Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Last Days and Thailand & Malaysia: Round 2

As most of you know, we managed to wrangle about 80-90% of our owed money from our school. Between finishing early, his reluctance to pay total amounts and months of unpaid pension (he decided to report to the government that we finished working for him in September so he didn't have to pay the remaining of our pension) we are out thousands of dollars, but there was/is nothing more that could have been done. 

The last day in our apartment was a sad one. We had everything but our bags and a few boxes packed up and sent home or given away and Mr. Snakeface boss came to check the place before handing over our cash. He decides when he got there that all the furniture had to be moved out (furniture that was there when we moved in) and WE had to pay to dump it. There was a lot of arguing and back and forth over the furniture nonsense but we got it sorted and spent the rest of the day with him and two other Korean dudes moving every last thing in that apartment up and down 19 floors to the basement dump. After it was all said and done and it was time to lock our door one last time, I had a nice cry looking out at our amazing view over this city that in a very short time would no longer be my home. We reminisced about all the parties and good times that were had over the past few years, took one last look at this empty space that was our home for 2 1/2 years and locked the door.

We spent a few days on friends' couches and then were finally off on our much needed vacation. We flew to Langkawi, Malaysia (northern west coast of Malaysia) for one night, then caught the ferry to Koh Lipe, Thailand (southern west coast of Thailand) the following day to spent 11 days lounging on one of those beaches you see only on postcards or calendars. Immigration was a concrete building with a palm-thatched roof and getting stamped and through basically took place right there on the sand. The entire island is walkable so we just walked to the other side where our bungalow was waiting for us. It was basic, stifling hot, had no air conditioning or hot water...but it did have a hammock and was about 15 steps from the most turquoise water I've ever seen.

Al under the mosquito net

It looks much dingier than it actually was. It was squeaky clean.

We soon got into the routine of doing absolutely nothing. Wake up, coffee (for Al) and tea (for me), beach, lunch, hammock book reading, beach, dinner, sleep. Not always in that order, but mostly what the days consisted of. Once we took a walk up into the jungly mountain part, where some of the local people live and on the way was a temple:

We then saw some roosters and then a few baby chickens squaring off and fighting:

And then saw a bit of the local scenery up in the hills:

Another day we hired a longtail boat and some captains to take us on a snorkeling trip. 

I. Love. Snorkeling. There's so much going on under there.

Sup Nemo

Parked on this beach to have our lunch

That water is about 6 feet deep there

One of our boat drivers

Stopped at a different island that had swings all over the place...

...And tree limbs...

...that someone had put pretty corals on.

One evening, I saw the sickest sunset I've ever seen in my life. Never, ever, ever have I seen anything like it. So Lion King. 

We arrived at the sunset beach and I was like so pretty! Little did I know what was coming.

Starts peeking under the clouds...



This is not real.



Picture of me taking a picture

We ate some good food...

Coconut banana pancake

Coffee, Thai milk tea and fruit (obviously)


Tom Kha. Kind of like a coconut lemongrass soup with lime leaves, bamboo shoots, chicken and veggies.
We even found some kitties! The path from our bungalow to the main walking street had a dump pile of roof metal and one night we walked by and there were kittens in it! So each night we would look for them on our way to dinner and play with them. 

I got a few $9 massages, but other than that it was mostly just laying around on the beach or meandering down to the walking street. 

Every restaurant or store is open air

This was a sand spit on one end of the beach

One of the most serene, (undoctored) pictures I took

Seems legit

This little kid stopped outside our bungalow and just played with the plants

When I get the settings right, my camera is capable of amazing things!

The main walking street...before I got a tan

The tide went down really low one night


Love this picture

This was about as crowded as the water got with people swimming

Shake and pancake stand

As our week and a half was coming to a close, we decided to use our last night for a movie. SE Asia is famous for "TV bars" I guess you could call them. They have TVs and cushions and pillows all over and they play movies and shows all day and night. We got some fries, picked some pillows and watched "Get Him to the Greek."

The last day we took the 4pm ferry back to Langkawi to catch our 10pm flight to Kuala Lumpur where we would spend two nights. Al isn't a big fan of Malaysia, but I don't mind it so I was pretty excited to spend a whole day in a new city. 

We spent the afternoon in the markets and then went a little outside the city to the Batu Caves, a Hindu temple of sorts set in and around massive limestone caves...complete with an enormous golden god statue. 

Outside our hotel

At the Batu Caves

It was a loooong way up

So many layers of paint

Indian ladies visiting the caves. Saris are some of the world's most beautiful clothing.
We decided we wanted to go see the Petronas Towers at night, so we relaxed at the hotel for a bit....then it started pouring the rain. And I mean pouring. Thunder, lightening, the whole shebang. It was really nice, actually, because I haven't heard a thunderstorm in so long, but there went our chances to see Kuala Lumpur's most famous landmark. Oh well! The rain let up a bit so we crossed the street to the market food court, ghetto in the daytime, even more ghetto at night. I got a "sesame chicken and rice" from one of the vendors, sounds safe enough, yes? No. It came looking like it was covered in blood, clotted blood, and I still have no idea what kind of sauce that was. I didn't eat much of the chicken, though the rice was steamed with coconut so I ate that instead. Al had some weird Chinese noodle dish. We had a good laugh about our gross last ever dinner in Southeast Asia and headed back to our air-conditioned hotel room, leaving for Busan very early the next morning. 

It's 1:32am as I type this which means I have exactly one full day left in South Korea. We fly out at 4pm on Thursday to Tokyo, giving me only tomorrow and maybe Thursday morning to finish the millions of things still left to be done. 

On to Tokyo!

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