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!)

No comments: