to do this.
I looked at her and smiled, and said we planned on relaxing the entire time, and had no interest in doing anything. To my surprise, she smiled back and said thank you…enjoy your trip, and that was it. We were off again toward the hotel. My main concern now was the increasing number on the meter. What I expected but still more than I wanted to pay. The hotel was a regular looking beachfront hotel. No standout character, but who needs that when you open your door and the ocean is in your face. She was quiet most of the way, but there’s is where I heard her loud and clear. The water went all the way to the horizon, and even though the water was much to rough for most swimmers, she was beautiful to look at. To hear her waters crash against the waves was soothing, though the roar reminded me that these same waters took so many lives in the Tsunami in 2004.
As I said, my expectations were low, and since this was her vacation spot, the food was average though more expensive than most other places. I guess most who visited her here were not looking for so much of an authentic experience. They wanted nice water, and excursions; one which we ventured out on. Here she gave me a first…I jumped off a boat into the waiting waters. The water wasn’t the clear blue kind that some have mingled with in the Caribbean, but more of a cloudy green (not anything like the Jersey water either). It felt great, and it’s saltiness made for good floating water, if you’re into that stuff. On this excursion, she showed me secluded areas where there was only one way in and out. She showed me caves which we explored with flashlights, James Bond Island, and an entire town built over the water, secluded from the mainland. It had shops, homes, fishing boats, a restaurant, and a school. All powered by a generator, that I believe is shut off by a certain time at night. Apparently it’s really expensive to run at all. Most interesting was that most people here were not itching to go to the mainland. They had to if they wanted to finish school, but most came back. This was her example of how life could be so simple, and still so fulfilling.
It was the rainy season, and she held back for most of the trip, but here in Phuket, she showed me what that meant. I like to see it as her way of crying for me before I left. As that day approached, it was sad. We had a few moments where all we did was sit there in the silence, enjoying each others company. But it did have to come to an end. The alarm would ring at 4:15 am, and we had to say our goodbyes. Her last gift to us, in the form of a boxed breakfast from the hotel. I’ve never seen that before, but it was a nice farewell gesture. She didn’t want us to leave, so I suspect she somehow delayed our flight by an hour and a half. But we eventually boarded, took off, had our last look at her, and closed the airplane window shade.
As I look back on and recap the affair, I realize there’s a really good feeling that resides in me. She wasn’t the prettiest, or the nicest. Her personality sometimes made her seem unstable, but she reminded me of something. Something that is all too cliche, but ignored by so many, me included. Something that I hope doesn’t leave me as I get back into the routines of my established relationship with my home country. She reminded me that life is all about living it; not just being present. Soaking in the good and the amazing, and learning from the bad and the ugly…and to smile, because it really does make others smile with you. And if it doesn’t, well, it makes me feel good.
I hope you enjoyed this affair…this journey. Shout out to the P.I.C for also making this trip as memorable as it was.