Friday, August 14, 2015

VSTR Day 1, 5 Aug - Over and across the sea to Thailand (30km)




Someone's happy!






To actually meet together at Changi Airport after months of anticipating excitedly for our adventure was an exhilarating experience! But for VT and Claudine, it was to be a stressful one. Despite leaving their house in JB at 7am to make it for the 845am meet, they were stuck in an unexpected horrendous traffic jam at the Causeway. Our prayers were answered and we breathe a sigh of relief when they finally showed up at 935am at the Air Asia check in counter only to find that somehow, they booked luggage instead of sports equipment for their foldies. This mere administrative error (the charges were about the same) resulted in a penalty of another S$120+ which was absolutely unreasonable despite our earnest pleas.

*Note to all for checking in bicycles with Air Asia, please remember to book Sports Equipment!

All that drama was soon forgotten when we boarded the plane for the short 1.5 hrs flight to Langkawi Island in NW Malaysia. The plane was packed with passengers like us taking advantage of the Spore National Day holidays but we didn't mind it one bit. As we descended, the plane was pelted by heavy rains and that reminded us of what was to come. The laid back atmosphere of the airport was most welcoming. It took us about 30 mins to assemble our foldies in the airport and it was great to see everyone helping each other.


I was here in Langkawi with Papa some 5 years ago and it was great to be cycling across this beautiful island again. Our destination was Kuah Jetty some 20km away to catch the 515pm ferry to Thailand. There were a few hills that caught us but nothing to be worried about. We rode through quiet green rice fields and open spaces enjoying the serenity until a noisy Ferrari with engine problems crawled past us like a injured rodent.


We arrived safely and had a comfortable 2 hours to spare at the Jetty. Our tickets costs RM$30 for passengers and another RM$15 for our bikes. A late lunch of Malay food at a nearby local eatery as recommended by the ticket lady was enjoyed hungrily but so did the irritating mozzies who enjoyed our exposed legs. Our Thai ferry to Thamalang Jetty has seen better days but at least it was big and the staff handled our precious bicycles very well. Crossing the sea took about an hour and we were rewarded with splendid views of the many islands. It was great fun to hang around on the breezy top deck of the ferry and we were in the highest spirits until it started raining and that got us scampering into the deck.

Celebrating someone's promotion to Full Professor... Sshhh! 

If Langkawi was relaxed, the Thai immigration was even more so. The officers were fascinated to see our team of 10 but the pace of their work was soooooo slow. I supposed that is one way to fill up a boring day. When we all were finally cleared, we got together to take a group pic but a sudden monsoon broke out like there was no tomorrow. As daylight was fast fading, we got our wet weather gear and braved the rains after a 10 minute wait. The Immigration Office had closed too and the staff waved us from the comfort of their cars as we pedalled merrily the easy 10km quiet road north to Satun town through dark and damp weather, all with lighted smiles.


It was quite a drama when we tried checking into Cliff Man Guesthouse all wet and grotty. They claimed that they have not received our reservations despite confirmation from Booking.com and it didn't help that we had language challenges. Chris, a French man who ran Ti Baan Bistro was called to mediate and he recommended another hotel which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. A call to Booking.com confirmed that indeed, the story from Cliff Man was true and kudos to them for their service recovery. However, we were all happily settled into the comfortable Sinkiat Hotel and I had to remind myself that God always walks in front of us. This "mistake" was truly a blessing in disguise as the rooms were spacious, clean and had attached bathrooms unlike Cliff Man's shared toilet, something that the ladies were irking about slightly.


Unknown to the team, I had organised a welcome dinner at Ti Baan Bistro and when we stepped in, we were greeted with "Welcome Lovethefold" signs. They have closed the whole restaurant for us! Chris and Pooh really put up a first class 4 course meal starting with yam salad with salmon, green curry pork with fish cakes and rice. Dessert was none other than mango sticky rice and all these served in a 5 star dining experience that only a Frenchman can deliver.


With Papa's boom box belting out songs of our era and sipping Bailey's Irish Cream on ice, we were luxuriated and relaxed. We also celebrated George and Wendy's birthday with a cake organised by Ti Baan with Celia on the guitar.


Our amazing dining experience at Ti Baan truly was a fitting start to our adventure. I cannot thank Chris, Pooh and their staff enough for this very special evening and the least I can do is to write a deserving review on Tripadvisor of our amazing experience.


After dinner, we took an easy walk around the quiet town to the river despite the drizzle. What an adventure it has been getting here and we slept that night with great anticipation on what the next day will enfold for us. Yes, it started to storm again but we were in the comfort of our dry airconditioned rooms with not a care in the world as we are after all, Team VSTR, whose sole mission is to explore Southern Thailand on our foldies and eat well.



And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.  Romans 8:28 TLB



1 comment:

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