After a relaxing 10 days on Koh Tao, we’ve been on the road again this week. First we spent a few nights in a place called Krabi. It’s a bit of a nowhere town back on mainland Thailand but it was a jumping off point for a few nice beaches and broke up our journey to Malaysia.
We were there on new year’s eve so during the day we took a boat to Railey Beach. It’s meant to be great for outdoor climbing but we couldn’t join in due to a gory coral collision lacerating the underside of five of Dean’s toes whilst snorkeling earlier in the week (also preventing us from doing any more diving or snorkeling on Koh Tao but he’s nearly fixed now)!
In the evening we got a taxi to another more built up beachy area called Aonang. We had a tasty curry then took a walk along the coast passing the resorts with their NYE extravaganzas in full swing. Some of the dire caberet acts made us pleased we weren’t participating but the courtyards decorated with lanterns and fairylights were very pretty.
New year is a big thing in Thailand, much bigger than Christmas, so there were lots of locals out and about. Many of them, along with lots of tourists, were sitting on walls and steps down to the beach so we joined them. The sky was filled with hundreds of fire lanterns which people were launching with varying degrees of care/accuracy/skill. Occasionally one would career into the crowds insteads of lifting into the air so it wasn’t wise to get too settled! Several people also had sparklers or fireworks which, again, were set off at random so you had to keep your wits about you! At midnight the resorts set off their firworks, illuminating the sky and reflected in the sea, and a surge of many more lanterns floated away to tiny specks. All in all a very memorable new year.
After Krabi it was time to say goodbye to Thailand, its delicious food and peaceful people, where we’d now spent six weeks in total. We took a 14 hour bus, across the border to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. The most immediate differences we noted were the huge fast food presence (McDonald’s, KFC, Nandos, Pizza Hut), the tropical climate (hot, humid, rainy, thunder storms) and the countryside being covered in palm trees at all stages of growth for the farming of palm oil.
The next morning we traveled to a place called Kuala Selangor which is even more of a nowhere town than Krabi – it didn’t even have anywhere with anything tasty to eat. This didn’t matter too much as we were there less than 24 hours with the intention of seeing two things. One was a late night boat ride to see thousands of fireflies which was really not as exciting as I’d anticipated. The other, which far exceeded my expectations, was a nature park, costing 4 ringgit (80p) each to enter.
It was quite a poorly maintained mangrove forest area with a lake in the middle and a ‘boardwalk’ over some of the swampy area. But despite the overgrown paths, broken fences and litter, we saw lots of wildlife which we happily snapped away at. There were the usual things – butterflies, dragonflies, crickets, grasshoppers – but there were also several troops of silvered leaf monkeys chilling out in the trees.
At times it felt rather prehistoric with water monitor lizards basking along the lake’s banks or going for a dip; smaller lizards scuttling along; and the very, very strange sight of hundreds of mudskippers which are amphibious creatures that look like fish and drag themselves along the mud with their fins, appearing to jump in and out of the water!
There were also crabs. Probably thousands (15 species apparently), living in mud holes. Some were big and ugly but there were also lots of colourful little ones, particularly the male fiddler crabs who have one much larger pincer in a contrasting colour to their shell.
We expected to see more birds but we did see white egrets, a grey heron, a brahminy kite, some little colurful birds and a grey one eating his flailing fish.
After the nature park, we bought some drinks and sat on a kids’ playground to drink them. Gradually we were approached and surrounded by a troop of about 30 monkeys! They didn’t come too close once they realised we had no food but, whilst we watched, various locals and tourists parked up and fed them. A bit irresponsible but at least the monkeys seem quite friendly.
Lastly we took a walk up a hill where there were yet more monkeys (same as before plus some macaques) being fed by tourists who wanted photos with the monkeys sitting on their heads. The incongruous image of monkeys eating bananas whilst sitting on canons amused me!
And so our Malaysian journey begins. We are currently in Melaka having a lovely time with Harry (my brother) and Ting (his fiancée) before we head back to Kuala Lumpur to meet my cousin and his family tomorrow. It’s amazing to see some familiar faces! But more about that next time.
Visits to McDonalds since entering Malaysia: 2
Visits to Nandos since entering Malaysia: 1
Buses required to get from Kuala Selangor to Melaka: 4