Kuala Lumpur

Finally catching up on what’s going on here..we are in KL and loving it of course although the switch from beach to city has been exhausting…here’s what’s been going on the past few days…

(journal excerpt-December 3, 2011)-An eventful last few days-on the 30th of November we began the long arduous journey from Ko Lanta-KL by way of Satun.  We manged to get a ticket from Ko Lanta for 150B less than most places were selling which was great.  We said goodbye to our friends and Pen sent us on our way with some fried egg sandwiches.  Two ferries and two mini vans later we stopped in Pak Bara, an interchange area for people going onto the Ko Tarutao Marine Park.  The place was the usual tourist clusterfuck with a tonne of ticket counters, people waiting, some eating and luggage and backpacks heaped all around.  The driver told us we had to change vans here which immediately set off alarm bells as we bought tickets that were supposed to be the two vans (ie-we knew we had to change vans once in Trang but the second van was supposed to take us directly into Satun bus station).  But we had no choice but to get out and we hauled our bags to the same waiting area as everyone else.  Everyone in our area eventually left for their destinations except for 3 young Brits (the girl in daisy duke cut off jeans and boots-oh so appropriate not only for the climate, but for the muslim conservative south!) Finally the ticket selling woman told us it was time to go and I almost got excited until we got to her pickup truck.  The 3 Brits piled in the back cab leaving the ONE front seat for both M and myself, plus our two daypacks.  By this point we were pissed off because 700B/person should definitely buy you at least ONE seat each and then I knew something was going on. 

To back things up a bit-the woman in Ko Lanta who sold us the ticket was very sweet.  She had two twin two-year old boys and M was playing with them and she told us this story about the photos of monks on her wall and how it related to her business and telling the truth.  One of the photos of a monk was the head monk of the monastery where her brother lives who is also a monk.  He is dead now but he was known for his truthfulness and taught that one should always tell the truth and believe in what one says.  One day in the village of Ko Lanta a Chinese monk of some sort came and there was some sort of event which involved walking on fire (the details/language barrier make the story a bit fuzzy here-sorry!)  Miss Oy/ticket seller was telling some tourists they could do it even though she was not sure at the time herself it if was possible.  Some people ran across it very fast and were still burned.  But some people went slowly and were OK.  She was asked to do it herself and she was afraid but since she had been telling others that it was okay to do, she felt that she had to do it herself.  Everyone that was walking across was making prayers to this Chinese monk to protect them.  But as she went across she told us just how she had faith in what she said and remembered what this monk preached, about truthfulness and saying what you mean.  She walked across slowly and had no problem.  From this, she learned that in her business one must always mean what they say and tell the truth or say nothing at all. 

So this brings our story back to M and I sitting on the ebrake of a pickup truck barreling down the highway with hot pants singing the “ooo eee ooo ahhh ahhh ding dang walla walla bing bang” song.  No joke.  You can imagine my amusement.  After about 15 minutes of this we were told to get out and she put us into a local songthaew.  A songthaew is a pickup truck with two or sometimes three benches in the bed with a low cover/canopy.  It is a local mode of transport for Thais and dirt cheap.  This songthaew picked up people and dropped off along the way and went on like this for TWO HOURS, mostly on highway under construction.  We finally arrived in Satun but as we expected the songthaew driver wanted to take us to Tammalung Pier-you see, no one actually STAYS in Satun.  It’s another transit hub for people going onto to Langkawi and entry into Malaysia but we had decided to break up the trip by spending one night in Satun and avoid Langkawi altogether by taking a different boat to Kuala Perlis with the hopes of getting a bus from there to KL.  So regarding our transport, it became apparent to us that the woman in Pak Bara, took our booking, kept the difference, drove us to the town to catch the songthaew driver and paid him, keeping our mini van money.  This was confirmed when I wrote Miss Oy to ask about what happened.  I know it sounds like she could have been in on it too, and I guess its possible but that’s not how we saw it at the time.  She actually told us to come back and see her when we get back to Ko Lanta and she will pay us back somehow. 

Anyway, the songthaew left us on the side of the road, not the bus station so we started asking the few people around how to get to the street of our chosen guesthouse.  No one had heard of this street or the guesthouse and I found out a few days later it had been closed since 2009 at least.  Way to go website for keeping up to date info! Finally another guy turned up and asked if we needed help.  He seemed convinced where this place was, so he got another songthaew driver to take us there.  Blah blah blah-we drove around for a while, the guy obviously didn’t have a clue-at the time we didn’t know it didn’t exist anymore and eventually he just took us to this other guesthouse.  Which was great, because we ended up staying there and it was quite nice…to be continued soon….

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