Wednesday, April 25, 2012

First Day in Thailand

I posted this at my other blog with pictures, but I feel like it has the misenthropic voice of NES/NAS so I'm running it here too. If you want pics, check out jaehak.wordpress.com

It seems I've overkicked my coverage a bit. I didn't really plan to be in Trang yet, the plan was to head to Langkawi, Malaysia to spend the last of my ringet on cheap beachside beer. Unfortunately, getting to Langkawi from Penang turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated. There are two ferries between these islands (conveniently at 8:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Way to spread out your ferries, Malaysia) that I never intended to take. I planned to go overland, but apparently this is an unreliable way to get there and I likely would have had to spend the night in Alor Setor or Kuala Kedah. That, or I could have stayed another night in Penang and taken the ferry the next day. Neither of these options appealed to me, so I called an audible and caught a minivan to Thailand.

And so I got in a van with a 24-year old Aussie chick (named Sheila, no shit) who had been traveling for 4 years, a leftist Spanish girl who felt that nobody should have to work ever and that people who participate in Amarillo-style eating contests deserved to die, and a few Chinese businessmen. I opted for my headphones.

In Hat Yai, I had to change to a local Thai minibus. It was full to the brim and quite different than Korean, or even Malaysian transit. On a Korean bus, everyone, literally everyone on the bus pass the time with smart phones or tablets. On this minibus, everyone just rode in silence, looking at the back of the chair in front of them. I felt it would be douchey to whip out the iPad to watch a movie, but fortunately I had a long Carolla podcast to burn.

Other than a tip from a buddy of mine that Trang was a good place to start in southern Thailand and a cursory glance at Travelfish, Wikitravel, and Lonely Planet, I knew nothing about the town whatsoever. Thailand is a whole different animal than Malaysia. English ability is much lower, and the script is indecipherable to me. Malaysian is written in Roman letters, so even if I don't understand the signs, I can read them and make out a few loan words (kompleks, motorsikal, stessen, sentral, bas, feri, etc). I was the last passenger on the bus, and I told the driver to take me to the train station (which is basically the only word in Thai that I know). I knew from my quick research that there was at least one guesthouse by the station.

Despite the fact that I pretty much felt like I fell off the turnip truck, the train station proved to be a good choice. Lots of guesthouses and coffee shops, near some cool markets. Best of all, I found a nice cafe with good-for-Indochina wifi to write and do research.

Trang town is nice, but there isn't a whole lot to do other than researching places further afield. It's the landlocked capital of a southern province known for it's beaches. I imagine my current situation is similar to that of an Asian backpacker visiting Tallahassee.

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