Hat Yai to Trang, THAILAND

Out of harm’s way and into Trang

From the travelogue 11 Months in Southeast Asia with Diabetes

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“That big loud whistle as it blew and blew said
Hello to the south land, we're coming to you
And we're moving on
Oh hear my song”
—Hank Snow

After a communication snafu caused us to spend a night at a hotel in Hat Yai, Thailand, where deadly bombings were occasional occurrences, Masayo and I went the next day to the place we originally intended to go, the town of Trang (ตรัง).

After my self-induced and exaggerated feelings of dread at being in Hat Yai, being in Trang was really nice; our time in Thailand on this great and grand Southeast Asia trip has begun, for real.

street-market-trang-thailand

After arriving by a bus that didn’t explode en route, we checked in to the Koh Teng Hotel. I liked its big open warehouse-style entrance, and the cavernous square concrete room with wooden tables and furnishings, in the corner of which was the service counter.

chinese-temple-red-trang-thailand

They had a room – floating along with the wind and getting cheap rooms with no reservation is always so easy in Thailand – and we checked in and put our bags down, finally able to relax and start to soak in the easy Thai way of life.

Our first dinner that same night was at a local street market that seemed so much more relaxed than the one in Hat Yai, but was in fact identical in most ways. It’s just that my mind was settled and unworried.

hills-trees-clouds-sky-trang-thailand

Simply walking around the town of Trang yields many surprising pleasures – although it’s not a big tourist destination in and of itself, there are plenty of stunning statues, big Buddhas, and spectacular spires, many just sitting somewhere off to the side, low-key. They’re there, if you’re looking, but they don’t want to intrude.

pineapple-piles-sleeping-vendors-trang-thailand

Street and local life also rolled along in Trang. Fruit sellers at a market napped beside piles of fresh pineapples while women chatted and bought and sold vegetables, rice, and meats in small and large quantities.

Diabetes report – Keeping insulin cool in the southern Thai sun

Trang is a hot town – at this latitude, all towns are hot. When walking around I had to carry insulin with me (as well as low blood sugar snacks and my blood glucose monitor), but I didn’t want it to bake in the sun.

I’ve generally been using an ice pack on this trip so far, wrapped in a shirt to avoid direct contact with the pen case that holds my insulin pens, with everything tucked into my small orange backpack I always have.

jeremy-walking-on-train-tracks-trang-thailand

Walking with my insulin to the wrong side of Trang’s tracks.

But I’ve been noticing that even without the ice pack, as long as I put the pen case deep in my backpack and maybe wrap it up in a shirt, it stays surprisingly cool even when direct sun seems to be baking my backpack.

I wouldn’t keep my entire unused insulin supply like this (it’s back in the room, cooled) but for the pens I’m currently using it seems to be fine. Another worry for diabetics who fear travel to cast aside!

golden-buddha-green-trees-trang-thailand

Buddha says, “Don’t worry, your insulin will be fine.”

Lizards greeted us occasionally in our room, but they were small and friendly and we saw no reason to chase them away. Thailand does that to you – there seems to be no ill will in the air, even among the wildlife. It’s live and let live, at least once you’re out of places like Hat Yai.

lizard-in-hotel-room-trang-thailand

But, pleasant though Trang has been, after three days we are feeling the pull of the next town. There is a lot to see in Thailand, and it wouldn’t do to stay in one place too long. Thanks for the welcome to Thailand, Trang; but now we have to be moving on.

What’s the nicest “first place” you’ve visited when entering a new country?

Share your travel stories, give advice, or ask a question in the comments section.

Next page: Day 99: Ladyboy show at Kae's Guesthouse, Chumphon

“We were persuaded to extend our stay at Kae's Guesthouse in Thailand to see a ladyboy show. We didn't know what that was but we sure found out!”

About the author

Jeremy has traveled to over 40 countries, taken several road trips across the United States (and Canada), and lived on and off in Japan for several years. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1982 but doesn't let a little thing like that stop him from exploring the world.

Jeremy writes about his travels with diabetes on 70-130.com as a way of logging his excursions and of inspiring others who might be feeling hesitant to take their own big bite out of life.

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