Stickman Readers' Submissions October 4th, 2002

Tales From Thailand But Written In England Part 3 (PhiPhi)

By No 1 Dejay

Hotels in Chonburi more info

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Day 9 (Phi Phi)

This is the third and final part of my first trip to Thailand. Like with the other two parts, it’s a kind of journal of my thoughts and experiences from this truly wonderful place. We’d just spent 4 nights in Phuket and now it was time to move onto Phi Phi for a further 4 nights, or was it?

We stepped out of the lift and into the lobby. We looked around for a driver but he hadn’t arrived yet. We moved to the front of the open lobby and waited just next to the entrance of the hotel. It’s quite a strange hotel really. You have the front entrance manned by a security guard and cars can then drive up to the lobby, which is completely open. It has no doors or anything. The hotel in question was the Holiday Inn.

We spoke to the baggage guys that were on duty and then a bus pulled up to the lobby. The driver got out and showed us a piece of paper which had our names on but there was also some other names on it and it looked like these people hadn’t turned up yet, so we waited. I looked towards the front entrance of the hotel and a bike pulled up, a girl then got off the back and the bike pulled away, I looked at Dave, Dave looked at the girl and then looked at me, I then looked at Steve and Leigh who looked at me, then Dave, then the girl who was standing at the front of the hotel, then Dave said to me “isn’t that” and I said “yes it is” Steve and Leigh said “is that P?” and I said “yes it is” I then walked over to where she was standing. I didn’t know what I was feeling, but it was a mixture of excitement, nervousness, confusion and I also felt like crying. I got up to P and gave her a hug and asked what she was doing there, although she had a backpack with her I had a pretty good idea. She said she wanted to come to Phi Phi with me; she wanted to be with me. I was flattered, I really was, but I knew that she couldn’t come with me, not now. I said that I’d love for her to go, but she wouldn’t be allowed on the bus, the driver wouldn’t be able to take her but I said I really wanted her to go, but the only way for her to do it, would be for her to make her own way there, anyway she could and I would be waiting for her.

I heard someone shouting me from behind, it was Leigh. I told P to wait there a second and I went over to see what he wanted. He said we were leaving in a second and he gave me a sticker to wear which would enable me to get on the boat, it had Phi Phi written on it. The other people we were waiting for had turned up and the driver was putting the bags in the van. I said to him to hold on a second and he nodded. It was like some scene out of a film.

I went back over to P and told her that I had to go but I really wanted her to go to Phi Phi. I gave her some money (1000 baht) and said that would be more than enough for her to find a way there and I would leave her name at reception telling her what room I was staying in. She nodded and we kissed, the security guard on duty and the baggage guys all whistled at us and then we parted. I said goodbye to her and made her promise that she’d get there somehow, she promised and I gave her one last hug before saying goodbye and turning away to get into the bus. She waited there and as the bus drew away from the hotel, we looked at each other and waved, and then she was gone, the bus had turned out of the road the hotel was on and we were on our way to Phi Phi. All the lads asked what she had said and what was going on. I told them she was going to come to Phi Phi to spend the rest of my holiday with me. They said exactly what I was thinking, that she wouldn’t be able to stay, she wasn’t a paying guest and they would be very surprised if she got there.

On the way to the harbour I got talking to the family that were in the bus with us. They were from Australia and it turned out that they were staying in the same hotel that we were in Bangkok and I recognised them when we were at the pool. We talked about Bangkok, talked about what we’d seen and what we thought and also about our holidays as a whole. I told them I loved Phuket and they agreed that it was a nice place, although I’m sure their reasons for liking it so much weren’t the same as mine.

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As the bus drove on and Patong went into the distance, my thoughts turned to P, I thought of her turning up at the hotel like that, I thought of us saying goodbye to each other, the kiss we’d shared and the time we’d spent together in Patong, the way we’d stayed up all night talking. I’d really enjoyed staying in Phuket, but P had made it so much more special. As I thought more and more about it, I started to feel sadder. I knew I wouldn’t see P again, but it was hitting home a little more than what it did to begin with. I knew then that I wanted to go to back to Patong, to spend the remainder of my holiday with her before flying back to the UK in 5 days time, but it was too late, here I was on a bus going to another island. Patong was getting further and further away and with that, so was P.

We got to the harbour about 45 minutes later after setting off from the hotel. The driver put our bags on the boat and we all went inside. It was a catamaran boat and there were loads of people on it. Most of them were going on day trips to see Phi Phi island, some were going on diving trips. We got drinks from the little bar they had in there. It was the second time in two days that I hadn’t been to bed so I wasn’t used to it yet. I ordered tea thinking it might wake me up a little, Dave ordered coffee and Leigh and Steve ordered coke. We went to sit down. The seats were arranged in a way that they had 4 seats on the end rows and two seats on the middle rows, they looked a bit like aircraft seats, the way those are laid out. We chose our 4 seats just near the back. Leigh squeezed in first and then Steve. He had nowhere to put his drink as he went in so he came up with the bright idea of holding the cup in his mouth until he could sit down. As he moved into his seat and went to sit down, he hit the cup on the top of the seat in front of him, his cup then spun round in mid air about 5 times which resulted in his coke going all over him, he slumped in his seat and said “great”. I couldn’t stop laughing, he had coke all over him, he was soaked. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t stop laughing. He found the funny side of it and laughed along with me.

We all sat down and waited for the boat to start moving. The seats had trays on the back of them, again just like aircraft seats. I put mine down and put my tea on it, Dave did the same with his coffee. The woman in front of Dave then stood up, which resulted in her seat snapping back, knocking Dave’s coffee into his lap. I was still getting over Steve’s little accident and this just made it worse, we all laughed out loud. Just then the boat started moving and a tour guide came onto the microphone, telling us all where we were going and what we were doing, but what made us laugh was the fact that the tour guide repeated everything he was saying, he also had a very high pitched voice and as he went on, repeating himself, we all laughed again, we just couldn’t stop. This boat trip was turning into comedy central, which for me was good as at least it took my mind off Phuket and P, but only for a while, soon my thoughts would turn back to what was making me sad, but for now, I was having fun.

Dave, Steve and I decided we wanted to go out into the sunshine and have a smoke; Leigh said he was tired and would wait there and look after the bags. I was still hurting a little from the sunburn (I was also hurting from all the laughing I’d done in the last 20 minutes) I’d got the day before so I didn’t want to spend too long outside. We got outside and there were quite a few people on deck, some smoking, and some drinking, others getting some sun. It was very windy and rocky so it took us 10 minutes to light our cigs. Steve had a big wet patch on his arse from where the coke had spilled onto the seat, I laughed out loud once more as he turned round to show us. I finished my smoke and said I was going back inside to get a little sleep. We would be on the boat for about an hour, so it gave me plenty of time for a nap. I went inside and found our seats, Leigh was asleep himself and I decided to get another drink of tea. I sat down with it and quietly drank it, watching the other people on the boat. The woman who was sat in front of Dave had also gone to sleep and next to here were three other people who looked like they were from Japan. In front of them were a group of lads from Sweden. One of the lads stood up, which resulted in his chair slapping back into the Japanese woman in front of Leigh who was eating noodles. The noodles went all over her, some landed in her hair while the rest went in her lap. All the lads from Sweden started laughing, I started laughing and Leigh woke up and saw the noodles in her hair, put two and two together and also started laughing. The only people not laughing was the woman with noodles in her hair and the Swedish lad who had made it happen, although he did have a grin on his face and you could tell that he was ready to burst into laughter, but he said sorry to her and went to get a drink.

After about an hour on the boat we were coming towards Phi Phi Island, where a boat would pick us up and take us to the part of the island where we were staying. Dave and Steve came back inside; Steve was now dry from his little coke adventure. We got our bags together and went onto the top deck. There were smaller boats coming from all angles, ready to ferry the people to different places. We got off first and sat in the boat waiting for the rest of the people who were staying where we were to get in. All the cases were put on the top of this boat after we had got in; we set sail and went to our part of the island. We noticed that one side of this boat was leaning to one side, dangerously close to the sea, and then the driver of this boat stopped, he shouted in Thai to another boat driver and then he came over. The boat was too heavy, what with all the bags and all the people, we weren’t going to make it to shore without us sinking first. So we got into this other boat and our cases were left behind. We got onto the island about 5 minutes later and what a gorgeous island it was. We were greeted by all the staff who handed us face towels and a cool drink and we were ushered into an open bar. The manager came over to speak to us, he was a nice guy from Australia and he said something that stuck with me for the rest of the day, in a way it more or less confirmed my fears of what the rest of my holiday was going to be like if I stayed on this island. He said “it’s not often we get groups of lads staying on Phi Phi island, it’s usually married couples and people on their honeymoons” we all looked at each other and I think we were all thinking the same thing “just what have we let ourselves in for”.

He told us about what the island had to offer, which was nothing really. He said there were water sports, tennis, a bar we could watch the sunset from proving it wasn’t cloudy, there was a pool, and we had the sea and beach. He also told us that there were no roads on this island, so we couldn’t really go anywhere. There were a few bars just a bit further up the island, but the only way to get to those were on long tail boats, but we couldn’t get one at night because there was no lights on the island and he said that if we did manage to find a driver of one of these boats willing to take us at night, one of two things could happen…

1) The only way he would find his way and keep us safe was by following the stars.

2) If he didn’t manage to do that he would hit the rocks, sinking the boat with us in it and we would get attacked by sharks as they were in these waters.

So it would be no bars for us then, we were stuck here, on this one part of the island for the next 5 days. I was very excited by that I can tell you.

Our cases had been unloaded from the sinking boat and the manager gave us our keys to our rooms and we were taken away by a baggage guy who was going to show us where our rooms were. The island itself was gorgeous, you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful place to relax and unwind, but looking at it then, I didn’t want to relax and unwind; I didn’t want to be stuck in this place with nowhere to go and the thought of spending the next 5 days sunbathing by a pool or sitting on the beach making sandcastles, I wanted to be doing things I wanted to do. Was I being selfish? I don’t think I was, after all, it was my holiday too and I knew that this place just wouldn’t stimulate me, it would be like I was in some kind of coma. After spending the last 8 days having the time of my life and having a laugh and having fun, the thought of just doing nothing, turned my stomach. I wasn’t ready to just do nothing, I wasn’t ready to just sit here in the sunshine, it just wasn’t the right time to do that. To me, this place looked like a prison and my only escape would be in 5 days time when a boat would pick me up on Saturday morning and take me to the airport.

We got to our rooms. They were bungalows just set a few feet away from the beach; they were very nice, beautiful in fact. Air con as standard which was good to know, large bathroom, plenty of room to move around in, two deck chairs on the front porch. I pictured myself sitting on one of those chairs with the sun going down in front of me, I was sipping a cold beer and smoking a cigarette, it was paradise and I had it right on my doorstep so to speak.

We got in our rooms and I asked Dave what he thought, to my surprise he was feeling the same way as I was feeling, that he didn’t really belong here. I told him then that if I didn’t like this place, I was going to get out and go back to Phuket, he asked me how I planned on doing that and I said that I would ring the holiday rep and arrange something. I wanted to spend the remainder of my holiday enjoying myself and I knew it wasn’t going to happen here, plus of course I wanted to see P again. I knew she wouldn’t get to where we were staying, I knew it all along, but sitting on my bed talking to Dave, it finally hit home and I didn’t like it. He said to leave it for the rest of the day and see how I felt tomorrow, I said I would and I meant it.

Steve and Leigh knocked on our door and said they were going to go for a swim, so Dave and I joined them. We walked to the pool in the blistering heat, the thought of jumping in that pool sounded wonderful. We got to the pool and I looked around. All I saw were young couples lying on each other and holding hands. I felt so out of place and I’m sure the rest of the guys did. We jumped in the pool and fooled around for about 30 minutes and then decided to get out. I still hadn’t had any sleep so I told the rest of the guys that I was going to go back to my room and get some sleep. They said fine and off I went. I stopped at reception on the way back and told them I might be getting a visitor either today or the next and I left a note saying what room I was in. I knew it was a waste of time doing it, but I did say to P I would do it. I got back to my room and went to sleep.

I was woken up a few hours later by the sound of Dave walking in, I sat up and he asked me how I felt, I told him I still wanted to leave, he said the same, he also said he was missing L (damned bar girls). I told him I’d keep to my promise and see how I felt the next day before ringing up the rep, but by then my mind was already made up. I was now 8.30pm, it was dark outside and I went to have a look at the beach. It was very quiet, the only sounds were the crickets and frogs that had come out to do their nightly songs and it was like they were having a party, lucky for some…

Leigh and Steve knocked on our door and said they were going to get ready to go out and we would all meet in about an hour. By this time it was 9pm. I said I needed a shower and went into the bathroom. I turned on the light and heard a noise in the light just above the bathroom mirror and then I saw something moving. At first I thought it was a moth, but then it appeared. It was a little green lizard; only to me it was the size of Godzilla. It shot from the light, zipped across the wall and went down a hole in the floor. I screamed like a girl and went running into the room telling Dave. He came and had a look even though I said it had gone. Have you ever noticed people doing that? If something is broken or something happens and it isn’t there anymore, the person you are telling, no matter what it is, they always need to have a look and they need to confirm what you’ve said, like they don’t believe you, “the shower is broken”, “let me have a look….yep, it’s broken”, “the lights not working”, “let me have a look…yep, it’s not working”, “there was a lizard in the bathroom but it’s gone now”, “let me have a look….I can’t see anything it, must have gone”.

Dave didn’t see anything, he just said stop being a big girl, and it was only a lizard. Dave would eat his words in 24 hours, but neither of us knew it at that point.

We both had our showers and got changed to go out. I was starving; I hadn’t eaten all day, not even a banana. We knocked on for Steve and Leigh at around 10.15pm. They were also hungry and we all left to find a place where we could get something to eat. What we didn’t know at this point was that all the restaurants shut at 9.30pm and we were about an hour late. I couldn’t believe it, I hadn’t eaten all day and now I couldn’t eat because nowhere was open, even the local shop shut at 7pm.

We found a bar, the only bar that was open and ordered some drinks, and I had to take it slow because I hadn’t eaten anything. I asked Leigh and Steve what they thought so far, they both liked it, loved it in fact, to them, it was perfect and it was the perfect place to finish the holiday. I didn’t share their enthusiasm. At 11.50pm the bell in the bar rang for last orders. So not only did the restaurants shut at 9.30pm, but the only bar open shut at 12am. I couldn’t believe it, just what kind of place was this? But the manager’s words rang in my head again “we don’t often see groups of lads on this island, it’s usually young married couples and people on their honeymoons” and there was my answer right there. Married couples don’t want to spend all night drinking in bars, honeymooners would rather spend all night in bed, and all the answers were there and it was plain to see.

We drank our last drinks and ordered some carry outs. The United match was on at 2am so we had about an hour to kill before we went to the TV room and watched the game. We were all very hungry and we decided to go to reception to see if they could do anything for us. We told them we hadn’t eaten all day and they said they would get us some fried rice if we wanted and it would cost us 50 baht each. There was no hesitation from any of us and we thanked them and sat in reception and waited for the food. There was a bowl in the middle of this table where we were sat and in this bowl were flowers floating in water. I don’t know how it happened but we bet Dave 100 baht each that he wouldn’t eat one of those flowers. He said he would (it was like a scene out of Jackass). We had to get this on camera, so I went back to Steve and Leigh’s room and got the camcorder. I got back and started filming; Dave had opened one of his bottles of beer so he could wash it down once eaten. Then we counted him down from 3. He then picked up the flower, put it in his mouth and started to chew it, he chewed it for quite a while and then swallowed, he followed that with a few sips of beer and sat back with a big grin on his face, holding his hand out for the money that we now owed him…bastard

Our fried rice came and it was the best meal I’d ever had. The fact that I was starving had a lot to do with it but it was still very nice. We all finished and then Steve said he wanted to ring his girlfriend, so we waited for him and just chatted. When he came back we noticed it was 5 minutes before kick off so we went to the TV room to watch the game. Inside there was a large screen TV at the front with speakers and a sub next to it. I looked towards the back of the room and there were some surround speakers hung on the wall. Just under the TV was a giant looking 5.1 system that would make your mouth water. Finally, a bit of normality had happened on this island and it was in the shape of a TV, speakers and an amp.

