Surat Thani to khao sok, day 10

 

As it turns out its not the greatest hotel for sleep. I woke up thinking it was daylight, only to find that the room has a big window above the door and the corridor light is on 24 hours. I really can’t make out the lobby. Is it a shrine, eccentric decor or part of some Buddhist relic antique shop?

Can’t find any breakfast at 7am. This town could certainly do with some food outlets for travellers. Now sitting outside a scruffy minibus booking office. The woman at the desk is eating super noodles and her baby is rolling around on a PVC mat on the floor. This is where they live and sleep. I think the photo describes better than I can do.

Now at khao sok national park. There are clusters of bungalows next to a small river looking onto to craggy jungle clad peaks. The road over the river takes you to the park entrance. Arrived here at around midday. The bus is quite relaxing and the journey is through awesome countryside. I’m met at the bus stop by a hotel hawk. He takes me by pickup 5 minutes to a scruffy unfriendly resort. I don’t like the bamboo hut, though its cheap at 300 baht. I check out some more to find the price and standard is quite similar. The one I choose is really based on wanting to to put an end to wandering around and the guy who calls out to me is quite friendly. But actually he becomes a bit annoying. They hit is ok, and I’m happy to find mosquitoes are not a big problem in the evening. After checking in I have a nice masaman curry and shake. I want to get going fast so I gather myself together and stroll to the park.

Here is a trail that is well walked and follows the river taking in a number of pools and cascades. It’s all very clean and feels like real jungle. The sound of the insects is deafening, and I’m sure the sonic trills pierces my brain, as I do end up with a headache later. There aren’t too many people in the park, and I spot a few interesting plants, many butterflies, a monkey by the river and a spider the size of my hand. Black and yellow, hanging on his web, missing a hind leg. Doesn’t twitch or move at all. I swear he must be dead. I film, shoot pics, record some sounds, taking my time. I do about 4 km, then decide to turn around so as to avoid trying to find my way back in the dark. Coming the other way I meet a young Dutch or German guy who is crazily, or maybe not, on his way to camp in the jungle….I kind of admire this, but do wonder how scary and full of bugs the place will be in the dead of night. Back at Ning house I have a shake and am dismayed with the other guests hanging out there. All are German couple and with young kids in some cases. I go back to the road to a restaurant I spied earlier called thi herb. Great range of vegetarian dishes….I get a strawberry shake and m waiting for a spicy red curry. Damn more Germans, they re smoking too

 

 

Day 4 leaving KL

Waking up and the sun is kind of shining for the first time. My stomach feels ok. The market is setting up and I browse in vain for a shirt. Breakfast is fresh soya milk, fresh pineapple and a red bean bun.

Catch the monorail to LLC aka the twin towers and kill a while surveying the mall full of Christmas trees and designer goods stores. Outside in the park it’s to hot to sit in the sun…but then down comes the torrential rain. Back inside I find the food court and miraculously there is a fast food version of the amazing organic vege place we went to in Melaka. Eating, watching the world then back to Chinatown to find an elusive Internet cafe to print my boarding pass. Now sitting on the bus waiting to leave for the airport.

Plane is late. The flight is disturbed by kids in front and behind kicking the seats and banging, tables, arm rests, anything that moves. Turbulence as we approach Lang kawi, passing through storm clouds. Domestic flights are interesting, no bag checks, no passport control. No buses on the island. Fixed rate taxi to sweet inn motel. The taxi driver is an ex-aeronautics engineer and tells me about Malaysian cars. The hotel is on a strip of restaurants, tourist info shops, resorts, fronting the palm fringed beach. My place is the other side of the road among a cluster of cheaper hotels. The boy at reception is cute, cit, but I don’t really think he understands what I say to him. The room has twin beds and a window with a partial, over the top of some houses, sea view. It’s 10.15 and I’m starving. I eat at an Arabic/Indian place and have a byriani and pineapple lassi. I slip down to the beach. It’s dark and there are a couple of reggae bars, bob Marley and cheap beer. I walk through the sea along to the further of the 2 and leave after a couple of beers and being unble to take any more of the singer massacring Marley, nirvana and radio head. Guessing, rather than knowing the lyrics. Lightning is flashing on the horizon. Very cool.  There is a fire swinger, not very good, she asks me for money. I decline. On leaving I bump into the waiter from the restaurant I was at earlier. He is called ismael and is from Tunisia, working here on his uni holiday from KL. I think about asking him for a drink, but he talks a lot bout girls, so I realise it would become facile.

