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It’s a small word and a big moon

April 4, 2010

I made a visa run to Malaysia just week.  It was much less of a money bleed and pain-in-the-ass than my last trip to Laos.  At least this time I didn’t get an infection.  I caught a last minute train to Songai Kolok which is a southern border town in Thailand  Unfortunately for me the train was 3 hours late getting into town so time was short.  From there I caught a shared cab into Kota Bharu where the Thai Embassy is.  Turns out we missed the cutoff by about 15 minutes.  Normally, not such a big deal but it typically takes a day and a night to get it processed.  Tomorrow and the next day were holidays so everything was closed.  It looked as though I was going to be stuck in Malaysia which crushed my plans for being back on Ko Tao in time to pick up some courses on account of full moon finishing and all the partyers coming over to Ko Tao to get certified.  If I was stuck in Malaysia, I’d miss out on the rush.  Feeling rather defeated I walked about town until I found a reasonable place to stay.  A dorm room in an empty guest house for 10 RM (30 cents).  I checked in at 5 and at 5:30 I was fast asleep in all my clothes until 7 the next morning.  A cheery Malay man waved me into his shop for breakfast.  Real nice guy, taught me some words and gave some directions.
I made it back to the embassy for when it opened and along with a few other desperate travellers tried to arrange a same day return on the new visa.  “Come back at 3:30.” we were told.
I was there at quarter to, and waited until lo and behold, my passport with all fresh paper work.  It was a stroke of luck but I’d need it to keep up if I were to make it back to Ko Tao for tomorrow morning.  Now before I left, my mate Luke and his girlfriend Sophie had just been to Kota Bharu a couple weeks ago.  They tell me that in this town (thousands and thousands of people), there’s this one cab driver and on his dashboard there’s a picture of the two of them.  “Keep an eye for it and tell him we say Hello”, Luke says to me.  “Oh, OK Luke, sounds good” I said as only as sarcastic can be.  Well wouldn’t you know who happens to be the first cab driver come by?  I look at the dashboard and sure enough there are my two mates grinning back up at me.  sunnovabitch, I never would have imagined.  The driver was all excited and talked about the numerous other photos as well and who everyone was.  Well why not, I gave him one of my extra passport photos and now have my own legacy upon this man’s dashboard.  Nice.
We squeezed through the border – I picked the counter line with the customs agent who was just smiling and playing with a baby a few people ahead of me.  ‘I need to see this man’, I think to myself.  He was a little suspicious I think, of the visas adding up but real nice about it.  ‘Asked a bunch of questions I wasn’t ready for but made it through all the same.  We had 20 minutes to spare before the bus left for Hat Yai, a southern traveller’s junction for other destinations, in most cases.  Anyway, we were late arriving once more and I caught one of the last two seats with a mate I made along the way.  From one bus to another in just over 5 minutes.  We arrived in Chumphon at about 5 in the morning all burnt out and grumpy as hell.  Took the ferry over to Ko Tao a couples hours later.  There and back in 3 nights.  I was so fast that I had time to leave for Ko Phagnan the same afternoon I arrived to go out and flyer for the shop during the full moon party which was happening that night.  Last time this happened, someone ended up in jail and two were MIA so at least it was a good opportunity to set a new benchmark.  You can’t do much worse than that right?  Turns out it was quite a bit of fun and I thought we were doing an amazing job until the sun went down, the music came out and everyone began to get wasted.  Simply useless after that but whatever.  We all went out for a bit of fun and only wound up with minimal cuts and bruises, and everyone was accounted for.  At one point I was afraid the party would wash away as the tide came in.  I chatted up a Canadian pair on the boat ride back but they seemed to have been the only efforts to bear fruit over the entire ordeal, having no one else yet to return with a flyer.  Ah well, next time.

Tonight is snorkel test night for a newly graduated DMT.  For those of you familiar, yes I’m very excited as it’s my first Open Water student to go pro.  But I’ll write all about that later.

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