Finding pancakes at 6am for just $4 between two of us was a bit of a win, especially as that was all we had left. We scrambled into a taxi and headed to the airport, arrived in Bagkok at 10:30 and by lunchtime had already used three currencies – Vietnamese Dong, US Dollars and Thai Baht!
We hung out at Don Mueang airport until it was time to fly to Phuket with an airline called Nok, whose planes all have bird beaks on their noses! Once at Phuket, we found the airport bus wasn’t for another hour and 45 minutes so we grabbed a suspiciously unmarked taxi, which turned out to be fine, and got to Ekkamon Mansion, our deceivingly titled basic hotel in Phuket.
The town on first impression was pretty average although dinner at the Natural Restaurant was pretty good. My favourite place to eat was Phuketique where we had more excellent pancakes with bananas and lychees. It poured it down whilst we were there so we decided to stay another day until the weather cleared to give us time to properly research hotel options on Phi Phi and Krabi, our next destinations. Just like with Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai etc) and Laos, we would be skipping Koh tao, Koh Pha Ngan and Ko Samui so that we could do other places properly. We had already done riding elephants which was a major reason to go to Chiang Mai and we had heard horror stories about the northern Vietnam > Laos border crossing. The eastern Thai islands on the Gulf were an option if the weather forecast was significantly better but it wasn’t and they were a bit out of the way given that we would have to return to Phuket to fly to Singapore just nine days later. Koh Pha-Ngan is just a party island; Koh Samui some say is over-developed and Koh Tao is a diving paradise but quite out of the way. Hence we were sticking to Koh Phi Phi and Krabi on the western coast in the Andaman Sea.
After a delicious but waayyyy too spicy red curry at The Lotus for lunch, we broke our rule of avoiding western food to appreciate local cuisine and ate at a pizza place. After four weeks in South East Asia, sometimes you just need pizza. We and had a lot of rice, rice, rice, noodles, rice with pork/chicken/shrimp/beef lately. In Thailand the rice is served separately with chilli flakes you can pour on (if you’re brave). In Vietnam we were given chips a couple of times in Halong Bay and in lieu of any ketchup, substituted with hot chilli sauce. Oh, how naive we were! An entire 20,000đ bottle of water (tap water is a no-no in SE Asia) later, my mouth was still on fire…