There were a couple of Thai blokes also in the room with us, they were staff and loved Man United. For some reason, everywhere we went, once the Thai people found out where we were from, their first words are “Manchester United”.

The game started but I wasn’t really paying attention, the beer had gone to my head and because I’d only had a couple of hours sleep, it was finally catching up to me. I decided to call it a night and went off to bed. I said to Dave I’d leave the door open so he could get in without having to knock me up.

I got back in the room and got into bed. I lay there for a while, thinking of P, thinking on Phi Phi, thinking of Phuket. I missed it; I missed the freedom that I’d felt in Phuket but wasn’t getting in Phi Phi. I just felt like a prisoner on this island. I thought about what I’d do when I got up the next day, I thought about P suddenly turning up and knocking on my room. It was just a fantasy, I knew it wouldn’t happen and my final thought before slipping into sleep, was that the longer I spent here, the further P was slipping away from me and I couldn’t and wouldn’t let that happen.

Day 10 (Phi Phi)

I woke up about 10am. It was now the start of my second day in Phi Phi and thinking about that made me feel depressed, but what cheered me up was the fact that in a couple of hours time I would be on the phone to the holiday rep arranging for my transfer back to Phuket, back to Patong, back to fun and back to P.

Dave was snoring in the next bed and I decided to make myself a cup of tea and to sit on the veranda outside in the sunshine. I lit up a cig and sat back. It was a beautiful place, a beautiful view and you couldn’t ask for anything more peaceful and tranquil. Phi Phi is one of those places you see on adverts, the ones with desert islands in them, and the ones where you may see a couple strolling on the beach. The woman holding her shoes in her hands, her head leaning on the man's chest, the man with his arm around the woman. It was that kind of place, but it wasn’t a place I wanted to be in, not now, the time wasn’t right for me. Planning this holiday it had sounded perfect, 4 days of just relaxing, but because of the way that things had turned out, that 4 days of relaxing sounded more like 40 and the quicker I was out of there the better.

I finished my tea and cig and went back inside. Dave heard me come in and sat up. He asked me how I was feeling and I said that after we had had some breakfast, I was going to call the rep. He understood and didn’t challenge me on my decision. That’s one of the things I like about Dave, I’ve known him most of my life and if one of us says something which we don’t agree with, we challenge it. But Dave just won’t challenge it and then shut up, he will carry on until his mind is put at rest. But he knew it was the best thing to do, he knew that it was the only thing to do and because of this, and because he felt the same, he didn’t challenge it. Dave didn’t belong here either. He likes to be out, he likes to have fun and there was no way he was going to get that here so he said that when I rang the rep, he wanted to go to.

We knocked on Steve and Leigh’s door; they were both still asleep but managed to tell us that they would get something to eat later. We walked to one of the restaurants and found a place that served burgers. It was too late for breakfast but the burgers had bacon on them which Dave put down to a “sort of” breakfast, “after all” he said “all that’s missing is the sausage and eggs”.

Our food came and we ate and I washed it all down with 2 cups of tea, while Dave washed his down with 2 cups of coffee. We paid our bill and left. We decided that we would get back to our room, I’d dig out the number for our holiday rep and we would go to reception and call. We did just that. It was lucky really that I had the number (call it fate if you want) as we all got these welcome packs when we arrived at the hotel in Phuket, but they weren’t things you would normally keep. They just told you a little bit about Phuket and what it had to offer and at the bottom of one of the sheets of paper, numbers were listed for our tour group and also some emergency numbers. I was the only one who had packed one of these packs; everyone else had left theirs behind. There was no rep on this island for us to talk to, so without those numbers, we’d be stuck here, we’d be screwed.

We got the info and went to reception and asked if we could make a call. They got the number off me and we were told to sit down at a table which had a phone next to it. It turned out that it was the same table we had sat at last night when Dave ate the flower. I noticed that the flowers had been filled back up. The phone suddenly rang and I picked it up. There was a woman speaking Thai on the end of it and she spoke only broken English. I told her my story that I wasn’t happy here and wanted to go back to Phuket, but she didn’t understand. She asked me to say it again but still she didn’t understand. I was getting edgy at this point, a fear came over me that it would be useless, I would be stuck here for the rest of my holiday and I would never see Phuket again, I would never see P again. I then asked the woman if she could transfer me to someone who spoke English and she said yes. Finally we were getting somewhere. A man came on the phone who’s voice I recognised but I didn’t know where from, it was only when he said his name that it clicked “Hi this is B, how can I help” it was B, our rep from Phuket. It was really good to hear his voice; I knew that if anyone could sort something out, it would be this guy. I told him the story, told him that 2 of us wanted to go back to Phuket because we just weren’t happy here (I didn’t mention the fact that I was also missing a local Thai girl and wanted to see her). He said to leave it with him and he would give us a call back on our room phone with the details of what he could sort out for us but it was looking likely that we would have to pay for our rooms if we went back to Phuket, I told him that was fine although I’d have to be careful on how much it was going to cost. I wouldn’t want to go back to Phuket with no money left to spend. I thanked him and put the phone down. I told Dave what he’d said. We paid for the call at reception and then went back to our room to wait for the call back off B. Dave had the same fears as me regarding paying for our rooms in Phuket. We’d both spent a lot of money on this holiday and although we both desperately wanted to go back to Phuket, we didn’t want to go back broke. I said that if worst came to worst, I’d borrow a little money off Leigh and pay him back when we got back to England. They were cleaning our room when we got back so we decided to wait on the veranda until they had finished, or at least until we heard the phone going.

A funny incident happened on our first night in Phi Phi and it happened in our room. I’ll tell you about it now as I’ve got some time to kill waiting for this phone call.

When we first arrived, Dave went to the toilet for a number 2, only he put too much toilet paper down the toilet and it got blocked. Now I won’t go into details but it wasn’t a pretty sight, you see when we first got to Thailand we all went to the toilet a record number of times in one day for a number 2. I went about 5 times, Dave went about 6; Steve went about 5 but Leigh, well, he just didn’t go at all. This going to the toilet a record amount of times had continued right through the holiday, except for Leigh of course. So Phi Phi was no exception and Dave was the first person to christen the toilet.

So we now had a blocked toilet with all kinds of things floating around the bowl, the things floating were mainly brown BTW. Dave told me what had happened and we thought of just leaving it for a while, we would go to the pool and by the time we got back, all would be sorted….wrong. I got back to the room to go to sleep for a while and I needed the toilet. Things were still floating around but the water had gone down quite a bit so it was safe for me to flush again, it didn’t clear up though, the water just rose to the top once more, so I went to bed. When Dave woke me up a little later when he came back in the room, I went back to the toilet and flushed again, only this time the water hadn’t gone down and it overflowed, sending crap all over the floor (no wonder the lizard had decided to pay us a visit) I came out of the bathroom and we had no choice but to call reception and get someone out to it. A man arrived on a bike 30 seconds later with a plunger, to save face we waited on the veranda outside. He went in, taking his shoes off in the process (wise choice) and after about 60 seconds came back out with a smile on his face saying all was fixed. I was relieved in more ways than one because now I could finally go to the toilet hassle free (except for the lizard episode) we gave him tip and off he went.

Now, back to the story…

After about 20 minutes of waiting on the veranda, the phone started to ring. By now the cleaners had moved on to Leigh and Steve’s room. I answered and it was B. He said that he could get us in the same hotel we’d stayed in while in Phuket but we would have to pay for the two nights accommodation and if we wanted transfers from the harbour to our hotel and then from our hotel to the airport it would also cost us. I asked how much and it came to about 3200 baht each, give or take a few baht. I spoke to Dave and he said yes, I then spoke to B and said that it would be fine. He said he would arrange for us to leave on the 7.30am boat the next day and there would be a van waiting for us in Phuket to take us to our hotel in Patong. I thanked him for all his help and told him we’d see him tomorrow around 4pm and pay him the money, I then put the phone down.

So that was that, we were going back to Phuket and I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was. It was like a big weight had lifted off my shoulders. This time tomorrow we would be free of Phi Phi and back in Phuket, back in our hotel and I would be back with P and Dave would be back with L and I was very happy about that, I just couldn’t wait.

There was a knock at the door and Dave answered it. It was Steve and Leigh. Room service had woken them up and they were heading out for something to eat and then they were going to sit round the pool. I chose that moment to tell them we were leaving. They were fine about it and said that if it would make me happy, then that’s all that mattered. They saw no point in me staying if I was miserable. They both said they were happy in Phi Phi and would stay the following nights as normal. Looking at it, it wasn’t that I was miserable in Phi Phi, it was just that I’d had so much fun in Bangkok and Phuket, and now I was here on this quiet island, I was just, well, you know what I mean.

Dave and I said we’d see them at the pool and off they went to get something to eat. We decided to do a little packing before leaving for the pool, it saved us the job of doing it later and as we had to be up early, we didn’t fancy doing it last thing at night, or as soon as we got up.

We went to the pool about 30 minutes later. Leigh and Steve hadn’t arrived yet so we just got in the pool. It was another hot and sunny day but there weren’t many people around. There were a few couples but it certainly wasn’t buzzing with activity. It made me think that when you came on this island, it just made you go into some sort of trance, where no fun was allowed. Obey those rules or get thrown off a cliff.

I got out of the pool after 10 minutes and sat on my lounger, just then Leigh and Steve came back from eating and they sat down. Leigh asked me if I fancied a game of tennis in a little while and I said yes. I’d only been at the pool 20 minutes and already I was bored out of my brain. Leigh went to book the court and Steve jumped in the pool. I put some sun cream on because I’d already burnt enough on this holiday and I sat there in the sun. Leigh came back and said the court was booked for 5pm. It was going on for 4 so we had an hour to kill. All I could do was sit there in the sun for that hour; there was nothing else to do.

I’d fallen asleep. Leigh woke me up and said it was time to go and play tennis. It took me a few minutes to get my head together and we left. We got to reception and they handed us our rackets and balls and we made our way up to the tennis courts. It was a bit of a trek, we had to go up quite a few steps, passing more bungalows as we did. We got to the tennis courts and went inside. There were two courts but we were the only people playing. A member of staff came into the courts and gave us an ice bucket that had 4 bottles of water in and a couple of towels, he smiled and left. We started to play and within 5 minutes the sweat was pouring off us. The sun was beating down and with the humidity it was in the 100’s. We seemed to be having breaks every two minutes, drinking water and wiping our faces and necks with the towels. We played for about 1 ½ hours and by this time we’d played 2 sets with Leigh beating me 6-1, 6-3…stupid tennis. I decided at that point that I’d been humiliated enough. We made our way back to the pool and saw that Dave and Steve were still there but ready to go, which was fine by me as I was desperate for a shower. They picked up their stuff and Leigh and I dropped off the rackets at reception and we all made our way back to our rooms. We decided to go out earlier tonight so we could actually get something to eat before everywhere shut and as Dave and I had to be up early we wouldn’t be out as long.

At around 8.30pm Leigh and Steve knocked on. By this time I’d had a shower and got changed, so had Dave. I was fully packed for leaving tomorrow and the clothes I was wearing would be the clothes I would wear for my trip tomorrow, it was the same with Dave. We left and made our way to one of the restaurants. It was a nice little place with a few people sat at tables eating their meals and we were handed menus. We all had a craving for fried rice and ordered our meals. Leigh was telling us how much he had been bitten by mosquitos. His legs were covered in bites. Steve had been bit a couple of times but for some reason they had left Dave and I alone, can’t think why. We finished our meals, paid, and left to go to the bar we had been in the previous night. There were more people in tonight than there was last night, maybe because it was earlier. After 10pm everyone seemed to vanish, like the beach just sucks everyone up only to let them out at certain times. I knew that this beach wouldn’t be sucking me up, not after tomorrow. We ordered some drinks and sat there chatting. We filmed a little bit, and took a few pictures. (I’ve watched all the tapes now BTW, made myself a copy and laughed, some of its hilarious.)

We noticed that when we came in this bar the previous night, some people were playing connect 4 (Thai people who work in bars all seem to be obsessed with connect 4, no matter which bar you go in, you will always find it behind the bar, or someone playing it) so Leigh said we should have a game and Dave went to the bar to get it. While he was stood at the bar, a Thai man who was sitting at another table just near us was attacked by a giant moth. The thing was huge. It was that big it actually looked like a bat but there was no mistaking it, this thing was a moth. Just then, Dave started walking back from the bar, connect 4 in tow and as he went past the Thai man, the giant moth decided to turn its attention to Dave. Dave didn’t notice this and walked past where it was flying, the moth then turned round and flew at Dave, it landed on his shoulder and it seemed to perch there, flapping its wings slightly. Well that was enough for Dave; he started screaming like a girl saying “GET IT OFF ME, GET IT OFF ME” the moth of course didn’t listen and just enjoyed the ride. All the people sat at other tables were laughing; Steve, Leigh and I were in hysterics. Finally the moth flew away and Dave was just stood there panting, like he’d just run the marathon.

We started playing Connect 4 but I didn’t really get involved. Here I was, a lad on holiday and I was stuck in a bar playing connect 4. You may be thinking to yourselves that I’m being a little too picky when it comes to this, but I’ll ask you this…when was the last time you went on holiday and played a game in a bar? Cards in an airport bar don’t count and playing it with bar girls doesn’t count either.

All three of them had a few games then Leigh came up with the idea of playing scrabble…SCRABBLE???? (for God's sake kill me now.) So we all flicked a coin on who would be the person to go to reception and get it. Dave lost and off he went. He came back 2 minutes later but this time no moths took a shine to him. So we sat there, 4 lads on holiday playing Scrabble.

I came second BTW.

By now it was going on 11.30pm. I needed the toilet and I got up to go, Steve needed it as well and came with me, leaving Leigh and Dave to put the Scrabble board away. To get to the toilet you have to walk past the pool, it looks really pretty at night all lit up. We went to the toilet and came back out and started walking down the steps towards the pool. I noticed the Leigh and Dave were next to the pool; Dave was filming, before I knew it, Leigh had run over and grabbed hold of me, then Steve helped him and they pushed me in the pool. Now normally I’d see this as a joke, just a bit of fun, but that night I didn’t, I just saw red. The clothes I was wearing I was wearing the next day to go back to Phuket. I’d already packed my case and it was all sealed and ready to go. All my money was in my pocket as well and the pool was having chlorine and chemicals pumped into it to get rid of all the germs and stuff that it had picked up during the day. I fell in and swallowed some of that water. I crawled out to the sound of laughter. After a coughing fit I went off my head. I started swearing and having a go of all those involved and I knew that if I would have stayed there any longer instead of going back to my room, fists would have been flying. Dave was still filming and I just told him to “turn the fu##ing camera off” which he did.

I went back to my room and that was the last time I saw or spoke to Leigh and Steve. The next time I’d see them would be at the airport and that suited me fine. That was the thing with this holiday. I’ve said before that I didn’t really know Steve and Leigh outside of work; I was getting to know them. Dave I’ve known more or less all my life, but the more time I spent with Leigh and Steve, the more those little things started to annoy me. We all get that sometimes, no matter who we are with, after spending a certain amount of time with the same person or persons, little things can start to annoy you.

