Thursday, 23 December 2010

Khao Lak is lovely … however

Monday 23rd December 2010

MP3 track of the day: Driving home for Christmas -Chris Rea

Weather: Nice in Krabi and in Khoa Lak until 6pm when the thunder and lighting started to erupt.

Some … git of a bus driver kept his engine running outside my dorm today resulting in yet another early morning. I got ready and, funnily enough, I was way to early for my pick-up. To kill time I went to the local bakery for a hot chocolate brownie and a bottle of water … yum. I had seen said brownie being eaten by Matt a couple of days ago and it was as nice as it looked.

Back at the hostel I wondered around abit, on the internet for abit with the intention of trying to kill time. It didn't help that the min-van was late to pick me up and that all the other people on there were a lot older than me … no backpackers going my way.

It wasn't long before we stopped at a 'mini-van hub' where loads of people were sitting down with stickers on. I was asked where I was going and was presented with a blue sticker - which was erected on the right side of my chest – and told to sit down. As I sat down, waiting to be called to a mini-van, I looked around in the hope of seeing many blue stickers. There where lots however most were families or couples … then it hit me. Re-reading through my guidebook again ,Khao Lak is a sleepy beach town with lots of resorts ... I bet most of these people were going to a resort. My heart sank a little.

Finally I was called to a mini-van where most of the people on the first mini-van I took boarded as well. Once on we had to tell the driver where our accommodation was. When it was my turn the driver, and his English-speaking assistant, looked puzzled. It took them ten minutes of debating for them to finally tell me that my guesthouse was 15km out of town and that they weren't prepared to take me there; instead I would have to take a tuk-tuk once they had dropped me off in the town center … I was not impressed at all. The mini-van system is supposed to be door-to-door which is why it's more expensive than a normal bus. The same was said to an older German couple sitting behind me, in which they kicked up a bigger stink than I as their travel agent told them that they would be dropped off at their resort.

I was surprised that I didn't worry too much; traveling has taught me that things always work out no matter the situation. We traveled not for very long until we had a 'ten minute' rest stop (which is never ten minutes on these mini-vans) so that the driver could have his lunch. Most of us sat near the van a little annoyed; I spoke to the German couple who had been told the same as I from the driver and they weren't standing for it … I shall adopt the same stance I thought.

The ride was really uncomfortable; luckily I had two seats so that I could swing my legs to give them more room … However I sat oddly, trying to look forwards, with a slight twist in my back. The ride was longer than I expected and it wasn't until 3:30pm that we past a sign for the German couples resort. I said goodbye and they wished me good luck; It was at this point that I confronted the driver and said that I want him to take me to my guesthouse; he said that we agreed I would be dropped off in the town center, to which I replied no we had not!

Back on the mini-van he wasn't happy; luckily a Thai lady translated what he was saying and that he said the guesthouse had shutdown and that he would take me somewhere else very nice … I had herd of this scam before and I replied in a way that no Thai translation was needed; he suddenly became very quite. After a while the Thai lady translated that he wanted to stop near a police station to ask for directions; I said to the Thai lady that this wasn't nessary as I have the phone number of the guesthouse. He rang the number and all seemed like it was being sorted … I started to relax.

After a rather lengthy conversation, the call terminated within the town Khao Lak itself; the driver did a 'U-turn' and within five minutes we arrived at my guesthouse (15kms out of town hey!). He grudgingly gave me my bags and I just walked away without a thank you given … I'm really starting to get annoyed with all this bartering and lies thrown around.

I arrived at the hostel to see a massive smiling face; immediately I left better. The lady was lovely however she was very puzzled why I wanted to stay nine nights; I tried to explain that I wanted to chill for a while, over Christmas, however I wasn't too sure about nine nights either. She was brilliant, basically by the end of our conversation she had said that I could stay as long as I wanted and just pay for those nights, making it extremely easy on me. She was also saying that if I wanted to go anywhere else I had to book it quickly as it's peak season and places are filling up … it was almost as if she wanted to get rid of me, but in a nice way.

