My final post on my time in Phuket is one about a particularly amazing experience that I was lucky to survive. I decided one evening to wake up early the next morning and hike up to the highest point of Phuket Town, Khao Rang, after a friend who worked in the hostel recommended I check out the sunrise. It sounded magical and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to watch Phuket spring into life from the grounds of a temple high in the hills. For me, sunsets are beautiful and special in their own way, but best when shared with someone special, or a group who mean a lot to you. The sunrise is different, it is a moment for solitude and peace, a moment for silence to take in the world around you. As I said in previous posts, Phuket was a time for me to explore on my own, because one important thing to remember about travelling by yourself,mis that you’re very rarely completely by yourself. It can be nice to get out on your own and be totally independent again, and this was my chance to do something alone.I woke up at 5.30am and quickly pulled on my trainers and grabbed my bag. Walking down the street you could see it had barely wound down from the bustling market that filled it each night, and yet fresh stall holders were already setting up and taking deliveries. Still dark, the road was bathed in soft light from the street lamps and the cars and bikes driving past – it’s never quiet in Thailand. I made my way along the street, following my vague map and directions. At the crossroads I turned right and started the walk uphill, passing stalls and shops opening up. Finally I reached the end of the main roads and started to climb the hill alongside a small Thai woman who was on her way to another temple for morning prayers. Despite not speaking a word of English she seemed eager to chat and find out more about me, it was a lovely start. Thanks to a big of sign language and wishful thinking we managed to have a bit of a chat before parting ways.Not long after, I genuinely thought I was going to die. Okay, I’m being a bit melodramatic but seriously guys, no one warned me about the snarling dogs that would chase me along the street, or the monkeys that were eyeing up my bag and clearly thought I had food. Needless to say, I legged it. I love dogs, and I know some people say the dogs here just want to be loved and petted, but sorry I don’t agree. Most dogs in Thailand just want affection and love, but these ones were psycho and were defending their territory. Natural instincts I guess, but when you have snarling dogs running at you in a dark road where there is no one else, it definitely doesn’t make you want to pet them. I would have preferred a tranquilliser gun. Luckily I made it away with no bites or injuries, just the shakes. But when I reached the top of the hill and made my way to the temple, I heard more bloody dogs!I ended up having to leg it across the temple and up the stairs to jump over a locked gate just to escape the little buggers. But it was worth it, especially when I realised I was the only person at the temple – even the monks hadn’t arrived yet. It took me about 20 minutes to reach the temple and by this point the sky was starting to turn pink, I sat down on the top steps of the temple to watch the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. Complete silence apart from the birds, it was perfect. I don’t think my words can really do it all justice, but hopefully my photos will. It was just one of those amazing moments in life you wish you could share with others, but you know it wouldn’t have been the same with other people there. After the sun had started to rise over the trees, the monks arrived – one was very surprised to see me already on the steps of a temple he obviously thought was locked up. But he did well not to break his vow of silence. Another greeted me with milk and cake, and was keen to chat with me about the temple, my travels and life at home. It was an amazing start to the morning, and after sitting in on morning prayers, I made my way down to the town – using a different road to avoid the crazy dogs.
Tell me about your solo travel experiences – have you ever visited a temple at dawn? Or do you prefer sunset? How do you cope with being alone in situations like this?