The Interesting People We Met at Phuket

Not too long ago, I planned an impromptu getaway with Huimin. “Hey let’s go for a beach holiday.” Her reply:  “Okay!” And very soon we found ourselves ascending into fluffy white candy floss then flying into nothingness. Just plain white outside the plane window.

Shortly upon arrival, my bag broke. My slippers also broke. Both were items that reminded me of someone; it couldn’t get more coincidental than that. Discarding them was a sign of letting go. I was excited to start my new adventure.

The first thing we did was to hit the beach for jet ski and parasailing. We knew we were going to do it but still tried to bargain for a good price anyway. After all that number writing in the sand, we finally agreed with the ‘salesman’. His name is Chang.

Chang had Bob Marley on his T-shirt and bermudas. He told us that he’d visited Singapore often and loved Chinatown the most. When we teased him about staying in cheap hotels at Geylang, he laughed and insisted that he’s not that kind, and hinted to us that he was single. We asked for directions to the weekend market and he even gave us his number if we needed taxi services because he could possibly get his bro-in-law to give us a good rate. Turns out the rate was double of what we could get on the streets.

“Korea or China?” A random Caucasian guy on the beach asked us. I guess Asians all look the same to them, just like how I can’t really identify which country he was from when he gave us 3 chances each to guess his ethnicity. On Huimin’s last try, she was right to guess he’s a German.  A full-time traveller, he said he was. His 13th visit to Patong Beach. Not the best beach, but he was probably just passing by.

He suggested we have seafood, but seafood isn’t really my thing, junk food is. “so this is made of chocolate and chips”, he joked as he casually knocked my abs. He ended the conversation telling us where he would be hanging out that night so we could drop by. A random bar slightly off Bangla Road. keywords: burnt down Tiger bar; number 5; seafood; turn left. then what? I wasn’t fully paying attention. We didn’t go back.

Instead, we spent the evening roaming on the streets and found ourselves at Bangla Road leading to Jungceylon where we had ice cream for dinner. We were at the mall, with our beach towels hung around our neck totally not caring what anyone thought of us.

Chang had advised us to stay away from the beach at night. We went there anyway, but made sure we only hung around at lit areas. For 100THB, as we released a lantern we met another random stranger who was sitting alone on a high platform enjoying the cool breeze. The conversation could have lasted about an hour.

He was silver haired, I’m guessing he’s about 50. He had been travelling by himself for the past few weeks and his favourite stop is Cambodia. Telling us about how he had travelled to many places as an ex-pilot, even the North Pole. About how he met up with a Thai friend he met from Skype who showed him around. About how Vancouver is a wonderful place to live, and that we should visit Stanley Park which is only 300m away from where he lives. About how this place looks vibrant on the surface but the citizens’ smiles don’t seem genuine because the eyes aren’t smiling. Operations run by Russian triads and all, massage places and “happy endings”, and politics about all over the world (which I didn’t really follow).

Why, yes – having conversations with strangers was the best part of the trip, even though mama says we shouldn’t do so. I love how these people didn’t hesitate to share their stories so easily to someone whom they just met – never mind if they aren’t real or made up.

We didn’t even ask for names and contact details. From different directions we crossed paths on a space foreign to all of us, and just so happened to be sharing the same view at the same time and best of all, the opportunity to engage in a conversation. Saying goodbye is easy knowing we’ll never see each other again.  It’s much easier that way.

Serendipity, is that what it is?

As we explored the foreign land, we enjoyed ourselves till the very last bit – watched the sky go dark as we got stuck in a traffic jam and ended up being one of the last few to board the plane back home.

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