#PatrikAt25: My eight-day solo budget travel in Thailand — and why I almost died in Phuket!

This is the second part of my #PatrikAt25 blog post series. This part will talk about the first city in my tri-city adventure in Thailand.. Phuket! For those who missed, the first part “Lessons from 8-day  solo travel birthday escapade in Thailand” talked about the exciting and challenging experiences I’ve encountered throughout my journey. In this post, I will be talking about the places I’ve been to, where I’ve eaten and everything else in between. And yes, prepare for lots of pictures!

Ever since my Thailand trip, my Facebook inbox has been bombarded with lots of questions from friends and relatives about the places I have visited, the cuisines I’ve tried and how I managed to get by my eight-day long solo journey. This post will try to cover everything about my journey, except my.. well, ‘adventures’ in Bangkok’s famous Red Light District. *wink* 🙂

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For everyone asking, this trip was a celebration of a myriad of events: more than anything, it’s a celebration of my 25th birthday last August 24. Add to that, I got promoted in SGV as a Senior Associate after being with the firm for two years (hired August 2013); it’s also a celebration of working in the country’s financial district Makati for two years (arrived in Manila July 2013) and my second year anniversary for having passed the Certified Public Accountants’ licensure examinations (passed May 2013). This pretty much explains the long eight-day journey.

Mini movie summary of my Phuket solo travel escapade! #Thailand2015 #ILovePhuket #25thOnThe24th

A video posted by Jan – Patrik Birondo Laroya (@janpatrik) on

August 21 – Manila

I arrived at the world famous (for some reason) Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 6pm. I was accompanied by my college friends Chie and Nina Daelle who surprised me with their mini send-off cupcake. Haha3354My flight to Phuket, Thailand was ‘initially’ scheduled at 7:20pm, but of course, due to Cebu Pacific’s well known efficiency in their operations, I boarded the aircraft at 10pm. While waiting at the departure area, I met another solo traveler Veejay Jose, who is bound for Shanghai, China. After being stuck and uneasy inside the plane for more than hour, we finally went off at exactly 11pm and received a bottled water and Nissin Cup Noodles from Cebupac as their ‘flight delayed apology goodies’ Bravo! *Insert sarcasm*

We were handed a form from the Thai Immigration Bureau which basically asks for your personal and passport details for record-keeping and monitoring purposes. No reason to be scared, although I was! haha.

August 22 – Phuket

We landed at Phuket International Airport at around 3am. When I went out, I stumbled upon two kababayans Jane and Kat at the taxi stand. We were charged 1,000 Thailand Baht which was super expensive as compared to normal transportation cost had we arrived earlier. Since we were all headed to Patong Beach in Sai Kor Road, we agreed to share the taxi to minimize our cost.

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The transportation time from the airport to Patong Beach usually ranges from 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the traffic. The only good thing about arriving super early morning.. no traffic! We arrived at Patong Beach in just roughly 30 minutes!I stayed at Phunara Residence which I pre-booked via Booking.com. For only 800 Baht for two nights, I got a Standard Deluxe Room with a Queen size bed good for two people.. all for me. And oh, I was not informed that it comes with a super cute receptionist (well, not for the taking haha).
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I woke up at 7am only to see a terrible Phuket weather as it was raining hard, I can barely see the streets outside my window. In my itinerary, I was supposed to join a Phi Phi Islands Tour but due to the weather, I did not push through with it. As they always say, some things might not go as planned, and I didn’t let this affect me. The rain subsided an hour after, so I toured myself around the vicinity for almost two hours. Yes, I figured it’s possible. LOL

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Patong Beach is a 10-minute walk from Phunara Residence. I strolled through Jungceylon Shopping Center (which was still closed, but more of this later), Bangla Road (famous for its notorious red light district and party-til-dawn vibe) and finally Patong Beach. It’s not a white sand beach but more of the golden brown type of sand beach, but it was really nice. I grabbed myself a 40 Baht coffee and took some pictures while strolling at the bay. A block away from my hotel is Patong Holiday Hotel which serves breakfast buffet for only 150 Baht or roughly PHP200. As fate would have it, the heavens started to play again and poured heavy rains so I had to seek refuge of my hotel room once again.

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At around 3pm, I started walking again, this time, on the other side of Sai Kor Road. Phuket, being a haven for beach lovers, is surrounded by lots of beautiful beaches, namely: Patong, Karon, Kata, Bangtao, Surin, Kamala, etc. But due to time constraints, I was only able to visit Patong and Karon.3492

Aside from the tuktuk (which looks a lot better compared to their Bangkok counterparts), another popular mode of transportation is the motorbike. Anyone can rent a motorbike for only 200 Baht which is good for twenty four hours. Having no experience driving a motorbike in the Philippines and since the theme of my trip is YOLO, I hired a motorbike. Yes. Until now, it still gives me the creeps every time I share this with my friends. And until this very moment that I’m writing this, it still gets pretty much to my nerves.

