Before heading over to Phuket I actually did not want to stop over in Thailand at all, but due to Covid-19 my plans have changed so much. In the month of March things started getting a lot worse all around Europe and the RoW.
On my birthday while being tenting in the Siberian wilderness I received some messages from friends that the Foreign Department of Foreign Affairs is requesting all Swiss nationals to return to Switzerland. While being in Russia I didn’t feel anything around Corona at that time and decided to stay in Irkutsk for another day or two to assess the situation further.
I then though about taking the train from Irkutsk to Vladivostok which would be a 3 days train trip and then travel onward to Japan from there by plane as actually I was planning on taking the DBS ferry from Vladivostok, Russia to Dong Hae, South Korea but they haven’t been operating since months. The next morning I got up and was thinking on buying my train ticket as I thought I would do this early in the morning once I ‘confirm’ my trip, but then received a message from a friend that the Japanese would be closing their border in a few days time which would be later than when I would arrive there.
So then I got ready, walked off to the train station and while walking called the Japan Travel and they mentioned to me that the news is correct (entry ban for Swiss nationals from Basel/Ticino, mandatory quarantine period of 14 days, which to be fair would be alright) and what I did not know that I would need to have a Visa – and even those on the phone couldn’t tell me if I would need my Visa in advance or I would get it on arrival. I then hung up.
My train was in 45 minutes. What to do? Oh wait there was another train 1 hour later, however with a travel period that is 10 hours longer… (as if the train ride wasn’t already long enough), so I found a cafe that was close by and started to google. I thought ok if I reach Vladivostok; where else can I go? what else can I do? I I found flights from Vladivostok to Thailand that are at an reasonable price, however VIA JAPAN. Any stops on the way? Where else can I go? No success.
I then started looking at flights from Siberia from various locations which are +/- 1000 kilometres away. Found only good flights from Irkutsk to Phuket. What to do? Time is running out. So i decided not to travel to Vladivostok as it was just too much risk involved in not being able to enter and not knowing how the situation would change over the next couple of days.
Thailand: I did see that they had some travel restrictions so I found the website Department of Disease Control of Thailand, unfortunately didn’t note down the number and all of the sudden their website didn’t work anymore; and I then started to think they would change their entry requirements, so finally somehow I found their number after searching the internet for an hour, called them and they mentioned to me that you would need to be put into a 14 day stay at home quarantine and that I would need a visa? I was like what? So I then had to call the Embassy of Thailand in Russia; and well they are in Moscow and me in Siberia so I had to wait another few hours.
In the meantime looked at what other requirements I would need to fulfill: I need a flight (duh), hotel booking and would need to fill in online on this app my Consent Form which I would then also later use to check myself in every day. So finally it was 3pm, I called the Embassy and they said I don’t require a Visa so I then went ahead booked my flight, hotel and filled out the consent form and was done by 3:30pm, left for the airport at 4 pm, did all the check-in, security checks and could finally board my flight just in time at 6pm.
PHUKET, probably my first time there was in the 90’s as a child, we as a family always traveled to Phuket for our Christmas holiday. Since I haven’t been to Phuket in forever decided to go to the same familiar place where I had already been.
How did I get here?
S7 Airlines from Irkutsk, Russia a direct flight to Phuket, Thailand. I’ve flown with S7 before from Moscow to St. Petersburg and must say that they are not bad.
So at the immigration the guy almost didn’t let me pass once he saw my Swiss passport; he radioed other people twice ; looked through my passport multiple times; tried to ask me things in Russian which of course I did not understand but finally let me pass. I then reached the departure area, people already wearing masks, later then boarded the bus which was full of course (and would the masks really help in such situations?) and then in front of the plane people were almost pushing others to the side to be able to board the plane – i kept my distance behind the people.
WHERE IS THIS PLACE?
What did I do here?
My initial idea was to at least travel somewhere where I would have time to assess the situation and if it really happens somewhere I would get stuck where I could entertain myself for some time.
In my one week stay here I only:
– Had long breakfast sessions
– Ate much yummy Thai food but was surprised that the prices were the same as in Russia
– Laid at the pool and was surprised that the other guests were hardly ever there, not knowing what they were doing all day long
– Went to the beach twice always keeping distance to other tourists
– Met up with Sofia twice a Swiss Couchsurfer, helping each other while being in Phuket
Where did I stay?
I stayed at the Manohra Cozy Resort in Karon.
I looked for a place that is a) cheap b) has a pool c) has breakfast included and d) I would be isolated and have my own room
The costs was at 16 € per day and you can’t expect too much from that. I was satisfied, the place is run down, not the most cleanest place however it satisfied my needs. However If you do plan to stay at the same hotel for a longer period it will get boring here.