I got out of my wet clothes and hung them outside to dry. I knew very well that they wouldn’t be dry by morning and I’d have to put fresh clothes on and stick these sopping wet ones in my suitcase. I lay all my money out on a table in our room to let it dry. I then went to the bathroom and grabbed a towel to dry myself; I got into bed and turned the lights off. Dave came in just then and asked if I was alright. I was still really mad and just said “fine”. I told him to go back to the bar and grab my cigs which I’d left on the table, he said ok, telling me that on the way back to the room he’d seen a snake and got a photo of it. I didn’t really say anything to that. He then left. I also realised that I hadn’t paid my way with all the beers we’d bought that night, well sod them, they could whistle for it.

I was sleepy and I was still mad, but in those final minutes before sleep took me away to the land of dreams, my thoughts turned too P and to Phuket and I smiled.

Day 11 (Phi Phi/Phuket)

I was awoken at 6am by a vibrating mobile phone. The reason why I had this phone is because it would take more than a vibrating phone to wake Dave up, it would probably take a few thousands church bells before he would move a muscle. To my surprise though, Dave woke up when I did. I had looked forward to this day from the moment I’d stepped onto Phi Phi Island and here it was, in a few hours time we’d be back in Phuket.

We both got up and got ready to leave. I went onto the veranda to see how my clothes were doing, they were still very wet so I put them in a plastic bag and took them to my suitcase. I took out some fresh clothes and put the wet ones inside. I’d have to take them out as soon as I got to the hotel in Phuket to get them dry. We finished off getting changed and checked the room for anything we might have left behind, but all was clear. We decided to send an SMS to L to say we were coming back to Phuket and we’d meet her and P in the day if that was possible. Dave wrote his SMS and I stood outside having a cig. I took one last look around. It really was a beautiful place and certainly one of those places you have to see to believe, but if you ever go, just stop two nights and not 4 like we had planned. You can easily cram in everything on this island in two days and nights (you could probably do it in 20 minutes actually) but any more than that and you would be stuck for things to do. Failing that, go with your wife, go with your girlfriend, go with your friend’s wife and your girlfriend if that’s your thing, but don’t go with your mates.

We were ready to go, we said goodbye to our room and left. We got to reception at 7am and checked out and we were given our boat tickets and were told that it would arrive at 7.30am. We sat down near the beach and Dave went off to take some photos, leaving me with the bags. Our suitcases had already been taken off us and were going to be put on the boat by one of the baggage guys. I sat there and looked around, looking at the beach, the boats and the sea. It was truly breathtaking and at that time of the morning as the sun has just come up and everything is calm it made it even more beautiful. I said my own private goodbye to Phi Phi at that moment and again I smiled, thinking of how lucky I was to actually be here, thinking of how lucky I was to have experienced what I had since arriving in Thailand. So far I’d made the most of my holiday here, in my eyes anyway. I still had some regrets, like not seeing the palaces in Bangkok and not getting to witness the floating market, but all in all I’d enjoyed and embraced every last second here.

Dave came back and we sat and waited for our boat.

At 7.30am our boat arrived and we made our way to it, our bags were put in and we found a seat. It was a very small boat and nothing like the one we’d come to the island in and we said to each other that it would take forever on this thing to get back to Phuket. We sat and waited and more people came from all directions and got in this boat and we set off. We were going for about 5 minutes when the boat stopped and to our surprise it let more people on. Except there were no seats for these people as there was none left? We started going again and yet again after 5 minutes the boat stopped to let more people on, it was turning into a joke. We decided to leave our seats and go to the back of the boat for a smoke. As soon as we were there we lost our seats. At the back of the boat there were loads of people sat on suitcases and stood up because there was nowhere to sit, but still more people got on. At this rate we would be lucky to get back to Phuket in 24 hours and as we’d lost our seats I had to sit on the floor which happened to be wet with sea water. We started off again and this time the boat didn’t stop after 5 minutes. I was very uncomfy. I was sat in the sun's direct light and I hadn’t put any cream on and even if I wanted to put cream on, there would have been no way I’d be able to get my bag. So I sat there, in a puddle of water and slowly started to roast like a chicken in an oven.

After about 30 minutes of this Dave told me we were pulling into a harbour. I said that it couldn’t be Phuket already and he said no, but it looked like we were going to transfer to a bigger boat. A catamaran like the one we went to the island on. It was good news hearing that because I knew that if I’d spent another 30 minutes on this boat I’d go crazy. I looked around at some of the other people and you could see the look of relief on their faces. I stood up and my arse was soaked, water was dripping down my legs, it felt horrible.

We left the boat and got on the catamaran and made our way downstairs and found a couple of seats. There was a group of English girls sat behind us who were travelling. We’d seen so many travellers or backpackers on this trip from all over the world. Thailand was certainly a popular place for these people.

After about 20 minutes the boat set off and it was super fast. I knew that Phuket would be here in no time and it felt good. Dave and I decided we’d go on the top deck and sit in the sun for a while, this time I put some cream on. It was really rough and windy at the front of the boat but it was still very warm in the sunshine. We sat down next to a very pretty and tanned girl and we got our fags out. She asked for a light because she’s been trying for the last 10 minutes to light hers but with no luck. She went to get her cigs out of her bag and her purse fell out, which the wind then blew into the water. There was nothing she could do; the boat wasn’t exactly going to stop to look for a purse which was probably at the bottom of the ocean at that point. She told us though that there was nothing in there of any worth as it wasn’t really safe to leave valuables in her purse. I just thought to myself “well why the hell did you bring it then”.

We smoked our fags and relaxed in the sun. I was wearing my baseball cap but had to take it off because of the wind, I knew that if I caught the wind in the wrong place, my hat would go the same way as that girl’s useless purse. So I took it off and lay it by my side, sitting on it slightly so it wouldn’t blow away.

After about 30 minutes I looked up and saw the most amazing site ever. Phuket was dead ahead just coming out of the distance. It was so refreshing to see. That’s where we would spend the remainder of our holiday and that’s where our holiday would come to a fantastic, if not upsetting end, but that was three days away.

After another 30 minutes Phuket was more or less right on top of us and we could see the harbour. I said to Dave that we’d better get ready to go; we should get our bags ready. He agreed and we made our way to the other end of the boat where the door for the inside was. I’d put my cap back on and the wind chose that moment to blow it off my head. But it didn’t go the same way as that girl’s useless purse; instead it chose to hit some guy in the face who was stood looking at the view. It then fell to the floor and I just asked him to keep hold of it for me until I got there. I’d have said sorry to him but it was the wind's fault and I certainly wasn’t going to say sorry for that.

We got inside the boat and made our way downstairs to where our bags and seats were. I missed the sign saying “mind your head” and hit it on a piece of wood at the top of the stairs, feeling foolish and hearing laughter, I made my way downstairs as quickly as possible. We got all our stuff together just as the boat was pulling into the harbour. We then went upstairs and waited for the boat to dock so we could get out. The boat itself was pretty packed with people. Some from the holiday resort we’d spent the last two nights on in Phi Phi, others from different islands and the rest were either backpackers or locals.

We were finally let out of the boat and we found our driver who had our names on a piece of paper. We were sharing the bus with a group of three girls and one lad who were backpacking from Australia. We never spoke to them, we just heard the accents. We set off after 10 minutes and headed for Patong.

The journey there was only 30 minutes and surprisingly it went pretty quick. Dave and I talked for most of the journey, but it was nothing that I can remember now, I think our minds were elsewhere. I know mine was. I was thinking of P, working out these little scenes in my head of how I would meet her. Thinking I’d go to the bar she was in and while her back was turned, ask for a bottle of water. She would turn round and smile and then throw her arms around me. It was pure fantasy of course and I was getting carried away with myself, but it was still nice to think of stuff like that. It made coming back to Phuket all worth while.

We got to Patong. Everything just looked the same. I don’t know, for some reason I had it in my mind that it would have changed, like in the last two days some mysterious men in black clothes had maybe come along and made the town unrecognisable. Why I thought that I don’t know, but it was there in my mind all the same.

The group of travellers got to their hotel first and the driver let them out. He got their bags out of the boot and off they went. We set off again and five minutes later we were pulling into our hotel. We were here, we were finally here, and it was a great feeling. We got out and the baggage guys came to get our cases. One of them we knew and he said to us “weren’t there four of you before”? We said yes and told him the story of how we were bored in Phi Phi. He looked at me and said “I know why you have come back, you’ve got lady”. I just laughed and said I didn’t know what he was talking about.

We checked in and went to our rooms. We were in different rooms this time and they were on a lower floor and the opposite side to what our first rooms were. We got in and just lay on our beds and lay there silently for a while, then there was a knock on the door. It was one of the baggage guys with our cases. He brought them in and we gave him a tip. I sat back down on the bed and looked at the clock. It was 12pm. We had 4 hours before we had to meet B in the lobby.

Dave still hadn’t heard anything off L. He’d sent the text message a few hours ago and there was no word, so I said that I’d ring P and tell her we were back in Phuket. She’d given me her number on the day I’d met her at 4pm, as well as he email address. I didn’t just want to use the phone in the room because I had no idea how much it would cost, so I told Dave I’d go down to reception and ask them first as I didn’t want to be stuck with a massive bill when we checked out in a few days time. I made my way down and spoke to one of the young ladies working behind reception. She told me it would cost 21 baht a minute to call a cell phone and she wrote down all the instructions I’d need when calling from my room. I thanked her and went back to my room in the lift, saying hello to the security guard who always held the lift door open for you. He was a really nice guy and he knew who we were now and always let on and smiled when he saw us.

I got back in the room and told Dave it would cost next to nothing to make the call, so he asked me what I was waiting for and I told him nothing, I just thought he might be interested in how much it was going to cost. I picked up the phone and called. It was picked up after a couple of rings and I said hello, she said hello back. It was great to hear her voice again, for some reason I thought I never would hear it again, but she sounded different for some reason and I wasn’t sure why. I told her we were back in Phuket and told her all about Phi Phi. I also said that one of the reasons why I’d come back was to see her and spend my last couple of days in Thailand with her before flying back to the UK. She then said that this wasn’t P and she had gone to the shop but would be back in 5 minutes, I said thank you and said I’d call back; I then put the phone down.

Dave found this highly amusing, that I’d more or less poured my heart out on the phone, only to find out I was talking to the wrong girl. I didn’t share his enthusiasm but I did find it a little bit funny, no wonder she sounded different. I said that I was going out onto the balcony to have a smoke before I rang her again. As I walked past my case it dawned on me that I still had my wet clothes in the case from being pushed into the pool the night before. I took them out and placed them on the balcony to dry. It was very hot outside but it didn’t really bother me, I was just glad to be back here and I knew that my holiday would end on a high note, or so I thought.

I finished my cig and went back into the room and tried phoning P again, this time she did answer and she said she was really happy that I was back and wanted to see me. I said that I could meet her at 5pm as I had to speak to the holiday rep at 4 and it gave me plenty of time just in case the meeting went on for longer than I thought. She said that would be fine and said she’d meet me at 5 in front of the hotel. I asked her to get in touch with L and see if she could come, she said she would and then we said our goodbyes.

Dave had more or less heard everything so I didn’t need to tell him what she’d said. It was now 1pm and in 3 hours we’d be meeting B and in 4 hours I’d be meeting P and I couldn’t wait. We decided to go out for something to eat. We had to be careful now as we were running out of money. So we decided that we’d just eat twice a day. We’d get a breakfast in the hotel in the morning and in the evening we’d just get a McDonald’s. We’d also eat vitamin pills as I’d brought some with me. They were “one a day” jobs and for some reason they filled you up, we also said we’d smoke like chimneys as that suppressed your appetite.

We left the room and made our way past the pool. We heard a familiar voice shouting us from behind. It was T, he came over and asked what we were doing back, so we told him the story and he said it was great to see us. We told him we were just going for something to eat and we’d catch up with him later. We then left and walked to MD’s. On the way there we met up with the suit sellers we’d come to know and again we explained why we were back, we had a laugh and a joke with them and said we’d be taking their picture in a couple of days time so they’d better have on their best clothes. We got to MD’s and went inside. There weren’t any tables so we ordered our food and sat outside. It turned out to be a big mistake, there were wasps flying all over the place and I panicked. I hate wasps and what made this worse was that these wasps were like giants; they were that big they wouldn’t simply sting you; they’d stamp on your head first. I told Dave that there was no way I was sharing my food with giant wasps from hell and went back inside, luckily there was a table now free and we sat down and ate. We talked a little about money, we talked about P and L and we also talked about how good it was to be back in Phuket. We decided that we’d buy some beer from the shop as it was very cheap and that would set us up for the night and we wouldn’t have to spend that much money when we went to some bars. We also decided to buy Singha beer as it was cheap and strong and also quite nice.

We finished our food and started walking back to the hotel. We walked past the tattoo place where we had got ours done, well, Dave had his done twice, but then Dave said to me that on the last day here, he was going to get it re-done for the third time as it was starting to fade and he wanted people to see it when he got home. I just said that he was becoming obsessed with Henna ink and was being stupid. Needless to say he didn’t listen. Just before we got to the hotel we decided to buy a phone card so we could ring home, it was cheaper than using the hotel phone and neither of us had spoken to our families since we’d arrived in Thailand. We got to the shop but changed our minds (I haven’t a clue why). We arrived back at the hotel and we decided to spend a little time around the pool. We still had just over an hour to kill before we had to meet B and as T was working we could have a chat with him. It turned out that T wasn’t the only one working that we knew; there were also a couple of other guys we’d got to know. We went to get our towels and sat by the pool. T came over and talked with us and we ordered a couple of bottles of water. We didn’t really fancy a swim, I certainly didn’t. I had done all the swimming I’d intended to do on this holiday and after last night; I didn’t feel like swimming ever again. The hour flew by and before we knew it, it was 4pm. We said goodbye to T and went to our rooms to get the money for the hotel room. We went downstairs and met B. We chatted for a while and told him our reasons for leaving Phi Phi (we didn’t mention the girls) and he told us that we weren’t the only ones who wanted to leave Phi Phi early. He told us that after speaking to us, another couple rang him and asked if they could come back to Phuket as well, they had also found Phi Phi boring. We paid the money and said goodbye to B. We told him that we had loved Thailand so far and would definitely come back again next year. We shook his hand and thanked him for all he had done and went back to our room. It was now 4.30pm. We had a cup of tea and sat on the balcony until it was time to leave to meet P and hopefully L would be there to see Dave, He said that if she couldn’t make it, he would just go back to the pool and speak to T and the other guys.

I told Dave that I didn’t really like going into the bar where P worked and he asked why (I thought about this a lot after meeting her, but I just shooed those thoughts away most of the time) I couldn’t explain it really; it was just one of those places where you feel pressured in a way. I know that doesn’t make sense but I was happier meeting P once she had finished work, rather than going in while she was still working. I guess it was just how other people saw me and P, maybe questioning my motives for seeing her all the time. I know that sounds silly, but it was still the feeling I had and it was something I couldn’t shake.

It was 4.55pm and it was time to leave. We got to the front of the hotel and waited. The security guard at the front knew who we were and we chatted to him. He asked if I was meeting my lady and I said yes, he just laughed and said something to the taxi drivers on the other side of the road, they laughed and stuck up their thumbs. After waiting for 5 minutes a bike turned into the street with two girls on it. It was P and some girl I’d seen in the bar where she worked. It was great to see her and although it had only been two days, it seemed much longer. She got off the bike and I went over to her, we hugged and I said it was great to see her, she said she’d missed me. She then turned to Dave and told him L couldn’t make it but she would meet him in the bar at around 1am. I cringed slightly because I’d have to go into the bar with him but Dave said he would go in the bar about 1.30am as he wanted, or we wanted to go and see the manager of the Margarita bar and tell him we were back. She said she would tell L and then Dave left, leaving me and P. The girl on the bike had now left as well.

