November 13th, 2009
We got up early, grabbed our cameras and went crazy while walking down the somewhat quiet streets in Thailand. We quickly noticed that scooters outnumber cars about 3 to 1. There were men in suits and children, some no more than 3 all riding on these scooters and very few wore helmets. As the traffic light turned red, all the scooters would come to the front by weaving around any cars or people in their way. This being the way, anytime when the light turned green, we would have to look the opposite way to cross the road and quickly ran before being cut off by a scooter who wasn’t afraid of driving within a couple feet of us.
After breakfast, we returned to walking the streets of Phuket, this time inviting Phyllis to join us. We just couldn’t stop taking pictures and being amazed by the people, the culture, and the amount of taxi drivers who would pull over to offer you a ride. It became a joke and quite funny at times. Whatever you do, don’t look at a map for more than 30 seconds or stand still and look lost…they’ll find you.
Just before lunchtime, we asked a local where a good restaurant would be. We carefully wrote down the name he gave us so that we could pronounce it again. It was only a mile or two away and an enjoyable walk. About two-thirds of the way there, we tired Phyllis out probably because we stopped a lot and took so many carefully compositioned photos that she turned back and left David and I to further explore the town on our own.
We found the street that the restaurant was on and were so excited. We actually found our own way in another country! At one point we heard a loud, “Hey there!” and turned to see a group of men playing pool. We didn’t join them, but after thinking about it for a bit, it would have been really something if we joined them in a game of pool and made some Thai friends. It’s something we still regret in not doing.
We kept walking, got to the end of the road and no restaurant by the name we had on our paper. We studied the map and here came another scooter taxi driver. He seemed different from the other taxi drivers right away; a bright smile and fantastic English. We told him the name of the restaurant and he let us know we had passed it. We got off topic for a while and chitchatted with this guy by the name of Shana. We felt like instant friends… in another country… with someone we just met. So we did what we do, asked for a picture. As David went to take a photo of him, he insisted to pose with me. This photo will make you laugh.
Before long we were off to walk back to the restaurant we had somehow passed. It was at that time that he said, “Oh by the way, in English the restaurant is called, Natural Restaurant.” We laughed as not only did we pass it, we were greeted by a host at that restaurant as we were walking down.
Shana ‘walked’ us to the restaurant by circling his bike almost in a protective and courteous manner, not wanting us to get lost.
Lunch was amazing!! David and I couldn’t help but take a few photos and, before we left an hour later, Shana returned to see if we enjoyed our lunch and offer his assistance if we ever needed a taxi. We invited him to sit with us at the table and we chatted a bit before he got a call from another customer
Once we were done eating, we went on exploring the town by foot. The shops were back to back and at times looked like carports converted to businesses. The businesses are their life and it shows. One of the shops where we stopped for a while had an owner named Senee. He was very kind and shared his life story with us He showed us his photos of when we was a monk and told us how he has a love for music as he was a guitar player. He showed us the guitar music he plays and we had a smile on our face as it was mostly music from the Beatles and Eagles. He, of course, also offered his assistance as a taxi driver. He insisted on driving us back to our hotel, which we took as a thank you for the time we’d spent talking to him. We offered him money, which he flat out refused! Instead, he just said to call him if we ever needed a ride.
GREAT! Now we have two people we connected with who want to be our driver–Shana who drove a scooter and would rent a car to taxi us around and Senee who owned a car, but it had no AC and looked like it could breakdown at any time.
We told Phillys all about our day’s experience over dinner but couldn’t wait for the fist day’s highlight… a Thai massage. We were met at the spa with a cold ginger tea and small pastry, then had our feet washed, and were escorted to our room. These tiny Thai women were going to give us our massage. They were much stronger than you’d think. At times, the massage felt more like a beating; slightly painful other times too friendly… but in the end it was an experience we’d do over if we had it to do again and we’d recommend it to anyone else.
We slept amazing that night!