How to Have the Worst Day Ever in Phuket (and How to Turn it Around)

You would think that two travel bloggers traveling together would have everything down to a science, but on our first trip together, Mike and I seem to be working hard to prove that this is not the case. It seems that no matter how much experience you have, pitfalls, errors and just dumb luck always throws itself in your path.

This was particularly true of our first full day of traveling alone together. Having been to Thailand before, Mike told me (correctly) that Phuket is really not that nice of a place and we should minimize our time there. The plan was to spend one day exploring the island via motorbike, spend the night, then head out to Ko Phi Phi in the morning. What followed can only be described as one really rough day:

Steps for a Perfect Bad Day

  1. Take an overnight bus from Bangkok to Phucket. Sleep maybe 1/13 of the trip and spend the rest of the night counting headlights in the dark.
  2. Arrive in Phucket at the peak of high season with no accommodations. Walk about a kilometer in the searing heat with your bloated backpack slowly cutting off your air supply. Phuket hotels are plentiful, but all seem to be entirely booked. Finally find a guest house with vacancies and a fair price. Marvel that it’s actually pretty nice.
  3. Upon arriving in your room, drop your backpack on the floor, shattering a bottle of red wine inside. You bought that wine in Hunter Valley, Australia and lugged it around for an entire month- you were planning to drink it tonight. Watch in disbelief as seemingly endless amounts of wine seep through the entire contents of your pack. Resist the urge to burst into tears as you empty everything you own onto the bathroom floor while Michael frantically mops up the disaster zone.
  4. Accidentally lock passports and wallet in a broken, practically impenetrable safe. Force management to come open.
  5. Successfully rent motorbike for just 200 baht. Realize motorbiking is actually super fun in an I-could-smash-my-skull-at-any-moment kind of way. Drive for maybe half an hour- get as far as Patong Beach and promptly be pulled over by a terminally grumpy policeman who demands loudly in Thai to see drivers license. Realize your boyfriend left his license in the guesthouse for safe keeping. Watch cop confiscate bike.

  6. Walk a rough kilometer, past scores of prostitution bars and harassing tuk tuk drivers to police station. Watch policeman leisurely eat his lunch before dealing with you. Pay no-license fin of 300 baht ($10). Walk a kilometer back to beach to bail out the motorbike.
  7. Bike back to guesthouse to retrieve license and realize that somehow you’ve again locked it in the impenetrable broken safe. Give up on life.

And how to turn it around:

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Get owner (who now thinks you are a moron) to come unlock the safe. Retrieve license.
  3. Get back on the bike. Take a new route this time; a random turn off the main highway that leads you to a street completely absent of tourists and full of local Thai going about their business. It’s peaceful here, and interesting.
  4. Eventually find your way up a very large hill at a lookout point where you can see this:

  5. Watch your first Thai sunset over Phrom Thep beach.
  6. Stop for dinner at a beautiful restaurant overlooking the harbor. Eat spicy curry and drink out of coconuts.
  7. Drink a beer. Realize that your boyfriend and you survived your first absolutely disastrous day of travel together without murdering each other. Think maybe things weren’t so bad after all.

Looking back on the day none of the things that happened were all that bad (even the red wine spill-most everything survived unscathed) but when you are there in the moment it feels as if the world is ending piece by piece. It’s important to be able to step back and make the right choices to keep the day, or the trip, from becoming a total wash. So much of getting through the day, in travel or back at home, is how we choose to react to the curve balls thrown our way.

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68 thoughts on “How to Have the Worst Day Ever in Phuket (and How to Turn it Around)”

  1. Hey there! I’m curious – have you been to Krabi? I’ve heard in ways that it is the “new Phuket” – less over touristy and developed. Your story made me laugh – I will be traveling with my boyfriend as well and stumbled on your blog doing research, but I love that you could turn your day around!

  2. Good to see that you flipped your bad luck around. You are absolutely right about the motorcycles, they are super dangerous. Most people visiting here have their first accident within the first week.

  3. Funny how things turn out sometimes! It could have been a lot worse! I love it when things don’t go as you planned but turn out beautifully! 🙂

  4. Ummmm…. I didn’t even KNOW you had to carry a license in Thailand (though that sounds a bit silly now that I write it).

    While I can’t be sure I can almost guarantee that for the two months I spent on Koh Tao my (now) boyfriend never carried one- we were shoe and helmetless after all. Don’t tell my mum.

  5. Hilarious story! That’s a lot of bad lucks trapped within a day. I can imagine that having wine spill in a backpack that we use to keep everything we have, can be disastrous. So you guys apparently didn’t need driving license to rent the bike? wow!

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