Friday, July 22, 2005


I spent a couple of days in Trang and then headed on North. Nice enough town, but really seems to be a transit point. I headed off to the night market and picked out some food. I got some chicken rice/salad thing, because I knew what it was! And then a kinda of sweet rice pizza/pancake munchie. It was quite nice, only with your eyes did you know it was rice, it tasted sweet with a crunchy exterior where it had been fried. Suprisingly filling, it had been cut up into six slices like a pizza.

I then moved onto to Pak Meng down at the beach, not much of a beach to be honest kinda dull looking sand. I had a wander around, not many tourists around these bits, certainly not just now anyway. The next day I set off for Khlong Thom, somewhere thats not even mentioned in my guide book. Luckily they had a hotel, well one hotel, so that's where I stayed. Get people kinda staring at you more when your out in the sticks, not exactly a tourist destination, but a stop 40km before Krabi.

The weather is a bit mixed, quite grey somedays, heavy rain appears and disappears, some ducking in and out of shelter. But othertimes just light rain, which makes it hard to decided whether to continue, hoping it will go away, or hide somewhere in a shelter.

Next day headed over to Krabi, the landscape started jutting out from the ground more and more forming these strange sheer sided limestone sculptures. After taking a rest day, it rained most of the day anyway, I headed off 8km to a buddhist wat situated at the top of ones of these pinacles. Lots of steps! No, really lots of steps! 1273 said the sign, I didn't count them. So I started off slowly and got slower, but although overcast still warm and humid and soon dripping in sweat. I guzzled my bottle of water. Eventually with quite a few stops I got to the top and it was at least a great view back over the landscape. After taking in the view and have a nosy round the various buddha statues I had to go back down. By the time I reached the bottom, for the second time time in Krabi, I could barely control my legs (The other time was Chang-related!)

Ouch, spent the past few days hobbling about, the back of my calfs are sore when I move my feet, like when I try and walk. I was supposed to be off to Ko Phi Phi today, I was ready to head off on the 10.30am ferry, till I found it is the 9.30am ferry. Oh well, another day in Krabi. Try again tomorrow.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Into Thailand

Sawat Dii!

I'm now in a small town called Trang. I got the boat back over from Langkawi and cycled into the small state captial of Perlis, Kangar. After a bit of search round for a place to stay I had to settle for a overpriced dump! Nothing much in Kangar but a necessary stop, as the next stop was close to the border. The next day I headed off in the searing sun to get to the Perlis State Park. After pushing my bike up a really steep hill with far too many hairpin bends, it got a bit cloudy. Typical, here I am trundling up the hill getting cooked and when I reach the top the sun disappears. After coasting down the other side I finally got to Wang Kelian, a border town. I found the park easy enough as it's on the main road, only about 1km from Thailand. I turned out to be the only person staying there in the whole park, the accommodation is pushed inwards 1.2km from the road, so you feel you are in really in the middle of a rainforest. But rainforests being rainforests, it rained. Later on it dried up and I went for a quick trek along on of the trails till I reached a cave, but I didn't bother exploring any further and took the trail back up and down many stairs. I shouldn't of watched that bad horror film in Langkawi, Wrong Turn, about people who go into the woods only to be murdered by crazed inbreds (Yes, it was a poor Deliverance rip-off!) There was eight bed dorms, each housing eight people, and nine chalets, but just me there, spooky!!

Still nobody came charging through the door with an axe and the next morning I set off across the border. I passed through the Malaysian Deperatures with a small hiccup I had lost my disembarkation card. The stern man behind the counter groaned. I had to fill out another one. I asked for a pen, and he rolled his eyes. Then that pen stopped working. He slammed down another pen. The sign beside said "Service with a smile!". Yeah, right. Anyway after that was done, I saw a restaurant somewhat bizarrely situated after Malaysian Departures but before Thailand Immigration. So, I settled down to my last Mee Goreng in No Mans Land.