For the first time I requested to see my room before confirming that I would be staying. I was thoroughly glad to see that the room was spotless, my sheets get changed every three days, my room is cleaned every day and the room, though bland, is very nice indeed … part one ticket. The downside was that she said the internet didn't work in my room; normally this wouldn't be a problem however, with the luxury of being able to leave things out, I wanted to download a few films over night and watch them the following day (in our house-hold it's a tradition to watch 'Muppet Christmas Carol' on Christmas Eve … I was a bit gutted I couldn't keep that tradition this year).

I was left in my room to unpack and double check that yes the internet didn't work in my room :(. As it was raining outside I went downstairs to use the internet and to speak to the lady on reception. We had a good laugh and she told me of the very few things to do in Khoa Lak (again she was urging me to cut my time here short). She gave me a very good map which I had a look at to see plenty of things to do including six waterfalls, elephant trekking, island visiting and beaches … I felt it was pretty good here as the lady is the nicest local person that I have met in South East Asia so far.

I then asked the dreaded question of how many others were staying here; it seemed like there was me, a tambourine and a penguin that had checked in for Christmas … oh goodie. I was online at the time and I went onto Facebook; I saw that Stephanie (the German girl from Georgetown that was going to let me know if there was any accommodation on Ko Phi Phi but didn't reply to my message … not that I'm bitter or anything) was online where we chatted. She pleaded for me to come to her next destination, Ko Pha Ngan (a small island on the other side of the country where people go to get drunk). She pleaded so much (women do that to me for some reason) that I said yes, hopefully in five days time I shall be meeting up with my friends from Georgetown, however I actually really do like Khao Lak. The only problem I've got is that I will have to arrive without pre-booking accommodation as it's all full on the internet … well apart from the expensive places. This would be a first for me, and a pretty scary the thought it is too.

I asked the lady on reception if I could go direct to Ko Pha Ngan from here to which her eyes lit up and she said yes. I replied that it might be in five days time, however Stephanie and I will be chatting again to finalize details.

Having only had a chocolate brownie to day I was starving. It was that annoying time of 5pm when it was too late to have lunch and too early to have tea. As the rain had stopped I decided to walk in a rectangle shape up into town (where I stopped for a snack) and then return to my guesthouse via the beach. At this stage I was feeling worse and worse; my stomach was doing summer salts and my back really hurt (not to mention this annoying cough I've had since the Cameron Highlands). I made it back to the guesthouse house where I dropped off my bag and went somewhere close for tea.

Three doors down I ate in a restaurant that, during my meal, I found out the owner was originally from Yorkshire. The food was okay however I was feeling worse and worse. In the distance lighting and thunder could be herd and so I went back to my hostel around 7pm without finishing the meal.

I decided to go straight to bed as that was all I wanted to do; I immediately felt a little better however I couldn't doze off. I decided to sit up in bed and go on the internet for a while (which is now working though I still can't download any films!) before trying to sleep again.

Tomorrow depends on two things ... if I feel better and the weather. I fancy going elephant trekking and so I need to go around town to get the best quote; I also need to see how much a bus to Ko Pha Ngan, for the 28th, will cost. On the internet I need to read up on my Lao and Cambodia visas as, when I get to Bangkok, I need to apply for them. Souvenir shopping is also on my 'Khao Lak' list as I thought I would have bags of time. Oh and I need a new pad-lock as I've lost one … when am I going to get time to do what I planned which is sit on the beach, relax and read my books?

Now some people may think that it's rotten luck to feel bad so near Christmas, however I'm pretty pleased it's been here and no where else. Firstly I'm on my tod so no missing out on fun with a group and secondly I have my own clean room, which has become a God send. Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel a lot better, I'm going to sleep now hopefully for a long time … that should do the trick!

Toodle Pip!

P.S. I haven't taken anything for my stomach, caught and temperature as I need to make sure that what I take doesn't interfere with my malaria tablets … I do have the list of 'no no's' but I can't be bothered to look tonight.

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