From Phuket Airport, I took at taxi to Bang Rong Pier on the eastern side of Phuket. It was really early in the morning, so there were only a few other customers in the cafeteria, where I was waiting for the ferry to arrive.
A man asked me if I wanted coffee or maybe breakfast. I first assumed that he worked there, but quickly realized that he was just helping me out, as the staff didn’t speak English. He asked me to come and sit at his table, and so I did. It turned out that he worked at the government office at Yao Yai. His home was 500km south of the islands, so he told me he was hoping to get a position a little closer to his home and his family. As for now, he was working Monday-Friday at Yao Yai, commuting 500km twice a week to get to and from his job.
I had a cup of tea and a dish with chicken which didn’t look spicy at all, but which almost burned a hole in my mouth. When I was finished, I asked for the bill, but the man told me, that he had already paid for my food. A stranger paying for your food isn’t something, you would experience in neither Denmark, nor Dubai, so to me, it felt a bit awkward, but I thanked him a lot, and then I walked down to the ferry.
The speedboat left on time and I enjoyed the ride from my seat in the back of the boat. As I got off the boat, the man from the cafeteria was waiting for me, telling me that he would arrange transportation to my hotel. He had a friend who had a moped, and I could get a lift if I wanted.
It was a bumpy ride, and just when I had started to relax and enjoy the ride, the moped broke down. So I was somewhere on Yao Yai with a complete stranger’s friend and a broken moped. Well done, Sanne! Though it didn’t take long before a truck came by and offered us a lift. It was standing space only, so I was instructed to hold on tight.
After a while, the car stopped at another house, where the friend-with-broken-moped’s friend lived. He had another moped, which we borrowed and this time, we made it all the way to my hotel (Koh Yao Yai Village). I offered to pay friend-of-new-friend for his assistance, but he refused, so I thanked him for his kindness and he drove off.
Now I know some of you might think: “What was she thinking? Accepting a ride with a stranger??” but this guy (and his friend) just seemed so thoroughly nice, and I never had any second thoughts.
Through the years I have developed a gut feeling, which I rely on 100%. Some might call it intuition, while others might say it’s just “getting old and suspicious”. No matter what, that gut feeling has managed to keep me out of trouble for as long as I have been traveling solo, and that very same gut feeling said that this guy was all right. That he was just being friendly.
Being too gullible can be dangerous, especially for a female solo traveler, and I’m not saying that all of you should get on the first plane to Thailand and drive around with random strangers (hell no!). This is just a friendly reminder (also to myself) that a big part of the experience when visiting a foreign country is to interact and get to know the people living there. Hiding behind your sunglasses, assuming that everybody is out to get you, might mean that you’re missing out on memorable experiences like this:)
How to get to Koh Yao Yai from Phuket Airport:
I took a taxi from Phuket Airport to Bang Rong Pier. The taxis operate with fixed rates, and the ride from the airport to Bang Rong Pier is 650THB and takes approximately 20 minutes. You book the ride at the counter in the airport, and you pay in advance.
From Bang Rong Pier on Phuket, it takes 30 minutes by speedboat to reach Klong Hia Pier on the northern side of Koh Yao Yai. The speedboat departs approximately once each hour and a one-way ticket is 200THB. You buy the ticket onboard so remember to bring some cash. The first boat is 7:50 am and the last one is 5:40 pm. After Koh Yao Yai, the boat continues to Koh Yao Noi
Some of the hotels also offer transfer service for their guests all the way from the airport to the hotels. It’s rather pricey, but if you’re traveling with a lot of luggage, it might be a good idea.