This week being back at work has been long and arduous. Sitting inside at a computer all day after two weeks of the great outdoors and walking for miles - well there's no comparison really.
My sleeping patterns have been all over the place, but with only a three and a half hour time difference between Adelaide and Phuket it seems dumb to call it jet lag. I think its called plain and simply - old age.
So it seems that they may have finally found the missing Malaysia Airlines flight which disappeared two days before we flew out of Adelaide. It was kind of concerning that a plane could just disappear but at the same time flying doesn't bother me so much so I wasn't worried in the least for our safety.
So in the spirit of a Phuket wrap up, here's just a mess of things I discovered, learnt or observed on our journey.
- Don't buy the first thing you see, but also don't think that what you want will be there days later either.
- Australians are supposedly the happiest tourists in Phuket - numerous locals commented that they could tell we were from Australia because we were always smiling, they say Russians and Germans are the grumpiest tourists - my apologies if you're one of those nationalities, but smile already.
- If you fly into Kuala Lumpur via Malaysian Airlines and there's no direct connecting flight and they tell you the airline will put you up in the airport hotel until your flight, then grab it with both hands - the Sama Sama Hotel is 5-star and absolutely amazing (and the airline pays, even better)
- I would fly again with Malaysian Airlines in a heartbeat, absolutely great airline, crew and flight. Also the 30kg bag and 7kg hand luggage weight limits are definitely needed if you like to shop (and who doesn't?)
- Going through customs on the way home then always buy something which you can declare, the declaring line is heaps shorter.
- Pass on the elephant trek unless you're hard hearted and don't mind elephants squealing when they're spiked in the nose.
- Take sunscreen with you on long boat trips and better yet - make sure you use it!
- Give Qantas cash cards a go for all your money needs - this was an awesome way of doing things for us. Also if you have online banking and internet access to transfer funds then you can move money around easily with phone apps and minimise the risk if cards are lost. Hubby and I had a card each. One important lesson was that bank transfers take 2-3 business days to clear, but between the cash cards is immediate.
- Create purse size money conversion tables on paper for key money amounts which will simplify your bartering.
- In most cases locals will usually start at least double the price of what they want for goods. Once you get a feel for prices of things if you find a genuine person who starts at a realistic price, then just pay that price and reward their realism.
- If you find a good driver, bargain him down and then if he looks after you then pay him more and get his card. You'll have yourself a reliable driver for the duration of your holiday.
- Pancakes and corn on the cob from street carts are two of the greatest things you'll ever eat. Oh and mango slushies with vodka - sublime drinking.
- Salads and ice - perfectly safe to consume, or so we found.
- Buy bottled water in cartons from the Triple 7, you'll drink a ton of it with all the walking you'll do.
- Carry a roll of toilet paper, or at least tissues in your handbag / backpack etc because not many public toilets have toilet paper and most will make you pay to use them.
- If using any sort of vehicle be it jet ski, scooter etc then take photos to avoid being hit up for any damage that was already there. We were warned so I'm not sure that it's common but it can happen.
- Passports are valuable items - keep them in obscure places, double sided tape under beds / drawers etc, within the pull out handle compartment for suitcases.
- Don't give passports over when hiring vehicles, however every single thing you do will require you to show your passport from checking into hotels to providing identification at shooting parks. Try using photo copies.
- Buy travel sim cards for phones in the country you're going to and ensure you get unlimited wifi. Use Facebook for free messaging to friends and family and also for making phone calls (or Skype).
- Most hotels and restaurants provide passwords for free wifi but connection can drop out. However the $10 travel sim for 7 days with unlimited wifi and a small amount of call and text allowance seemed an incredibly small price to pay.
- If you have an IPad then use your mobile phone to create a hotspot and then you can use the wifi allowance from your phone. If in doubt then Google how to do it.
- Pack Imodium or Gastro Stop in your luggage and always take some kind of antiseptic - if you have them then you probably won't need them.
- Carry photocopies of your passports, travel insurance details and travel itineraries with you and save copies to Dropbox (or something similar) as well. Make sure you know your passwords for accessing online files.
I so have to begin planning my next trip.