Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Kuala Lumpur/Hat Yai/Krabi

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur and dropped my business luggage at one of those paid left-luggage areas.  Because it had my brand new briefcase and laptop, I was very nervous to leave my things behind, but there was no way I was going to haul a suitcase and briefcase through SE Asia.  I took the KLIA Express train into the city, bought a train ticket to Thailand, and spent a few hours walking around Kuala Lumpur.  I had always wanted to go there, but unfortuantely didn't have much time to see it.  The first thing that struck me when exiting the train station was the unbelievable humidity.  It felt like you were swimming through the air.  I suppose it didn't help that we had just had multiple feet of snow in the US before I left... not quite used to sub-tropical weather.

The sleeper cars on Malay trains weren't quite so nice as the ones in China, surprisingly.  I spent a good portion of the trip killing small cochroaches with the spine of my book.  The beds were smaller, and you had no place to put your bags other than on the bed itself.  If you had a massive hiking packpack like most of the backpackers on the train, then this didn't leave too much room for yourself.  Oh well.  Lights out and I went to sleep.

The next morning, we arrived at the Malay/Thai border.  As we were waiting to get off of the train, I started up a conversation with a Canadian couple whom I became quite close with.  When we got off the train, many people left their things on board, but I though better about this and decided to take my pack with me.  Then, as we stood on the platform waiting to go through customs, the train pulled away and seeming left! Half of the people on the train were panicking because their stuff was still on board.  Luckily for them, when we got through customs, the train had merely pulled around to the other side.  Still glad I brought mine with me though.  Many people found later that they were missing cell phones/camera/etc.

We finally arrived in Hat Yai, Thailand.  It seemed quite a bustling city, but merely just a lauching pad for backpackers to other parts of Thailand.  The Canadian couple (Andrew and Jenn) and a British couple (Sarah and Greg) and I got a tuk-tuk (like a little taxi where you sit in the back on a bench) to the bus station.  We got our tickets, sat and had a beer or three, and got to know each other a little better.  Andrew and Jenn were from Vancouver and were traveling together for a few weeks.  Andrew works in the Canadian film industry as a camera operator which allows him to take long trips between jobs.  He had recently been traveling around Japan and Jenn came out to Malaysia to meet him.  Sarah and Greg were nearing the end of a year long trip around the world.  I was really glad to have some people my age to talk to on the trip, and we were all heading for Ko Phi Phi so I knew we would have a fun week or so together.

We took a 5 hour bus to Krabi and I made the mistake of sitting in a window seat.  The Thai sun was beating down on the the whole trip and by the time we got to Krabi I felt like I was in an oven.  We disembarked and wandered around the town looking for a place to stay, finally settling on a more expensive, but air-conditioned, hostel.  The five of us then went out looking for dinner and I had my first authentic Thai food in Thailand.  Of course I had to try Pad Thai as it is one of Thai cuisine’s most famous dishes, but I also had some spicy lemongrass soup that was fantastic.