Hey there! Wow, my time here in Malaysia has really flown..already a month has past and I’m now embarking on the next adventure! Actually typing (well, one touch finger tapping on the tablet..painfully slowly and apologies in advance if you spot any typos!) from my hotel in Butterworth right this second but I’ll just give you the weekly update!
Stress? I’ve just the ticket…
So, next plan is to visit a monkey training college in Southern Thailand..all trains are mapped out and hotels are booked. Well I can tell you, it’s not easy buying a train ticket over here! Ok, so the first x 2 tickets I bought in person at the KTM Train Station in Malaysia because that was much easier..basically you could only buy half the journey online (something to do with using a different system?)..hmm, very strange. Anyways, with that sorted, I then had to buy my ticket to Bangkok. Well all I can say is thank god for this website http://www.seat61.com. This is such a useful site recommended by and to travellers to help suss it all out! So short story is, I found out you can pay a small commission to an agent to book a Bangkok train ticket (only about a fiver so seemed worth it)..I highy recommend Asia Discovery for thier service and speed by the way! The only stress I had here was with the courier company DHL! I was beginning to panic as the days were running out and the ticket still hadn’t shown up despite DHL saying they’d tried delivering it twice! Phew! Tickets in my hand, we’re readdy to rock…
So with a trip to the monkey college sorted followed by a week of hanging with Hill Tribes..what next? I had 9 ‘free’ days to fill before discovering Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
Saturday afternoon I shut myself away for while as I wasn’t feeling too great plus, it was muggy and the skies were getting ready for another rip roaring tropical thunder. I remember casually watching a mozzie zig zagging in front of me and thinking he looked like how I felt at that moment hah! A quick blast of my jungle formula should soon let it know that this tuck shops not open today! I think they mostly come out at at dawn or dusk hence why it looked dazed, hah, hungover on red blood cells from the night before I guess!
Well, after hours of searching and plotting..I’ve got it…always fancied the Similan Islands but thought I’ll do that on the way back – wrong!! The Islands close after April as its their monsoon season so the waters are too choppy to reach them, plus the fact they are (I believe, protected islands and only so many boats per day are allowed access).
Anyway, found a recommended company via previous travellers who run these island tours. You can also stay in one of their bungalows in Khao Lak. Sorted..another plan in place and another ‘geek sheet’ to put together haha! I will be off snorkelling around, Similan Islands, Surin, Tachai and Koh Bon and I can’t freaking wait! To add to it, I popped into KLCC before I left and found a great deal on an underwater camera so cant wait to try that out! But that wasn’t as easy as it sounds to book either…its not an easy place to get to and due to a very tight schedule, I’ve had to source flights to Phuket and then onward travel to Khao Lak, phew.
I am going to be so sick of trains soon! The trains (so far) in KL have been good, on time and generally ‘train’ like. When I went shopping at KLCC, I caught a train back to Shazreens and that was similar to taking the London underground, very busy and very crowded. Well, that was quite funny actually because when you buy a ticket, you get given a small blue coin shaped token..I was thinking, what do I do with that? Anyway, I watched the regular commuters trying to get a glimpse of what they were doing but couldnt see in all the hustle and bustle. Basically a Malay person kindly showed me what to and I got in..you just swipe the token like its an oyster card and when you get to the other end you drop the token in the machine.
So that brings me to today! I caught the 8.45am train from KL Sentral headed for Butterworth which was a painfully slow ride but interesting to say the least. Each cabin is marked with a number so you get in the one which is designated on your ticket. You also have a seat number too. I went for a 2nd class aircon carriage seeing as it would be an 8hr journey in a blistering heat of 32 degrees and no doubt packed with hot sweaties!
So the train pulls up and I can barely walk straight with the weight of my backpack..think I’m actually firemans lifting the invisible man!! I feel as though I’m bashing everyone on the head with my bag on the way through the aisle and am relieved when I get to my seat. Wow, every seat was taken! Seriously take note, if you’re planning a long haul trip out here, its much cheaper by train and everyone knows it.
I’m sitting next to an old man who looks as he has no teeth and in the seats to my right (which I later found out) are his grandchildren. I’m thinking, yep, this is gonna be the longest 8hrs! Next thing, I can hear the old fella chomping down on a sarnie..I can hear his lips smacking and his gummy gums clicking away which sounds as though its getting louder and louder, people coughing and spluttering in the background, babies crying in the carriages ahead…arrgghh, think I’ll put my ipod on! About an hour later, the old boy starts talking to me..he was actually ok but I still had (and will always have) that basic rule in mind of ‘trust no one’. Martin was his name, he spoke perfect english and was very well educated. I felt sorry for him actually, he told me his wife passed away just 3wks ago..they had been married for 55yrs. He seemed like a very humble, sweet old man. Before he got off for his stop, he told me when my stop would be coming up and that I’m very brave to be travelling alone!
As soon as I got to Butterworth, the taxi drivers are on you like mozzies and before you can even get your bearings, all you can hear is ‘Excuse me miss..taxi madam, you want cab?’ (And yes, it was all in the same tone as ‘you want dvd!’). I tried bartering but they weren’t having any of it and seeing as there wasn’t much about I succumbed but it was only 5 min, bonus!
So, next train journey tomorrow finishing up in Thailand for monkey schooling woo hoo! No internet for a while though so its back to the old fashioned pen and paper journal for me but I’ll update as soon as! Tarrah for now!