After lunch I rolled into Thailand. I hadn't been able to find a moneychanger in Kangar and the one at the border seemed permantely shut, so I decided I would almost loop back to Satun, which can be reached from Langkawi. I saw a sign in Thai and English for Satun, so I jotted down the Thai symbols, just in case. I was glad I had despite not getting lost the only indication I was heading towards Satun was the roadside markers ticking down the kilometres, but only in Thai. Not too far from Satun I ducked under a shopfront as the rain came on for a short while. I got a grilled lobster snack (crisps!) with my Malaysian Ringgot. Then I continue onto Satun. I found the hotel I was looking for with a good dose of luck, I looked up and I was outside it! I headed out to change my money, so set off for a bank. The teller told me that as they were a bank their rates weren't that good and I should go to the hotel round the corner and gave my the thumbs up! Okay, nice way of getting rid of customers!

The next day it was heading North to Pak Bara on the coast. I planned to stay in the inland town of Langu? as the detour to the coast added a roundtrip of another 20km on, but I couldn't find a hotel there. I headed off to the Pak Bara and found a nice guesthouse. I had a look into the travel agents to see what the deal with travelling to the islands is. After a bit of miscommunication, I found out the boat goes "sometimes", hmmm. Pretty much most of Pak Bara seemed closed. Most of the travel shops and such that lined the streets are shut for the low season. So not many boats during the monsoon season either. Yes, the monsoon has certainly arrived!
The next day I sure found that out! I ducked into a convient roadside shelter, as I looked ahead and saw the upcoming hill shiny with water. Just in time too, it pelted down for 30 minutes. I set on my way again, and after about ten minutes, the storm seemed to swirl round and the wind changed direction and caught up with me! This time it really unleashed. I ducked under another shopfront and watched as the roads become red rivers, the dust addding the colour. After another long time sitting watching, the rain eased. And I cycled off again, I was soon soaked from the surface water spray as much as from the remnants of the rain. I had hoped to find a hotel another 8km at the town of Palian. Turns out it not quite on the main road, 3km off to the side. I didn't see any hotels which was pretty disappointing as I was knackered and wet! Still as I cycled past a building site, I got the usual "Hello" ring out, followed by a "Where are you from?", so I stopped and found a guy that spoke English (he was a guide in Phuket during high season). He pointed me along to Tong Star Cape Resort. Said it was a bit more than I was wanting to pay but at this point I was really caring. After a rather bumpy road ride I got there and it was like the Mary Celeste! I had a look around, it was recently deserted, food in the fridge etc. I shouted out "Hello!" as loud as I could a few time, but the stillness was unbroken and the silence gave no token. I thought I would just hang about till somebody came along, half an hour later I was still waiting. It was going to get dark soon, so I went down to the nearest person and asked about the hotel, they jumped on their bike and motioned me to follow back to the hotel. More miscommunication, but they were off. They showed my the hotel, and then they started shouting "Hello" I explained I'd done this, and then he zoomed off again and brought back somebody with keys. So I managed to get a bed for the night. I nipped down to a restaurant and got some halting English questions asked from a "Learn English" type book. "What is your name, how old are you?" I had a look at the book and it contained useful phrases such as "Waiter, there is a fly in my soup!". Later on I switched on the TV and they had some sort of English lesson thing. The outcome seemed to be this sentence - People always believe the authorities have skeletons in their closets. So there you have it!

Next day I set off to Trang for a fairly uneventfull ride. The amount of people shouting out Hello is definitely greater than Malaysia. I stopped off at a restaurant and pointed at some food to see what I get. Not exactly mastered the language (That's Thai I'm talking about, not English cheeky!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


After KL I grabbed a guide book & map for Thailand and jump on the first bus back up to Penang. After about six hours I arrived and stayed the night, getting a ticket for the early morning ferry to Langkawi. With not much sleep I arrived at Langkawi and had to cycle across the island to get to the budget accomodation, thankfully only 20km. Lately my sleep pattern has been a bit crazy, not helped by watching the Confederations Cup in the middle of the night. However when I arrived in Langkawi I made up for some sleep. I dozed off at 5pm woke up a couple of hours later considering dinner, but couldn't be bothered so went back to sleep and woke up the next day at noon, feeling much refreshed!

Langkawi is a curious mixture of fancy posh hotels and cheap duty free. There is only a handful of budget accomodations on the island, the majority is geared towards the high-end. Like the food, instead of fried rice, there is lobster thermidore on the menu, fresh from the dinnerside tank. A bit different from normal anwyay. I had some nice tomato soup with a hunk of fresh brown bread. Tasted very exotic!

