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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Days 85 & 86: The long road to Thailand

MALAYSIA | Tuesday, 29 January 2008 | Views [1057]

Tuesday 29th & Wednesday 30th January

I was planning to make a move up to Thailand later in the day, so I got up, booked my bus ticket and checked out of the dorm. The bus was due to leave Tanah Rata at 18.00, drive west to a town called Ipoh, and a bus would pick us up there to bring us across the border to the southern Thai town of Hatyai. So, I had a whole day to kill, and it presented the perfect opportunity to update my journal, making the most of the hostels wi-fi service.

The rain poured down for quite a few hours in the afternoon, so it was the ideal time to sit indoors, and there were few people about the common room so it was nice and quiet (I could imagine the other guests being out in the open, getting soaked through with the heavy downpour). I made a move into the main street to get some food before the bus left. I got talking to an English couple – Dave & Rachel – who were heading in the same direction as me (the Thai coastal town of Krabi was to be out final destination). They were good fun and had a lot of travelling stories, and I was glad to have the company on this long trip.

We got to Ipoh at around 20.00, and were told the bus that would take us across into Thailand to Hatyai would not leave until 01.00, so we had the whole evening to kill. We found a decent hotel with a restaurant and a bar, and we hung around there until just before midnight. The bus turned up shortly after and we were pleased to see it was pretty comfortable, with reclining seats and blankets provided. The coach set off at 01.15, and we were told that we couldn't leave any earlier as the border didn't open up until 06.00.

We passed through the Malaysian and Thai border control areas with no complications at all, and there were no real hold-ups. I had got the impression that the Thai border police would be very strict, what with the whole anti-drugs issue being so prominent. In the event, they were probably the friendliest customs people I have come across, and were certainly more human than the average cop or official that you get at these places, even managing the odd smile and joke with some of us. We were over the Thai border around 07.00, and had another hours drive to our destination of the town of Hatyai.

Our bus onwards to Krabi – booked through the same tour opertors we had bused with to Hatyai – left at 09.15 and we arrived in Krabi at 13.30. The drivers in Thailand seem as mental as anywhere else, and I look forward to a few more white knuckle rides durig my stay in Thailand. However, the roads here are very good and there is not too much traffic, and therefore fewer obstacles for the drivers to try and avoid here. I guess that makes it a bit safer, then. The ride in the mini-bus was a silent one, we were all completely knackered from the marathon trip and I, for one, could barely keep my eyes open.

Once in Krabi, I said goodbye to Dave & Rachel, promising to meet up over the following few days. I found a decent room in a guesthouse on the Chao Fa Road in the main backpackers part of town, with a hot shower and a TV providing a step up from the norm (with a higher price to pay than what I had been used to paying in Malaysia). I cleaned myself up, had a snooze, and handed over my laundry to be done as it was starting to stink my bag out!

I took a walk about the immediate area, and saw that it was alive with a lot of activity, centred on a large night food market, where many stalls cooked up cheap but delicious food for locals and tourists alike. I always find it fascinating to look at the cooks in action, and they're just normal people cooking everyday food. An equivalent in Ireland would be to see someone with a couple of pots on a cart, mashing spuds and grilling a few chops by the side of the road.

I immediately liked the place, as it seemed that the locals very much outnumbered the tourists, therefore giving it a more authentic feel, while having enough going on to satisfy people who were looking for something to do. It wasn't long before I was back in the guesthouse and crashed out in front of the TV, and shortly after I conked out, worn out by the long trip from Malaysia. After all I had heard about it, it was good to finally be in Thailand.

Tags: On the Road


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