Catching up

Trip Start Apr 10, 2004
1
5
Trip End Jun 09, 2004


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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Sunday, April 18, 2004

Cant believe I left this so long, I know its only been a week in 'real time', but that's a looong time over here, so a lot has happened. This probably wont be too detailed, so for an EXTREMELY detailed and slightly different version of whats been happening, refer to my travel pal's travelogue (shand180), password hitmonlee- hes spent about two hours doing his second one this morning...

So, arrived really late in Singapore Sat nite and had dramas finding Simon as his flight came in an hour later than id been told, and of course we didnt have any kind of meeting plan, think id just said 'ill find you'- didnt know his flight no, he didnt know our hotel, so we were pretty lucky really, could have been disasterous :)

Spent the day in Singapore, which was just Singapore, nothing exciting- wandered around. Strangest thing that happened was when we went looking for dinner, and the streets were totally empty of anyone but men. Quite initmidating, there were thousands of them, all just loitering round the streets. Went into a huge hawker centre Id been to before in search of an amazing chickn/bok choy meal i'd had, so dragging Simon up and down aisles past all these drunk guys, leering at us weirdly, unitl we decided it probably wasnt that good an idea and high-tailed it for the friendlier food-court down the road.

Our flight left Sing at 11:56pm, and it was HORRIBLE- freezing cold, no blankets, and we were exhausted, 2 hours was way too long. Then Bkk at about 1:30 in the morning, and Id received an email that afternoon saying the hotel had cancelled our reservation, no explanation at all. So we had to find a bed at that ridiculous time of the morning, then our taxi driver took us through the most scenic alleyways and dark streets in Bangkok, 'wave to the prostitutes'. Moved to 'backpacker area' the next morning to find the biggest party ive ever seen in my life in full swing. Wed stumbled into the first day of the Buddhist New Year celebrations- four days of water, flour and a lot of partying. Apparently 800 people died on the roads during last years and id believe it, apart from the huge party which was our entire area, people lined the roads of the city proper with hoses, garbage bines full of water and many water pistols. There were even utes everywhere full of kids just crusing the streets, ready to pounce on unsuspecting backpackers. Its tradition to have a bowl full of water/flour and to run up to EVERYONE, and wipe flour on their cheeks, forehead and chin- although they tended to get carried away and just coat your entire face. Everyone was on holiday it seems, and pretty much all of the shops were closed 'til Friday. Had a good time, though on the actualy New Years Eve nite (Monday) we started drinking WAY too early in the sunshine after having barely any sleep, then parading up and down Kao Sahn with everyone else with our water pistols for most of the day. By the time we realised this was the big one, it was about 10pm, and we were way past help. Went back to the GH for 'a little while' about 10:30, and um..piked (possibly passed out). SO thats our disgraceful story :) We kept up with it for the rest of the festival though- stayed up late drinking with the owners of our GH (they were handing out whisky), and everyone else staying there. All hung out on the balcony overlooking the street (next street along from Kao Sahn), which was still quite mad- streets packed with people, every GH, restaurant and bar pumping out some kind of music, ladyboys everywhere getting the crowd fired up, girls pole-dancing round palm trees. Seven 11 was packed with drunken locals and backpackers leaving puddles of water, and emptying the fridges of beer then stumbling back to wherever they were partying. The only other things we did in Bangkok were visit Wat Pho (saw a special nys ceremony and the enromous Reclining Buddah- bout 100ft) and the Grand Palace (too hot, had to borrow shoes, saw the famous Emerald Buddah- very small, far away). The partying and water all got too much eventually tho, and we left on Thrsday morn to head to Kanchanaburi.

Much calmer than Bangkok, though the first day we caught a truck along the main street and as we were the only 'falang' around we were the exciting new targets for the morning. Everyone who saw us came scrambling up into the truck to wipe flour all over us and dump bucket after bucket all over us. They all find it very amusing to say 'sorry' while shoving flour in our mouths and grinning from ear to ear. Then someone else comes up and says 'i help you', and they wash your face, which is nice, until someone else covers it again two minutes later. So, went and patted a tiger, which was damn scary. We went into this enormous white chalk canyon, and rounded the last corner to see a monk sitting cross-legged on a rock surrounded by tigers and a couple of lackeys with switches (which they actually smack the tigers with!!!). One by one, they'd lead us up, we'd crouch down, and either pat, scratch, or maybe just lightly touch the tiger- dpending how much he ws growling, or how far away his mouth was. I was taking a photo for one guy, and his camera got stuck and started whirring. SO there I am, two metres in front of a very large tiger and the camera is making this loud whirring sound. Wed been told not to make sound, so im gesturing frantically at this guy as to what to do, and he's gesturing back and whispering, just hit it. So, i panicked a little. Imagined I was going to whack the top of the camera, piss the tiger off, which was then going to either turn around and mortally wound him, or come charging at me. At one point a girl spoke loudly while she was patting it, and was very quickly pulled up and led away by a narky lackey-guy who scolded her sternly :) After that exciting day, we had a peaceful nite in our raft-house- floated on oil drums on the river- despite the Disco Ducks (huge barges which putter up and down the river blasting ridiculous music til all hours of the morning). After an incredibly early starte the next morning headed back to BKK and shopped all day, cos the water festival was FINALLY over.

That nite, jumped on the bus to Penang, which is the bus ride i swore I would NEVER do again after last time, and now I really do swear- never again. Was much worse than id remembered- after being kicked of our coach at 5am, after being woken up at midnite for a 'breal', made to wait for an hour, put on a ute, then a minibus, then another minibus, then getting off to do the border thing, getting back on, getting to Butterworth, lugging our packs up to the ferry, then getting a taxi to our gh, we were not happy campers. We left BKK 7:30pm, and didnt arrive in Penang til about 6:30pm the next nite. But now were on Penang, today is a lazy 'beach-day, and we catch the ferry to Sumatra tomorrow morning- yay :)

Hope all's well. Good luck Bekka and Greg (see ya over there)
Mel
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