The store attendant asked me if I have a driving license and guess what..

Me: “Of course yes. But I left it in Manila”

Attendant: “Oh it’s ok it’s ok.”

I, for sure, didn’t know what I’m getting myself into since I don’t have any driving experience. But since I’ve always been the proud fast learner, I thought it’s gonna be a piece of cake. Get this.. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO START A MOTORBIKE!! The attendant even helped me mount the damn bike and I couldn’t even sit properly cos I’m not used to it. So the lady gave me several instructions, which I didn’t really understand cos she was speaking in English in a very rough Thai accent. The moment I turned the right handle (see, I don’t even know the name of the part! haha), the motorbike just uncontrollably raced forward super fast.. and get this, I almost bumped two foreigners along the way since I didn’t know how to handle the motorbike!

Attendant: “You sure you still wanna do this?”

Me: “Yuh I’m good. I’m just not used to this yet. Will give it one more try.”

At the back of my mind, it was really scary, but I said.. “Screw it. One more!”

So I turned the right handle once again, and the next thing I remember was the lady screaming on top of her lungs while I went straight to the road in an even faster speed that I almost jumped off the motorbike. And I eventually stopped. The tuktuk and taxi drivers were laughing and some were yelling at me. An Indian store attendant went my way and said: “Stop my friend. You don’t know how to drive. Safety first my friend, safety first. It’s more expensive if you get in an accident. Just ride a tuktuk on your way to Karon Beach for only 200 Baht.”

.. and finally, I resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t drive the motorbike, not even the simple act of mounting it straight! I could still remember how terrified I was at that time. I couldn’t help but imagine what would have happened had I bumped directly the two Americans on my first try: I could have went straight to the jail! And as for my second failed attempt: I could have went straight to the hospital!

Lesson: Adventure is fun.. only if it does not involve hurting others or yourself, in a foreign land at that!!

So I hailed a tuktuk while walking away from the rental store and headed to Karon Beach at last!

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I was still sweating and my heart beat being unusually fast, I told myself: something good has to happen here. I can’t leave Phuket with a not-so-good memory of it. So, I took off my shirt and dipped myself into the beach. Oh, did I mention I only brought with me the small but durable and stylish sling bag from Zalora containing my passport, a few hundred Baht bills and coins, phone and a selfie stick? Yes.. no extra short, shirt and even undies. So I bought a vneck shirt from a local Thail for only 120 Baht which was initially priced at 250 Baht! Haha

After a couple of hours of solitude at the bay watching people sun bathing (easily my favorite part! haha), I went back to Patong and straight to my hotel via a tuktuk which charged me 300 Baht.

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At around 8pm, I went to the famous Jungceylon Shopping Center which is a 5-minute walk from Sai Kor Road. If Jungceylon is part of your Phuket itinerary (well it should be!), there is a cultural fountain show every 7pm and 9pm depicting some of the history of Phuket and Patong. The shopping center is the perfect place for shopping, dining and everything else in between. For dinner, I had a 99 Baht package meal at Sushi Box which include three pieces of california salmon, three pices of california crabsticks, two pieces gyoza, seaweed salad and miso soup. Yes.. all for 99 Baht.

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At 10pm, I met again with Jane and Kat (new found friends from Phuket airport) for a last night in Phuket pizza and beer and finally brazed the crazy party people at Bangla Road. If you dig crazy parties, lady boys, women strutting their stuff in public.. Bangla Road is a must visit for you guys. Otherwise, stay at the comfort of your hotel room or go get a massage! Haha. Jane and Kat were to leave Phuket for Bangkok at six in the morning while my flight going to Bangkok was at 12:45pm. Just when we were about to finally call it a night around three am, Jane and Kat had another thing in  mind. Remember the cute receptionist I’ve been crushing on? Jane and Kat took a picture of us!! Hahaha He is Mehn, a 19 year old Myanmar national.

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As much as I would want to extend for a few more nights in Phuket, I had to bid good bye to proceed on my next destination.. Bangkok!!

So that pretty much sums up my two-night Phuket journey, first part of my tri-city solo travel adventure in Thailand! Bangkok and Pattaya experience up nexttt!

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Jan - Patrik

Patrik is a 25 year old Certified Public Accountant working as an external auditor at a top audit firm in Makati, Philippines. He loves solo traveling, volleyball, Harry Potter and of course, blogging.

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