From Ko Tao we took the night ferry back to the mainland. It was noticeably more busy than the one I had taken over to Koh Phan gan but bearable despite the rough seas. The crowds were soon left behind to hop from island to island as we headed down to the National Park of Koah Sok. I had heard a lot of good things about Koah Sok but other factors were at play that hampered the enjoyment slightly. With the monsoon season upon us the park had closed many areas out of fear of flash floods whilst the rest of the village was deserted making any sort of expeditions out to other areas vastly inflated.
We spent one day in the park, an afternoon walk through the primary rainforest. It would have been an unmitigated disaster if we hadn’t chosen to ignore the park closure signs and carry on anyway. The waterfall in the allowed area was dire to say the least. The walk into the closed area was far more fun, with rivers to cross, banks to scramble up and vines to play Tarzan with. I won’t say that we came across anything worthy of any merit, but the walk along the ‘paths’ was much fun. Eventually we lost it and had to turn back. Arriving back into the village we compared leeches counts, I think I was into double figures and booked our bus out the following day. The park itself has a lot to offer, but not in the monsoon season.
From Koah Sok we mini bus hopped all the way down to the Thai-Malaysian border. It was an epic day of travelling made all the easier by very comfortable transport. Thailand is rather wonderful at that. The border crossing was easily done and we reached the island of Pendang in the evening.
The name Georgetown, the city on Pendang evokes a lot of images of merchant traders and pirates. The reality disappoints in this regard. It’s now a very developed city with sky scrapers the norm. I can’t particularly speak of any highlights in terms of the sights. We toured the city for a good day but found everything to be pretty miss able. Fortunately we could rely upon India to come to the rescue and save a wasted trip. The little India was a treat, with the local restaurants that I love so much, I got reacquainted with eating with my hands and spending little in return. South East Asia has not been able to meet the Indian subcontinents ability to make you feel welcome wherever you eat. It was a joy to be welcomed in with relish rather than trepidation.
There was something much amusing on how efficient and modern Georgetown is and then you enter littler India and find the roads gridlocked, horns blaring as numerous music shops blast out differing Bollywood offerings. The only thing that was missing was rubbish on the floor and more shouting and I could have been back on the streets of Delhi.
Georgetown also went up in the standings as it delivered me a two month Indonesian visa. Type it into the internet and people are fraught with tales as to how they have tried and failed. We woke up on the morning of Visa day and set to work. I’d researched as many of the tricks as I could and hoped for the best. First was a silly amount of documents to photocopy including credit card (with blanked out numbers). Then we went for the brilliant passport photo with a red background because Georgetowns embassy has an old photocopier! Last was the smartest clothes I could dig out and finally a shave and a comb of the hair. It was highly amusing to be dressing up for an embassy.
It worked as well. Paul got turned away for not having a flight out, despite having one from Malaysia back to UK. Not good enough. I however got through and picked my visa up the following day.