September 06, 2004


I'm on the island of Penang on the northwestern coast of Malaysia. While very happy to be in Asia at last, the past couple of weeks have been somewhat frustrating. I've been trying to line up some work to replenish my savings a bit after the battering it took in Australia. I had several different projects in the pipeline and it was looking pretty good that they would come through.

I stayed for a week in Kuala Lumpur waiting for one project in particular to come through. Finally, I got sick of the grime and noise and traffic of KL so I decided to take the flight that I had booked up to Thailand and try my luck at finding a comparable net connection there. I flew to Hat Yai, just across the border from Malaysia, spent one night there and then took a minibus up to Krabi.

There's not much to the town of Krabi, but right away I could tell I liked it. It's a small town but still has its share of bars and shops and nightlife, plus it's right on the coast. Unfortunately, the net connections there are horribly slow.

Figuring I'd make work my first priority and worry about fun and sun later, I decided to head up to Phuket, which I had heard had better net connections. I spent about 6 hours in a minibus driving up there. When we got there, I had planned to stay in Phuket Town but the minibus driver took us to a travel agency where they put on the hard-sell to try and book me into a hotel in Patong Beach, the major tourist area on the island. I didn't buy into it, but there were some British girls on the bus that seemed to know what they were doing, knew the hotel they were staying at in Patong and had been told not to stay in Phuket Town. So I decided to tag along with them.

Patong Beach is one of the biggest shitholes I've ever stayed at. It's full of gaudy neon and T-Shirt shops and everything touristy and disgusting. It also seems to be a major center for sex tourism. There are plenty of farangs with lanky Thai girls in tow, and this being the low season, every bar you pass is full of Thai girls trying very persistently to grab your attention and then god knows what else. I never took it that far. The net connections there were just passable for the work that I needed to do, but I decided I treally didn't want to stay there.

So I grabbed a tuk-tuk into Phuket Town, stopping at the obligatory duty-free shops on the way so my esteemed driver could make his 100 baht commission at each one. Since he was up front about it and gave me a good deal on the ride, I went along with it. And it's true, we still got into town way faster than if I would have taken the local bus.

Anyways, Phuket town was a much more authentic Thai city that has not been overrun by farangs and the Thais that are attracted to them and their disposable income. I had some great meals there and while it's not on the beach and doesn't really have much notable in the way of attractions, I enjoyed wandering around for a while. Alas, the net connections there weren't as good as the ones in Patong and would not be suitable for my work.

Screw it, I said, I'm gonna take a nice boat cruise around Kho Phi Phi and some of the surrounding islands and head back to Malaysia, where I know the net connections are good. It was a great trip on a speedboat to some really idyllic tropical island spots, including "The Beach" from the movie. The water was a bit rough, but I enjoyed even that. Overally, I was very glad to be back to the paradise spots which I love so much.

Posted by Pedro at September 6, 2004 02:48 AM | TrackBack
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