Okay, I lied … I said I’d tell you more about Kuala Lumpur in the next post, but I haven’t been able to blog as much as I would like to so a WHOLE post on KL seems a bit excessive since I have been to 7 countries since my 2 day stint in Malaysia. But Malaysia was cool and I really liked that it was so different from what I’m used to.
Anyway, when it was time to say goodbye to my shady hostel and head north to the promise land (Thailand), I hopped on a 13-hour night train from KL to Hat Yai. My first overnight train! And I gotta say, if it fits with your schedule, it really is preferable to flying. You only have to be at the train station 30 minutes before your train is supposed to leave (although no one monitors this … it’s mostly just to make sure you get on the train if it’s early), you don’t have to check or pay for checked luggage, you don’t have to pay for a night in a hostel, and you wake up after sleeping for a good 9-10 hours at your destination, refreshed and ready to take on the day!
When I got to Hat Yai, I had to decide where I wanted to go … because I hadn’t decided those trivial details yet. But I did know that I was going to go to either Krabi, which was a 4-hour bus ride, or Phuket, which was a 6-hour bus ride. I landed on Krabi because let’s face it … 2 hours more on a bus is 2 hours of your life that you will never get back. (Buses suck.)
So I got off the train and was IMMEDIATELY bombarded by Thai men trying to take me this way and that “Miss, where you go? Come with me, I show you.” “No, I am going to Krabi, not taking a train.” “Same same! Same same! Come I show you.” “No, no, thank you though. I need to find a bus to Krabi.”
Same same. Two words that changed my life forever. Okay, not really at all. But the shirts were everywhere making fun of the saying. And everyone said it. And everyone meant it. But the thing was, it was never the same. Ever. I’m looking for the bus station. That’s the airport. “Same same!” Those aren’t real RayBans and I’m not paying more than 3 American dollars for them. “Same same!” Is this chicken or beef? “Same same!” Do I go now or come back later? “Same same!”
I’m not kidding. It’s the same because all they want is to sell you what they have or take you where they’re going, regardless of what you want or where you’re trying to go. Anywhozzle, I found a “travel agency” with a van going to Krabi like right that second, so I paid the man 500 baht (roughly $16), was rushed to the curb where my bag was taken from me and thrown in the back of a white Mercedes 12-passenger van, I was hurried inside the bus, and away we went at breakneck speed, almost killing no less than 12 motorcyclists before leaving the city limits.
Surprisingly, I was being unloaded from the van on time and in the right place 4 hours later. I gathered my belongings and walked the six or so blocks to my hostel—Pak-Up—which has probably been my favorite hostel thus far. The bunk beds were huge and custom made out of wood that didn’t creak (a nice contrast to the IKEA ones made for 9-year-olds you see elsewhere—which, coincidentally, creak like they were also put together by 9-year-olds … and now that I say it, this makes a great deal of sense …), each bunk had its own power outlet and reading light, a pull-out drawer with a lock on it that was big enough to put your entire bag into and have your stuff strung out in, the free wifi was actually good enough that I could actually FaceTime my peeps (which happens far less than I would like!), the common area is comfortable and a lot of people hang out there, they had 2 bars—one on the rooftop that had really good drink specials, a nice view, and board games, and one out behind the common area that had pool tables and the occasional karaoke night, they had a washer and dryer available, AND the showers had hot water and the pressure was good! That is a LOT to find all at one place. And it was just $6 a night … sigh … why can’t everything be as cheap as it is in Thailand? I guess that’s the price we pay for being able to drink the water from our tap … Seriously though, drink nothing but bottled water in SE Asia. Unless you want some bizarre intestinal parasite.
It’s kind of funny how easily your expectations shift when you are in a setting a lot different that your own. You would that that it would be really hard to adjust to living a certain way (mind you, I didn’t really adjust to living that way, but I did adjust to living that way temporarily), especially when that way is far dirtier and chaotic than the way you’re used to. For instance, if I was in the US, sitting in a restaurant eating dinner and I saw a lizard on the wall, my response would not be a pleasant, “Oh look! A Gecko!” It would be more like me vomiting into my plate of Pad Thai and dashing out of there like I’d just remembered I hadn’t Tivo-ed the new episode of The Bachelor. (Ha! I’ve never owned a TiVo and those of you who know me well know the only season I watched of The Bachelor was actually The Bachelorette when Graham Bunn was on it. Duh! And of course, when he got cut from the show, I took the time I spent watching the show and put it toward stalking him via the internet and trying to plot and scheme ways to meet him. But this is neither here nor there … right Sarah?)
I know a lot of people would also have a hard time with sweating and being dirty like ALL the time, but I adjusted to that quite well (shocking). You start to think that showers are kind of pointless because the water smells like sewer and you’re still sweating when you’re done so I guess you need to take in to consideration the strength of your body odor and the strength of the smell of the water and chose the best avenue. I mean the whole point of a shower is to get you clean and make you feel refreshed, and if it doesn’t achieve either, why bother getting your hair wet? That’s my motto!
Anyway, Krabi was cool. It’s on the west coast of Thailand 2 hours south of Phuket, it’s small and there’s not a whole lot to do there, but I took a longtail boat to Railay Beach which was really pretty and had a lot of limestone cliffs and caves that I explored a bit, and then I laid on the beach the rest of the time. There’s not much that beats a hot sunny day on a beautiful beach with a beautiful view, a good book, fresh mango, and cold water (or alcohol, tomato tomahto). Except maybe all that plus good company. Which reminds me. Ohmuhgod the fresh fruit in Thailand is to DIE for. It’s so good. All of it. And speaking of food, the rest of it is SO good too! Pad Thai, green curry, chicken rice, fried noodles, flat noodles, glass noodles, coconut soup, it is so freakin’ good.
After I spent 3 nights in Krabi spending the evenings trolling every available food stall at the night market and eating from more than 9 (I know it was at least 9, but the actual number I can’t be sure of) stalls in one sitting and spending the days exploring the area, I decided that it was time to ship out to the island of Koh (Thai for “island”) Phi Phi (pronounced Pee Pee).
So with my travel advice from my besty besticle friend’s friend’s friend who lived in Australia but vacationed in Thailand’s advice that I MUST got to Koh Phi Phi, my personal possessions, and a sense of adventure, I loaded onto the ferry to the tiny island … and then I met the Evansons. Dun, dun, dunnnnnn!
P.S. Go like SanFranciscoSooner.com on Facebook if you haven’t already!