Day 5, Lang Kawi

Breakfast: I seem to have missed most of the food, but have eggs on toast. I’m keen to see the beach, and get down there as soon as I can and spend an hour floating in tepid clear shallow water with a bed of crushed shells. There are screaming Asians being towed at speed on banana boats, and Malay kids bathing in shorts and Chelsea t-shirts. Later I even see mothers in full headscarf and dress in the water. Not wanting to pay for a lounger I walk the shore as far as I can, it’s all resorts and places selling jet ski rides. The other way is more fancy, with combed sand and tables shaded by umbrella shaped topiary. It’s getting hot. I’m taking good care not to get burnt.

afternoon, walk along the strip, an it’s roasting. I eat some sweet and sour japanese tofu dish and carry on walking ending up in a duty free shop with very cheap booze. Inadvertently I find myself walking through the exit of the underwater world. Some cool moray and zebra eels. Puffer fish, jelly fish. Buy some beer and sit on the beach and have a read. Floating in the sea at sunset. God there are so many sexy half naked young boys here.haha.

Dinner at the hotel, requires some translation. I’m having spicy noodles.

Day 3 KL

Day 3 begins very late after a night broken up by a deafening generator outside in the street, and the earplugs from the courtesy bag on my flight do not fit my ears. and breakfast becomes lunch at the vege buffet in the market. Comfortably familiar.

 

Afternoon walk doesn’t take me far as down comes the rain. Back to the hotel, where I have spent far too much time. I finally venture out once more and take a walk round the cultural quarter on Jalan sultan which is being pulled down. Beautiful old heritage buildings now squatted, homeless sleeping outside them, cardboard box recyclers eking a living on the corner. My attention is grabbed by a tank of live frogs next to one of snakes, gasping for air, unaware, or are they, of their impending fate in a pan. There are lots of imprisoned animals on this street. Caged birds, puppies in shop windows, looking quite frantic.

I return to the Buddhist temples I knew from the area around Chinatown. Funny how uncaptivating they seem second or even third time around.

The old man who had his barber’s chair in he alley by the juice bar is no longer there. I wonder if he has died.

In the evening I wander up tp little India. Sari and silk shops, markets selling replica football shirts. My stomach is feeling dodgy. I get a dhosa and lemon juice, but don’t feel much like eating.hope this won’t last long.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 arrival in KL

First day in kl. a bit of a blur. Checked into lehotel again. Room with a window and wifi rightin the centre of petaling market. All very familiar. The same guys trying to sell me DVDs, failing that, games, then software then porn. The hot chestnut stall, the soya milk stall. I bought a much needed cover for this iPad then toured the stalls, getting bored, finally ending up looking for a vege place to eat in little India. I have only a rough sense of direction in kl, but always manage to somehow find myself back on the same streets. I find a pure vegetarian restaurant and get the sought for masala dhosa and mango lassi. And lo and behold on leaving realise I’m on the same street as the woodland restaurant where I went last year, and the year before. It’s getting dark, I scout around the mosque and the river that’s hemmed in with concrete embankments and cross over to visit merdeka square. If memory serves, this is the field where independence was declared from the British. Bizarely it is a cricket pitch, with that coarse shrubby tropical grass with a massive flag pole on one side, a row of black and wHite timber framed buildings on another, a gathering place with pools and benches and some kind of mini rally on another, and on the side fronted by the road, which is being casually dug up, a vista of Islamic grandeur with ululating colour changing floodlights, backgrounded by the kl tower and rows of sky scrapers. On the way back to the market I stop by the Hindu temple, where a wedding is just getting going. Drumming and horn blowing, saris and garlands, small children dressed up, and a hired posse of camera crew complete with lighting set up. I watch for a while then consider going to fetch my camera, which I do, but first shoot some pretty poor pics around the market. By the time I get back to the temple I have missed the action, and the photos are being taken whilst the guests queue up for the meal. Back at the market I buy a bag of rambutan and shoot some flaming clay pot cooking. As I get back to the hotel the clouds burst and we are treated to 2 hours of sustained tropical rain. Fortunately I’m falling asleep and my day or is it 2 days are ending as my eyes unavoidably close.

Day 1 airports

It’s been a long day and I don’t know what the time actually is, cos it doesn’t really mean anything when you’re between places. It’s dark, anyway, and Abu dabi airport is busy. I haven’t had any sleep and have just spent 7 hours in the company of some lads from Nottingham who drank almost non-stop. In fact the stop was when they fell asleep and finally calmed down. The one next to me turned out to be an ex- pro footballer who played under big sam at notts county and then Nigel clough at burton. He even had a game in the fa cup against Ronaldo and co at old trafford.

My connecting flight leaves in 50 minutes. I guess I should sleep then otherwise I will have gone a whole day and night or maybe 2 days without any shut eye. I think it will be mid-afternoon when I get to kl.