Series of stories about how I got stuck in Thailand. What life was like before & changed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hi! I’m Felix. You can get to know me a little better, if for the first time on my blog.
I came to Thailand from Turkey last November. It was a transit flight: Istanbul - Moscow - Phuket. Only 14 hours in the air & 2 hours between flights. The airplane landed at 08:30.
I arrived in Phuket with my thai girlfriend. We always travel & live together. This was not our first time in Phuket, but already as a year haven’t been on this island. So we fixed it.
It was hot & rainy weather. When we left Istanbul there rained too. And in Moscow it was just cold.
That time nobody even heard about coronavirus (COVID-19). There were no restrictions, no masks, no temperature screeners & no extra documents for passengers. Everything was still ok. Remember, it was like that before?
I didn’t have a thai visa. So I needed to get a free stamp in my passport in the passport control to stay in Thailand for 30 days. For a start.
Normally upon arrival all foreigners have to stay in a long “snake” for foreigners to pass the passport control. But I just went with my thai to the next free line for thai citizens. I didn’t get any questions: got a stamp & passed fast.
I had cash in thai bahts from the previous time. So I didn’t need to take it from ATM. And I never use currency exchangers in all thai airports as their rate is too high.
We got our baggage & went next.
On the first floor of the airport I bought 2 tickets for ฿360 to Patong by a minivan taxi. We came outta the airport to the waiting area where a thai taxi driver already called us to sit & took our baggage to put inside the trunk. We waited for 5 minutes for the rest of people to sit down and left the airport.
Going by a minivan taxi it can take upto 2 hours to your hotel or other place in Patong. It’s cheap, but the driver won’t go until all the seats are taken.
A private taxi available too. It can cost upto ฿900 for one car & upto ฿1,400 for minivan. It’s to Patong. To other cities can be a little cheaper or expensive. I use this when I go to the airport.
Luxury VIP taxi cars from Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Toyota & other can cost from ฿1,500 to ฿15,000. They go to any place on the island & outta it.
Airport Bus goes every hour from 7 am to 9 pm. The cost depends on your destination & can be from upto ฿170. 2 main companies & their routes: Airport Bus – to Phuket Town & Phuket Smart Bus — to Rawaii Beach. Payment by cash, by Rabbit Card or by QR code with an app of thai banks that thais use to pay even for street food.
On the half way around Phuket city we stopped at a some office. Thai women asked everyone to get outta the car to come in the office to specify the route to hotels. And at the same time they persistently offer various tours. For them it’s just a business. I already knew about it & just said I came back home. And they didn’t offer me anything & didn’t waste my time. Anyway there are some people who got fooled by this.
And in the direction of Patong, we went only after 15 minutes, before that we stopped at a gas station.
We checked-in for 2 nights in a hotel close to Jungceylon shopping mall. A room was booked a month ago at Booking.com, where I got Genius Level 2 that gave me free breakfast & 10-15% discount. Plus I got 10% cashback from my bank.
My girlfriend found an apartment in local groups on Facebook. When we were still in Turkey I asked her to find an apartment with a kitchen for not more than ฿15,000 per month & upto 6 months to stay.
She contacted an owner to see the apartment in a condominium somewhere in mountains. Her agent invited us to see it at the same time.
We could just walk to that place, it’s about 1.5 km or 20 minutes. Instead we decided to rent a motorbike for 2 days as later we could go somewhere else.
I ran to the closest 7-Eleven that had a purple ATM by SCB. Normally all ATMs have a withdrawal limit upto ฿20,000-฿30,000 & extra ฿220 fee. That ATM had ฿30,000 limit. I took maximum & went back.
Usually I took cash in Bangkok Bank offices as there is no fee. But it could take more time.
In bank offices there ask for my passport & credit card with my firstname & lastname the same as in my passport, otherwise they don’t accept it. It’s stupid cuz on the credit card there can be a name without a transliteration, even a company name or whatever you want. But “welcome to Thailand”!
Rent a motorbike
On Patong streets there are a lot of motorbikes for rent. To rent a motorbike I had to sign a paper & leave my passport as it’s their rules. And for ฿200 per day I got a simple Honda Scoopy scooter, 2 helmets & 1 bottle of gasoline. It was enough for a few days.
Thais don’t let their thais rent a motorbike. There is no law about it. They just discriminate themselves cuz of mistrust. That’s why they do motorbike rentals for foreigners only.