I took a stroll down to Underwater World, a comparatively pricey aquarium, still I'll left them off as they had some penguins as well. After trying to take some photos of their fish and seahorses, I went back to the hostel and had a beer. The beer is only 3rm here! In fact in the shops a can of coke and a can of beer is the same price.

Another day I went for a cycle round the island, stopping off at a nice square for a spot to drink and then onto the crocodile farm. Luckily my timing was good and there was a small show starting in 5 minutes. This involved three guys dragging crocodiles about, sitting on them and sticking an arm in his mouth. Then there was somebody feeding the crocodiles. A big bucket of fish didn't last long, the trainer would throw 6 tied together and it would go straight down. A big fat one beside him pestered him for some more, and he got it as he was less than a couple of metres away.

The beaches and water aren't as nice as the islands on the east coast of Malaysia. Bit better after some heavy rain cleared the beach of stuff though. Strangely enough some of the Malaysian guys were watching Bo Selecta back at the hostel. I had a tuna salad makes a nice change from rice or noodles, I even found the olives edible!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Kuala Lumpur

Groan, PC crashed while I was typing this, so once again...

I arrived in KL via the sleeper train, thought it was going to be quiet but, a group of guys arrived after a few stops celbrating one of their birthdays. Actually they piped down around midnight but still didn't get much sleep. Arrived in KL and headed out the train station on to the monorail and jumped off at Bukit Bintang, close to the city centre. Stopped off for some breakfast at a roadside restaurant, travelling with just one bag is a breeze, with another bag and the bike left at the hotel in Penang. Found a hostel and asked about the ticketing situation for the Petronas twin towers, turned out I better get a move on if I wanted a ticket. I arrived around 9am, behind a couple of hundred other tourists. After 45 minutes I got a ticket for the 10.15 viewing so I hung around for a hald an hour first. Once up there you get ten minutes to wander around the sky bridge, which is about half away up to the top, tourists aren't allowed any higher. Good views off into the distance, at that height people and cars are just dots. Well the view was worth the price, it cost nothing! (except time)

Next stop was the Batu Caves, lucky a bus passed by me with the sign for the caves on the front, so I jumped aboard. A few hundred steps later, I reached the huge mouth of the caves. I entered and then more stairs up and down before coming to a shaft which reaches right up to the top of the cave, letting in light. Here stands a few temples, the caves are pakced on certain religious dates by Hindu devotees, but just the tourists and the monkeys today. When I had my fill of the main cave, I was walking down and noticed the dark cave, so I went for a quick nosy. I ended up talking to a Swiss-Malay fellow who was working there, turned out he's starting his own company. Started talking about how his 4 ton tensile strength harness is great value at only 1ringot/metre, he'd been in the caves since 82, never mentioned if he got let out at all. After that I headed back to the hostel and starting chatting with some aussies, Tim & Nathan, and then went for a beer. We couldn't find the pub recommended by the hostel staff, but eneded up in the Cruise Club, full of crazy dancing Indian guys.

Next night we went along to the Hard Rock Cafe and watched a band play, quite good, but just cover songs. And the beer was pricy at 18rm/mug. Wandered back to the hostel and chatted to Jane & Simon till the early hours, Simon wandered off to get some food, one of the advantages of being in a big city, 24hr food.

Next day went to the bird park and took lots of photos of weird and colorful birds.
Interesting, I like the small black birds with the bright red eyes. Look like something out of a horror flick. Went for dinner with Jane & Simon, had some crispy noodle fishy soup with a few bits of beef. It was okay, nothing special. Simon bought some durian fruit to taste. I had another taste, and it still taste horrible. Simon brilliantly described it as tasting "of hate & regret". I guess he wasn't a fan.

After a few more beers that night, I rose the next day early (well before lunch, ahem) and headed off to pickup and guide book and map for Thailand, something I hadn't managed to get round to in the previous three days. Then I jumped on the bus to Penang. I asked the driver if I needed a ticket beforehand and he says no, then the conductor comes round and asks for my ticket, he rolls his eyes and shakes his head when I say I have none. He takes 27rm, five of which is slipped in the pocket.
But I think that is the smae price for a booking at the travel agent. Get back in Penang late, grab some 'Famous Hainanese Chicken Rice' and try and get some sleep, because I need to get up at 7am for the ferry to Langkawi.