At 1.30pm, we popped our stuff onto the 4x4 for the journey back. Onto the Sea-cat for a bumpy, rainy ride back to the mainland which was far from enjoyable; and not even my aircraft sticking my head to the side of the boat solution (see flight to Bangkok) would help with the seasickness that was slowly developing
. I buried my head in my book till the end of the ride and the long pier and Chumphon.
The coach back to Chumphon station was uneventful and post dropping our bags in left luggage (60baht for 2 bags) we found a friendly cafe 50yds from the station to have some dinner and waste some time. As we entered the cafe we noted two fellas beating the crap out of each other in a Thai boxing ring at one end of the room. They quickly de-sweated and then started sorting out our menus, they were the staff. We ate some flavoursome Thai curry- something that is becoming a favourite in all its forms with both me and Kate (particular favourite for me is a Massaman or Red, Kate prefers the Green, but she likes the potato in the others). We then slowly bought drinks at strategic points to enable us to elongate our stay for a good 3 hours. Spending little over 5pound (as that is all we had left), I enjoyed a couple of beers and we utilised the free wi-fi to its full extent doing a little planning ahead and booking a hostel in Kuala Lumpur.
Although the cafe was packed with citronella burners under the tables, I still seem to have made a fantastic dinner for all sorts of creepy crawlies. My legs burnt to a crisp, are now also scattered with bite marks; sadly for Kate, hers are a lot worse.
After paying up we returned to the station to collect our bags and await the train due at 10.45pm
. We waited and realised in reality our train could arrive at anytime, we haven't been on a train on time to date. That meant I had to check every train that pulled up without having a clue if it was the right one. It was a little panicky as there wasn't really any clear indication on the platform to help out. In the end our train was strangely on time and it was clearly written on the side of the train 'Bangkok to Butterworth'. We found our car and our two beds were already made up, the only two in the car unoccupied from previous stations.
A relatively good sleep on a newer train but we woke up at about 6am as others seemed to become active waiting for their stops. The train attendant came round at about 8am and put all the sleepers back to their seated positions and me and Kate had some nice large chairs to ourselves - he seemed to be a right miserable git. The train became quieter as we approached the border, and only a few tourists seemed to remain. We jumped off at Pedang Besar with our bags and went through the formalities of checking out of one country and into the other, only stopping briefly for our fingerprints to be taken for any future acts of criminal activity.
Back on the train and starving, I opened a little bag of honey/peanut sweets bought in the Mekong Delta (how exotic!) and we quickly wolfed them down
. Thinking nothing of it, I put the empty bag to one side up against the window and continued reading my book. Now the book was annoying. Kate had picked this up (An Unsung Hero, Tom crean - Antarctic Survivor) in Hue (Vietnam) from a hostel knowing I would take to it, and I did. Although I disagree with a lot of the conclusions the writer makes regarding the explorers Scott and Shackleton in their quest for Antarctic glory, the book is an excellent read regarding the little known seaman Tom Crean, a veteran spending 8 years in the Antarctic on different expeditions and being seen as indispensable by both Scott and Shackleton. I was pretty annoyed with some of the conclusions made alone and explained my grievances often to the little caring Kate. The real annoyance occurred however when I got to page 242 and the book suddenly jumps 9 pages to 253. Who the hell puts a book back on a shelf with pages missing?! Gutted I put the book down in dismay before realising I knew the story of those 9 pages pretty well anyway and skipped them. I still don't have the heart to throw a book away, but I do not want this to happen to some other unsuspecting person on future journeys - Tom Creans biography book shall find a home in the bin in Penang but I note it here to have the same effect as leaving it on the shelf for someone else. Its a good book about him, but read a bit of everything to make conclusions on the Golden Age of Exploration.
After my dismay had cleared Kate started staring towards my lap where the book was
. I assumed she was interested in something book related or even me related (hopeful I know) but she wasn't. She was staring at something beyond my lap on the windowsill. Forming a small army gathered at the gates of honey and peanut snack mountain, an ant colony which had been dormant mere centimetres from my head in the rubber housing to the window had sniffed out my snack and made a break for it. They were lined along the ledge taking bits back and forth to the queen and I had been completely unaware. We stared at them for a while for amusement (back to the procrastination thing of yesterday) but eventually Kate took the bag and binned it with a few hundred ants. The others in the colony scuttled around confused with nowhere to go. Eventually they turned for home, but a few brave soldiers carried on searching in case the peanut honey mountain had simply been moved nearby. Brave explorers of the Golden Age of Peanut Honey Mountain searched long and hard, they crawled and they creeped. They found fresh ground at the foot of Cape Kate and started climbing the toes around Sandal Hill. An alert General Kate however, promoted since her insect Culling of Kevin the Cockroach at the Battle for Kunming (see previous entries to avoid confusion - although I am both a little confused and tired myself at this point as you might guess) quickly rose the slipper shoe of despair and dispatched the brave souls to their sweet blissful ant heaven. Buddhism not really working for Kate.
We pulled into Butterworth at a little temporary station (apparently the main station is being rebuilt - knowledge thanks to Seat61.com) and got ready for our crossing to Penang. My god its hot.
Checking out of the hotel at 11am in Koh Tau (I spell it differently everytime) we handed our Phallic looking Key over to the receptionist and tried to think what we were going to do for the couple of hours in the searing heat while waiting for our 2.30pm Cat. The receptionist gladly offered to get our towels out of the room without us even asking and 10 minutes later we were sat around the pool chilling the two heated hours in our sunnies and swimwear, and able to plonk into the pool at will. Thankfully, this was wonderful as the weather was excellent. Even though being careful I managed to get burnt all along the front of my legs and on my feet - but meh - we wouldn't be able to sunbathe again for a while.