We went for a walk on the beach, we talked a little and also stayed silent, just feeling the cool see breeze on our faces. She asked me about Phi Phi and I told her what I thought of it. She seemed surprised that I didn’t like it and I explained that I did like it, but it just wasn’t the place for 4 lads on holiday. As we walked along the beach, a friend of P’s came walking over to us, they both spoke in Thai and then P turned to me and asked how long it had taken to get to Phi Phi, I thought it was a strange question but answered anyway. They spoke in Thai again and then her friend left, saying goodbye to me and she walked away. We walked a little further and then made our way back up to the main road and sat on a wall just next to the beach and road. We kissed and she told me how much she’d missed me and was happy that I was back. She had to go to work at 6pm so we only had about 20 minutes left before she had to leave. She told me that when I went to Phi Phi she had cried. I asked her why but she wouldn’t tell me. I didn’t know what to think. Did she cry because she was missing me? Or did she cry because she wasn’t telling me something that I should know? I didn’t know and what I found while there was that if you analysed things too much, then it could kind of ruin what you were experiencing. I didn’t really know what she did at work, but I had a pretty good idea, maybe I just didn’t want to know, or maybe I knew, but didn’t want to think about it, but I never questioned it or thought about it too much because I knew that it would ruin things. She’d told me that men had come up to her when I wasn’t there, but she always said she wasn’t interested because of me. I didn’t know whether to feel flattered or scared about that, but again it was something I didn’t think too much about.

It was time for her to go and she asked if I was going to come and see her tonight and I decided to tell her that I didn’t really enjoy coming into her bar to see her, she looked a little upset by that and asked me why, but the only way I could explain it was that when I went in there, it was like I was picking her up and not going in to see her to be with her and her only. I’m not sure whether she understood. I told her though that Dave and I would be in about 1.30am. She seemed a little disappointed but agreed all the same. We kissed each other goodbye and we both went our separate ways. Walking along the beach road back to the hotel I started thinking about the bar and the problem I had with it. I tried to dismiss what I was feeling but it wouldn’t go away, just what was it that I didn’t like about the place? I couldn’t come up with anything.

I got back to the hotel and Dave was still by the pool talking to T. It was now 6pm and T was leaving, he asked us if we wanted to go and watch the Thai boxing with him tomorrow evening and we said we would. We had wanted to see it since arriving in Thailand and who better to go with than a local? We said goodbye to T and we went back to the room. Dave asked what I’d been up to and I told him. I also told him about this feeling I got about the bar, which was a big mistake because we would now be talking about it all night until we actually got there. We decided to go down to the local shop in the hotel and get our beer for the night ahead. We bought 2 big bottles of Singha beer each and went back up to the room.

It was going to be a very long night for us both, but I had no idea just what lay in store for me, and as it turned out, my night was about to have quite a few twists and turns and would make me regret ever coming back to Phuket.

We cracked open our first bottle of beer and drank straight from the bottle. There was no need for a glass, we are men after all. We sat on the bed listening and watching MTV. A few songs came on that we knew and we just had a laugh talking about our time in Thailand and how it was nearly over. Then we got onto the subject of ladyboys. We’d seen loads of them in Phuket, certainly more than what we had seen in Bangkok (maybe we were just in the wrong places in Bangkok) and we talked about the girls we had met. I asked Dave if he had any doubts that L was a man. I started to get him paranoid by saying that he’s never seen her naked, she always stayed covered up and spoke very quietly, like she didn’t want him to hear her voice. After a few sips of this strong beer, we were feeling the effects and the conversation reflected that. Dave asked me what I though and I said that she may have had thin arms and small hands, but had he done the vibration test? “The vibration test” he said “yes” I said, “the vibration test”. He asked me what it was and I told him that when a guy speaks, if you put your head on the chest and got that person to speak, there is a small but deep vibration, but with a girl, there is hardly any vibration what so ever. A girls voice doesn’t go deeper like a mans. I told him that if he was to be 100% certain it was a girl, then he would have to do the vibration test (I was only winding him up of course, so those of you reading this and wondering about the test, don’t bother, then again, if you have to be sure). He asked how he was supposed to do that without it looking weird. Quite simple I said, “all you have to do is when you see her in the bar tonight, lean on her chest and make it so you want to be close to her, ask her a question but make sure you are still leaning on her chest, and when she answers, you will know”. I was quietly laughing to myself. I pictured Dave doing just that when we got to the bar tonight and when he got his answer, he would look up at me and give me the thumbs up. He said he’d do it and then we took the conversation deeper. We talked about what we would do if we found out that these girls were actually guys. Considering that I hadn’t actually done anything with P, only kissed her, I just said that there’s nothing I could do, I’d just simply walk off in disgust. But as Dave had taken things a step further with L, he said he didn’t know what he’d do either, although I had a pretty good guess. We talked about what kind of psychological damage that would do to a person. It was just drunken talk. You try and have these deep conversations but it’s all puff and blow really and you look back on those times with a hint of laughter inside you. Wondering how you ended up talking about such things but knowing you had a great time discussing it anyway.

We’d finished our first bottle and had started drinking our second bottle. I don’t really drink at all. The only times I do are when I’m on holiday and Christmas and my birthday. I’ve been there and done all the drinking when I was younger, but as I started to get older, I just didn’t feel the need for it really. But I was on holiday; I was letting my hair down as I always did when on holiday. So I carried on drinking. By now we were both pretty tipsy from this strong beer and our conversations continued, from talking about ladyboys to discussing how much of a mess Ozzy Osborne looks these days and whether we thought his daughter was nice looking. We both agreed that she was in a weird kind of way. I looked at the clock and it was just past 11.30pm. In two hours time we would be in the bar P and L worked. We then got onto the topic of table manners and Dave had noticed that when I finished my food, I never lay my knife and fork correctly on the plate. I told him that there were more important things in this world than how to place cutlery on a dinner plate. He didn’t agree and tried to make me see it his way, which I couldn’t and I said if people judge me on the way I lay a spoon or fork down on a plate, then they could go to hell. It was the same with eating soup, all that crap about pushing the spoon away from you and scooping up the soap, it was rubbish. At the end of the day (I told him) I would eat my soup how I wanted to eat my soup, not because of the way some guy or woman say that it’s the proper way to do it. To me I was the one paying for the soup, not them and I’d eat it anyway I chose to. We started arguing then on etiquette, it got pretty heated as well, but the thing with me and Dave is that we knew each other like the backs of our hands, we often argued but we were such good friends, that we would argue for 5 minutes and 2 minutes later we would be talking about something else, forgetting all about what we were arguing over. We never took things too seriously and to us, that was a perfect friendship and this was one of those times.

It was now 12.30am and we were on our last sips of beer. We’d been lying on our beds for a few hours now and neither of us had gotten a shower and got ready to go out. So I decided to have a shower, I would save the last of my beer till I’d got changed. I had a shower and a shave and then Dave did the same. I drank the rest of my beer. My head was spinning, the room was spinning. I didn’t feel sick or anything, just, happy. Dave was now dressed and it was going on for 1am. He finished his beer and we left. We couldn’t be bothered walking to the Margarita Bar so we took a tuktuk instead and agreed on a price of 60 baht (looking at that price now, for a 5 minute journey, we were ripped off good style, but what the hell). We arrived at the Margarita Bar and went inside. Steve the owner was there and he asked us what we were doing back, we told him the story and he bought us some drinks. We talked to him for a while and had more drinks. He asked us if we wanted to go to a club with him and a few friends but we declined, we told him we were meeting a couple of girls soon. He just said that he hoped we knew what we were doing, we just laughed (but what the hell were we doing? I was too drunk to think about that anyway). He then got us some more drinks and also got one of the girls behind the bar to mix up a cocktail. It had gin in and tasted very nice. We had a few shots and drank more beer. By this time I was finding it hard to focus properly, I knew then that I’d reached my limit, well ok, I’ve passed my limit at 100mph, and took my time with the beer that I had left. It was now 1.45am. In the space of 40 minutes we’d had 4 more Singha beers and 5 shots of this blue cocktail. I went to the toilet and it was one of those times where you try and act sober, but you know in the back of your mind that everyone knows you’ve had one too many. I wasn’t alone; Dave was also reaching his limit. We then finished our drinks and said goodbye to Steve and thanked him for the drinks and told him we’d see him again before we left for England. We left the bar and made our way to the Soi Easy bar to meet the girls (we were late). Dave was feeling hungry and decided to buy a sausage on a stick from one of the street vender’s. It cost him about 1p in English money. He ate it and said it was lovely, I said he wouldn’t think it was lovely when he woke up in the morning with food poisoning. We made our way to the bar.

As we walked in, girls were sat outside a few other bars and on the steps leading up to the building with all the main bars inside. A few said hellos, others smiled. It’s surprising how after seeing this more or less everyday since getting to Thailand, we still weren’t used to all this attention. I know I wasn’t but it was a question I’d never asked Dave. We went in the building and made our way to the bar P and L worked at. It’s funny looking back on it now because the first time we walked in to this building, when walking past one of the bars, all the girls would jump on you, but now they only looked at us as we walked past. It was like they knew who we were and they knew who we had come to see. It was like some secret club, some secret handshake that these girls had made and it said “these two lads are untouchable because they already have two girls” it was probably me just in a fantasy land but the thought was there all the same. We got to the bar and we saw L first who came over and hugged Dave and said hello and smiled at me, she also called me a Muppet, damn Dave for teaching her that. Then I saw P and she came over, but something wasn’t right. To me I just had this image of a robot walking over to me, like this robot had been programmed to seek me out and when it had seen me; it was programmed to come over to me. She smiled and gave me a peck on the cheek, but again it seemed sort of robotic. She asked me if I wanted a drink and I said I wanted water. I wasn’t going to chance another beer, not in the state I was in. The water came and I offered her a drink, she also chose water. Just then Dave came over to me and said he was leaving with L, I asked him where he was going and he just said L was taking him to a place she knew where they could get something to eat, and after that, who knew. I said fine and off he went, L waved as she went (she didn’t call me a Muppet this time).

P was sat next to me and she just seemed distant, I asked what was wrong and she said nothing, but it was obvious that she was lying. A guy came over with a Polaroid camera and wanted to take our picture, I said no because I’d already had three pictures taken in this bar but he took it anyway. I paid him and gave the picture to P. She looked at it and seemed sad. It was now 2am and all the bars including this one were shutting up. P said she would be back in a minute and she left. I was sat on my own. There was a group of 4 girls just stood next to me; I looked at them because I could feel they were looking at me. Two of them I recognised, one of them had been the girl who had dropped P off at the hotel that afternoon and the other was the girl who had walked over to us on the beach, the one who had asked how long it had taken to get to Phi Phi. Then one of them said to me “you have to pay bar if you want to take P”. I said that I wasn’t going to pay the bar. I’d paid the bar that first night when we came in and I took P with me, but P was the one who had asked me to come back and meet her everyday, she’d been the one who met me in the day when the bar was just a place that was closed. They just looked at me and shrugged their shoulders and then I said that why should I pay the bar? If P wanted to see me then that was fine but there was no way I was going to pay the bar for her company (Like I said before, at the time, I didn’t know about bar fines etc, but even if I had, I’d still say the same thing I was saying now). I wanted P to meet me because she wanted to, not because of this stupid bar. Just then, one of the girls mobiles rang, she spoke in Thai, looked at me and spoke in Thai again and looked almost sad in a way. She then ended the call and looked at me and said “sorry, but P has left”. I stood up feeling confused, the beer I’d drunk wasn’t helping this confusion and I said “what do you mean she’s left” the girl looked at me again and said “sorry”.

I didn’t know what to do or what to think. Had all this been some kind of sick joke? Had my time with P just been about money and paying the bar? I was confused and upset and the only person who could explain all this was P, but she’d left, she’d walked out without saying goodbye, instead she had made a phone call telling a girl that she was leaving without me. All the girls looked at me and I just walked out. For some reason it seemed that every girl in that place was now looking me, like they all knew what had happened. None of them were smiling anymore; none of them said goodbye or even hello. That secret handshake and secret club had now stemmed to P walking out on me and me refusing to pay one of the bars.

I got outside and wondered which way to turn. The street was very busy with people; in fact it seemed to be the busiest it’s ever been. I had this paranoid feeling that everyone was looking at me because they knew what had happened, they’d all come out to see what would happen next. If I turned right, it would take me back to the hotel, but if I turned left it would take me back to the hotel but it would take more time. I decided to turn left, I needed to clear my head and that’s when I saw her.

She was about 20 feet in front of me walking slowly up the road. I debated whether it was worth catching up to her or whether to just got back to the hotel, but I needed answers, I needed to know what was going on, what all this meant, was it all lies or was something else going on that she couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me about. I started to walk faster to catch up with her and once I was behind her I tapped her on the shoulder, she turned round and looked at me, it seemed she’d been crying but I didn’t say anything about that, all I said was “what’s going on, why did you just leave and not say goodbye”. She said that I wouldn’t understand and I said “try me”. She stood there silent for a while, people were walking past, some banging into me. I said to her to talk to me and that’s all she had to do, to explain to me and then I would leave and never see her again. I said lets get off the road as it’s very busy and we went into a darkened alley where there were some shops with their shutters down. We were also next to a bar that had closed up for the night. She sat on one of the stools, staying silent for a while, so I decided to talk for her, telling her about how walking out of that bar and the girls hassling me to pay the bar for her time was upsetting. She knew how I felt about her, it was pretty obvious really and up till then, I thought she felt the same. I asked her what all this meant; I told her that she had hurt me. I treated her with respect, I could have been some typical lad and picked her up in a bar, had sex with her and never sseen her again, but me being stupid I chose not to do that. I chose instead to treat her with a little dignity, something I thought she deserved. I told her that I had come back to Phuket to be with her, I wanted to spend my final days in Thailand with her before I left for England and I said that now it seemed like a complete waste of time. She decided to speak.

She told me that working at the bar she was paid to bring money into that bar. When guys came in she had to sit with them, make them buy drinks and keep them there as long as possible, but with me, she wasn’t doing that, she wasn’t doing her job and if a guy wanted to take her from the bar, he had to pay that bar. She told me she wouldn’t have sex with these guys, just a quick fumble on the dark like what goes on in every town and city in the world, but she was there to make money for the bar, it was always about the bar. With me though, she wasn’t doing her job, since meeting me, guys had come in the bar and she had just ignored them because she was waiting for me or thinking of me and she’d got in trouble for it. It turned out she was paying the bar herself out of her own money, she was paying for my time instead of the other way round. I didn’t know whether to feel sorry for her or just walk away. There are fewer choices for people who live and work in Thailand, you take what you can get, even though she was a very clever girl, she had worked for JVC in Bangkok for 10 years in one of the offices. L was the same; she was training to be an accountant. But I’ve always been a firm believer that your life is what you make it, you either sit down and let it pass you by, or you grab it by the balls and do something with it. She wasn’t happy at the bar, hated it in fact but I was just confused as to why she would work there if she was unhappy. I didn’t know then and even now I don’t know.

