Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kuala Lumpur

The plan was to take a long tail boat from Railay to Krabi, and from there we were to take a bus to Hat Yai and from there take another bus to Kuala Lumpur. The plan started off okay, but we had to wade through thigh high water to the long tail with our bags over our heads so they couldn’t get wet. We boarded the long tail and I was expecting at least an hour ride but after 15 minutes we stopped at a dock and were told to get off with no further instructions. There were 10 of us and we were all confused but we started walking. I was cursing all the extra stuff we had and now had to carry. None of us were sure where we were going so we all just stopped and waited until a thai man walking by told us to turn right and wait there. It turned out we were to wait for a bus to take us to Krabi or wherever the rest of us needed to go. After some confusion as to which mini bus we needed to be on, we boarded a minibus thinking we were now going to Hat Yai. But again after 15 minutes we were told to get off and wait in a cafe. Apparently we were in Karbi and the real minibus was not coming to get us for another 30 minutes. Of course the girls in the café were more than willing to take our orders and I was sure this stop was very convenient for them. There was an older French couple who had arrived with us at the café so Andrew had an opportunity to practice his French. He has always been modest and told me that he can’t really speak that well but I was surprised how at how good he was. He carried on a conversation with them for an hour! I would never pretend to speak French but I was surprised at how much I understood.

The mini bus finally picked us up and we were off to Hat Yai. There were now a few more people on the bus so Andrew and I sat in the back. The trip to Hat Yai was to last about 6 hours. As in Laos, the mini bus kept stopping and packing locals into the bus. I guess that’s their way of making some extra cash. A couple of hours into the trip I started to feel really queasy and my stomach was feeling really weak and I felt like I would throw up at any minute. At first I started thinking about what I had eaten that could make me feel that bad but I couldn’t think of anything. Then I realized I was getting car sick. The shocks in the van were completely shot and since we were sitting in the back we were bouncing up and down. Once I realized what it was I couldn’t wait until we stopped. Luckily we had Gravol with us so I took one hoping it would make me feel better but before it had a chance to kick in we stopped and the French couple (who were sitting at the very front) got out as it was their stop. I quickly took their spot and made Andrew come with me. Immediately I started to feel better. A few hours later we arrived in Hat Yai. We were dropped off at a travel agency and told our bus to Kuala Lumpur (KL) would pick us up at 7pm, 3 hours from now. So we went looking for food.

Hat Yai is not a big town so it didn’t take long to find food. After we ate we walked around a little bit and headed back to the travel agency. We still had an hour until the bus would pick us up but we didn’t feel like walking around. While waiting we were informed our bus would be late and that it wasn’t going to pick us up until 8pm. So we had a lot of time on our hands but there wasn’t much to do so we just hung out at the travel agency. Finally at 8pm the bus came to pick us up. We were very close to the border so within an hour we had crossed into Malaysia. As soon as we crossed the border, we stopped at the first intersection at a restaurant. It actually looked more like a school cafeteria but the food was unbelievable. We had naan bread with chicken curry and lentils. And we only paid $0.25 per dish. The food was by far the best food we had had up until this point and the best we would have in Malaysia. Andrew loved the food so much he ordered 2 more dishes. We got back on the bus and arrived in KL at 5am. We went to a hostel we found in the Lonely Planet book but it turned out they were full so Andrew went looking for a place to stay. He ended up finding a hotel in the China town for $20 per night. A bit out of our price range but the hostel was $15 per night so we didn’t feel too bad. Plus, we were only staying for 2 nights. We checked in and went straight to sleep. We woke up and grabbed some food and wandered around KL. We had been here 3 years before so everything was very familiar and it was fun visiting the city again. The weather left a little something to be desired as it was raining but it was warm so it wasn’t too bad. We basically did the same thing the following day, exploring the sights.

On Monday January 31st we grabbed the Air Asia bus to the airport as we were leaving to Australia that day. I was lucky enough to sit next to an Air Asia pilot and let me tell you I grilled him. It was an hour long ride to the airport and I grilled him with questions (ex. Is turbulence dangerous? Did you always know you wanted to be a pilot? Which seat is more comfortable…the captain’s chair or a first class seat? (depends on the plane), so are you sure turbulence is not dangerous?) Andrew later told me he thought I was annoying the pilot but it’s not every day I get a chance to sit next to a commercial pilot. I was hoping he would be our pilot but no such luck. Once we boarded the plane a guy I was sitting next to said there was a cyclone (hurricane) coming into the North East coast of Australia but they weren’t sure when. We were flying over that part so I was sure there would be a lot of turbulence but it turned out Cyclone Yasi didn’t hit until a few days after we landed.

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