I don’t know if I told you this, but I had an issue when I went to the airport in Adelaide to leave for Bali. They threw me the shit grenade that was the fact that due to visa rules I had to book a flight out of Bali or they wouldn’t let me in and I wanted bloody in.
So in a slightly ill informed panic, I booked a flight to Phuket. I hadn’t even intended to go to Bali, so my tolerance for non-English speaking adventures in sunny climes had sort of reached its natural peak. There’s only so much sweaty gesturing whilst pointing to a two bit hostel I can do.
Thailand is no exception. From the second I arrive at the airport, the route to my hostel is blocked by building work. I circle the surrounding area twice, dragging what feels like a corpse in a suitcase, try and explain to a man that spoke literally no English that I need a phone charger, he points to the payphone. I think he can see the corners of my mouth quiver and he points behind me to an empty information desk. ‘Yes, but there’s no one there’ I squeek. His finger doesn’t move. Ok, I think, at least I can lean on it for a little cry. As I walk over I saw a black dome lurking behind the desk… what is that, then suddenly the dome moved to reveal the face of a tiny smiling Thai lady! There was someone there! Praise be!
Phone charged, I felt a renewed sense of achievement despite the fact that the unrelenting heat had finally beaten my eyebrows’ only function in this world and my forehead sweat was pouring into my eyes like a salty Niagra Falls.
So I barely noticed when I stumbled down what can only be described as a dirt road. I took another look at the name of my destination…’Airport Hostel’… only to realise that due to a translation issue, basically any hotel or hostel in a 5 mile radius of the airport is called ‘airport hotel’ and the signs are in Thai – so even if I found my hostel, I’d have to be versed in the intricacies of Thai calligraphy to have a chance in fresh hell of getting the right one. Should have paid more attention in those Thai lessons we had in year 9…oh no wait, that never fucking happened.
I haven’t seen a snifter of tarmac for about ten minutes and I kid you not, a stray dog starts barking and chasing me. Now as you may or may not know – I love dogs, so for me this was like getting twatted square in the face by Santa Claus. I doubled back on myself, to a road that at least had an even surface, found a half decent looking hotel for an amount of Thai Bat – again, no bloody clue how many million of em go into a pound but I was nearly out of bodily fluids to allow my neurons to function anyhow.
This hotel seemed ok! I found one channel with English films on a strange loop and locked myself in.
The next day I felt a little braver. Down at breakfast I try and make friends. There are 4 groups of people that scuttle through during the hour I sat there and each and every one of them looked at me like I had a great flopping member strapped to my forehead when I tried to say hi.
Well, I don’t need friends. I don’t need pavements! I am going to explore this fair new city (get beer and get so drunk I don’t care what a friend or a pavement is). After much gesturing, the lady at reception informs me there’s a supermarket out the hotel and left. I am walking with a fist full of money and some new alcohol hunt driven gusto. Down – yep you guessed it – a dirt road. I see the supermarket, guarded by what can only be described as a scavenging beast from hell stray hyena dog bastard.
I skulk back to the hotel, the kind receptionist gives me a smile as if to say ‘find it?’ I naively start to explain:
“Look I went to the supermarket, and I did find it but there was this huge dog, god it was horrible, so…”
Her face is blanker than a blank thing. She hasn’t got a clue what I am saying, obviously.
“Beer?!” I gesture with the universal sign language for beer. She nods. “Can I get it in my room?” I point upwards and hold my hand shaped like a phone to my face.
“Room service!” she shouts back.
“Room 264” I gesture out with my 2, 6 and 4 fingers. She nods and gives me a thumbs up.
We may not speak the same language, but thank god she knows a woman on the edge when she sees one.