Back in January, I embarked on a trip to Thailand – alone. Solo travel is something I’ve wanted to do for a while but I never had the guts to do it until after living in South Korea for some time. I find it frustrating when I want to travel somewhere but I can’t find someone to go with, so I felt like it would be nice to be able to just up and go. So it just happened that I wanted to travel to Thailand and no one else wanted to.
I had read so many blogs of people that travelled alone and I felt inspired and excited to also experience the things they did. I wanted to explore and get lost, meet new people and to just be free to do as I pleased.
I tried to ensure that I planned as much as I could to ensure I felt prepared and organised. This meant forwarding my flight itineraries to my mother (just in case someone needed to know my whereabouts), making copies of my passport and cards, pre booking hostels and transfers if needed. I also made sure I was aware of the culture and customs of Thailand so that I didn’t end up in any trouble!
I headed to Seoul the day before as my flight the next morning was quite early. I stayed at a pretty cool guest house which was walking distance from Seoul Station. However, the room was literally an expensive shoe box but it was only for one night! I met up with some friends that were living in Seoul that evening which was nice and it took my mind off the fact that I was about to do something totally outside my comfort zone. The next morning, before boarding the first leg of my journey to Kuala Lumpur, I actually bumped into a friend who happened to be on the same flight! Although we sat separately, I took comfort in knowing that I wasn’t alone until it was time to depart to our final destinations. Then I was truly alone and that’s when the real fun began!
Phuket Town – 3 nights
After my flight was delayed and after waiting in a long line to pass through immigration, I finally made it out of the small airport. I still remember the humid air hitting me full force whilst also ignoring the many people trying to make me their customer. Unfortunately for them, I had pre booked a transfer as I knew I would be arriving late. My hotel transfer eventually found me but I had to wait about 15 mins for him to get his car. The poor guy had been waiting for 1-2 hours!
(My Hostel – Ai Phuket)
I finally, made it to my hostel which was located next to the Sunday Night Market that I was hoping to arrive in time for. However, the check in process didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped as the worst happened – my card decided to not work. Well actually my bank blocked access to it! Thankfully, the hostel was nice enough to let me stay and pay the next day! I made it to the Sunday Market but unfortunately a lot of the stalls were beginning to shut down. I was still able to take a peek at some of the goods on offer and take in the market atmosphere. I found a stall to eat and ordered a green thai curry. This was my first time being out by myself and although it was about 10 pm, I must say I felt quite safe! I ended up talking to a couple that sat beside me as I tried to enjoy the salty green Thai curry that was presented to me.
(The Streets of Phuket Town – The Sino-Portuguese houses were beautiful)
(Breakfast at the cafe next door to my hostel- 30% discount for Ai hostel guests)
After breakfast and finding out how to get to Patong, I took a bus to Patong beach (30 mins). It was not quite how I envisioned it as I was expecting something out of a post card. I went in search of swimming shorts (looking back I paid way more than I should have). I tried to bargain with the lady in shop (it’s not something I’m great at) and she ended up reducing the price. After walking around a little, I bumped into another solo traveller that was also working as an English teacher but in China. We ended up spending the afternoon together and it was quite nice having some company.
Walking around the Patong area was quite an experience – there were lady boys on the side walks, open bars with stripper polls and the food was expensive! After chatting for a few hours on the beach, I decided to head home as I was not really interested in the night scene after all I had seen during the day!
Ko Phi Phi & Maya Bay
Prior to travelling to Thailand, I had booked a one day trip to Phi Phi via Phuketsrctravel. I wished I had waited and booked it in Thailand to be honest as it was would have been cheaper. I guess you live and you learn! I must say that visiting Ko Phi Phi was by far one of the highlights of my trip. I was picked up from my hostel around 7:45am by a driver and his granddaughter. I was then dropped off at the pier for a briefing before heading to the speed boat. They really tried to fit a lot of us into that boat and it was beginning to get uncomfortable so I chose to sit out on the deck.
The first stop was Khai Island which was cool. It was pretty but nothing special.
Next, we headed to Phi Phi Ley which was absolutely beautiful! We stopped off at another island and had a not so tasty “buffet” lunch. Once we had finished, we all headed back to the boat and went to see monkeys.
(The guys on the boat had been throwing out bananas)
Maya bay was absolutely beautiful. There were quite a few people but it wasn’t too bad. I ended up exploring the island a little before heading into the water where I met to guys from the UK that were living in Denmark. We ended up having a good conversation about travel and life abroad.
After an hour at Maya bay, we headed back to the boat for some snorkelling activity. This was my first time ever snorkelling and I must say that I was pretty excited! We got geared up and stopped by the rocks we were still pretty much in the middle of the ocean. I noticed a few people jumping in without life jackets and for some reason I thought it would be OK to follow suit (don’t do this guys – unless you are a pro!)
I jumped in and for a second I was worried that I wasn’t going to make it back to the surface! It was so hard figuring out how to use the mask correctly whilst looking at the pretty fishes and trying not to drown at the same time. I took a break (I still didn’t wear the life jacket – I actually must have thought I was a boss!) and tried again but I couldn’t quite enjoy it. Although, after that experience I had made up my mind to learn the proper technique before leaving.
(As you can see, the other guys seem to know what they are doing – I, however, do not!)
After 30 mins of snorkelling, we then went to the last island on our tour. By that time I was shattered and I just wanted to head back to the hostel. I tried to make the most of it and went for a swim. I ended up speaking to another couple and then went to relax (although this beach was quite packed). After about 45 mins at this island, we left to head back to Phuket.
Since it was my last night in Phuket, I decided to wander around Phuket town after dinner. There wasn’t much to see, but I did stumble upon a massage place surprisingly (it was 9:45pm). I was a little nervous as it was late but the lady convinced me and It was quite cheap! (400 baht = £7 for 1 hour). I went into the shop and I was directed upstairs where I found about a dozen mats on the ground separated by curtains. The lady then told me to get changed into the clothing provided and I was instructed to lay down. I have had massages before but I had never experienced one quite like that! She was rough and at one point I thought she was stomping along on my back. Nevertheless, it felt really good! Once we were done, I was offered a Thai traditional tea but I didn’t stay for long since it was quite late.
The next day was check out day. Overall, my stay at the Ai hostel was… interesting. It wasn’t great but I guess it could have been worse. I did have an incident where someone tried to open my door. Thankfully it was locked but that was a little worrying! The bathrooms weren’t very clean and I felt dirty showering in there. I also didn’t meet any other travellers there as no one was particularly friendly and there also wasn’t a common area.
I spent three nights in Phuket and if I could do my trip again, I would have either just stopped over or left it out completely! I thought Patong was too overrated and touristy. Phuket town wasn’t bad but I found that there wasn’t much to do there.
My next stop was Krabi which I will talk about in my next post! Stay tuned!