26th-29th September Peace and Quiet at last!
The train from Bangkok to Butterworth was easy peasy! and I get a huge bed and sleep so well, the best for ages. I have fun sharing Thai and English words for various food items on my plate, days of the week and other useless phrases in the guidebook (where is the bank!?) with one of my room-mates Suat. More stunning tropical views as we move south - good to be going in the right direction again. So excited am I about my beach 'holiday' I leap from the train straight onto a bus (RNB 15 or 4 US dollars) with no real thought about whether I can get any money out in my remote destination (thankfully I can!) and off to Lumut and the ferry to Pulau Pangkor. What a beautiful and relaxed place. I stay at Mizam Resort where the owners are super friendly. It is Ramadam at the moment too so an extra special thanks to them for putting me up. It is extra quiet and lots of places are closed, but I am very happy with this. After getting used to the cockroaches and lizards scuttling around the floor and the racket from the jungle; monkeys, insects and who knows what else, I manage to sleep. I rise early to see if I can do some scuba diving but there is a lot of wind so the boat won't go out and all the kit is on the mainland (and I think they cannot be bothered for one person - always a problem!) So instead I go for a snorkel. Although I can take a boat, I decide I need the exercise and snorkel the 300m to Giam Island. Sadly because of the wind the sand is churned up and the visibility low but for about 30 mins I am totally alone on the island (except for the lone monkey I didn't actually meet!) So some friendly dutch folk arrived with their boat guide Ee and we got chatting for a while (too long though, as I got well and truly sunburnt - silly Brit!) and then I snorkelled home. The next part of my tri-athalon - a little cycle ride on a bike with gears (and brakes!) thank god as there are more hills than Wales it seems and the temperature is rising. I start to feel a bit ill from my sun exposure and so take refuge under a tree for a while. It seems I am the new attraction in town! If I stop for more than 1 minute someone is over saying a friendly hello, Selamat Pagi, or where are you from? I am finding it really hard trying not to be a paranoid, western woman alone but sadly that is the world I live in and whether it is a risk or not I know I must take care. This makes me very sad as I ponder this thought for a while. I am often instantly skeptical about most meetings, offers etc and quick to presume the worst, even just for a split second (as much as my inner intuition is trying not to.) Various people have tried to offer me help, directions, tickets, a room, food, conversation etc. Sometimes I accept, sometimes I don't. I try to use my intuition and common sense but sometimes I block out people who may be really interesting or useful. It is sad that it has to be like that and I am trying to be open to everyone. More lazing in the sun and then I must continue my journey. A bus to Kuala Lumpur (18 RMB - or 5 US dollars) takes 5 hours. It is amazing how your level of tolerance drops when in a confined space with loads of people you don't know; what with teeth suckers, goo goo gaa gaa baby entertainers and at least one person making an obnoxious smell or coughing all over the place every few miinutes is enough to test your sanity! I am soon back in the city; skyscrapers, people, noise and craziness. I try to learn a bit of the Malay language. It seems easier than some I have come across and many words are very recognisable from English e.g Teksi (taxi), beg (bag), bank (er...bank!) and kafe (cafe). One day here before I leave for Singapore.......only 3 days to the boat departure date. I am so excited now......I might just do this you know!!!