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Paddington Goes to Phuket

November 30, 2009

So about two weeks ago, my parents put together a little package of things that I had forgotten back home – most notably my camera charger.  I gave them the address of my dive shop, for the sake of logistics.  They mailed it through TNT and away it went.  Through a glitch in the TNT website, I couldn’t track the package but I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard I had gotten a phone call from the TNT office in Phuket, saying that it had arrived.  Great, just one more leg to go.  But it  wasn’t coming, and after a couple days it seemed things had stalled.  I called TNT back to find out what was going on and the conversation was a disaster.  I tried to explain my name was BENJAMIN TOLTON.  YOU HAVE A PACKAGE FOR ME.  I WORK FOR ISLAND DIVERS.  YOU SEND HERE?  YOU HAVE ADDRESS?  Basically what I got was a phone number which lead me to a tourist agency that ended up trying to sell me a tourist “package” that included diving, karaoke and “fun time” for me.  Dammit.
Jo, the manager told me that parcels sent by courier won’t go any further than the TNT warehouse in Phuket (ref. AD – Come On!).  I was told my best bet was to go there myself and pick it up.  So one morning I had my ticket in hand and was off to Phuket.  I had NO idea where on this island the TNT office was, but I figured it had to be in the main town itself.  It’s not as if I can 411 this place.  I got a ride on a minibus and asked to be taken to the Post Office.  Step one.  I arrive at the Post Office and walked in wondering whether or not anyone here would know anything about it.  I drew the TNT logo on the back of a used sticker slip and showed it around until someone offered me a map on the back of a scrap piece of paper.  Worst map ever.  But at least I had a direction to go and began my second stage.  I walked about an hour and half across town stopping at every gas station and 7-11 looking for anyone who could help refine my search.  After much toil, I finally arrived.  A dusty little shop with no one working there any older than I was.  I gave them my reference # and they busied about trying to find it.
“Oh, so sorry sir.  Package not here.  It went to harbour.  Signed by K. Manatchnok.  You know him?”
“No, we haven’t met.” I said trying to curb my mounting ire.
They staff once again busied about making a dozen phone calls trying to sort out this mess.  Turns out it was a Muslim holiday (Eid Mubarak, everyone) and he wasn’t at work.  I wound up napping in the office for an hour while we tracked this guy down.  Finally, the girl helping me says
“Oh, scuse me sir.  We found package.  You come back Tuesday?  It be here for you.”
“Really, I have to come back Tuesday?”
“Very sorry, sir.”
“Alright, well can you help me get back to the ferry?  I need to go home to Phi Phi Island now.”
“You live on Phi Phi?”
“Yes, just like my address said.”
“Oh, just one moment!” *makes a phone call*
“Sir, your package on Phi Phi!  At Hippo Harbour!”
“You’re kidding me.”
We sort out some details, and finally I get a motorbike taxi to take me to the harbour, where I’m on the verge of missing my boat.  I miss my boat.  The helpful lady there says I can hire a speed boat.  Only costs 10 000 baht.  Only $330 dollars.  Out of the question.  As I contemplate this, a cab full of English tourists arrive also looking for transit to Phi Phi.  They’ve already booked a room on the island so they’re pot committed.  If I went in on the split, it would still cost me over $50.  I say sorry guys, it’s not worth it for me.  A standard ferry fare is $10.  As they load their gear I offer to ease the burden by pitching a reduced share.  These boats can carry upwards of 20 passengers and there is 5 in the group.  They want 1000 baht as the boat is pulling in the docking lines. 
“Sorry guys, not this time.”
Now I’m sitting on a deserted pier, the boat having long since disappeared around the point and I think to myself, “Damn, maybe I should have just paid the 1000b.”  Too late now.  I went for a walk to the grubby beach down the road and look around.  “Would I really spend a night on the beach?”  There’s broken glass all around and an off smell.  I walk a little further down and hit the jackpot.  A long since grounded fishing boat, whose keel is buried under 3 and half feet of sand.  I look around.  It’s got a roof.  Plenty of holes, but a roof and sort of sides.  As I weigh the pros and cons of probably the stupidest decision of my life I find a relatively clean blanket in the wheelhouse of the boat.  That settled it.  I’m in.
Just kidding.  The last thing I need in the world is to fall asleep in the most frightening boat I’ve ever seen in my life and have a possibly drunk, mostly homeless Thai dude come home to find a Farang (foreigner or European ancestry) asleep in his digs.  Just find a goddamn hotel, Ben.  Even in best case scenarios, I don’t think I’d have ever done it, but it was kinda fun to consider it a distant possibility.
I called a buddy on Phi Phi got the name of a hotel in town.  The On On Hotel.  Coincidently, the same one used in The Beach.  It was quite nice, I got a room for just a few bucks, a restaurant across the street and a place to have a beer and check my mail.  I met some other travellers and we spent a few hours chatting away over cold, cheap Thai beer.  I laugh to myself when I think about that boat.  I bought a ferry ticket at reception, complete with morning pick up.  The next morning I meet my new found mates for breakfast as we all head to the pier.  Home stretch.  I land back on Phi Phi and guess what’s there waiting for me?  The parcel arrived on the afternoon ferry yesterday and was there all along.  Unbelievable. 

Anyway, now I have my charger and am busy taking photos.  Expect those to come soon.  Tomorrow I leave for my first visa run.  The trip’ll take about 3 days but I should be good for another 3 months when I return.  Hopefully I’ll have some interesting things to share when I do.  All in all, Paddington Goes to Phuket cost me some unnecessary dough, but it was a good experience.  Thanks again to my folks for sending that along.
Cheers

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3 Comments
  1. jenny mook-sang permalink

    that was an inspirational story, will.
    your name becomes more apt.
    murphy loves you.

  2. jenny mook-sang permalink

    ben, your blog is nominated in the “new” category of the canadian blog awards. you might want to add a link on your blog to their website’s voting page.

    http://demochoice.org/dcballot.php?poll=cba09r1new

  3. Clarke N. permalink

    Will. LOL. Ill have to remember that one. im glad to hear that your employed and having a good time over there dude. I miss our late night drives and escessive drinking. be save and make lots of money!!

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