Wednesday, November 11, 2009

are we there yet?

Blair, Jason and I just finished our rather arduous journey from Ko Samui on Thailand's Southeastern coast back to Ko Phi Phi in the West. This included a ridicules visa-run over the Malaysian border at Pedang-Besar, which somehow included a ride on a local school bus along with 3 bus rides and another boat ride. Needless to say, the travel day between Samui and Phi Phi was definitely not to be desired. Tough Life we live! I know. At least all this traveling has gave me lots of time to finish some of my readings. I was able to read Grisham's "Pelican Brief" and "Rainmaker" and am 200 pages deep into "the Appeal." I quite impressed by the way Grisham writes, his novels typically displays the underdog broke, indebted, and underfunded lawyers/firms against big legal firms, his writing style is intoxicating and makes for an excellent quick and easy read. Reading his works has re-invigorated my aspirations to enter the legal profession, and I hope when I do become a lawyer I would be on the right side in matters of moral and ethics. Being a former lawyer himself, I think Grisham is good at depicting the realities of law school and the life afterward. Starting Law school I think most people go in with the idealistic vision of changing the world, making a difference through defending the law and the innocent. After three years of being waist deep in debt, most just want to land in the right firm, work their seventy hour a work-week, and hopefully be partners in 7 years. Sad reality, but I think if lawyers were to make the same as school teachers, 9/10 law schools would close down immediately.

Back to travels. Our Visa run had to take place on the 10th/11th. Our tourist visa in Thailand was quickly running out and the only way to renew it without paying an exorbitant amount of baht is to quickly cross into Malaysia and scamper back to Thailand for a fresh 28 days. We left Samui early in the morning (5am!! yuck) and ended up at port to go to Hat Yai, once their we will take a bus down to the Malaysian-Thai border at Pedang Besar. We got to Hat Yai in one piece, no AC and all in 35 degree weather, it was not pleasant. Sweating and smelling poorly ensued quickly, and the mood dramatically soured as each hour went by. We hopped on what we thought was a bus used for the border-run, instead it was a bus to take school kids home. However, we were not informed of that at the start. I assume the school teacher was trying to make a few extra dollars on the ride home. We stopped at two dozen different locations on the way down, making a 1 hour ride into more than 2.5 hours. At least the situation was mildly hilarious, and we got some fun out of it. The school kids here are very well dressed, have neatly packed books, and were well-behaved. Pictures will be coming up of the bus-ride. Once we got to the border, we got our Thailand-departure stamp and card filled out. Then we had to walk 3 kms with 15pound bag to the other side of Malaysia to get an Malaysian entry stamp and card. Nonetheless, walking 3kms in the blistering afternoon heat came with its share of grumbles and complaints. We walked back and got our new 28 day visa, taking us to the 23rd of November. We must leave before that or risk paying a 15USD/ per day fee for overstaying our visit. I never understood the idea of Visa's, especially country's who charge for tourist visas. Quite evidently we are spending a small fortune their and they should encourage it rather than making it harder than it needs to be. Anyways, enough complaining. We get our VISA and we were on our way back to Hat Yai to catch a bus to Krabi. We managed to get to Hat Yai just in time for the 7pm night bus to Krabi. We were in a sever food coma at this point, and none of us function well in long periods without food. More grumpy behavior ensues, we find food stalls and gorge ourselves on curries at an appalling rate. We get on the "3 hour" mini bus ride to Krabi. 3 hours turns into 6 hours and we get their exhausted, it didn't help that they cramped as many Thai's and tourists into the bus as possible. We were proper squished, and to make things worse Thai Karaoke was blasting at a ridicules volume. This seemed to the theme on long bus rides, being squished and horrible Thai Karaoke will ensue immediately. On my ride to Bangkok I will pop a Valium and be off to bed.

We get to Krabi, the mini bus drops us off at a random location. We were in the middle of a dead street not knowing where we were. Touting and selling ensues, soon 3 motor-taxis ambush us with recommendations for accommodations and places to eat. This was expected, but at 1am at night, we really were not in the mood. We found our place on the Lonely Planet and hire motorcycles to takes us their for 1 dollar each, a pleasant 6km ride knowing we will finally get to a comfy bed with a shower. We sleep that night, as well as we could, get up early again to head to Ko Phi Phi. Alas, Paradise is not lost, we get their find a good place to stay and then head straight for the beach for some proper tanning. However, having not worn sunglasses in awhile, I managed to get myself a pretty bad raccoon tan, horrible. This tan seemed to get worse and worse as days went on. After 2 nights here, some modest partying, we are of to Railay, and here we are waiting for next boat to Raliay. Railay is the best part of Southern Thailand, its quiet and peaceful, and not littered with overweight and over aged sex-tourists. What a poor exhibition of western culture. That is a rant for another day! As for a plan for the remaining two weeks. I will be in Bangkok for just a day on the 15th, we will spend more time their on the way back. Then up to Chiang Mai for a trek on the 16th-18th, and then to Laos on the 20th. But for now, I have a boat to catch. See you.


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