yay! successfully reaching our destination (Central Festival Phuket) by this pink songthew. great thanks to the tomboyish bus conductor (the one wearing bright pink at the back of the songthew) who helped us. hee. we enjoyed the long ride a lot.
Unlike my Bali trip in September whereby we travelled either by foot or by taxi, the Phuket trip was considered more adventurous as we chose not to be totally dependent on taxis and decided to try their public transport. On the first day upon arrival, we had tried taking the orange airport bus from the airport back to Phuket Merlin Hotel and despite the roads that were pretty dark at night, we managed to recognise a few landmarks and spot the right road signs which led us to alighting at the right stop. Ole!
Gaining some confidence, on Day 2, we decided to try taking the songthew which is the public bus that takes us around Phuket town to do some shopping at Central Festival Phuket. According to the travel guides, we should be able to randomly stop these pink songthews along any road and they woud stop and pick us. While it was still drizzling, we made our way to the main roads near our hotel and we were eagerly trying to spot the pink songthews and getting ready to flag and stop them. What a great idea to paint the songthews in bright pink as it made it so easy for us for us to spot one immediately.
Nah, of course we didn’t get it right at our first try. The driver of the 1st songthew shook his head when I showed him the brochure of Central Festival Phuket. Nor the second try. We weren’t sure whether the driver and the bus conductor were telling us to cross the road and take the songthew from the opposite direction or take bus service number 1. There are actually different bus services around Phuket town and we learnt that we had to watch out for the bus number in front of the songthew.
Finally, we saw bus number one and there was this bus conductor who looked hesitant initially but pulled us up on the songthew eventually. Off we go, the songthew went really fast. We had to pay just 10 baht each for the bus ticket which was really cheap. Public transport should be like this, affordable for the commoners, unlike the frequent hikes in the cost of public transport in the sunny island where I am now.
This is how a songthew looks like. Just like a lorry with shelter and with just three long benches for passengers. Have to hold on to the sides of the lorry at times when it is going really fast. Wheeee....
Our bus number 1 went a really long way. On our map, the shopping mall was not far and we thought the songthew would just travel about 2km straight and we would reach the mall in fifteen minutes time. Haha, it went one big loop to the south of Phuket town, passed our hotel once more (we realised we should have crossed the road and boarded the songthew from the other direction), headed north and then finally headed west where the mall was located. One hour plus on the songthew but we didn’t complain at all as we were busy admiring the other parts of Phuket town that we didn’t get to explore and happily people-watching on the bus. It was also amazing how the bus conductor would call the driver using the handphone to signal to the driver when the passengers are about to alight as there was no bell on the bus for us to press.
So happy we made it. No worries about not being able to communicate fluently in Thai in Phuket. Just a smile and wave a photo or a brochure of your desired destination and the right songthew will get you there in no time.