So I had made it through my first night of freedom in fantastically soulful form. Now came the need to be a responsible and functional traveller. The first thing I was told to get right when I travel is to keep structure despite the freedom available and this starts with getting the right breakfast every morning. However, I had over packed, as previously mentioned, so I was doing to travel version of a moving out fridge clear out. So my first breakfast of freedom was……..water, Ribena, cheese flavoured rice crackers and some sweet japanese cake I was given 3 months before. Start as you intend to go on comes to mind.
A quick side note, this will not begin a pattern of photographs of every meal I have on my travels. This habit irritates the shit out of me. So unless its weird or the result of a hilarious mix up, it isn’t being posted.
So my next step was getting my arse on a sleeper train from Kuala Lumpur to the Thailand border. The “excellent” Malaysian rail website was nice enough to inform me that a train did indeed exist, however under no circumstances would its delightful reminder of mid 90’s HTML allow me to book anything. After trying on 3 browsers, 2 devices and multiple connections I conceded defeat. Technology had failed me in an ironic lesson I was trying to make to myself anyway so I attempted the old-fashioned way of booking train tickets…….I walked to the local transport to get me to the train station. The fact I used google maps to achieve this is irrelevant of course, I was being localised…….
The first thing you will notice when you attempt public transport in Kuala Lumpur is that it is not very organised and therefore I had a 3 km walk to the MRT which would take me to the train station I needed. A pleasant walk later i had unlocked the achievement of public transport.
After managing to get a ticket for the sleeper train that night for the pretty reasonable price of 53 Malaysia Ringett(about 12 euro). I was genuinely excited about taking a sleeper train despite it being a 12-15 hour journey. I had not done it before and it seemed like a delightful novelty. I had not really taken into account what it is actually like to sleep on one. Nevertheless I was blindly happy as I lumbered along with my(slightly more reasonable) bags and boarded the train. It was then that I realised how a sleeper train actually looks…….
Nevertheless, I made acquaintance with my bunk mates which happened to be 2 chinese girls and a swedish couple. All were new to the sleeper train situation and were as mildly amused about it as I was. After the pleasantries were exchanged I realised a significant issue with my sleeping situation. There is no storage area for bags outside of your bunk. Therefore if you have bags you will end up with a situation like this
Once again, I was not going to let this situation affect the novelty of freedom, sleeper trains etc so I proceeded to remember my Tetris training as I piled my bags in a way that I could fit myself around them to make sleeping possible. As much as I would love to have taken a picture of this, it did not allow a huge amount of selfie room. Also I fucking hate selfies.
Unfortunately I did run into the obstacle I have yet to overcome in all my years of hostels, buses, touring and travel. My old kryptonite……. snoring! I am able to sleep just about anywhere including the boot of cars, under tables, even on tiled shower floors but I cannot sleep around snoring. It drives me absolutely mad. So about 1 hour into our journey a large man got into the bunk across from me and I was struck by the impending doom feeling of incoming snoring. I was proved right, as what proceed was 10 hour of deafening snoring that seemed to bounce around the train and straight into my brain. I put on headphones and despite blasting music, his snores could actually be heard over a full volume iPod using in-ear headphones. About 5 hours into the journey, the chinese girls, the swedish couple and I decided to have a UN conference to decide how we were going to deal with the situation, as it had gotten to the point that everyone on the carriage was awake. It was decided, that as the representative of Ireland, I can probably break the news to the sleeping giant in the nicest and least confrontational way. So I poked the giant to wake him and explained the situation to him. In fairness to him, he was very apologetic but acknowledged that there was not much he could do as the bunk didn’t allow a lot of movement. Despite his best efforts, we didn’t get any respite from this until he got off the train about 2 hours from the border.
There are 2 other issues on the sleeper train. Firstly it is extremely hot initially and drops considerably in temperature as it goes on. So you will need to adjust during the night. Secondly, there is almost guaranteed to be mosquitos so let my 46 bites on the train serve as the warning to use off lotion when taking the sleeper train.
Finally I was at the Thai border. This was the 3rd Thai border I was crossing by land and I will cover them all in-depth in a dedicated post at a later date about Thailand visa runs but for now I was simply faced with this phenomenal organisation while operating on no sleep(translation – I was a bit of a cranky pants)
An hour here was followed by another train for about 30 minutes to Hat Yai in Southern Thailand. I wont write a huge amount about Hat Yai because to be honest, there is not much there. It was Hari Raya weekend so the place was mostly filled with Singaporeans on holidays for the long weekend. Hat Yai is traditionally a holidays destination for Malaysians and Singaporean rather than westerners, mostly for its red light bars and KTV clubs. However nowadays most of that has been moved out of the city to the border town of Dannok, about 30 minutes to 1 hour away so I didn’t see any signs of it.
A notable occurrence while I was trying to eat my dinner at a street stall, was convincing an overly persistent lady boy “masseuse” that I was from Northern Thailand which resulted in her automatically losing interest as she “does not want thai customers”. What drugs she was taking was not clear but whatever it was must have been strong enough to make this pasty Irish boy look like a Thai.