May 2021 Phuket Town Thailand (3rd time this year)

Phuket Town may not have the beautiful beaches other parts of the island are known for, but it’s a great hub for exploring the island, has a lot of great neighborhoods, and it’s where the island’s immigration office is, which was a place I needed to visit to get my stay in Thailand extended. The immigration visit went relatively smooth, and I’m good for another couple of months if I decide to stick it out that long. The thing is, restrictions in the country are confusing and making things tough. It seems that Thailand operates a bit like the U.S., where the Thai government sets some rules and gives certain guidelines, but each province makes its own rules too. On paper, it sounds simple enough, but add in the language barrier, the fact I can’t find a website(s) with official details for each province’s rules, and the locals (even at information counters) don’t know the rules 100% either, and it gets frustrating. I totally respect the way it’s set up and all, it’s just hard, and I’m honestly a bit burnt out on trying to maneuver in this kind of environment. I sometimes don’t know what I’m allowed to do, where I’m allowed to go, even where to get a test if/when needed has been elusive.

The worst is probably the lack of reliable information even at information counters and ticket booths. This gets a bit scary since it could lead me to go somewhere and then find out I have to quarantine; that would really suck! I’ve had people give me information I knew was wrong, and other times just seriously questioned, while they were going to sell me a ticket to go someplace I wouldn’t be allowed to enter freely. The way I understand these things are though, I wouldn’t know until I arrived and would be forced to quarantine. I also just watch a YouTube video where someone was taken to an island without a covid test and had to quarantine upon arrival.

I actually did have the unfortunate situation of having to pay for a covid test to enter the island, even though I never left the island! A local was taking me around the island by car and we went to just go look at the Sarasin Bridge that connects the island to the mainland, and without any signs warning us, we went too far and had no choice to come back through the islands entry checkpoint. Luckily that was only 500 baht (about $16 US) and I tested negative. But it was ridiculous for starters and could have been a whole lot worse; way too close for comfort! If I had by chance tested positive I would have been taken to a hospital for quarantine (luckily, I’m insured for this), not knowing what to do about my things at the hotel, etc. I guess it spooked me pretty good.

So I’m really teetering on whether to stay or leave Thailand… so I’ve got some thinking and researching to do. As much as I typically enjoy the challenges of travel, this pandemic sure has thrown in a lot of twists no one ever could have expected, and though I’m still thankful to be traveling, I’m ready for these added hoops to be gone!

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