The Sun was still shining but I knew the light would fade fast. Our resort in Phuket-the Kata Beach Resort was still at least a 45 minute drive away from the Marriott but I was sure I knew the way. My daughter was crying, upset at having been dragged away from the toys she’d been playing with and my wife was giving me worried looks, trying to pacify our two year old and hoping we’d finally reach the safety of a hotel room.
We had already spent two days in Patong and were booked for another three at Kata. Much to our surprise, we found that my cousins from Singapore were also in Phuket at the same time, staying at the Marriott in the far North and we had decided to spend the day with them before heading back to Kata in the evening.
I had hired a car for the three days we would be in Kata-a red Honda Jazz but without the optional GPS. I didn’t need one because I, of course have an “awesome sense of direction”. After all, it was just a straight road from the Marriott with a sign at some point that would say “Kata Beach” and there we would turn.
The miles flew by, the car behaving very well and the crying soon stopped. The roads were excellent, the traffic was smooth and the radio was playing good music.
A bit later, my wife says “That’s the sign”, pointing to a green board with “Patong Beach/Kata Beach” complete with a white arrow. But I was sure that Kata was further South and there would surely be another turn. But…(I should listen to my wife more…)
It was now dark and we were part of the traffic of Phuket Town, hopelessly lost. I knew I had to turn Right at some point but with no idea of where exactly that turn would be, I turned at a traffic light leading to a small,empty winding road. Pitch darkness with no one in sight and no idea of where the heck we were.
There seemed to be a sign taking us to Phuket Zoo (or was it the Aquarium?) and I could make out some kind of a lake next to us but that was not helping. I was starting to panic but my wife stayed calm. Fortunately my daughter was lost in her own world on the back seat.
A row of barely open shops passed us and I stopped the engine. Two men stood by the road chatting, probably closing for the day. There was not another soul around and there was complete silence.
From their looks, I could tell they knew we were lost.
I went up and said ” Excuse me, but we are lost. How do we get to Kata Beach”?
They did not speak any English but “Kata Beach” got their attention.
“Oh!! Kata Beach!!!” and I could see the eyeballs disappear into their sockets.
“Wait”, I was told, as one man went inside his shop and came out with a huge piece of paper and a marker pen. We went up to the car and he spread the paper all over the bonnet.
He then drew the entire route from where we were right till Kata Beach Resort on that paper. In detail, with all the landmarks we would cross, all the turns we would take and all the roundabouts we would encounter. He labelled the markets and the supermarkets, he drew highways with double lines and smaller roads with smaller double lines. He even drew arrows to make sure I wouldn’t go off in the wrong direction. And for some reason, he stressed on TESCO and where it would be.
All of this was done with no coherent communication-he did not speak English and I knew no Thai. And it was all done within five minutes.
I just gave an embarrassed grateful bow and a “Thank You”.
We reached in a half hour. The directions were perfect and apart from the car nearly getting submerged in a vicious cloudburst and my ATM card malfunctioning at critical moments, we had a fabulous holiday.
I have great memories of that holiday but long after the photos have been admired and the videos have been seen, much after the hotel views have faded from memory, I will always remember that little act of kindness by the roadside. I did not ask him his name and I cannot recall his face but I will never forget that one little incident.
I hope you go to Phuket and have a great time too. Just don’t get lost! And if you do, just make a random right turn and hope for the best.
About the Author: Nishikanta Verma: I am an Indian doctor currently residing in Malaysia. I am passionate about all things related to Cambodia and also have current interests in World History, Buddhism and Quantum Physics. I am married with one daughter and another on the way. Twitter: @jipmerdays.