I was fooled by a ladyboy.
Several in fact.
I admit it - and completely without the slightest hint of embarrassment - only amazement.
Before travelling to Phuket, I had heard many stories from my friends who had partied hard in the Patong strip - Bangla Street.
"I can guarantee one of 'em will fool ya, and ya won't even know it,'' my mate warned me before I jetted off.
"There's at least one in every bar.''
I now have only myself to blame, as upon retrospect the warning signs were all there.
Big feet, broad shoulders, and thick veins are normally your best bets.
But the eyes normally overlook these subtle hints, instead diverting them to attractive facial features, perfect make-up, thin legs and surgery enhanced breasts. But before I get into the nitty gritty details, allow me to rewind.
The beginning of the adventure started about seven hours earlier during a poolside Happy Hour at the Mercure Phuket Patong.
Nearly every Thailand bar and hotel has a daily two-for-one Happy Hour, which, unlike its name suggests, lasts for several hours.
I took advantage of this deal everywhere I stayed at, including the Mercure Phuket Patong, the All Seasons Nai Harn Beach Resort and the Ibis Phuket Kata.
All are fantastic hotels for tourists looking for a nice place to stay near a beach without breaking the piggy bank.
For example, a couple staying at the All Seasons Nai Harn Beach Resort can get ocean views, a comfortable room, and breakfast for as little as $50 per night.
The All Seasons Nai Harn Beach Resort also has the added comfort of being located well outside the hustle and bustle of Patong, but still within a $10 cab ride.
Mercure Phuket on the other hand is walking distance to Patong's main strip and while prices start at about $80 per night, its cost still beats any comparable Australian hotel hands down.
And if you're worried about travelling to Thailand because of the Bangkok-based protests - you're seriously missing out. (Red-shirted supporters of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have been protesting in Bangkok, demanding the military-backed government hold another election.)
The protest-free Phuket is nearly a 10-hour drive away from Bangkok and the beachside locals are some of the most beautifully natured people I have ever met.
Challenge the barmaid
Happy Hour deals aside, in general, a beer in Thailand generally costs about $2.50 in a bar, and less than $1 from a grocery store.
In some bars you can also challenge the barmaid to a boardgame with the loser to buy the other a drink - something that ended up costing me a lot of money.
Decent sized meals from reputable eateries on the other hand cost between $5 and $10.
The street vendor food is not for the faint-hearted, as my fellow traveller found out, who was eagerly chomping down on a chicken shish kebab in drunken bliss one night until I pointed out that it was actually six pope's noses (chicken bums) all lined up in a row.
Anyway, back to how I was fooled.
When I say fooled, I don't mean that led to physical contact - more like money loss.
I was just an observer, or a quiet admirer, if you will.
As we tipped a group of eight dancers several hundred baht to keep dancing for our table, we took bets on who were the girls and who were the boys. Like me, all at the table were fooled thinking the majority were, well, girls.
So we asked a kind bar attendant to settle the score.
"All ladyboy! Ladyboy all!'' she half replied, half exclaimed.
As the saying goes: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.
Feeling rather foolish, my chicken-bum eating travel companion and I decided to venture into a seedy expat's bar for some advice on how to tiptoe through the ladyboy minefield.
How to spot a ladyboy
At the bar we met a man who referred to himself only as Strider; he was your typical 50-something divorced Australian male who travels to Thailand with enough money to find a younger girlfriend.
Unfortunately for Strider, his Thai girlfriend of six years had recently left him for a richer Swiss man.
Fortunately for us, however, he was more than happy to offer some good tips on how to spot the ladyboy.
"Firstly,'' he said, "the majority of them can't dance to save their life, because they still have the male gene.
"Secondly, and probably most importantly, they will always, always, fidget with their hair because they are not used to it and are very self-conscious about it.''
Strider said bigger feet and broad shoulders were the next best giveaways, but warned to avoid relying on spotting Adam's Apples, as many had undergone surgery to have the bone shaved back.
"There are ladyboys virtually in every bar here because, put simply, females make more money than men,'' he explained.
"The only options for some men are to become drivers or work in the fields, whereas ladyboys can make a lot more money and have a lot more fun.''
Taking heed of his advice, we had the time of our lives for the next five-nights straight, and avoided coming unstuck again.
After drinking $1.50 Happy Hour beers all week past 2am, I couldn't wait to have a full night's rest in my V Australia business class sleeper's lounge on the flight home.
Before nodding off, however, I decided to have a brief peek at the daily newspaper of the untameable little beast of a city I was departing.
Blasted across the front page of the Phuket Gazette was the headline: "Ladyboy fraudster purchases hard time.''
Well at least I'm not the only fool, I reassured myself.
The writer was a guest of Accor, flying V Australia Airlines.