So if you see thais on motorbikes, they are mostly their own. And you also can notice a young thai girl riding a motorbike bought or rented by her foreigner boyfriend. They can ride together & one of them drives in turn. Just like in my case.
Rent an apartment
Then we went to Bayshore Ocean View condominium where the owner’s agent met us & showed the apartment. We liked it & it was like on the pictures & in the description. We signed a contract for 6 months, paid ฿15,000 per month & the same amount for a deposit. First the agent asked for ฿30,000 for deposit. For what? I just said no.
On 7th floor there was a big 45 m² air-conditioned studio with 1 bedroom with a new bedding set, a kitchen with everything needed (where my girlfriend noticed a bag of rice & a rice cooker, so she was so happy to have that goodness), a bathroom with a shower & a big bath, a big 6.5 m² balcony with a mountain view & a little sea view. There wasn’t a washing machine as in the most apartments in Patong, but on the streets there are laudnries at every step.
On the 1st floor there were small & big swimming pools with loungers & umbrellas, a pool bar just in the swimming pool, cafe with tables & a small gym. Also there was free parking for a motorbike or a car. The building shared between the condominium & the hotel.
The agent told us that she lived in the apartment for 2 months before us. And before her, a foreigner with his thai girlfriend lived there. They used to invited their friends with alcohol & then had a sex party. There they just smoked, drank alcohol, fucked everywhere in the apartment & the balcony with loud music. This is like a normal in Thailand.
Once the agent came to see the apartment & saw a sad picture: everything destroyed, broken glass from windows & bottles, cigarettes, garbage, vomit, condoms & sperm – everything was on all over the floor. It was a real nightmare for her. She just called the police. And those wonderful people got some kind of punishment.
Ofcoz to our coming the apartment was already fully cleaned & repaired that we couldn’t even think the apartment had such a crazy story.
The agent just said to us, if we are like that people – please don’t do that! Lol.
In the end we got the room keys & decided to go to eat.
One of our favorite places to eat is in Jeffer Steak & Seafood. Usually we eat there first as soon as we return to Phuket. It’s in the middle of Jungceylon shopping mall on the 2nd floor. 3 years ago it was in the building with BigC Extra on the 1st floor, now there is Watsons pharmacy.
In Jeffer they have 3 places. A small one for families with kids. A big hall with sofas, tables with charging sockets for devices. And outside on a balcony with a view to Jungceylon center, where there are souvenir and other products traders & laser fountain shows at night. And sometimes there can be a show on the stage. Free Wi-Fi available if needed. Work time from 9 am to midnight.
There we like to order pasta carbonara, seafood pasta, macaroni baked with cheese, chicken or pork steaks, ice lemon tea & especially lime or strawberry smoothies. There is a lot of food.
Average check is about ฿600-฿700, including 10% service charge. We also use the dtac app from the mobile operator that gives us a ฿20 discount for this place, it’s not that much, but if to use it constantly it can save more.
After that we used to buy ice cream in Dairy Queen for dessert. The trick in DQ is when ice cream is cooked they put a red spoon in a cup of ice cream & flip it upside down. If it falls on the floor, they will cook a new one for free. I never saw it fell.
I always order Mocha Almond Fudge Blizzard & my girlfriend likes Mango Blizzard with sticky rice or Oreo Blizzard.
The dtac app gives us a discount for DQ too – ฿19 for S size Blizzard ice cream. But in Patong DQ they just cheat, not selling S size at all. And the price is higher by 35% if compared with DQ in Phuket City.
After DQ we walked a little in the shopping mall & went back to our room. On the way we came in 7-Eleven to buy snacks & drinks for later.
A new loop had appeared in my digital nomad life. And I needed to relax after a long flight. I took a strong shower how I liked & jumped to the bed.
In the room there was an awful Wi-Fi signal. It connected if I leaned on the door only or stayed outta the room. Lol! Calling the hotel lobby to fix didn’t help.
So I just bought a 1 day unlimited package for mobile internet in the dtac app. And it worked pretty well & I shared Wi-Fi to my MacBook. Without the package there was free slow 64 kbit/s internet that was enough for texting & not enough for everything else.
Even if our room was on the 7th floor, at night it was still possible to hear loud music & screams from the street or how someone fucking in the next room.
I worked a little & fell asleep.
To be continued…