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I Discovered Thailand By Bus Part 4



By Vincent


In part 3, we’ve just arrived at the bungalows in Phuket.

The bungalows are set in a long compound behind the office / restaurant. It’s a pleasant setting, as there a coconut trees all around. It’s fairly basic, with just a ceiling fan and a bathroom / toilet, but there’s a constant breeze from the sea, so everyone’s quite happy.

We decide that it would be nice to have some beers outside, so we grab a couple of chairs and a table or two from the bungalows, and set them just out of range of the falling coconuts. The owner of the place comes over to have a chat, and tells us to make ourselves at home.

We spent two very pleasant nights there, and did not venture too far away, the setting was absolutely idyllic. All you saw in front of the compound across the road was the beach. No buildings, no umbrellas, no nothing. That’s my idea of a holiday.

All too soon, it’s time to make our way back to Hatyai.

We’re all a little subdued on the way back, I guess we all felt that the holiday was coming to an end and thoughts of reality had begun to seep in. We’ve got one night left in Hatyai before we’ll be leaving in the late morning of the following day.

It’s time for all that last-minute shopping – most of it is for us, but we still need a few trinkets to pass out when we get back. The T-shirts were cheap, so I picked up a few, as did the rest of the guys. The Malay guy spots some name-brand track shoes and picks them up. When he shows them to me later, my comment on it was that the glue wasn’t quite dry yet.

We have a quiet dinner at the small Muslim restaurant almost opposite the hotel, then end up in the Malay guy’s room for beers. Ah Bang, our resident tuk-tuk driver, has joined us, but he doesn’t drink beer. One of the guys asks him about the pouch he always seems to have on his belt, and he produces a revolver from it. It’s even supposed to have ‘special’ bullets in it. He unloads it and shows us the rounds. Hmmm. There’s a large dimple punched in the nose of each round. He said the purpose is to make the bullet break up. Yeah. Right.

I was in the military for a while, and so am familiar with firearms. I’d even been out shooting with my father, and so was familiar with the handling of such. However, what purpose a tuk-tuk driver would have with sidearms fully loaded with fragmentation rounds totally eluded me.

It’s getting late, so we all call it a night, more so to make the most of what time we have left with our companions.

In the morning, we went down to the market for the rest of the shopping. The girls came with us to help us bargain (they did). I managed to pick up an interesting puzzle ring, a bit of a jigsaw with four interlocking rings. While the workmanship was not all that fine, it was Thai silver and I’d not seen anything like it before. Cashew nuts were also cheap and would definitely complement the beers.

One of the other guys picked up a switchblade, and was quite happily playing around with it, until I pointed out that it would really be only a toy in his main toolbox. But then again, we’ve all got toys we like, don’t we?

We did get the girls a little something as well, they seemed quite happy with that. They waited with us in the hotel lobby until we took the tuk-tuk to the bus station. No big show of emotion, perhaps we’ll see you again if we come back this way.

As for the experience. I will say this, and it is echoed throughout stickman’s website; that girlfriend experience, with sex when you/ she wants it, being pampered silly, good food, and good (as long as you drink it ice-cold) beer, tends to grab you by some appendages in a nether region somewhere south of the belly button, turns your brain to jelly, and makes a mark on your mind with a branding iron that starts you thinking of your next trip before this one’s even over.

Well, we’re back on the bus, and definitely better prepared for the trip this time. And to make time pass even faster, we’re already making plans.

Epilogue:

It was the last trip by bus, we always flew after that. Our core group stayed together, but sometimes not all of us could make it. We did on occasion go solo once we were familiar with the places.

I used to like Malaysian Airlines; although you’d have to change planes at Penang, the stewards/ stewardesses were friendly and you could always get another can or two of beer if you stuck your head in the galley before it closed. I’d also made friends with the bartender at the Penang transit lounge, to the point where I’d still have a couple of glasses lined up and everyone is filing back on the plane… great fun.

Phuket was, by then, becoming more touristy and the open-air bar scene on Patong was in vogue. I had a lot of fun times there, finally abandoning it around 1987 as it had lost it’s charm (for me) by then.

I started to settle into the Bangkok / Chiang Mai mindset after that… and then….

It’s been a great ride.

Stickman's thoughts:

A nice, pleasant series. I wonder if he ever used that gun?!