Its shoulder season here in Krabi, Thailand. I always wondered what that season was and know I know, it’s between the Peak seasons, and life is not nearly so frenetic. The people take their town back, go out in the evening, walk on the beach, picnic on the sea wall, watch the sunset and treat visitors rather less like walking ATMs. In fact the hustlers and trinket sellers are gone from the beach and the few water vendors who wander up and down join in with Frisbee games and are keen to point out the Monitor Lizards who come in to visit from the sea. The visitors seem to be primarily Thai, down from Bangkok perhaps, though of course there are the usual Europeans from all over, even a scattering of people from North America. It’s quite the Tower of Babel in the bars during the evening, so many different tongues and I’m quite ashamed that I really cannot identify most of them.
After Raja Ampat I had a couple of days on Papua proper in Sorong looking for a bird of paradise feather for my Mother. Seems she has always wanted one so who was I to refuse the challenge, dutiful son and all that. I spent most of a whole day looking round the knick-knack shops, antique dealers, tourist shops, such as they were, and all I could come up with were gaudy head dresses, hopelessly inappropriate. I was greatly helped by Alex’s wife, he from Yenkoranu, she lives and works in Sorong, a teacher and Youle drove me around on her scooter, all to no avail. But at about 8.00pm on the evening before I left she called me and said she was coming to pick me up, again. What we ended up with is so ridiculously ridiculous that we will have to wait until my Ma receives it, in Seattle in mid July, to see whether it suffices, or not. (don’t tell if you already know)
Krabi then, shoulder season, quite a shock after so many months feeling a bit of a castaway in Borneo and the like, but before Krabi there were greater shocks. Sorong to Makassar in Sulawesi and then Singapore in one day.. That was a shock. I think I keep a reasonably positive spin on life going along so maybe I should not linger on Singapore. No, I wont. But I will mention that the western immigrants all seemed inordinately proud of the fact that they lived in what is now the most expensive place on earth. They are also proud of the fact that there is a huge mall, open on Sundays, especially for all the domestic workers from the Philippines so they can enjoy their one-day off. Don’t get me going on the cars, million dollar Ferraris, Bentleys, Rollers etc.
A train, out of there, ASAP to Malaysia. A fourteen hour ride seemed a bit daunting but in fact it was most enjoyable. There were some interesting people to chat with. An author who writes books on SE Asia railway journeys, a family from Chicago who hadn’t slept for two nights and another from Calgary. Lots of seat swapping, chat and time to write the last blog. The terminus was the splendidly named Butterworth where we were expected to find our way to the ferry to Penang. The big problem was that between S’pore and the ferry ticket booth there was no opportunity to acquire local currency. There was a very pleasant Norwegian who was delighted to receive the best exchange rate he will ever get for my US Dollars! A midnight taxi ride to my hotel, still with no local currency, stopped at an ATM and my bank decided that now was the time to put a temporary hold on my account. Thanks very much Wells Fargo. The hotel night watchman loaned me the taxi fare, kindly made me sandwiches, supplied the remnants of a bottle of red and packed me off to bed.
Penang was interesting, a little bit of Britain on an island off the coast of Malaysia, it was one of the last little pink bits. I am not sure when Penang received independence but there is a definite British feel to the place. Some of the street names for instance, there is a King street, a Queen, Beach, Downing, Buckingham etc, even a Fettes Park. The old colonial buildings have been preserved, most of them anyway, and I could not resist tea in the grounds of the very civilized 1884 hotel, the Eastern and Orient, or affectionately the E. & O. It was quite the thrill to sit on their lawns looking out over the Malacca Straits with large thirty-two pounder cannons off an English ship of the line circa 1800 as accompaniment. There was no-one around to take my photo and as I have yet to buy a selfie stick (!) the event went unrecorded. Shame really, they were magnificent cannons.
But again, like Singapore, it was quite expensive in Penang so I moved on to Krabi, on the South West coast of Thailand where I have been roosting for a couple of weeks. I found a pleasant Inn about twenty feet from the beach which has reduced my need to walk considerably. This is a good thing because I can’t, walk that is. It started back in Saba the day I walked for ten hours and has been getting steadily worse until now I can barely walk for ten minutes without having to sit down. Mighty inconvenient. I consulted with ‘Nice Mike’ back in Papua, the splendid Dr Singh in Singapore and friend Luca in Germany and the consensus is that I have Plantar Fasciitis, or ‘joggers foot’, the left one. I have been prescribed steroids, but they don’t seem to be making much difference so I am bound for Bangkok where I shall be fitted with a cast for support. Apparently it will be only like a sock so I can wear it with my shoe. I just hope it works.
Apologies for the blog less period but not a lot to comment upon on the twenty feet between hotel and beach. Lets hope for more interesting observations from the Lower Mekong, by boat.
I will put this up tonight and upload photos tomorrow, if the wires, tubes, and Internets permit!