Sunday, 25 January 2009

Exit Lipeh: Malaysia By Night

Another day, another boat. The ferry is a lot slower than the speedboat; but you can sit right at the front in front of the cabin, feel the wind on your face, and catch some more sun. I'd been chatting to an Aussie girl, but even I couldn't get a word in edgeways...I had to move when she went to the toilet.

I got chatting to a nice middle-aged German couple who'd been travelling, off and on, for the last 20 years. Pretty cool lifestyle they had. Save, travel, save, travel. They told me some places to go in Singapore, and I filled them in on Phayam and Chang (don't worry, I'm boring myself about them, too). The things they told me about Burma in the 70s made me want to go there one day, it sounded amazing.

I got chatting to a bloke from Berlin, a theatre set designer, who told me he works all over Germany. We gave each other a few pointers on places of interest in Asia, and he said that if I was ever in Berlin, I could use his place if he wasn't there. You do meet the best people on the road.

We disembarked at last, and were immediately separated and whisked away to respective buses. I was headed for Hat Yai. It's known simply as a transit hub, as well as a place the Malays cross the border to frequent the thousands of prostitutes on offer. Not my kind of thing, but I know a man in London who'd like the place. Apparently it has the highest rate of AIDS in Thailand, yet the authorities play down the figure so as not to scare anyone off. Frightening.

Not looking forward to an 18 hour bus ride to Singapore with no toilet, I decided not to drink. Just in case. As it turned out, the ride wasn't so bad. Apart from the rude Chinese who were constantly upsetting the Thai staff with their demands. It's interesting to see the change in ethnicity as you get closer to another country's borders. Indians blended with Chinese as we waited at the far side of the Malaysian border while the driver took a break. Man United v Stoke was on the TV, so I didn't mind catching half of that.

Malaysia flew by in a pitch black blur outside my window. I'd liked to have seen the Cameron Highlands; I couldn't believe that we climbed and climbed for over an hour. But they've been there millions of years, I'm sure they'll still be there if I come back.

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