When making an international call was a day out!

When I first arrived in Phuket in 1987 I lived in Soi Ya Nui in Rawai. Back then Soi Ya Nui didn't have electricity and neither did I have a landline. Mobile phones were just appearing on the scene and even back in the UK they were still expensive and large. Internet wasn't even to be thought about and Phuket only had one computer shop and that even went out of business! Government offices still used typewriters, vintage ones, not even electric.

So back then making an international phone call wasn't easy like it is today, no International phone boxes, no Skype, no email. Letters took almost a month to travel be sea and airmail was quite expensive, not to mention the fact of actually getting to the post office. To call home to the UK was about 64 Baht a minute if I remember rightly almost a days salary for a Thai worker back then.

I remember my day trips to the International Telephone Office, the building is still here in Phuket and hasn't changed since then.

Internet and Telephone Operators Phuket, Thailand

To make a call I had to walk or ride my bicycle down Soi Ya Nui which was a mud track, swerving to avoid the occasional chicken, goat or buffalo. Not being a great cyclist I would leave my bike chained to a tree near the beach at Rawai and wait for a local songtaew bus. When the trip ended at Phuket Fresh Food Market I would walk to Kanda Bakery for lunch then carry on to Phang Nga Road where the telephone office was located. Luckily it was never very busy, and often there was no queue at all, unlike the queues I remember facing in India. I made my call which was timed, paid the money and walked back to the market to get on the songtaew bus home again.


One September a year or too later the Electricity Organisation turned up in Soi Ya Nui with electricity poles which they dumped by the roadside telling us that the power supply would be installed by the end of Decemeber, what they forgot to tell us was which year! The poles gradually disappeared under a mass of quickly growing weeds and it was almost one year later that the power lines went up and I switched on my first electric light since 1987!

A landline quickly followed but I was still unable to make international calls. At that point I was working on a prawn farm and we got our first mobile phone. It was not very mobile, weighed several kilos and came under the name of Dancall for a massive price of 99,000 Baht which was a huge amount of money in 1987! As time went by mobile phones got smaller and at the end of the 1990's I got my own smaller mobile phone, an Ericsson if I remember rightly for around 40,000 Baht, it was great you could make phone calls, international too, and send text messages. Wow! I later progressed to a colour screened Nokia that could send Multi Media messages and it wasn't until 2008 that I got a smart phone and since the life has changed dramatically! It even had a camera..........

All said it was much more of an adventure back in 1987!