Thailand Road Trip: Arriving in Phuket

Once we made the decision to drive through the entire night, there wasn’t anything that was really capable of stopping us besides death or kidnapping. We avoided death several times and were out of the middle of nowhere so it seemed like we would make it. Our goal was to make it to the beach for the sunset. If we knew what we were doing or where we were actually heading we would have plenty of time. Needless to say we were racing against the rising sun while still more than two hours away from our final destination. Because of my own mistake we were a bit further south than we should have been and were forced to backtrack for an extra hour. We didn’t make the beach for the sunset, but what we did get was something far more unique and unexpected. The southwestern part of Thailand gets rather mountainous rather quickly. Giant stone hills begin to pop out of the ground at incredibly steep grades like pillars supporting the foggy floor of heaven itself. As the sun began to rise we were surrounded by these pillars. The fog became silver until bit by bit the sun broke through it. It was a truly spectacular sight only dampened by the fact that we still had more than an hour to go.

Kyle was approaching his 9th straight hour driving. If I felt I was able to step in and drive a few more hours I would have but my fatigue had gotten the best of me and the best I was capable of was staying awake to keep him company. If I realized he was falling asleep at the wheel every 30 minutes or so I would have probably reevaluated that scenario. Even so, with the help of some perfectly legal stimulants he was by far our best option. I hadn’t heard a peep from Harry in hours, Chris could only stay awake long enough to offer to drive, and Danny had decided that Ambien was going to be his contribution to the effort. Even with all that I still felt like we were going to be okay. We had clear roads, a full tank of gas, and for once we knew where we were seeing signs to Phuket. Then it started to rain, and boy did it rain.

The good thing about hydroplaning is that the weightless feeling you get in just that instance has the effect of waking up the driver. So, as long as we hydroplane every couple of minutes, which we were, our driver would stay wide awake, which he soon became. The normal move in this situation would be to pull over or at least reduce your speed, but how could we? If we stopped we would sleep. If we slept we would be giving up. If we gave up, than we wouldn’t conquer Thailand in a damn Honda Freed! The bridge to Phuket is just ahead! ONWARD! Straight into a… Typhoon.

I hadn’t seen rain like this in years. Rain is rain, it can only do so much unless you’re on a small little island that happens to be extremely prone to flooding. I wasn’t really concerned until we came upon a major intersection with water approaching the height of my knees. What was worse was ten minutes later when it had gotten even higher. This storm seemed to be getting very bad very quickly. It became more and more obvious why we saw such a steady stream of cars leaving the island while we were driving straight to it. We pull into a hotel desperately searching for Wi-Fi when I get it on the iPod Touch, pull up the weather.com app, and see the radar.  Oh boy, while the colors ranging from green to red are all very pretty, it’s not what I was really hoping to see centered over our little island. My first thought was getting off the island and making sure that we had a way to get to Bangkok in time to fly home. If planes weren’t flying, it would be more of the Honda Freed, most likely resulting in the murder of one or more of my travel mates.

Regardless of what happens, it’s time for somebody else to drive and get us to the airport. Chris is up, and if I wasn’t so exhausted I would have been screaming far more often than I did. The wrong side of the road deal threw him off a bit causing quite a bit of lane drift, also known as straddling the middle line. He did get us to the airport in one piece and the good news was no flights were being cancelled. After some food and group discussion we decided to stick it out. An hour or so later we found ourselves at an extremely upscale resort that had some very appealing policies and amenities. That, and a relatively inexpensive price of $30 USD a night. We could have stayed somewhere for a sixth of the price, but after that journey I was okay with a softer bed, nicer shower, and massage just downstairs. It’s only money anyways.

We made it to Phuket, and when all was said and done we made it back home too without any permanent injury or illness. My rule of thumb is that if I couldn’t tell my Grandma I won’t write it on the blog. So, besides the drive there’s not much more to say about Thailand. It’s a beautiful country with a little bit of everything.