Something conjured up from a school geography lesson about four decades ago and not remembered from the last time in Asia.

We also saw oil palm plantations but they didn't invoke the same sense of curiosity that the rubber did. It seemed that rubber represented Malaysia and Thailand in a former time and recognising it made us somehow more comfortable.

Our second night was spent Taman Nagara Perlis National Park, tucked away in the North West of Malaysia. Unfortunately we arrived in the dark and left early to cross the border - our schedule is a bit messed up from shipping and we have a hard date of June 18th to enter China so put our skates on a bit.

We strayed into the rubber plantation while looking for a waterfall.

This was the latex running from the tree into a cup ready for collection. We just missed the tree while trying to turn round. Strangely, Ali from New Zealand and I from England had the same education about SE Asia.

It was early morning and there was a boy who looked about 12 collecting from the row of trees. He was a bit shy so we didn't photograph him. We weren't of a mind, or in a position, to question the role of child labour in the economies of developing nations

A miscellaneous Thai town through the windscreen.

Early driving experience has been good. In this case point the Tardis through the middle of town. The traffic is remarkably predictable and moves at a slow (relative to Aus) pace. 

The motor sikels putter along at an even pace, no harsh acceleration, but a bit of weaving. But they all move over to the left when there is space.

The cars are equally slow to accelerate. No burning off the competition, it all seems to flow.

Most of the road signs are in Thai and English. The difficult bit is figuring out which junction the sign really refers to, the signs can be some distance before the junction. This is not a problem unique to Thailand, it just depends on getting used to the local custom.

On the couple of occasions we realised we may have gone wrong we asked. After a bit of patience an English speaking person would be produced and directions found. All very pleasant really. Also perhaps a bit embarrassing as total strangers go very much out of their way to help a couple of idiot foreigners that got themselves lost.

By day 3 in Thailand the gps was fixed. Perhaps not quite feeling like breaking it again but we've lost an opportunity to at least talk to people.

And the waterfall we were trying to find when we found the rubber plantation. Neither of which were lost of course, just that they weren't where we were.

The sign on the main road was large and impressive. No different to any other of the blue signs for waterfalls, caves, beaches, and sundry items of tourist interest.

At one time there had been a wooden walkway on concrete piles. Unfortunately the wood was no longer there and the path to the waterfall a bit awkward to negotiate.

Apart from that it was a wonderful series of cascades between pools formed from limestone deposited out of the water.

Not to be deterred by our disappointment at the waterfall we followed a sign to Rawai Beach.

At one end was a car park and shelter but it looked awful barren and hot.

We drove into what is probably best described as the "community hall". There were a couple of people about and we went through the miming of sleep etc. All smiles and yes's so there we stayed the night.

The beach is just the other side of the fence.

After several comings and goings we had quite a lengthy, but limited, conversation with a group of local muslims. The area was being cleaned up ready for a concert the following night. Still ok for us to stay there.

There were three guys who took it in turn to cut the grass and set the clippings alight, along with the plastic bags and other miscellaneous rubbish. Hard work in the humidity.

The grass cutter was of a design I hadn't seen before. Ideally suited to long grass and rough ground. Nicely balanced.

To the South of the beach was a river mouth.

This was our first sight of "long tails". Named after the way the engine and propellor (on the end of a long shaft) are mounted.

From the just South of the border, that Malay National Park where we forgot to take photos,  it was obvious the landscape was predominantly limestone.

A shell mosaic on the beach caught our attention. Piles of shells. Just pretty.

If the kids had been with us we would have had that silly conversation that all parents have with their kids about "if you want them you'll have to carry them". We are quite happy to just carry the photograph.

Some of those cone shells are a couple of inches long (sounds better than "almost 50mm"). 

The evening light looking South was just pleasant.

We are beginning to relax a bit having established a free campsite and found the locals friendly ever since we arrived.

No doubt it will take us a few weeks to get into a routine but things are beginning to feel good, as we had hoped.

We know how to get diesel but we haven't quite solved water supply yet.

We've also slowly been sorting out the leftover wrinkles from re-assembling the Tardis. Including the new problem that we thought was a windscreen leak but is probably a blocked air conditioner drain - the floor of the cab resembles a swimming pool.

Au Nang, Thailand Week 2 3rd - 4th May 2011