Sunday, December 18, 2005

trang by night, phuket by day, kuala lumpur by night

after writing my blog update i kept myself busy by wasting a lot of time trying to find out at what time the first bus left for phuket and by purchasing a plane ticked from phuket to kuala lumpur. the goal: leave on the first bus, get dropped off at the airport in phuket and make it on time for my flight, all in one day. a tight schedule but the most logical route to take.

thus, the next day was to be as such: wake up at 5:10 am, leave at 5:30am for the bus station, get on the bus that leaves at 6am, arrive at the airport at 11am and get on my flight that lifts off at 1:30pm. cross my fingers that nothing happens along the way!

satisfied, i headed out to the western restaurant i saw near the train station (really the only option since restaurants in trang mostly close at 5pm). i ordered a burger (what?! i'm allowed to!) and was thrilled to see it arrive with *real*, aged, cheddard cheese. paradise! it had been ages since i had cheddard (read, cambodia). anyhow, small stuff like that really makes my day.

i ate really slowly and read my guidebook section on malaysia's history, general info and everything about kuala lumpur. i was even highlighting passages when some guy came up to me and said "we're going to a bar, wanna come?" to which i said, ok. i mean, it's not like there's anything to do in trang at night...

regardless. my plan was to get back home early due to my having to get up real early but it was my last night in thailand and so the saysong (local, evil whisky) started flowing. the nightclub was weird though: tons of people, no one dancing. bunch of waiters, too many even. and a stage in the middle that made the whole place look suspiciously like a strip joint. at least, i thought, i would be able to say that i saw a lady show in thailand. but no! it turned out to be a ledgit stage for a real band! well, a cover band. but a band! the musicians were really good and hip looking but the singers were quite... pop and had some of the worst voice/pitch ever. regardless, the evening was quite nice and ended up... never ending!

that's right! it got too late for it to be logical to go to bed as i would have never woken up. so i left the guesthouse at 5:40 (they didn't reserve a tuktuk as agreed), in the dark, on no sleep. arrive at the bus station: bus leaves at 6:20am. not too bad. the upside to being this early is that i'm pretty much the only one on the bus so i take the two seat, get myself in a ball and sleep... sweet sleep. i slept pretty much the entire 5 hour ride but found it hard to sleep getting closer to phuket because the scenery was so goddamn beautiful. limestone mountains everywhere, covered in lush greenery, palm trees... just incredible.

arrive at the airport and i get off the bus, evidently on the side of the highway and not at the airport. the timing is good though - i still have plenty time before my flight. i hop on a motorcycle because i'm not up to walking to 4km to the airport and arrive to what was described as a "boutique airport" by thai airline - only to find out that they lied (of course they did!).

regular airport, and i'm too early for my flight. check-in has not yet started. i do some walking around, i eat lunch. finally i check in, and the girl at the counter is nice enough not to charge me for the extra kilos on my bag (it now weights 18 kilo, crazy! i don't know how that happened since there's less stuff in it than before. anyhow, that saves me 160B/kilo) and the fine for overstaying my visa (200B saving). i go through security, the guy isn't happy that i stayed the extra day, to which i explain that the entire south is flooded and i couldn't leave, and i get away with it, thankfully.

anyhow. the plane is late and we end up boarding about an hour late. i could have left later and slept! damn.

the plane ride was nice, in the clouds, of course. it was weird though, the airline doesn't assign seats so i got to pick my seat. as we got closer to kuala lumpur the clouds dissipated a little bit and i could see the landscape. a weird one, really. where is the forest? the wild nature? everywhere i could see, of miles on end, was different types of palm tree plantations. all farms. nothing real left nearly! but the water... oh! i didn't expect reefs beside the capital.

anyhow. go through customs, get on the express train into town, hop on the elevated rail network (the metro/subway really) and i realised: i did it all like i've been here before. buying the tickets, getting around, etc. i nailed it. it was natural. it was weird.

kuala lumpur is a very modern, developed city. but unlike bangkok it didn't disappoint me here, perhaps because i was expecting it. there's cool building and a great mix of people/cultures. and the petrona twin towers are very impressive, even from afar. i'm glad i'm here.

country number 7 of this trip.
country number 10 this year.
my first muslim country.

my hostel is well located. it's pretty run down though, but they have all the services you can imagine minus a pool so it's cool. it's back to the world of dorms but that way you meet people. at least they have *hot* water. i haven't had a hot shower in a very, very long time. it will be sweet.

went for dinner tonight with a guy that's in my room. we set off to walk around to find somewhere to eat but as we turned the corner i spotted a curry house, so we went there. we each ordered the banana leaf set: you get a huge banana leaf that serves as a plate and 3 kinds of vegetables (2 curries and 1 yoghurt), a ton of rice with 2 curry sauces, chips and roti (incredible indian bread, better than nan) and a curried meat for 7 RM (divide by 3.8 for usd). i had the mutton curry - absolutely incredible. you eat the whole thing with your fingers so it's really cool. but there's way too much food! i ate half my leaf and i was completely full, to the point of discomfort.

and here i am, enjoying decent priced internet and weak aircon. soon i will take a hot, long shower and sleep, a very long and deep sleep, i hope.

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