After Surprising my friends in Siantar that I was back, I took some time to relax. I walked around a bit, made some new friends, went to a wedding and a Christmas celebration, worked on some old computer projects that were catching dust, and started planning where to go next. I knew I wanted to go to Thailand, just not exactly where in Thailand or what I would be doing there (sight seeing, diving, teaching english, find some work as a dive master, trekking, etc).
The good thing about backpacking is that it’s relatively easy to do on the go, without any set plans. You meet a lot of people who’ve been there before, or you get advice from people that work in guest houses. From people like that I learned about some places to go, and where to go to get my VISA sorted. I flew to Penang in Malaysia, stayed there a few days, got my visa arranged and marveled at the stuff they sell in the markets. For one, they sell all kinds of swords and blades and things that would probably be illegal in my country. I like martial arts, and I had to exercise some constraint here :P.
Beside the exotic market, I also really liked the town. I stayed in Georgetown, in the old section. Some people call Penang a shithole, but I like to disagree here. It’s a mix of a LOT of different cultures. Chinese, Atjehnese, Arab, Indian, etc etc. I enjoyed walking around, going to little India, get some food, look at the sights, listen to the music, and just enjoy the place. And the I hadn’t even seen the rest of the island.
But I hadn’t come there for a long holiday. As soon as I had my VISA I took a bus for Koh Phangan, Thailand. My plan was to visit some places some friends of mine had mentioned, and maybe do some diving. At any rate, I didn’t plan to stay there long, because I wanted to try to get a simple diving job, or at least some dives with discount on Koh Tao, since I had friends there whom I hadn’t seen in a while. Koh Phangan however, was soo relaxd that I stayed there for a full month. This island is considered the party island, but the party is mostly concentrated in the south. You can rent a motorbike and explore the entire island in a day, so you can stay in a quiet place, and just go to a party place whenever you feeln like it. Koh Phangan is well known for its full moon parties. But there is sooo much more to do here thatn just that. I took a kite surfing course, did some trekking on my own, read a few books, and since I had to wait for an annoying fever to pass, only did one dive at “Sailrock”. Bad visibility, nothing like at lake Tawar though… Other than the fun of trying to keep track of everybody, it was a rather boring dive.
And I went to a few parties. Surprisingly, none of them were of the “moon” variety (silver, black, half, full). There are parties everywhere, and when there was a “something” moon party going on, I was at other parties having a nice time. The fireshows here are quite nice too. My cousin would really fit in here. In particular because for all the fire shows, there was no fire breathing, and he rocks at fire breathing…
After Koh Phangan I left for Koh Tao. I wouldn’t have as much time to stay there as I had first planned, so I stayed there just a week. Went to see my friends and did a bunch of dives with them. Tried some freediving (read, going down as deep as you can without a scuba unit, which is not deep there since it is pretty shallow)
Also did some fire breathing there, which I had learned from my cousin. There was a one-man fire-show at a guesthouse/bar. So I asked the guy if I could try something. He didn’t mind. Still; breathing fire requires so much less skill than the skills these artist display. You just have to have respect for that.
My time in Thailand was running out. If I wanted to see more I would have to leave, so I left…