I told her that I’d been hurt enough, I was falling for her big time but I wasn’t going to get hurt anymore. I wanted to see her because I liked her and I wanted her to see me because she liked me, not because she had to do it because of the bar. I said to her that I’d had enough and I was going. I started to walk away but she called me back and asked if she could walk with me, reluctantly I agreed and we headed towards the Beach Road. I didn’t know what she wanted or why she wanted to walk with me, I was simply going to walk back to my hotel and forget all about her, even though I knew that wasn’t possible. She then stopped and said she wanted to cross the road and sit down, so we did. She sat there quietly, looking sad and distant. Like she had 1,000 things on her mind. That’s one thing I noticed about her, she thought a lot, in a way she was afraid to express herself and say what was on her mind. She held the picture that had been taken earlier, looked at it for a long time and put it down. I told her that I was hurt and she had hurt me for what she did tonight and the best thing I could do, was go back to the hotel and never see her again. She asked me if that was what I wanted and even though it wasn’t, I said yes. I got up and started to walk, she followed me and after 5 minutes of walking she stopped me, she said she’d lost the picture. I just said to leave it, what did she want it for? It meant nothing to her anyway, but she didn’t listen, she wanted to find it, seemed desperate to find it. I walked back with her and she found it lying on the wall we’d just been sitting on. She said down again and I said that I was going to leave and that it would be the last time she saw me. I wouldn’t be meeting her again or going into the bar to see her. She looked very upset by that. I just couldn’t figure her out at all, I know girls are confusing but she took first prize for the most confusing I’d ever met. I stood up and told her it was nice meeting her that I would never forget the time I’d spent with her and it was a shame it all had to end of a sour note like this. Just before walking away I told her to always remember that life was what you made it and if you are ever unhappy, you just had to have the balls to do something about it. I don’t know why I said it really, but I knew she was unhappy. She just looked down at the ground, holding the picture close to her. I said goodbye and she looked at me, I could see a tear glistening in her eye but I didn’t say anything about it. I kissed her on the lips and left.

Walking away and crossing the road, I looked back; she was still sat there, like some lonely figure in a painting made by some famous artist a hundred years ago. I walked back to the hotel slowly, I was very upset myself about everything that had happened and I was upset that coming back to Phuket was supposed to have been to finish my holiday on a happy ending, instead, it was going to end of a sad note.

I got to my room and there was a note on my bed, it was from Dave. It said that he would be spending the night with L and not to wait up for him, he put “love Dave” and the end of it. I threw the note in the bin, for the simple reason that if room service saw it, they would think we were gay, and went onto the balcony; I had a smoke and went over in my mind all that had happened. I didn’t want to think about it because it was upsetting me too much, but I couldn’t get the nights events out of my mind, I couldn’t get P out of my mind.

I finished my cig and went back inside; I got undressed and got into bed. The room was quiet, only the air conditioning was making a noise. I lay there and switched all the lights off. Waiting for sleep to take me away, wanting it to take me away to a far off land so I could forget all about what had happened, and just before it took me, a single tear rolled down my cheek.

Day 11 (Phuket)

I was awoken by the sound of rattling and talking outside the door. It was room service, I expected them to come into our room but they didn’t. Dave still wasn’t back and I looked at the clock, it said 11.30am. I lay there for a second; last night seemed a distant memory. Had all that stuff happened? Did I say I never wanted to see her again? Had she cried? Had I frikin cried? It seemed like some screwed up dream that only happened to people in movies but as I lay there, I knew this was no movie and I knew that everything had happened.

I got up and made myself some tea and sat on the balcony, I also had a smoke. As I sat there in the late morning sunshine, feeling the heat on my skin, my thoughts turned to last night again. I seemed to play everything over and over in my mind; it was like a song on a CD player being repeated a 1000 times. Like a song you hear first thing in the morning and no matter what you do, that song stays with you for the rest of the day, constantly playing in you head, even if it’s a song you don’t like, it stays with you anyway, like an annoying itch that you can never seem to find and get rid of.

I went back inside and got back into bed, all this thinking about last night had made me tired and I needed to escape from it. I fell asleep almost instantly.

Dave was the next person to wake me up. He was stood over the bed and said “get up you lazy bas#ard”. He sat on his bed and looked at me for a second, I looked at the clock and it said 2.10pm he then said “so what the hell has happened with you and P” I was taken back, how did he know about last night? Was he there? Was he hid behind the wall, did he put a hidden microphone up my nose? I asked him what he was talking about and then he said “I was with L all night in a hotel room and she got a phone call at 4am, she was talking in Thai then I heard your name mentioned, then L looked at me and she talked in Thai again to the person on the phone, then she passed the phone to me”. Of course, I thought, L. P would have called L to tell her what had happened, then Dave said “I said hello and it was P, she was in tears on the phone saying something had happened to you, at first I thought you’d been beaten up by ladyboys or something but then P said that you and her had had a falling out of some kind, she was still crying and asked me to ask you to meet her today at 3pm in the hotel I was staying in last night. I then said I would tell him and said bye”. I told Dave what had happened and he asked me if I was going to meet her? I said I didn’t think so. He said that he would come along too because he was meeting L as well. He said “you might as well go and see her, it’s our last day and you might regret it, you’ve got nothing to lose”. I reluctantly said ok, but that was only to make it sound like I wasn’t sure. I knew I was going to meet her, I knew all along. People can be weak and stupid sometimes, and this time it was my turn to be both of those things.

It was now 2.30pm; we had 30 minutes before we had to be at the hotel to meet them, so I got up and had a shower. By the time I’d got ready, Dave had packed some of his case. Of course, it was our last full day and night in Phuket, Tomorrow we would be going home and we had to check out of the hotel by 12pm.

We were ready to leave and just before we did, Dave said to me “are you sure you want to do this”. I thought it was nice of him to say something like that; it was giving me the chance to turn back if I wanted. I didn’t have to go through with this; I didn’t have to see her. I told her last night that I wouldn’t see her again, but hey, I’m a guy right, and half the time guys don’t think with their heads. Half of me said no, but the other half said yes. I chose the yes half. We left our room and walked out of the hotel. We decided to get a taxi to the hotel they were at instead of walking, it was too hot and neither of us could be bothered turning up like we’d just got out of the shower. We saw a tuktuk driver and asked him how much it would cost, he said 100 Baht, we told him we’d pay 50, he agreed and we got in and he took us to the hotel.

The hotel itself was situated behind the Soi Easy bar. As we walked through, all the bars were closed and there was no one about. It was a far cry from the loud and packed place it was at night when everything was open. It was weird seeing it during the day. We walked up some steps and there was the entrance to the hotel. There was a small front desk with a girl sat behind it; she was wearing an old Arsenal football top. There were a few doors scattered about with room numbers on them. It didn’t look too bad. Certainly not first class but certainly not scruffy and run down either. Dave asked if L was still here and the girl behind the counter said yes, he then asked if it was ok to go in, she replied yes again. I noticed her looking at me when I walked past her. A feeling of paranoia hit me, but as fast as it had come, it went out of my head even quicker. A bit like that feeling you get when you feel a shiver going down your spine and someone will always say “someone has just walked over your grave”. We got to a room just by the side of the front desk, it was room number 1 and Dave knocked, after about 15 seconds the door opened. There was darkness and Dave went in, I followed. The room was quite small; it had a double bed against the wall, a TV in the corner, separate bathroom, a wardrobe and a dressing table, but it was air conditioned. L was the only person in the room, P wasn’t there. I said hello and sat on the end of the bed, Dave joined L and lay next to her. L got her mobile phone and phoned a number, she spoke in Thai and then passed the phone to me, I said hello and the person on the other end said my name, it was P. She asked how I was and I said fine, she asked me if she could meet me and I said that was why I was here. She said she would be there about 4pm and asked if I was happy, I just said I was fine. We said our goodbyes and I handed the phone back to L. She spoke in Thai and then ended the call. The weird thing was that P had spoken to me as if last night had never happened, like everything was ok. I thought about it for a minute and then didn’t think about it, I just started talking to L and Dave. We talked a little about us leaving tomorrow, talked about what we thought of Thailand. We had to speak slowly so that L could understand what we were saying (even though she understood the word Muppet and I’m off to the boozer perfectly well). Not once did she ask me about last night, she never even mentioned P’s name.

I was getting a little bored and turned on the TV, I flicked through the channels, and most of them were either Thai shows or American shows with the Thai language dubbed over the English dialogue. I found a sports channel and tried to watch an American football game. What an utter pile of boring crap if I ever saw it (sorry football fans but its true) the game stopped and started every 2 seconds, and every 3 seconds, there seemed to be about 5,000 ad breaks. I just thought how anyone could watch this and enjoy it is beyond me.

After about 20 minutes of watching this boring game, there was a knock at the door, I got up and opened it, P was standing there and came in. I sat back down on the bed and she sat next to me. She put her arm around me and put her head on my chest. I was pretty cold towards her really, and didn’t respond back. I didn’t ignore her or anything, but I didn’t really show any affection towards her, I just didn’t feel the need too. We all talked and had a bit of fun. One thing that got to Dave and I was when they would have a conversation in Thai, it wasn’t really annoying, it was more a case of “what were they saying, were they talking about us” so every time they did it, Dave and I would talk super fast and use Manchester slang and you could tell it annoyed them as well. It was just a bit of fun and to also make a point, a point I don’t think either of them got because they carried on doing it.

I needed to go to the bathroom and I got up off the bed and went inside. The bathroom had a shower, sink and toilet. One thing I’ve noticed in Thailand is that all the toilets have a shower head, or jet spray hose next to them. At first I thought they were for, well, the French use those second and small toilets for cleaning their arses after they have finished, you all know the name of them but I can’t spell the damn word and I thought these hoses were for that purpose. I never tried one of course but it was only later that I found out that these hoses are just use to clean the toilet seats after someone has used it…silly me.

I came back out and sat on the bed, telling Dave that there was another French toilet in the bathroom, he just laughed.

After about an hour in this room, L said she wanted to go back home. So we all decided to leave. Dave and I were hungry so we said that we would go back to the hotel and on the way; stop at MD’s for something to eat (our holiday consisted of rice or a Big Mac, you decide). We walked through the bar and I stopped P, letting Dave and L walk ahead. I told her that I wasn’t going to come today because of last night, she didn’t really say anything, she only looked at me and looked sad, almost distant (that look again from the night before). She said a few words like “me like you, me no lie” and “you have good heart, you talk with me” I didn’t really know what to say to her.

Just then it started raining, a big heavy shower. We all waited in the bar until it had stopped and then we walked down the steps and onto Bangla Road. Dave said goodbye to L and told her he would see her later. He was going to go back to the hotel with her, the one we had just been in, after the bar had shut as the room was already paid for. I told Dave to wait for me as I just had to speak with P. She asked where I was going and I said for something to eat, she asked me if I was meeting her tonight and I said I didn’t think so. I went over again what had been said last night, but this time my head was clear. She put her arms around me and said she wished I wasn’t going home. But she knew I was being cold with her and again, she looked sad. Being the typical guy I said that I might come into the bar, basically she might see me, she might not. I knew that I was being a tad nasty to her, but I was hurt, I wasn’t going to paint some rosy picture saying that everything was fine, I was happy, she was happy and we all live happily ever after. Last night had, to me anyway, changed all that. But my theory (as I said before) is that if you analyse something too much, if you constantly think about a situation and how it will go, or if you are constantly wondering what someone is thinking or what they are doing, then it can ruin things. Once you get that paranoid or analytic picture in your mind, it’s hard to let it go.

She said something to me then, that at the time I thought I understood, but really, it was only a few days ago that I started to question it (more on that later) she said “why you not like your friend, why you not like Dave” at the time I thought it to meant why am I cold towards her, why don’t I put my arms around her and kiss her and show her that everything is ok, why hadn’t I had sex with her. I just told her that I wasn’t like that, I wasn’t a typical guy who just jumped into bed with the first girl he saw, I wasn’t a guy who had come to Thailand to bed as many girls as possible (although when planning this holiday, I did get caught up in the “I’m going to go to a massage parlour, I’m going to sleep with a different Thai girl every night” situation, but it’s just what lads do, there’s no need for me to explain that, but I’m just not like that). I wasn’t a guy who just wanted to use and abuse and then tell of my conquests when I got back home. I told her that she may find it hard to understand, but I had to be in love with a girl before I slept with her or at the very least, I had to trust and respect a girl before jumping in the sack with her. I wasn’t a one night stand kind of guy; a quick wham bam thank you mam wasn’t my scene. She looked at me when I was saying all this, I don’t know if she understood or not, I just didn’t ask her, but again she said I had a good heart and again she said she wanted to be with me and didn’t want me to leave.

Dave by now had been waiting a good 20 minutes and I told P I had to go, she asked if she could come with me but I said it would be best if she didn’t, she said ok and again, looked very sad. It was hard not to feel sorry for her, it was hard not to just hold her tightly and never let her go, but I had to let her go. I kissed her goodbye and I said I might see her later. I walked away but I walked backwards, looking at her all the time as she stood there and watched me leave, my heart did go out to her, but there were many many things I didn’t understand, many things I had to learn about her and the whole scene here in Thailand and I knew that I wasn’t going to do any of that in the time I’d spent here and I knew I wasn’t going to get to know P in the time I’d spent here either. She would never really open up to me. She told me about her family, she told me what she use to do, she told me how old she was, but those things were the basics, stuff everybody knows and everybody is told about, what I wanted to know was what was inside, what made her tick, what was she thinking and feeling and I knew that even if I’d spent another month here, I wouldn’t have even scratched the surface in that head of hers.

I waved one last goodbye, turned round and met up with Dave where we walked to MD’s. We ate and then went back to the hotel. We walked in the pool entrance way and we went past the shop, we decided to buy some more Singha beer and drink it in our rooms before we went out, but there was no way I was going to drink like I did last night. I hadn’t woke up with a hangover but still, I was in a pretty bad way. We bought our drinks and went to our room.

It was our last night in Phuket, tomorrow we would be picked up at 7pm and taken to the airport, where we would meet Steve and Leigh and it would be the first time I’d seen them since the pool incident. We wanted to go and see Steve, the Margarita Bar owner tonight and say goodbye and keep in touch with him when we were back in England. He was a nice guy and we had got on well with him, and he was from England like us. We talked a little about that while lying on our beds and then I asked Dave what had happened with L and how come he’d got back after 2pm. He told me that he’d left the bar with L and they had gone for something to eat. She took him to an outside restaurant which she had been to many times before. He said he didn’t know what to expect, everyone who was eating there were Thai people and he felt a little out of place. There was a vendor with a large trolley that had loads of things on to eat. Dave decided on fried rice with chicken and L had fried rice with some sort of fish, he also ordered a couple of bottles of water. When the food came over, they were also given soup as a starter. Dave said the soup was fine, ate it and then tucked into his rice. Next to his plate was a little dish of sauce, except it was quite runny. He asked L what it was and she said it had chilli in it, basically it was a hot sauce you poured on your rice to enhance the flavour. He dipped his finger in to try it and it blew his head off. It was so hot that he drank all his water and had to order some more because one bottle wasn’t enough to put out the flames in his mouth. L just laughed at him and poured the entire contents of her dish on her rice, she then asked Dave if he was going to do the same and he said no, so she then took his dish and poured that one on as well. The thing that made Dave laugh was that she didn’t even break a sweat. He just put some on his finger and it blew him to kingdom come, but her, she ate the entire contents of the two dishes and didn’t even take 1 sip of water.

They finished eating and then went to the hotel behind the bar (the one we were at earlier) and he paid for a room, he got on the bed and so did she, he then fell asleep and didn’t wake up till 11am the next day. But he said he was definitely going to have sex with her tonight, it was the last night and he wanted to have sex with her, so far he hadn’t but, as he put it, tonight was his night. He asked me if I was going to see P, by this time we’d both finished our first bottle of Singha and were on the second. I was feeling light headed already and I decided that I was going to see her and I also decided that as it was the last night, I was going to get a room with her at the hotel and sleep with her, sod it, it’s what I came for right? Well no, it wasn’t but hey, I’d met this girl, seen her every day since I’d got here more or less and I could have slept with her at any time but chose not to, but tonight, I was going to.

