Time to get back on the road
Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
132Trip End Jan 04, 2012
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Its a strange feeling, but the rain comes often as a welcome relief. The temperature drops a couple of degrees and the heat is bearable. Its not been terribly warm, but it is hovering in the high 20's and its a nice warmth added to be a sea breeze which has been missing from most of our travels.
The next few days are going to be busy again as we try and become backpackers and not holidaymakers - we've had a good week of 'plush' hotels and its softening us too much. We are spending far too much money on rooms and on food and not enough on 'doing things'. We have now broken that with booking 3 nights in Penang at a hostel with private rooms but shared bathrooms. The first time we've sunk so low. The cost is a measly 43 pounds for the 3 nights. The equivalent to each night we are spending on Ko Tao. We've got a fun day tomorrow of the standard "Hurry up and Wait", which is becoming commonplace. We check out early, then have to wait 3hrs for the 2hr trip on the Sea Cat, and then have a 7 hour wait at Chumpon before our late night 14 hour train down to Butterworth, the connection point for Penang. This brings me to the point of reflection. Time.
Time takes on a new meaning once you do a bit of travelling. My idea on it has changed completely. I am a brilliant procrastinator (and Procrastinate is a brilliant word) in the real world and have made an art out of it. I can work my socks off when I need to, but it tends to only be brought to the surface when I am under pressure, hence I chose a career which tends towards the higher end of the pressure market to try and get the best out of myself. The rest of the time I can waste with the best of em. Watching sport, reading a bit, surfing the net, nothing ever gets done really. Procrastination is the key to a successful traveler I believe. There are so many occasions when you have to fill time, having the ability to make it while away without even noticing is of endless importance.
I can't remember a time when in the UK I didn't see 5hr drive or a 4hr train journey as a big thing. The sort of journeys we make in the UK we place such a big emphasis on as if they are something Scott or Shackleton might be proud of. "I've had such a hard week, I've worked 5 days and then had to drive 3 hours up north and then 3 hours back on the Sunday night", Bless. Its not difficult anymore. The only hardening thing about travelling in the UK is the cost, not the time or the effort.
I look forward to having to to keep my mind occupied for such short amounts of time on a journey, we see 5-7 hours as the norm now, and 2 hours as a hop across town. If you time it correctly you can finish work, make a 5 hour journey and be at your destination in time for late night TV at your weekend retreat. We've done the long journey travelling sort of thing on numerous occasions while travelling and filled the 'weekend' break to beyond breaking point and then made it to our next destination to do it all again. We've learnt to time arrivals giving us the most useful time at our next stop. If you arrive by 9am, you generally get a full day, after 2pm and you waste the day.
No real point to all of this, just that its nice to realise we're pretty lucky at home that everything is so close.
We're planning on spending 3 nights in Penang and then popping down on a train to Kuala Lumpur. I've been informed we won't need to spend more than 1 day there as it's 'boring as hell'. Ironically due to a mistiming issue, we're going to be stuck there for 4 nights. I'm going to look into getting an overnight trip over to the Cameron Highlands from Kuala Lumpur if we can before we head further south to Singapore and what I hope will be a return to somewhere I have many happy memories about from our Honeymoon. In the time it takes for you guys at home to have enjoyed the glorious sun you are currently enjoying, and for the UK to slink back into autumn and the inevitable gloom it brings - we shall be preparing to fly out to Australia for their late spring.
To finish our last full day off in Koh Tao we went for a wander to find somewhere to get my hair cut. It was very much under duress. We walked into the hairdressers with our shoes off (it seems customary in lots of places to take your shoes off, however considering the hair all over the floor I personally don't see it as very hygienic) and my hairdresser walks in from across the road where she had been chatting to one of her neighbors. She manages to get through the formalities of what I am after without too much trouble and then starts clipping away. Half way through cutting, she clearly decides that my hair isn't the right length and starts all over again (I have to agree, she had only taken off about 3-4mm), however she seems a little more frantic this time around and in her frantic-ness I notice she has the grip of a vice. She grabs my head to move it and I get the feeling she could crush it like a watermelon at any opportunity. At this point I look closer at her strong hands and see the long painted nails on the muscular fingers and tight strong forearms. She could probably bench press me.
When finished, she had done a good job. Better than my hairdressers at home and for half the price. Kate commented that 'she' was very pretty. I did agree, she was. Kate also noted that her feet were a decent size, not quite size 11, but above most of the other ladies of the area. Next door but one, the Queens cabaret was all but in full swing - it seems their number must have been down by 1 this evening.
A couple of drinks then followed at the Simple Life bar as we listened to the Maid blurting out a couple of numbers with the help of an English birthday boy. The maid took the part of the live entertainment every night and spent a good half an hour singing songs in a Thai style, forgetting some of the words as she went along but having fun in the process. As harmless fun she was excellent. As a singer, she wasn't I'm sad to say - but we enjoyed her humour, her smile and the fact she could throw down the mop and blurt out some Tina Turner when it turned 8pm. One song that we keep hearing is 'Way back into Love' from Music and Lyrics starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore - very random.
We trotted back down to the Lotus Bar to catch a bit more fire dancing and spent a bit of time chatting to a friendly big Swiss man called Stefan. He was a lot of fun and seemed to be on a bit of a 2 week bender with a couple of friends. I eventually got told to stop drinking, and I moaned at Kate for being a boring fart as she refused to drink anymore and then we went to bed. It was probably the right decision - I had a headache in the morning.