March 12th 1984

posted in: The way back | 0

The day started very oddly.  I’d been lying awake for some time, + eventually, feeling it must be near enough to the hour to get moving, I asked Val what the time was.  7.15. she told me, so figuring that was late enough, I got up + went for a mandi.  I had to walk along the veranda, but didn’t pay vtoo much attention  to the fact that the street was dark + deserted – I just reckoned they were late starting, I suppose.  Val went to the mandi after me, while I started to pack, but when she returned, + still there was no light in the sky, we were forced to re-think.  Another look at the clock confirmed our emerging suspicions – a quarter to 4.  Val was alright – she hopped back to bed + went straight off to sleep, but I was even more wide awake now than before, + listened to a couple of tapes on the trusty Walkman before I felt drowsy again.  Needless to say, when we did have to get up, I was once again very sleepy.

The train was pretty much on time, + I whiled away the hour or 2 up to the border reading the paper.  The border formalities were very simple + efficient, both countries having their offices in the same building, which made things easier.

It was a nice welcome to Thailand, when we re-boarded the train, to be offered huge + tasty chicken drumsticks at B10, or M$1, each.  I had 2.  There was just another hour on the train up to Hat You, the first Thai town, + I was annoyed thast somehow the part of the paper that I hadn’t read had been left behind.  Which is what one must expect, I suppose.

The only event of note on this section of the trip was that a girl cam up to us, thrust a piece of paper at us, + said “Sign please.”  When I asked why, she replied, “Tomorrow I read about you in newspaper.” – a little confused, but we got the message.  So, fame at last.

We had an hour and a half to kill in Hat You before the next train left – we were heading up to Sarat Thani, to hop over to the island of Koh Samuui.  I went to change some money, which took up a good chunk of that time,  I must say, it was a relief to be in Thailand, which seemed immediately freer, less inhibited, less repressed.  We have both become violently anti-Muslim, so anything away from that is an improvement.  We chatted a while with 2 European girls – one Austrian, one Swiss – heading the same way as us.  And I bought a Newsweek before we boarded – once again even at the lowest class the train was perfectly comfortable.  It was a 7 or 8 hour journey, but passed pleasantly enough – Newsweek took up much of it, plus simply relaxing + gazing out of the window.  With such a splendid train service, we had rediscovered some enthusiasm for rail travel.  From Sura Thani, it was straight onto a waiting bus which whisked us out to Bo Dun, the port serving Ko Samui.  And there we were able to check straight onto the boat.  It was considerably more comfortable than we’d been led to believe, the upper deck being covered in mattresses.  One was assigned one of these, which was perfectly adequate, tho’ in practice there was more space available as the boat wasn’t full.  Again we had an hour or 2 to kill, so we bought some fruit + drank some coffee.  The boat left at 11.  I wrote until about 11.30 when the lights were turned off, + then settled down to sleep.  Very, very comfortable.

All travel, of course, but it would appear that (apart from the mis-start to the day) everything was smooth and comfortable. We have achieved our objective of leaving Malaysia behind. But actually, I do not think that our somewhat negative response to the country was rreally to do with it being Muslim, and actually iys form of the religiion wasa relatively low-key and unobtrusive.

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