It was now 11.30pm and we got ready to go out. I went in the shower first and while the warm water was soaking my body I started to think, I thought of the words that T had said on our second day in Phuket, it seemed like a 1,000 years ago but I remember them “if a girl likes you, she will give it you for free, if she doesn’t, you will have to pay” and this girl did like me, hell, she’d even paid the bar fine every night out of her own money so she could see me at the end of the night, she did like me, she liked me a lot. But the thing is, I liked her, I liked her a lot, I’d got use to her being there, I’d got use to seeing her, I’d got use to talking to her till dawn and when she wasn’t there, I missed her. Regardless of all the stuff that happened the night before, I still missed her.

I finished my shower and I said to Dave that I’d ring P and tell her about tonight, he said fine and went to have a shower. I rang P and told her that I would be in the bar tonight and that I’d pay the bar fine and also pay for a hotel, she was happy to hear my voice and I said I would be in the bar about 1.30am, I said bye to her and put the phone down. I sat there for a second, wondering if I was doing the right thing. I drank the rest of my beer, Dave then got out of the shower and we both got changed, Dave drank the rest of his beer and we were more or less ready to leave. If we were going to be out all night we’d have to make sure we were back in the hotel by 11am, so we could finish off packing and then check out by 12. So Dave set the alarm on his mobile for 10.30am and he said that when it woke him up, he’d knock on the room I was staying in and get me up. I said fine. We decided to take the camera out with us and we also decided to phone home (this time we’d actually do it) because neither of us had spoken to our families since we’d got here. We then left our hotel room, it was 12am.

We got onto the Beach Road, found a shop that was open selling Phone cards; we bought a 300 baht card and found a phone box which we could use. I called home first and my mum answered, it was great to hear her voice. I hadn’t really missed my family that much, or to put it another way, I hadn’t thought of them that much since I’d got here, but hearing her voice brought it all home how much I missed them. I told her a little of what we’d been up to and said I’d tell her the rest when I got back home, she said my cat was missing me like mad, she had been moping around and not really eating, and then I said I had to go and that I’d see her on Sunday at the airport and said goodbye. Dave then made his phone call and we walked a little further down to where the suit sellers were, we couldn’t resist taking a couple of photos of them with us. As I stood behind them and Dave went to take our photo, one of the guys tried to hold my hand, I laughed and said if my mother saw that picture, she would get a little worried about what I’d got up to in Thailand, so I said I’d just rest my arm on his shoulder. I don’t think he really understood what I’d meant. After taking the pictures, we said goodbye and got a tuktuk to the Margarita Bar. Steve wasn’t anywhere so we sat and had a few drinks in there, talking to some of the girls and the one we had got to know quite well on our visits there, she was the one who had a boyfriend in Finland (not sure if I’ve mentioned her in my previous parts) we told her we were going home tomorrow and she asked if we’d enjoyed Thailand, we told her yes and said we would be coming back next year and she said “everybody says that, once you’ve been to Thailand you are never the same and you always have to come back” and she was right. We weren’t the same people we had been stepping off the plane in Bangkok. Thailand had opened our eyes so much and it had changed us in ways that are very hard to explain, you just feel different and no other place I’ve visited in this world has ever given me that feeling of change.

After about an hour chatting in the Margarita Bar, Steve came in and walked over to us, we shook his hand and had a bit of a chat with him, he gave us his card with his mobile number and email address on and we said we’d keep in touch and tell him when we’d be over next, he said that he’d sort us out with some cheap accommodation once we’d arrived back. We had a drink with him and then it was time for us to leave and meet P and L. We said goodbye to all the staff in the bar we’d got to know, shook Steve’s hand once more and left.

We walked a little up the street where we saw a street vendor selling all kinds of stuff, including sausage on a stick, so Dave said did I fancy one, and as he hadn’t dropped dead from having one before, I said yes. They were 10 baht each but the man kept on joking with us saying 100 baht, we joked back saying you could stick the sausage stick up your….you get the picture. We ate our food and walked to the bar. It would be open now and after being there last night and telling those girls about me not paying the bar and them telling me that P had left, I got a feeling of paranoia as we were nearing the bar. Would I be welcome there? Would people look at me and talk and stare or even point? I didn’t know, but it worried me a little. We reached the bar and stood outside for a second, well I stood outside and just pulled Dave back, I told him I needed a cig before going in there. The place looked very dark in my mind's eye, almost like a haunted house and the walls were closing in. We stood outside and we smoked our cigs. I kept hearing T’s words “if she likes you, you will get it for free” and I kept hearing my own thoughts of “am I doing the right thing” voices and thoughts were racing through my mind and no matter how hard I tried, they wouldn’t leave me in peace.

We finished our cigs and Dave asked if I was ready, I think he knew what I was feeling, he understood but he never asked me about it, instead just choosing to keep it to himself and not push me on it. It was time to go in, it was now or never. But how would this night turn out? How would people look at me as I walked in? Would it turn into a perfect night with P? Or would things go wrong? And would these damn voices and thoughts ever stop racing in my head and shut the hell up for 5 minutes? I was about to find out. We made our way up the steps and walked into the bar.

The bar was pretty empty as we walked in. All the bars were due to close in the next 30 minutes or so, which would explain it. It also meant that there were lots of girls hanging around and with not much to do, they would all stare at us, and we would attract attention to ourselves by walking in, which didn’t make me feel any better. Luckily it was only quick glances and if they did recognise me, which I’m sure half of them did as I’d been in enough times, they didn’t really show it. I’ve spoke about it before but they look at you as if to say “they are taken, they have a lady”.

We saw P and L sat at the bar, they were next to each other and they turned round and saw us and smiled. We walked over to them and L grabbed Dave and took him off to another seat away from where P was (they always did that, we never seemed to sit together in the bar. Whenever we went in, they would spilt us up, maybe I’m thinking too deeply into that, but it certainly seemed they were trying to spilt us up). I sat next to P and she said she was glad I’d come. She said after I’d left her before, she thought she wouldn’t see me again, that I’d go back to England and forget all about her. For some reason she had said that to me quite a lot, I couldn’t figure out why. I always said back to her that I wouldn’t forget her but I guess she’d get that quite a lot from guys. They promise they would stay in touch and never do. But I promised her that I would but I don’t think she believed me even if I did sound sincere. She asked me if I wanted a drink and I said yes, but before I had even told her what I wanted, she’d got up and went to the bar and brought me back a bottle of water. She sat back down and held me, but as she did, I was taking a sip of water and some spilt on her head, I started to laugh and say sorry and luckily she found the funny side to it. I looked towards the end of the bar and I saw the Swedish guy was there again. Wait a minute, I haven’t told you about the Swedish guy have I?

*The Swedish Guy*

On my third night in Phuket, which would have been my second time in this bar, I was pointing out to P all the people in the different bars and telling her where they were from, she laughed at my knowledge of looking at people and saying that they were from different places. There was one guy sat at the end of the bar and she asked me where I thought he was from, and I looked at him, he saw me look and he smiled. He had this big grin on his face and held his drink up to me; he had a girl sat next to me. I did the same back to him and looked at P and said “he’s from Sweden” she laughed and said “how do you know that” I just said I had a feeling. She said she didn’t believe me so I told her I’d prove it and then I got up and went over to him. She laughed as I did and I went up to him and said hello, and shook his hand, I asked where he was from and he said Sweden. I looked back at P and winked and she laughed even more. I then got chatting to him and asked what he was doing in Phuket, he told me that he was travelling round Thailand with a few of his friends for 6 months. I then asked where he’d been and he just said “here” I asked him what he meant and he said that Phuket was the only place he’d been to so far, and I then asked him how long he’d been in Phuket and he said “4 months” I couldn’t help myself, I just burst out laughing, he laughed with me and I said “so Phuket is that good then” and he said “better”. I asked him when he was going to leave and he just said “I’m not leaving, I’m not going anywhere else”. I laughed again and then shook his hand and said it was nice to meet him, he said the same back and I went back over to P and I said “I told you he was from Sweden”. She just laughed and hit me on the arm. I’d seen him again on our last day and night in Phuket, just before we went to Phi Phi and here he was again.

I let on to the Swedish guy and he smiled and said hello. He was with the same girl I’d seen him with that first night I’d met him. Just then, the Polaroid guy came walking along, I just looked at him and said “don’t even bother” he laughed and said “no worries man” then he moved on to the next bar.

After 5 minutes P went to the toilet (I wonder if she would come back this time) and I waited there. Dave and L then came over and we took some pictures. The first couple were of me and L, then me L and the owner of the bar, then Dave and L, then Dave, L and the owner of the bar and the final picture was on Dave, me, P and L which the owner took. Dave and L then asked if we were ready to go? I said where and Dave said we were going to get something to eat at the place L had taken him last night. I asked P if she wanted to go and she said yes, I paid the bar fine (200 baht) and we all left the bar and walked to the end of Bangla Road. All the bars were closed now more or less, it was after 2 am but it was still quite busy. We came to the place we were going to eat at and found some seats. It was quite busy with Thai people eating all kinds of food. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no matter what time of day or night it is, you will always, always see Thai people eating. It was like their national pastime.

A girl came over and took our order. I ordered fried rice with pork and a bottle of water, Dave ordered fried rice with chicken and some water, L ordered what she’d had the night before and P ordered noodles. We talked a little and had a bit of a laugh while waiting for our food, L kept on calling me a “Muppet”. Dave had taught her so well. I just said Dave was the Muppet and he was also a dickhead, she didn’t understand. Our food came and we ate. The hot sauce that Dave had told me about also came and he asked me to try it, so I put some on my finger and put it in my mouth. Good God it was hot, I’ve never in my life tasted anything as hot as that. I drank some water to the sounds of everyone laughing at me. I said to L that she could have my sauce, to which she happily poured on her rice, and then she poured her sauce on her rice and asked Dave if he wanted his, he said no and she took it and poured that on her rice, mixed it all in and ate it. I couldn’t believe it, she didn’t take one sip of water, didn’t break a sweat or anything. I got my lighter out and told her to blow while I lit it, she didn’t understand why but Dave did and he started laughing. L just looked at me and called me a Muppet. P had gotten her noodles with chopsticks and she was an expert, picking up her noodles like it was second nature. I asked if I could have a go and she passed them to me, I couldn’t pick up anything, L then took them and showed me how it was done (she showed me up by beating me on that game on her phone, this was just to rub more salt in the wound), and Dave gave it a go and had better luck than me, although he still had a lot of trouble. He then gave P the chopsticks back and she carried on eating.

After we had finished we paid the bill. To my surprise the whole meal including the water had only come to about £3. It was very very cheap and very nice as well. We all got up and started walking, Dave said he was going back to the hotel with L and I said that we would come as well and get a room. Is this what I wanted?

We walked up Bangla Road towards the bar, did this feel right? We got to the bar and walked inside, did I want to go through with this? All the bars were closed and there was no one around, what was I doing? We walked past all the bars to the back of the building where the stairs leading up to the hotel were, it was now or never, no turning back now. Dave and L walked up the stairs and I put my foot on the first step then stopped. Dave and L turned round and looked at me. There was silence for what seemed like hours and then I spoke, I said “you guys go ahead, I’ll be along in a second”. They looked at me for a minute and then nodded and went up the stairs and disappeared behind a corner. It was just me and P. I looked at her and took a deep breath and then I spoke to her, but I didn’t just speak to her, I more or less opened my heart, told her what I was feeling…

“I can’t do this, I can’t sleep with you” she looked at me, looked into my eyes and never turned away once. “ I thought I could, I thought that this being my last night in Thailand, that I would be able to sleep with you and then go home and that would be it, but I can’t do it”. Her eyes were still on me. “If I slept with you, I wouldn’t be able to go home, if I slept with you I wouldn’t be able to leave Thailand, I wouldn’t be able to leave you”. She sat down on the steps but her eyes never left mine. “ I think you’re a beautiful and amazing girl and you’ve made my holiday extra specia., I’m very happy that I’ve met you and got to know you a little bit and I’ve enjoyed every last minute being with you and talking to you, but I can’t sleep with you, I know that any guy would love to be in my position now, being here with you and going to a hotel with you to spend the night with you, but I’m not one of those guys. If I sleep with you, my heart will belong to you and I don’t want to give you my heart, not here, not like this”. She was still looking into my eyes, she had a tear in one of her eyes, just on the verge of leaving her eye and slowly falling down her cheek. “I hope you understand that if I sleep with you and I have to leave you and go back to England, my heart will be broken. You always said that if I leave, I will forget you, I will forget I ever met you, but that’s not true, I will never forget you and I will never forget the time we spent together. I’m not ready to give you my heart and I’m not ready to leave part of my heart in Thailand”. The tears now rolled down her cheeks and I sat down next to her, she hugged me very tightly, she wouldn’t let go. She cried and cried and cried and I could do nothing, I could only hold her.

I heard footsteps behind me; I turned my head to see who it was. It was L. P looked up and wiped her eyes and we stood up. She looked at P and said something in Thai, P answered her back and then L looked at me and smiled, it was a look of respect and warmth. She didn’t call me a Muppet this time. Then L spoke to me…

“Dave is upstairs in the bed waiting for me, he thinks I am going to have sex with him, but I can not”. I looked at her confused and she carried on talking“. I really like Dave, but I have to love a person before I can have sex with them, I am starting to love Dave but I fear that if I sleep with Dave, I will never see him again, so I cannot sleep with him”. I thought of what Dave had said to me earlier, how he had bragged that he was going to have sex with her tonight without fail. No excuses, no drinking too much and falling asleep, tonight was his night. I resisted the urge to start laughing and I said to her “does Dave know this” and she said no, then I said “would you like me to talk to Dave for you, it would be easier me telling him than you”. (I thought of getting into the room and telling him the good news that he wasn’t going to get his rocks off tonight, the only thing he would be getting off would be his shoes and socks). L said no though, she said that she would explain, I said ok. L then asked if we were coming upstairs to get a room, I looked at P and then at L and said yes. I said to L that I respected her for not sleeping with him. I said that if that was how she felt then all the power and luck to her and not to ever change and bow under pressure, it was her life and her body and she should only do what she feels right, she smiled and said thank you and then went back upstairs and I said “good luck”. She turned round and smiled once again, then she disappeared around the corner.

I looked at P, the tears had now stopped and she looked at me and smiled. I held out my hand and she took it and we went upstairs to get a room. The same woman who was in the Arsenal shirt was behind the counter and I paid for a room. It cost 500 baht and we went inside. The room was very clean and very cool from the air con. We both lay on the bed and she held me close and we just lay there. I don’t know what she was thinking but I just thought of my time in Thailand, I thought of the things I’d seen and done, I thought of Leigh and Steve, thought of the first time I’d met P, thought of Phi Phi, thought of everything really. We chatted a little, she told me about her previous job at JVC, she told me about when she came to Phuket, she told me how she never did a bad thing in her life before coming here, how she never smoked or drank, but since coming to Phuket, she had smoked a little and drank at the bar a little. I knew she wasn’t happy there, but I wasn’t going to be a night in shining armour and save her from this life, she had made her own choices in this life, she had chose to work in the bar, she wasn’t forced, she wasn’t dragged there by gun point. She was free to leave any time she wanted and if she was that unhappy, then all she had to do was up and leave and never look back. There were plenty of jobs in Thailand, good honest work. It might not pay nearly half as much as what she got for working the bar, but at least her conscience would be free form this so called “nightmare” of a life she was living. She cried again when she thought and talked of her previous life away from Phuket. I comforted her as much as I could. It was hard to not feel sorry for her, it was hard not to feel sorry for any of the girls that worked in the bars in Thailand, but again, it was their choice. They didn’t have to do it, but they chose to anyway, they chose to be unhappy like this and carry on doing something they hated and made them sad. Every now and again someone would come along and lift them, make them feel happy again for the first time in as long as they could remember. I’m sure it happened to many of the girls that worked in these bars, but once that person that brought them happiness and had brought a little sunshine and hope into their lives had gone back home and left them, forgotten about them, they were back to square one and for each person that made them happy and then made them sad by leaving, they would grow harder and harder by this, they would start to think that all men are liars and only interested in one thing. Maybe I’m looking into this too deeply, but I’m sure I’m right in most of what I say and maybe I was that little ray of sunshine and hope in P’s life, that person who came into her life and treated her as a real human being, treated her with the respect that she deserved. There can’t have been many like me, maybe there hadn’t been any like me at all and I was the first person to come into her life and treat her this way and not get anything in return, maybe she felt that my reward for treating her this way was to sleep with me, but I’d turned that reward down and hadn’t asked for anything in return and maybe that was why she’d cried so hard, maybe she realised that I wasn’t some bloke lying to her and springing lines on her because I was only after one thing, maybe she thought I was the genuine article, who knows? But one things for certain, I kept her wondering and maybe just maybe I gave her just a little glimmer of light at the end of the long dark tunnel that was her life, that little glimmer of light I like to call “hope” and as long as she never lost sight of that light, as long as she never let it slip away, maybe she’d have a chance in this life, but it was up to her to never lose sight of that light, it was all down to her to keep that light shining. I wasn’t going to save her, I wasn’t going to go back home and try and take her with me, I wasn’t going to get her out of the bar by sending her money every month. I wasn’t going to do any of that, it was up to her, it was her life, her choice, her glimmer of hope.

