The hotel shuttle returned us to the airport the next morning at 8:30 so we could stash our stuff for the day and take a bus into the city. We were looking for, of all things, an Au Bon Pain in Sukhumvit. The plan was to meet Nicki, who worked at the Nexus and lived in the dorms with me, at the bagel chain between 9:30 and 10. It turns out an hour and a half isn’t enough time to do all that.
When we finally got to the bagel shop at 10:40, there was no Nicki in sight. Luckily, there were bagels, so at least we got breakfast.
From there we went to the weekend market on the Sky Train. We spent four hours wandering through the stalls; Colin was having limited luck hunting for a knife, but I had more success and picked up a new sun hat, a T-shirt, and a pair of sandals. Families from England and northern Europe surged around us, sticky with sweat and varying in their tans.
Around 5, we were back on the Sky Train to get back to the airport. Our flight to Phuket went smoothly, and when we landed, my bag was one of the first off.
After that went… not so smooth. Colin’s friend Brian lives in a small town on Phuket island, and we were to meet him at Tesco Lotus. Colin, thinking it was a specific town, directed our taxi to Tesco Lotus, and the cab driver took us to a giant, empty parking lot 40 minutes away from the airport. Tesco Lotus is a store, and we were, not surprisingly, at the wrong one. Tensions running high, we circled the creepy parking lot one and a half times before deciding to cross the highway to the Phuket Brewery in hopes of finding a pay phone.
The staff at the brewery had an average age of 17, probably, but they were extremely friendly. One kid went to get his phone, and we figured out the problem with Brian’s help. We’d gone in the completely wrong direction. Damn.
The last couple in the brewery offered to drive us to Patong, a town a little closer to Brian’s town, and with a great many more taxis than were on the extremely empty highway we were looking at. In the bustling town of Patong, the Thai wife haggled a taxi driver down for us, and within minutes we were zooming along the quiet ocean.
Finally, we saw Brian sitting out in front of another Tesco Lotus. The taxi followed him on his scooter through his quiet neighborhood to a green bungalow.
Brian and his girlfriend Summer fed us pad thai and we chatted for about an hour. Then around 2 a.m., we gratefully crawled into bed, and it didn’t matter that it felt like the mattress was stuffed with sawdust.