Sunday, June 27, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Tomorrow I'll visit a nearby beach and then the day after that I'll continue my journey north towards Bangkok.
Tomorrow morning I’m going to cross the border into Thailand. This involves catching a bus from Kota Bharu, where I am now, to the border town of Rantau Panjang and walking across the border to the town on the Thai side, Sungai Golok.
I’ve only just discovered that the southern regions of Thailand are a little dangerous due to some militant Muslim separatists who occasionally bomb places and the police who are responding heavy-handedly. Crossing the border where I intend to will take me into these areas. I thought about traveling over to the west coast of the peninsular and crossing there where it is not dangerous but I’ve decided to go ahead here. After doing some research, it sounds as though its safe enough. There are travel warnings but then there were about Bali as well and that was fine. I’m going to reduce the risk by getting on a train in Sungai Golok and going straight through the three riskiest provinces ofNarathiwat, Yala, and Pattani without stopping until I reach the safety of the city of Hat Yai in Songkhla. Any points of interest in those three areas will have to wait for another time I’m in the region.
My lonely planet guidebooks have served me pretty well up to this point, although sometimes with vague or inaccurate information, but this time they’ve been really annoying. I have the Malaysia book and it has the information about how to cross the border from Kota Bharu, but don’t mention anything about troubles in southern Thailand. It was only when I read the Thailand book that I discovered the dangers in the southern parts. Perhaps lonely planet should say this in their Malaysian guidebook when describing the border-crossing at Kota Bharu.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The next day we continued walking and I was really struggling. The guide set a cracking pace, ridiculously fast really, it was no wonder we didn't see much. Plus I have to get better footwear. We stopped to bathe in a shallow stream which was great. And we also stopped at a local Asri (the name of the indigenous people here) village. The people were very shy but I entertained the children making drawings in the sand.
Even though the pace of the trek was tiring, tackling the jungle itself was not too difficult. There was a trail though certainly not a well-trodden one. I grew up from the ages of 0-12 spending much time in the bush in Birkdale in Auckland and nothing in the jungle was more difficult than what I remember from my youth: logs to climb over, streams to cross, and so on. There were no leeches in Birkdale though! I removed about a dozen from me over the two days.
Now I'm back at the main settlement, recovering for a day. I'll take another walk this afternoon but it is a short one along a tree canopy walkway.
I don't have any photos because my camera stopped working but hopefully the Germans are going to email me some of theirs.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I arrived here late last night, at around 2.30pm. The bus ride from Bukittinggi took 13 hours even though they told me it would be 8. The bus did break down but only took one hour to repair so I’m not sure where the other hours came from. I also had to change to a smaller shuttle at about midnight and I’m still not sure why. Maybe the bus driver had had enough. He hailed the shuttle to take me and one other passenger the rest of the way to Dumai. I got dropped at a seedy hotel which seemed to incorporate a brothel on the ground floor. Couldn’t really go looking for another hotel at that hour so had to stay one night there but checked out early.
On the way here I crossed the Equator. I was hoping for some indication to mark the spot but was none so I’m not sure just where the occasion took place, but I am now in the Northern Hemisphere.
I thought there was an afternoon ferry to Melaka but this turned out not to be the case so I have to stay another night in Indonesia and leave tomorrow morning.