One Day in Thailand2/5/2013

One Day in Thailand

To this point I’ve spent my entire trip in two countries, Indonesia and Malaysia: EXCEPT for a day in an Australian refugee camp, 6 days in Colorado, and one fine day in Thailand.

I worked in the Perhentian Islands from June until October 2012 without a working visa. In order to (legally) stay in Malaysia I needed to do a single border run to Thailand. That day is one I’ll never forget.

The Taman Negara trip was incredible. I could barely catch my breath before realizing I had less than 2 weeks before I would have to leave Malaysia to reset my visa stay. (Malaysia allows 90 days entry for U.S. citizens. You need to spend a day in another country in order for those 90 days to reset). Instead of going back to Perhentian with the rest of the team, we decided to do my visa run now vs. the expensive route in 2 weeks. I was only about a 2-hour train ride from the border anyway.

I arrived without a hitch to the entry point of Thailand. The train dropped me off about 20 minutes from the border. From there I took a cab to the entry point, received a visa stamp, and literally walked across the border into Thailand. (Dodging motorbikes and cars along the way.) I had no idea where I was at, and STILL don’t, but had a guy in a motorbike drop me off in the city center.

I notice that everything here is cheap, REAL CHEAP. I find out that this is the town where all the Malaysians go to get laid. Yes, I am in a seedy border town.

There are no foreigners here. The only languages spoken include Thai, Malay, and Chinese. Very basic English is spoken, but I find myself communicating mostly in Malay. I seek what appears to be the nicest hotel in the city. The price for a night here is about $20 a night, but does NOT include extra “services”

“You want girl? I can get you young girl”. That’s the first phrase I hear upon being welcomed into the hotel. He proceeds to give me a rundown of the extra services. I take particular interest in a Thai massage. The cost, only $5. Not bad!

Everywhere I look there are prostitutes. They fearlessly walk up and down the streets patrolling the area for potential clients. I find that they actually speak the best English out of all the locals, and of course are the friendliest. One actually helps me locate my hotel. They are definitely much more helpful than the prostitutes in other seedy areas like the Red Light District in Amsterdam.

After a good meal and a long two days hiking in the Taman Negara Rainforest I am ready to relax! That Thai massage is looking like a really good deal at this hour. I inform the guy at the front desk that I would like a massage. He says, “No problem, I will send a girl up to your room in about 30 minutes”. Uhmm what?!

I turn on a Bruce Willis movie on Cinemax not sure what to expect next. The girl arrives on time. She’s a bit older than I thought, maybe in her early 30’s, Thai, and a bit overweight. She has a bag of different lotions in her arsenal. The lady immediately closes my blinds, locks my doors, and motions for me to lie on my back. Uh oh!

I lay on my back acting like I am glued to the Bruce Willis movie. In my mind I am not sure what to expect, conjuring up feelings of nervousness.

The massage itself was awkwardly good. During the entire time I felt like she was going to make a move to ask for additional “services”. I was thinking of ways to decline this offer without offending the lady and figuring out how to communicate this through the language barrier. The offer never happened and I was relived.

I did enjoy the massage. Thai massages are more intense than most massages, though not intense as a Turkish bath, but a bit stronger than Balinese or traditional Chinese American. The Thai massage was exactly what I needed after the jungle trek.

I decided to stay away from the outdoors at night. I ate dinner at my hotel and went to bed. Sweet dreams and no happy endings for me!

The next day I walked back across the border from Thailand to Malaysia. I received a bit of hassle from customs. I mean they really don’t get a lot of backpackers, much less walkers. After a 10-minute wait I was home free. I arrived back in Perhentian just in time to catch the rest of the Ecoteer team enjoying lunch.

Takeaways from Thailand

-The prices are cheap, REAL cheap. I thought Malay villages were as cheap as it gets in SE Asia but Thailand as much cheaper accommodation and food.
-There feels like more of a “sexual energy” about Thailand. I’ve been to party spots in Malaysia and Indonesia but Thailand has the look and feel of “bang for your buck” kind of place
-Thailand is proud of their King. A picture is placed in all of the shops, restaurants, and hotels around time. He never seems to be smiling.
-The people are happy
-Border runs are for the most part very easy from Malaysia – Thailand – Malaysia, but seem to be getting more difficult the other way around.
-I WANT to visit Thailand for more than a week!

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