Current Location: Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia
Current  Weather: 90°F (feels like 107°F)
Days Gone: 161
Days Remaining: 55

First off we have a tiny bit of business to attend to. If anyone has clicked the Donate link to the right, they have seen that donations are not intended to go to me, but instead to the Wanderlust Lending Team at Kiva.org. For Kiva’s 5-Year Anniversary they are offering a $25 loan credit to anyone who invites five people. If you’ve considered lending before, now is the best time because you can your $25 donation would actually contribute $30! You can read more about Kiva at their website or on the Donate page here. If you are interested in participating, send a quick email to twocents.wanderlust@gmail.com with the subject line “Kiva.” I’ll send you an invite within 24 hours. Just keep in mind that the offer expires at the end of October. You can still join after that time, of course, but Kiva will no longer be offering additional loan credit. Now on to the travel stuff.

I escaped Cambodia the very same day my visa expired, which seems to be a bad habit I’ve formed. But last minute escapes are cinematic, no? Back in Thailand on a fifteen day transit visa (aiming for Malaysia) I decided to stop off at an island called Ko Chang. For all intents and purposes, I told myself the detour was “on the way” to Bangkok anyway. I arrived after dark due to some painfully disorganized buses at the border crossing. Little did I know that I would not see the sun for five days. My first afternoon a monsoon struck the island with deadly force. I’m not kidding, seven people died due to landslides and the island lost power for 60 hours. During this time I drained the batteries of my laptop and iPod and read nearly three novels. I also watched the cats hunt geckos. Determined to see the island in sunlight, I hung around for a few more days – though even after the power returned, the rain continued. Finally, on day five, the sun appeared for two hours. I visited the beach but saw only rocks, trash, and a few miserable tourists. At least I got some free barbecue at a bar one night and, due to power outages, negotiated a lower room rate. On day six I cut my losses and fled for Bangkok. But the rain followed me there, too.

From Bangkok I moved south as far as I could on one ticket. The result was a city called Had Yai not terribly far from Malaysia. From there I tried to get a ticket into Malaysia, but the local bus station only offered tickets to the border. So that’s where I went. I walked across the Thai-Malaysian border at around 3:30 PM on a Sunday. I had decided to try to go to another island (the sun was shining again!) called Pulau Langkawi. The nearest port was an hour away and no buses ran there. So I hired a taxi to take me the whole way for about $12. Now here I am, and I might stay quite a while. Malaysia was kind enough to give me a 90 day visa for free. There is a solid Indian population on the island, which is awesome because they all speak English and I’m going to eat curry until I pop. I’ve been here almost 48 hours now and haven’t seen a drop of rain, not even the typical afternoon shower. It is hot though, this is the furthest South I’ve ever been.

I feel like I should apologize for the “…and then I did this”-style of post. I was debating what to write about, but the past two weeks or so have mostly been transit, rainstorms, and basic living. And I guess that’s the interesting thing. I’ve always said that travel is a lifestyle, but I think now this holds true (for me) more than ever before, though perhaps from a slightly different perspective. I am still living, I just happen to be in Malaysia. Take today for instance: I got up early. I found a new local breakfast joint and had some yellow rice, curry, and eggs. I went for a run on the beach. I took care of some internet business (emails, web articles, Facebook, Skype). I went and had a lunch of lamb curry and white rice. I returned to the beach. I read a few chapters of fiction. Then I came back to my dorm and took a cold shower. Next I started writing this post. It’s been a relaxing day. After this I’ll probably head back to the beach to do some writing and watch the sunset. Then I’ll go get some dinner, come back “home,” watch a movie on my laptop, and go to bed. Aside from the context, the day itself is not that unusual. Like I said, I just happen to be in Malaysia. Living.

Last thing consumed: Lamb Curry and White Rice, at only $1.60 – I think I’ll stay awhile.
Thought fragment: Being a Muslim country, alcohol is heavily taxed and absurdly priced. You can buy alcohol free beer at the minimart for US$2 a bottle to play pretend. I think, as a result of this, my stay in Malaysia will be very…hydrating.

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October 19, 2010

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