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. Pictures to come.

After that, I flew back to Hat Yai and took a minbus down to Penang, where I hooked up again with my good travelling mate from Australia, Elton. He's travelled around Asia quite a bit and so is quite knowledgable about the different places to go and the ins and outs of each, so it was good to hook up with him.

We've both been here about a week now, though, him waiting for his ATM card to be sent from home and me still waiting for work to come through. Now it looks like the main job that I've been waiting for might fall through completely and it leaves me very frustrated to say the least. I've been running around trying to find the best spot where I can work from, which is definitely not where I'd wanna be if it weren't for the work. And now it looks like everything is gonna fall through. Oh well, such is life.

Fortunately, there was another project that I've been working on and is close to being done and the clients have actually come through with a bit more money than originally negotiated - not nearly as much as the other project - but it'll go pretty far here in Asia where spending $10 a night on accomodations and $5 on a meal is splurging.

So I'm hoping to head to a place called Cameron Highlands tomorrow, which, as the name implies, is up in higher elevations in the center of Malaysia, which should make things a bit cooler. It is also a major tea-growing region so that should be cool to check out. If the other job has indeed fallen through, it's on to the Perentian Islands for me, another tropical island diving and snorkelling paradise off the east coast of Malaysia. Everyone that's been there says how beautiful it is. Electricity over there is solely from generators, though, so I will be off the grid for a while, which frankly should be a bit of a welcome change.

More later...

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

Remember personal info?