Sunday, 5 October 2008

Kota Bharu, Sungai Golok, Hat Yai and the Ko Pha Ngan night ferry.

Since I have free internet access in the Bunga Raya hostel in central Kota Bharu I thought I would do another quick post. I am shortly leaving for the Thai border town of Sungei Kolok where I intend buy a Thai SIM card and go on a drinking binge for the afternoon.

My guidebook's description of Sungei Kolok is not exactly flattering. The Muslim separatists have let a few bombs off here recently so it could be an interesting couple of days. Apparently, it is also a convenient brothel town for randy sex-starved Malaysians! Another fine example of religious hypocrisy - where in the koran does it say shagging whores is allowed?

I have been catching up on the news and I was amazed to learn that Keegan has left NUFC! They are languishing at 19th in the Premier League table having lost home games to the likes of mighty Hull City. Why am I not surprised?

Things seem to be in a bit of a mess with the club up for sale but a lack of potential buyers. Hardly surprising. Would you wanna buy it?

Sawadeekap - Bye

Pum j'pi pritithai - I'm going to Thailand

I must be the only Falang (Westerner) to ever spend 4 days in Sungai Kolok. Man, what a place! (not in a good way). I found a room in a cheap hotel that had a baby monkey in a cage in the foyer. I then sat in an old lady's shop bingeing on 45baht BIG bottles of Leo beer watching the mayhem ensue in the nearby girlie bars. I liked this old woman - she was very friendly and helped me speak Thai. I chatted with Malaysian-Chinese men and their 'temporary' gorgeous girlfriends who would frequent this shop because of its 'cheaper-than-the-bars' beer. Quite a surreal place. I didn't see a white person the whole time which is a rarity these days in Thailand. Beautiful young women from other parts of this country would invite you to drink 120bt bottles of beer and speak crap English (or Tinglish) in shitty little bars/knocking shops! Chinese KTV bars filled the streets with dreadful karaoke, thumping out through smoked-glass windows.

I don't know how that last paragraph sounds - probaly a little seedy right? Well, my friends, it's all part of the rich kaleidescope of the travel experience! You have to take the good with the bad. Admittedly, Thailand does have its seedy side like many other places in the World. London and Amsterdam would be European examples. It's just more in your face here, but it's easily avoided and the rest of Thailand is simply awesome - particularly the warm people (once you step away from Falangsville).

I was pleased to sample to sample Thai food again. It is delicious. I also managed to purchase a learn Thai book which I am studying now along with my Buddhist book.

So, today I jumped a bus to escape S. Kolok and I now find myself in Hat Yai again. In the AC minibus we passed many rubber tree plantations. You can see the white liquid rubber slowly dripping into black containers tied to the tree trunk.

Of greater concern was the heavy Army presence and their many road checkpoints. A little reminder that all is not what it seems here. I passed through Narathiwat and Pattani which have had their fare share of troubles. It all served make me feel vulnerable and uneasy - a feeling that was exacerbated since I was suffering my first hangover in a couple of months.

I also saw a dead man who looked like he had driven his moped into a truck - nasty. There were Armoured Personel Carriers at this point! They even had young men manning heavy machine guns from a turret on the top. All very unnerving.

La-gone-na = bye

I was able to demonstrate my Chinese skills to an Irishman who was having a suit tialor-made. The tailors were Chinese and could speak no English. He was well impressed I could translate for him.

After 4 days in Hat Yai with some very interesting folk I decided it was time for a change. Two young lads were going to Bangkok and I decided to tag along. We got to the station and found a local train going to Surat Thani. Local = slow. The 1100 train finally left at 1300 and arrived in Surat Thani at 2000. We stopped at every hamlet on the way. Some of them didn't even have anyone living there! We sat in total darkeness at night since the train had no lights. The two lads then got on a sleeper train to Bangkok but I'd had enough.

I decided to stay in Surat Thani for the night and decide where next after a decent kip. However, as I was eating some Gwaytio mu nam (Pork noodle soup), a Thai man told me about a night boat to Ko Samui. Since I was still homeless I decided to jump on. I got to the pier at about 2130 and purchased a ticket for what I thought was Ko Samui. After finding my little bed I overheard people discussing Ko Pha Ngan. It turns out the boat was going there instead. Oh well - Mai pen rai (nevermind).

I arrived at 0600 and had a coffee whilst considering my options. I rented a motorbike and toured the whole island looking for a 'mai peng' (cheap) room. I was considering going to Ko Samui the same day when an old woman informed me of a cheap little hostel in the main town above a massage parlour (a legit one). That woman had just cooked me some Thai green curry which was aroy (delicious). I had a well needed shower and sleep.
There are a canny few foreigners here and this place is famous for the 'Full Moon Party' every month. It sounds absolutely mental, not really my cup of tea, but I will give the next one a go and report in due course.

There are loads of hippy types out here. Some travellers deem it necessary to grow dreadlocks and wear fisherman pants (big baggy things) as soon as they hit Thailand. In their quest for individuality they all end up looking remarkably similar! I have yet to succumb to this as my personal level of fashion sense is close to that of a cat or dog, i.e. I don't have one or I don't care. Additionally dreadlocks just look like a complete pain in the arse to me.

Pob gun mai - See you later

1 comment:

  1. Hi Stephen,

    Will here, long time no see. I enjoy reading your blog.

    Take care,



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