It was now 6am, and I told her I was going to leave. She seemed fine about it and I asked if she was staying here, she said that she would leave soon. I got up and put my shoes on, she was lay on the bed and I grabbed a folded up sheet, unfolded it and lay it on her. I stroked her hair and kissed her. She smiled and I said goodbye. She just looked at me. She looked so timid lying there, so vulnerable and lost. She blew a kiss to me and I left.

I walked back to the hotel, everything was quiet and still, even the ladyboys had decided to call it a night, although there were still a few dotted about here and there. I got back to the hotel and went to my room; I went onto the balcony and had a smoke. I thought about the night I’d had, I thought about what I’d said and done, I thought about me not sleeping with her and I knew in my heart I’d made the right choice and as long as I thought that, as long as I held onto that, I was happy.

I finished my cig and went back inside; I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed. I set the alarm for 11am. I still had at least 4 hours sleep before I’d get woken up by the alarm. I got into bed and turned the lights off. I thought of P lying there with the blanket over her, how she had looked, I thought of the way she looked at me when I told her I wasn’t going to sleep with her. That look she gave me, her eyes never leaving mine. It was a look of genuine affection and trust, there was no mistaking it. A lot of these girls will lie and tell you what you want to hear, but you can always tell what a person is thinking or feeling if you look deeply enough into their eyes and I had done with P. She trusted me, she had a genuine affection for me, and there was no doubt in my mind. That look she gave me, that look that I was thinking about now while in bed waiting for sleep to take me, was a look I will always remember for as long as I live.

Day 12 (Phuket)

The alarm woke me up at 11am, Dave still wasn’t back. I got up and made myself a cup of tea and sat on the balcony. I loved it on that there, just to be able to sit and relax and in a way watch the world go by. I’d often think while out there, it was a quiet time for me when on there, a time for reflection and today was no different.

I was happy the way things had gone last night, the only sad part about all this was the fact that I was going home today. Usually after spending two weeks away from home, you want to go back, to check up on things and make sure everything is ok, but as soon as you knew things were fine, you wanted to go back. This time I didn’t want to leave, I wasn’t ready to go home yet. Since arriving in Thailand I’d experienced so many different things, felt so many different emotions and met some of the most wonderful people I’d ever set eyes on. In a way this place was a perfect world. There was such a divide here from where I was from. There was no rushing around, people had the time of day for you, and no matter what time of day it was you always got a smile from someone. Thailand is known as the land of smiles and it’s true, everyone does it, from the very young to the very old, male and female. I was really going to miss this place, not just Phuket, but Thailand in general. I was lucky in a way because I’d seen a few different places here, not just stuck to one place for two weeks and gone on the odd excursion. I knew that I hadn’t even scratched the surface of what this place had to offer, but I knew that I’d experienced more than I could ever imagine I would.

Just then, I heard Dave coming in the door. He came onto the balcony and sat down. He asked me why I’d left the hotel this morning, I explained and he said that he’d knocked on the door but there was no answer, he’d knocked louder and still no answer, then the woman behind the desk had said that I’d left at dawn and that Pra had left about an hour later. I asked him how his night had gone, and he said straight away that he hadn’t slept with L; they just spent the night in each others arms. I asked him why he hadn’t slept with her and he told me what L had said to me. At least he’d told me the truth, he could have walked in and said he’d had sex with her…3 times, but he didn’t. Dave then told me that we were meeting L and P at 2pm at their house. L had written the address down in Thai and we just had to give it to a taxi driver and he would take us there. I said fine. It would be nice to see P before I left for England, I hadn’t said goodbye to her properly and going to her house would give me that chance.

It was nearly 11.30am so we had to start getting ready to leave our room and check out. I jumped in the shower. By the time I’d got out, Dave had finished his packing and was sat on the balcony having a smoke. I didn’t join him; I just got dry and changed into my clothes, the clothes I would be wearing for the next 40 hours or so. I did all my packing and went onto the balcony and sat down. Dave seemed a little distant and I asked him what he was thinking about. He said “nothing really, just reflecting”. I laughed a little and he asked what was so funny; I just told him “nothing”. I asked him if he wanted to leave and he said no, he could do with another few days here and would be sad when it time for us to leave. He also said he would be sad when it was time to say goodbye to L. He’d grown quite fond of her and he was glad he chose to come back to Phuket for our last couple of days here.

It was time for us to go. I got up and took one last look from the balcony, I was really going to miss this place, I felt so alive here, and I felt like it was home. We locked the balcony door and picked up our cases. We checked the room for any bits we might have missed. Dave hadn’t missed anything; he’d already sucked the room dry by taking all the toiletries every day. His hand luggage was now heavier than his suit case and it was packed to the brim with shampoo, bubble bath and shower caps (why he needed firkin shower caps is anyone’s guess, his head was shaved anyway) we left the room and shut the door. The maids smiled and said hello, we said hello back and walked to the end of the corridor to where the lifts were, we pressed the button, the lift opened and we got in.

Once we’d reached the bottom, the lift door opened and we walked out. The security guard held the door open for us and we said hello and thank you to him. We’d got to know him a little and we talked to him for a few minutes, telling him we were leaving today at 7pm. He wished us a safe journey home and said if he didn’t see us later, he hoped to see us again next year, we said you could count on it and we shook his hand and said goodbye. We walked over to reception and checked out. The phone calls I’d made to P from our room came to 120 baht (£2) I paid and the woman said thank you for staying and she hoped to see us again soon. We took our bags over to the baggage guy and said that we were leaving at 7pm and would they be safe here, he said yes. Again, we knew the baggage guy and he asked how my lady was, I laughed and said she was fine. We said goodbye to him.

We now had 7 hours to kill and in 2 hours we would be meeting the girls. We were both hungry and decided to go to MD’s for something to eat (yes, we were addicted to McDonald’s); Dave also decided he would get his tattoo re-done so it was still fresh for when he got home. It would be the third time he’d had it done. (After getting back home, he’d wish he had never even got the thing, but more on that later) we walked past the pool and then we saw T, he smiled and he knew it was our last day, he asked what time we were leaving and we told him. He also asked where we were the day before as we said we would go to the Thai boxing with him. We just had to explain that a couple of girls got in the way, he laughed and wished us all the best and if we came back to Thailand, we had to promise that we would come and see him again and say hello, we promised and shook his hand and said goodbye. It was quite sad really, saying goodbye to all these people we’d got to know, but it had to be done and we were glad we had the chance to say goodbye.

We got on to the Beach Road and walked to MD’s. It was quite busy inside but we managed to find a seat. We didn’t really talk much while in their, in fact, we hadn’t said much at all to each other since leaving our room. I think we were both too sad really to talk, we both understood how each other felt and we just chose to more or less stay silent and think about what Thailand meant to us, what it had brought us.

We finished our meal and left. We walked to the tattoo place and once there, all the staff greeted us with warm smiles and hellos. They knew us now, knew our faces and they also knew that Dave had come to get his tattoo re-done. The tattoo guy sat down with Dave and started to paint his arm for the third time. I looked at a few of the shops while it was going on and decided to buy myself a new baseball cap. I settled on a white Nike cap, fake of course but for £3 I couldn’t complain. The lady put it in a bag for me and I went back to see how Dave was getting on. I sat down and waited.

20 minutes later the man had finished and he didn’t want paying because Dave had been so many times, Dave gave him 100 baht anyway and thanked him. We said goodbye and left. We decided to cross the road and have a look at the beach one last time. We sat on a wall and watched the ocean, watched the children playing happily on the beach as well as the sea, watched the people topping up their tans. We had a smoke and just sat there in silence, it felt like the right thing to do. My thoughts turned to P and what it would be like saying goodbye to her. Would I find it hard? Would I find it hard when I got home? Would I miss her? I knew the answers to all those questions would be yes. It would be hard, but there was nothing I could do, I could only promise that I’d keep in touch and that I would come back. A line she’d probably heard 1,000 times before and it had never come true, but this time it was true. I couldn’t just forget her like that, not after everything that had happened.

It was now 1.45pm and we left the beach to get a taxi to L and P’s place. We walked to the front of our hotel and a guy said he would take us. We showed him the address and he said he knew where it was. We got in his car, which wasn’t actually a Taxi, it was a souped up motor, like something out of a car show. We got inside and it was like an oven. He hadn’t been sitting in his car, he’d been talking to a few of the taxi drivers that hang around outside the hotel and once in the car, feeling that heat, he must have been chatting to those guys for a very long time. He started the car and put the air con on, and set off. The car was cool after a few minutes and both Dave and I let out a sigh of relief, any longer in that heat and he would be scraping our arses off the seats.

We went down a few roads, turned some corners, and went down a few more roads and then the taxi stopped. He asked for the address again and Dave passed him the piece of paper. He got out and we got out as well, he told us to follow him. We walked past a few houses down a kind of dirt track. The houses themselves all had big front entrances to them, all with sliding doors on the front of them; some of them had shutters instead of glass doors. There were children playing and a few locals going about their daily routine. We stopped outside one of the houses and he said “this is it”. We paid him 100 baht and thanked him, he then left.

We were stood in front of two great white doors; they were open slightly in the middle. There was an upstairs with a balcony. The house itself looked quite big, but the area was pretty run down and like nothing we’d ever seen before. We walked in the white doors and we found L inside sat on a settee, it had space for 3 people. She smiled when she saw us. The room itself had nothing in it except a couple of ceiling fans and a few pairs of shoes lying in the corner. At the back of the room there were some stairs leading up to the second floor. P was nowhere to be seen.

We sat down next to L and I asked where P was, L said she had gone to the shop and would be back soon, so I sat there waiting. Dave had his arms around L, they weren’t really talking much and L looked quite sad. Just then a motorbike pulled up outside. It was P and there was also another girl on the bike. They both got off and came inside. The girl I recognised from the bar, she said hello, spoke in Thai and then went upstairs. P said she would be back in a second and also went upstairs.

After 10 minutes of waiting I stood up and said I was going to sit outside. I got outside and it was roasting. There were a couple of seats outside the house and I sat on one. After another 5 minutes of waiting, P came outside and sat with me. I ask her how she was and she just looked very sad and said she was fine. I told her I didn’t believe her and she laughed. I said it was true, and then I asked her why she was sad, she didn’t answer, she just looked at the floor. I was going to ask again but decided against it. I said I was leaving soon; the bus was picking us up at 7pm. I told her I was going to miss her and that I would keep in touch (something I’d repeated to her a 1,000 times over my holiday) she looked at me and said “you lie”. I said that I promised I’d keep in touch, she just had to believe me. She looked at the floor again and stayed like that for a few minutes, she then looked up and said “why do you have to leave, why can’t you stay in Thailand, why can’t you stay with me”? I didn’t really know what to say to her question, I thought about it for a second and said to her “I’d love to stay, but it’s not possible, I have to go home, but I promise I’ll come back and I promise I’ll come and see you when I do”. She looked at me and put her arms around me and then said “when you come back”? I said “it will be next year”. She asked why it couldn’t be sooner and I told her that I’d have to save up and book the time off work. She put her head on my chest and we stayed like that for a while.

I heard a bike coming and I looked up. There was a girl on a bike and it had someone on the back of it, as they got nearer I recognised who it was on the back, it was the Swedish guy. I couldn’t believe it. He saw me and grinned; the girl parked the bike outside the house and spoke to P in Thai. I asked the Swedish guy how he was, and he said “couldn’t be better”. I told him we were going home today and I asked him when he was leaving, he looked at me, grinned and said “I’m not leaving, I’m not going anywhere, I’m staying right here in Phuket”. I laughed and he laughed as well, I said “it’s that good then is it” he laughed and said “better”. The girl then started the bike and I stood up and shook his hand and told him it was nice to meet him, he said the same and then the bike pulled away. I watched it go down the street and then turn the corner. I sat back down next to P and said “it was the Swedish guy” she laughed and hugged me again.

It was now going on for 4pm and I said to P that we would have to go soon, she stood up and said she would be back in a minute and went inside. I sat there and two minutes later Dave came out, he said “what’s wrong with P”. I asked him what he meant and he said “she’s crying her eyes out in there”. I listened and I could hear the sobs coming from inside. Dave said L had been crying as well because he told her we had to go shortly and she didn’t want him to leave. I sat there for a second and then L appeared in the doorway, her eyes were red. I stood up and walked past L and went inside, P was sat on the settee, her legs held up to her chest. I walked over and sat with her, pulled her too me and put my arms around her. I tried to calm her down, I lifted her face towards mind and said “don’t cry, please don’t cry, you wouldn’t want me to start bawling my eyes out would you”. She smiled and I wiped a few tears from off her cheek and kissed her. She held me tightly and continued to sob.

Just then, Dave came back inside and said it was time to go. I could feel P shaking her head and saying no. L was also crying now, it was horrible. No matter how much of a heart of stone you have, and I don’t, it was a very sad moment. We were saying goodbye to them, but they didn’t want us to go. P kept shaking her head and holding on to me more tightly. Dave said that L wouldn’t be coming to see him off because she was too upset. I asked P if she wanted to come and see me off but she said she didn’t know. I told her we were leaving at 7pm and she felt she wanted to come, then she should come. I told her I had to go and went to get up, she just held onto me and cried more and more. I managed to get up and she got up with me, we walked to the door, her holding onto me and crying. Dave was kissing L goodbye. I lifted her head up and said “come and see me before I go, be there for 6.30”. I touched her face and kissed her and then let her go. I wiped the tears from her eyes and kissed her again, I then said goodbye and started to walk away, Dave walked with me.

As we walked away, we both turned round, L and P were both holding each other, giving each other comfort. I thought of doing the same with Dave but decided it might look a bit funny. We waved and they just stood there, holding each other, then we turned a corner and they were gone from our sights.

We talked a little on the way back, we talked about how hard saying goodbye to them had been. We knew it was going to be hard, but we hadn’t pictured that kind of scene, two girls, we hardly knew, crying their eyes out because we were leaving. It was very hard indeed. We got lost on the way back and flagged down a taxi who took us back to the hotel. We got a courtesy room and got freshened up. Again, we stayed mostly silent, but every now and again we’d talk about the girls, we talked about how much they had come to mean to us over our time in Thailand.

