OUR JOURNEY TO PHUKET: SANDBOX 2021

Updated: May 5

Having spent a few days laying by the pool Danielle and I finally felt we had acclimatised. It's a long flight so the time difference is quite substantial, and let's face facts...Thailand is somewhat warmer than the UK. Arriving in Thailand during the "sandbox" scheme is daunting, to say the least. Would we have still gone through that experience for a 2-week stay? Maybe not, but you don't necessarily need to let that deter you.


Leaving the UK

A young man stands at a train station with a large blue rucksack strapped to his back, and 2 smaller backpacks clutched in either hand. He is wearing sports trainers, black shorts and a black hoodie as he gazes intently ahead. The black rucksack in his right hand has a blue water bottle tucked in one of the side pockets with a hair clip attached on the front and a pink sunglasses case in the other side pocket. The blue backpack in his left hand matches the one on his back and has a black water bottle in the only side pocket you can see. The trainstation he is waiting at is Scunthorpe station and the stairs coming down from a walkway over the tracks are coming down to his right handside as he stands facing the camera. Some other people are in the background also waiting for the train
Ready for the journey ahead

Our long journey started in Scunthorpe with teary eyes parents seeing us off at the station as we embarked on our adventure. We hoped the trip ahead would be as seamless as possible. Arriving at Manchester airport we were met by our first hurdle. It was a member of the Qatar Airways Team who spoke over and over about how tired he was. It didn't give us a lot of confidence. At least we'd sorted all our documents in the right order to make it as easy as possible for anyone checking them. He fumbled through them, and we moved on. The rest of the trip to MAG airport was surprisingly easy. It was all the same as normal, just with the addition of masks.

We finally sat down waiting to board when we heard the dreaded sound of our names over the tannoy! That tired check-in assistant hadn't processed our documents, and they needed to do a secondary check. Due to Danielle's organisational prowess, it was easily done...disaster averted.


FLYING

Onwards and upwards, we were finally in the air. Everything we'd waited for, for so long, was now in reach...just a 16hr flight ahead. The flight was split into 2 with a stop in Doha to separate them. The first flight was more empty which gave us the room to spread out, an opportunity Danielle took with both hands!

much-deserved

After showing our documents to more people we were back in the air after our stop in Doha and on for the final stretch. After getting what sleep we could we woke to the beautiful scenes that come with flying into Thailand.


The most surreal and new aspect of travel throughout a pandemic came in the Phuket airport.

ENTERING PHUKET

Arrival in Phuket was an eye-opening experience! We were greeted by a multitude of hazmat suits and protocols. After disembarking we entered a hallway that leads to border control and saw rows upon rows of white seats all set out a meter or so apart. We ended up on the second to last row and waited an eternity for them to see to us.


After showing our Morchana app several times, and waiting an hour or so it was finally our turn. All documentation was checked thoroughly, stamped and then we were heading to the next checkpoint. At the next checkpoint, someone checked everything again and entered some information into a computer. They advised we could move on to border control, however, in between the 30m to border control some military officers checked everything again. We finally made it to the border desk! To our surprise the woman checked all the documents again, scanned our fingerprints and then that was it...we were in!

A view of what it is like to arrive into the Phuket airport during the global covid pandemic. There are rows after row of white plastic seats that stretch out as far as you can see, all spaced 2 meters apart. People are sitting on the seats in regular clothes while employees of the airport are dotted around the place in hazmat suits collecting documents from the weary travellers.
Not the arrivals gate we were used to

COVID TESTS

After a million document checks, we kept wondering where do we get our covid test? We knew we had to get one but had seen nothing so far. We started to exit the airport, on alert in case any hazmat suits hunted us down for missing the testing area, but we made our way to collect our luggage. A major concern was whether our bags had made it with us, and we were glad to see they had.


While exiting the airport we saw queues and realised we'd found the testing area. The whole set-up was odd but necessary so we got on with it. A man took some info from us and gave us our tests, then pointed to the exit doors from the airport. When we stepped outside we saw kiosks with plastic arms sticking out of them, and a woman inside. It was one of the least painful covid tests I've had, which was a relief but at least that whole part of the trip. was done with now.


Now for the fun stuff! we’re here and we can’t wait to let you know about all the things we get up to! Follow us on this amazing journey of ours.

 

For information on what to do or eat in Phuket check out our tour and food guides.


Follow us on Instagram & TikTok as we tackle the what, where, why and how we’re doing this... as well as all the twists and turns along the way.


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