Wed, 14 May 2008 12:21:02 +0000
Kuala Lumpur Day 3 Index Hat Yai Day 2
I slept a lot, but not well. Partly this is because that family were so damn noisy, even through the earplugs. Also, although it was fairly cool, it was insanely humid, and any part of me I lay on quickly became saturated with sweat. Maybe because I was in the top bunk, I don't know.
I woke up around 8:00 and briefly panicked that it might be the Thai border already, and I should be off the train getting my passport stamped. In fact it was just Butterworth. But I didn't go back to sleep. Eventually we did arrive at the border. It wasn't very clear where we had to go. Inevitably, the westerners ended up clumping together to figure out where to go, and we were herded to the right place. I got to talking with a New Zealander on his first trip outside Australasia (as he said, Australia doesn't really count as foreign travel). Like most sensible people, he's on a gentle relax-on-the-beach itinerary. It's only me who's madly dashing from city to city.
We arrived in Hat Yai late, around midday. Hat Yai turns out to be a fairly small place. I had no hotel reservation, and Wikitravel's recommendations all had directions like "on the second left outside the station, about 100m". But I did find the hotel they were talking about, and they had a room available. Pretty basic: no hot water, shower in the toilet, fan but no air-conditioning. But at 120 baht, about EUR2.40, absurdly cheap. Actually I had no idea at this stage how much baht were worth. After dumping my bag, I went back to the train station to book my train ticket out, and it cost 900 baht, which sounded like quite a lot. In fact that's EUR18, which is pretty good for a 16 hour journey. There was only one option, so I have no idea if that's a sleeper or a wooden bench. It's second class, anyway.
So that left me with the afternoon in Hat Yai. What is there to do in Hat Yai? Nothing, really. It's just a crappy border town. Apparently it gets lots of Chinese tourists in the season, but it's more about bars than anything else. So I resolved to just laze around. Sometimes, that's what you have to do.
Of course, I needed lunch. I wandered around trying to find somewhere selling Thai food, as opposed to Chinese food, and which looked like they might have a proper menu. The place I went to seemed fairly mid-range, and served me some "thai noodles" wrapped in an omelette. Not bad. After that I wandered around the streets, and happened to spot a lady cooking some little cakey things. They turned out to be effectively fried rice pudding, and were absolutely delicious.
I explored a bit more, had a look at the shopping centres to see if anywhere would serve decent coffee (doesn't appear so). There are lots of street stalls around selling all kinds of things, from nail clippers to fresh fruit to hardcore pornography. Yay for Thailand.
I retreated to the hotel room to shower and cool off under the fan, and watch some Doctor Who. Pretty slack of me, but it's that sort of day. When it was time for dinner, I thought I might look at some of those bars, since there was nothing else to do. They're all clustered together on the one street. It was 6:30, and they all looked pretty dead, apart from one that was full of brits drinking pints. I couldn't cope with that. Instead I went to a downstairs bar that claimed to have live music.
It was deserted apart from the staff having their dinner. I didn't like to disturb them, but they were open. I have no idea what I ordered: my first choice, something fishball oriented, was off. What turned up seemed to be chicken, with cucumber and raw snake beans. It came with a little dish of sauce, with chilis in. I poured this over everything, and it turned out to be outrageously spicy. I quite enjoyed it.
The only worrying thing was a huge rat that scurried out of my way as soon as I sat down. In its panic, it seems to have scurried the wrong way, because it kept popping its head out to see if the coast was clear to scurry back. It was quite sweet really. It eventually figured out an alternative route that skirted around my table. Rats in a restaurant are probably a bad sign, especially when you're being served raw food. But I figure there are probably rats everywhere, I just usually can't see them.
I was told that the band started playing at 9:00, and I thought that would be quite fun to watch. The poster implied they covered a variety of bands including KISS and Guns 'n' Roses. But in the end I was tired and didn't much fancy being the only punter to turn up on the dot at 9:00. So I gave it away. I might see if I can see some live music in Bangkok instead.
Kuala Lumpur Day 3 Index Hat Yai Day 2