It was now 6.25pm and we went outside to wait around for the bus. We stood outside the hotel and talked to the security guard. All the time we were looking up and down the road, just in case we saw the girls arriving on their bike to see us off, but sadly, no one came. I lit a cig and turned around to see a bus coming up the street, was this our bus? It wasn’t, it went straight past, but then I saw something behind the bus, it was a bike and it had a girl on it……it was P.

She pulled up and got off the bike and walked over to me and hugged me. She shouted Dave and he came over, she had a note for him off L. He went off to read it and I crossed over the road and sat on some steps with P. I said I didn’t think she would come and she said she wasn’t going too because it was too upsetting. I told her I was happy that she’d come. We sat there, holding each other; we kissed a few times but mostly just sat there, arms around each other in silence. Our bus had pulled into the hotel and Dave came over and said we were leaving in 5 minutes, I said ok and I stood up with P. She said she would go and wouldn’t wait for the bus to leave, she was too upset. I told her I understood and we hugged each other again. I put my hands on her face and kissed her. I told her I’d keep in touch and that I would be back next year to see her, she nodded and I kissed her again and started to walk away. I turned around and said goodbye, she said goodbye back and got on her bike. She sat there for a minute and I stood there looking at her, she looked at me, we were both just staring at each other, staring into each others eyes. The bus was now ready to go and Dave shouted me. I looked at her again. She started the engine and I lifted my hand up to wave. Suddenly, as I was stood there looking at her, her looking at me, a song popped into my head. It was a song by “Soft Cell” called “say hello, wave goodbye” and a few lines from that song played in my head…

Take a look at my face for the last time,
I never knew you,
You never knew me,
Say hello wave goodbye.

Then she was gone.

I got on the bus and sat next to Dave. The bus started to leave and then it pulled out of the hotel, went down to the bottom on the street and turned the corner. I turned my head and looked out of the window; and as my head turned, a tear fell down my cheek.

As we passed over the big hill, leaving Patong behind, so all it seemed was like “somewhere over the rainbow” I went into a shell. The thought of talking to Dave seemed alien to me. It seemed like I’d just been born and was unable to say anything because I hadn’t yet learned how to talk or copy words from a mother and father. Dave said a couple of things to me, I just answered with a simple yes or no, that was all the questions called for really and I was glad of that.

There were four other people on our bus, a couple from Australia and a couple from the UK. As we were driving down a main road, the airport getting nearer and nearer with every wheel turn, the English guy, who was maybe in his late 40’s or early 50’s, told the driver to pull over as he was going to be sick (I know how he felt) the driver found a suitable spot and got out and opened the door for the man. He got out with his wife and was gone for about 2 minutes before getting back in the van looking a little white. He said sorry to everyone but we said there was no need for an apology. Dave got chatting to the couple. What they talked about I couldn’t tell you, I was still in a shell and everything they were saying was going in one ear and out of the other.

We passed cars on the road, overtook some bikes. I looked at each bike we overtook, hoping that I’d see P on her way to the airport to see me off. I didn’t see her of course.

After about 40 minutes we pulled into the airport and got out of the van. We found a trolley and put our cases on it. We found the check in desk and went through all the usual things you do at check-ins. We then went through passport control and security and paid the 500 baht leaving fee and looked for the departure lounge where we would wait for our 9.30pm flight to Bangkok. The lounge itself was pretty busy, we couldn’t see Steve and Leigh at first but after walking around a little, we saw them and they saw us. We walked over and said hello. It was the first time I’d seen them since the pool incident and I felt awkward. Seeing them had made the rage I’d felt that night come back a little. I still hadn’t forgiven them; even now I think that what they did that night was bang out of order.

We said hello and told them what we’d been up to, told them about the girls crying, told them how hard it was to leave. Their story of the last two days was just basically “we sat in the sun and did nothing” I thought to myself “fantastic”.

Our flight was boarding and we made our way to the plane. It didn’t take long and before we knew it, we were watching the safety video and we were in the air. We were handed a drink on the flight to Bangkok. I watched the screen with all the flight info on it, watched how the plane was flying further and further away from Phuket, further away from Patong and it made me feel very sad. I’d come to Thailand expecting so much, but didn’t realise just how much of that expectancy would fly out of the window and leave so much more than I would have ever imagined. You can hear a thousand stories about what Thailand is like, but you can come here and see that none of those stories ever match up to what you experience yourself. I would go back to the UK and tell everyone all that had happened, all that I’d experienced, but I know that what I’d be telling these people, would be nothing that they would bring back if they came here themselves. They would have different stories and different views from their time here.

We landed in Bangkok and walked around for a while. There were loads of duty free shops selling everything from perfume to teddy bears, all at rock bottom prices. Leigh bought some aftershave for £13 for a 200ml bottle. If he’d bought that same sized bottle in the UK, it would have cost him around £40. I bought my mother a litre bottle of Bacardi for around £10. That same bottle in the in the UK would cost around £30. I also got a free disposable camera with it as well.

After we did the shopping we went into a KFC and got something to eat. Looking around there were people from every corner of the earth, from every country imaginable.

We finished eating and waited for our flight. We all went to the toilet and just sat there, waiting. We talked a little, but I was still quiet and I was also tired. After about 30 minutes of waiting, our flight came on the screen saying it was now boarding and we made our way to the gate. We went through one security check. As I did, the machine metal detector went off and I had to stand on a little platform and was searched. I had 2 lighters on me so that’s why it went off, the woman let me through. Then we had to go through another security check, this one was a little more personal. After you went through a metal detector, they were pulling you over to the side to search all your hand luggage and also to search you again with a wand while standing on a platform. Dave panicked and said we should split up as it would look suspicious 4 lads walking through together. I told him to stop being so stupid, as we didn’t have anything to hide and they were searching our bags anyway…Muppet.

I went through first and they checked my bag, they looked in the side pockets where I had my vitamin tablets, she didn’t even look twice at those and was more interested in my sun tan cream. I got on the platform and they didn’t find anything. I then got my bag back and got on the plane.

It was going to be a very long flight, longer than what it was coming to Thailand, 12 hours the captain said. We were sat in a window seat, I was in the middle, Dave by the aisle and a Thai guy was next to the window. Steve and Leigh were on the other side of the plane. We watched the safety video and we were in the air, bound for London Heathrow.

Drinks were passed around and 30 minutes into take off, a meal was served. I looked at the map again, Phuket wasn’t shown. It was just a place on a map, or in this case, not on the map. A far off land that had just disappeared, like it had never existed. I thought of what P would be doing now, I thought of what she’d be thinking. Would she be missing me? I thought of T and all the other people we’d met, the suit sellers, they would now be stood on the road, using their sales techniques to persuade somebody to buy one of their quality tailored suits.

We finished the meal and it was all cleared away, then all the lights on the plane were turned off for everyone to get some sleep. I didn’t think I’d be able to sleep, I couldn’t on the way to Thailand so I didn’t think I’d be able to now. I was going to get out my book and just read, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate; I wouldn’t be able to see the words on the pages. The book would mean nothing to me; the story wouldn’t take me to some far off place and into other people’s lives. I knew that if I tried to read, my thoughts would focus on Thailand, on Phuket, on P. I decided to try and get some sleep; at least it might give me some escape from those thoughts, that’s if I was able to sleep. I got my cushion and lay back in my seat. All kinds of things were racing in my mind and it wasn’t making me smile, it wasn’t making me happy, it was just making me sad and I wanted to escape, I felt closed in, like my mind was in a locked room and some twisted person had thrown away the key and was laughing at me in some place I couldn’t see.

I woke up about 6 hours later. The plane was still in darkness. Some people were moving around, going to the toilet, stretching their legs, others were snoring. Again I heard that laughter, that invisible laugher.

I woke up another 3 hours later. There was more movement now and I could smell food. In about 2 hours we would be in London and 5 hours after that, we would be in Manchester. I watched a little TV, some film I can’t really remember. 30 minutes later the lights came on and the food was served.

We landed in London at 8.05am (2.05pm Thailand time) it took us about an hour to get through security and to find our departure lounge. Dave and I went to the smoking room and had a couple of cigs, Steve and Leigh came up a little while later and joined us. We waited there until it was time for our flight. We bought a Sunday paper to catch up with what had been happening in the UK since being away. It was the same old story or murder, sex scandals and scantily clad ladies showing their best bits off. Nothing ever changes. I rang my Dad and told him to be at Manchester airport at 1pm to meet us. I gave him all the details of where we were landing and then I said I’d see him later.

At 12.25pm we set off from London to Manchester. We had a sandwich on the plane and a cup of tea. The flight only took 35 minutes. We landed in Manchester at 1pm. It was Sunday September 8th, the day before my birthday. 14 days earlier, we were 4 lads going on holiday. 4 lads going to a land we had been told about, read a little about, 4 lads that really, didn’t know anything. Looking at it now, I was just a child when I went to Thailand; I was just a child when I boarded that plane to Bangkok. Even though I was 28, going off to Thailand I was just a boy, and getting off that plane in Manchester, 14 days later, I wasn’t a boy any longer. It sounds weird, but in all honesty, that’s how I felt, that’s how it made me feel.

We went to get our bags and the usual dread of whether your bag is lost came over us all. Its funny how everyone else on your flight seems to get theirs before you get yours. We then went through customs where I hoped and prayed I wouldn’t be stopped as the limit for cigarettes is 200, I had 1000. There was only a single lady on the customs desk though, and she didn’t give me a second look…yep, we were back in the UK. No warm smiles, no hellos from strangers. That woman at customs had said it all really.

I saw my parents straight away and gave them both a hug, well, not my father, I just gave him a “manly” handshake. I said goodbye to Steve and Leigh and told them I’d see them at work…work? Oh that’s right; I had a job to go back to in 3 days time. Dave came with us. We talked in the car on the way home, we talked of some of the things we’d got up to, told them about P and L. Before we knew it, we were outside my house and going inside. The first thing I did was find my cat. I’d missed her so much. I found her upstairs asleep on my bed, she heard me come in and looked up, she stretched out her paws and yawned and then started to purr. I stayed with her for about 5 minutes, kissing her and hugging her and then I went downstairs where my Dad had made tea. We all sat there talking, Dave and I filling my parents in on everything we’d got up to. Then after we had finished our tea, Dave went home to tell his parents the same things we’d told mine. These tales we’d be repeating for the next week or so to other people, either at work, or to our friends.

My mum and Dad went out to do some shopping. I was on my own. I took out the Polaroid and the picture I’d had done with P and looked at them for a while, then I called her on the phone. She answered and recognised my voice straight away. I told her I’d got back safely, she told me she was missing me and wished I was there with her and I said I’d write her an email and call her again soon. We said goodbye and I put the phone down.

That night I was laying on my bed, it was about 8pm. I looked at the pictures again, I thought of P, thought of Thailand and thought of the amazing time I’d had and now I was back home, Thailand just being a far off land. I fell asleep crying.

The next few days were more or less a blur; I missed most of my birthday because of jet lag, although I’d hazard a guess that sadness was part of that tiredness. I went back to work on the Wednesday. I was called every name under the sun for not sleeping with P, for not having my wicked way with her. I didn’t bother me at first but the jokes soon turned sour and I told my manager I’d had enough of it. It then stopped, but there was the odd comment here and there. The only people, who seemed to understand me not sleeping with P, were the girls who worked at our place. The guys looked at me as though I was some kind of freak for not doing it. But I wasn’t bothered by what anyone said, I was glad I’d done what I’d done and I wouldn’t change a single part of it.

*3 weeks later*

It just a little over 3 weeks now since I’ve got back from my first trip to the land of smiles, and here are some updates.

Dave: Dave has now gone back to work and has kept in touch with L. She sends him SMS messages most days saying how much she loves him and misses him. Dave still likes L and texts her back, but he also likes 2 other girls, one of them he’s seeing a little, the other he sees every now and again. After having his tattoo done for the third time, little did he know that too much ink was used in the solution; it resulted in the ink burning a permanent scar on his arm in the shape of the tattoo. He thought for a while that he had blood poisoning, but he seems to have pulled through ok. I don’t think he’s going to get another temporary ever again; there is no need now, because he has a permanent one, only it’s a scar…Muppet

L: A few days after we left Thailand, L left Phuket and the bar and went back to Bangkok to be with her family. I’ve spoken to her a few times on my mobile and in SMS, she still calls me a Muppet, or as she spells it “moppet”…she hasn’t asked Dave for any money yet.

P: She’s still in Phuket and still works in the bar; I’ve spoken to her a few times on the phone, keeping my promise that I would keep in touch which has now resulted in me calling her once a week for a quick chat just to see how she’s doing. She also calls me. She still tells me she misses me and looks at my photo everyday and can’t wait for me to come back to Thailand…she hasn’t asked me for any money yet

As for me, well, things have more or less gone back to normal now. I still think about my times in Thailand everyday. I still miss P and think about her a lot, in fact I think about her everyday. I think about the time we spent together and it always makes me happy and sad at the same time. She made me very happy when I was there and I’m glad I got to spend the time I did with her and I'm very glad that I got to meet her, even if it was only for the shortest of times, I wouldn't change it for the world. I miss Thailand, it’s part of me now and that won’t ever change and as I sit here and write this, remembering all the little things I got up to, and not forgetting what everyone else got up to, it makes me sad. I’ve enjoyed writing them down and at the same time, I haven’t. I know that I’ll never forget the happiness that Thailand brought me, I know I’ll never forget how much of an eye opener that country really is and I know I’ll never forget the people that I met and made friends with. It changed me, it changed me in ways that would be too hard to explain and write down, but those changes I can feel as I wake up each morning to live another day in my life. I’ve been very lucky to visit such a wonderful place, where the people are the nicest and friendliest people I’ve ever met and are ever likely to meet. Thailand is part of me now, it’s in my heart and it’s in my mind, you could argue that it’s now in my blood, and that is where it will always stay.

For those reading this and thinking “here is another typical story of a guy going over to Thailand and falling in love with a bar girl” let me tell you that it’s not the case. I don’t love P; I never fell in love with her. I cared for her, I cared for her a hell of a lot, I still do, but it wasn’t love, it was just respect. I chose to treat her as a human being, to treat her as a real person and not someone I could just use and abuse to my hearts content and then simply leave her and forget her, only to go back to Thailand and do the same thing over again with a different girl. I said earlier on in my story that she said something to me which I thought about later on, her words were “why you not like your friend, why you not like Dave” at the time I thought she meant why wasn’t I hugging and kissing her like he was, but a thought came to my mind a few days after getting back. What if in those words she meant, why wasn’t I as gullible as Dave? Why wasn’t I paying for hotel rooms, why wasn’t I paying the bar fines every night, why wasn’t I sleeping with her for money. But as quick as those thoughts came, they left my head just as fast. As I’ve said, if you analyse things too much, they can ruin what you have, or had. I’m not going to save her, I’m not going to marry her, I’m not going to send her money every month so she stops working in the bar. As I told her, she has made her own choices in this life and if she isn’t happy with those choices, then she must do something about it herself. She doesn’t need help from me, I can only give her advice, even though I know she probably won’t take it, but again, that’s her choice, her life, her glimmer of hope which maybe I gave her a little of. P was a holiday bonus; she made my time in Thailand just the extra bit special and that’s where it all ends, in Thailand.

But the thing is, Thailand never ends. Once you’ve tasted it, you have to taste it again, once it’s inside you, inside your mind and inside your heart, it just goes on and on. It never leaves you, it never ends.

I will be going back in June 2003. This time Dave and I will be going, and with us, we are taking two lads who have never been, but I know that once they get a taste, it will never leave them either and I’m sure they will pass that on to other people. This chain reaction which has now been started will never stop, and in all honesty, why would anyone want it to stop?

All the best and thanks for reading.

Stickman says:

Certainly the longest trip report I have ever read…and it was a pleasure to read – thoroughly enjoyable.

nana plaza