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From Malayisa to Thailand (or: all roads lead to Hat Yai)

We left Traveler's Home in Taman Negara as the longest staying guests ever (12 nights). Normally, driving from the Jungle of Taman Negara to the city-jungle of Kuala Lumpur means taking at least 4 different buses, but Hamid, the owner of Traveler's Home, was so kind to give us a ride back to KL - and because his car is a fairly new, black Mercedes, our trip back to KL was, well, different. At one point, he said he was a bit sleepy and asked me if I wanted to drive the car, so I ended up driving a Mercedes through the traffic and backstreets of KL, probably an adventure not so many travelers are able to experience.

(Hamid is the guy in bright yellow. It is not clear why the three gentlemen on the right look so grim - they were smiling all the time and were extremly friendly, but it seems they don't like the camera)

We planned to spend two nights in a budget hotel, but because our room faced what seemed to be the busiest street of Chinatown, we could barley sleep and changed hotel after one night. To get ready for our next destination, we went to a Border's bookstore and bought two Thailand guide books (again in vain - Lonely Planet is still much better than anything else. Anyone from Lonely Planet reading this? We love you!). Having read both books the next day (just kidding), we felt prepared enough and left KL, heading north towards the Thai border.

Malaysia borders Thailand in a troubled region of the country. The south of Thailand has recently seen a series of bomb attacks, and martial law is in effect in three states in the south. Even if you cross the border in the one state that is not affected, you have to go through a city (Hat Yai) that has experienced bomb attacks as recently as May 2007, targeted specifically against places where a lot of tourists go. Unfortunately, the train to Thailand from Malaysia stops in Hat Yai. Well done.

Being the smart tourists that we thought we were, we left the train right at the border, in a village about 50 km south of Hat Yai. None of the guide books had any info on this area (apparently assuming that everyone going to Thailand goes via Bangkok) but we were quite confident that we could find a taxi that would bypass Hay Yai. We couldn't. From the looks on the faces, we must have been the first travelers in this village for ages. As we kept walking through the village, with no goal, no idea and no clue, we kept asking people for "taxi?" or "minibus?", and some smiled and nodded, all pointing to different directions. No one spoke any language that we speak, and you can't read a single word in Thai unless you know the alphabet.

thai_text.gif

At last, someone in a car spoke some english and was even so kind to take us to the minibus "station". We spare you the details of the rest of the trip, but needless to say, we ended up going through Hat Yai in the end. We arrived in Krabi, Thailand, about 7 hours later, having changed vehicle 6 times in total.

If you have never heard about Krabi before (like us), you still have heard of Krabi before. For one, it is the classical Thailand postcard view, especially the islands of Ko Phi Phi. Ko Phi Phi must have been so beautiful that it became overdeveloped beyond reason. To make things worse, large parts of the movie "The Beach" with Leonard DiCaprese were shot there, attracting hordes of tourists to take pictures of the beach where "The Beach" was shot - consequently, tourist traffic increased tenfold (!). On December 26th, 2004, an earthquake of magnitude 9.3 in the Indian Ocean caused a Tsunami, and with waves as high as 10 meters, Ko Phi Phi was hit badly. Two waves coming from opposite sides crashed in the middle of the most crowded stretch of the island, leaving 5000 confirmed dead and 3000 missing.

In general, tourism seems to have completely recovered from post Tsunami effects here, and the beaches are fairly crowded (despite this being the low season). Krabi is on the west coast of Thailand, and the west coast experiences a lot of rain this time of the year. Today, we were lucky and the whether was quite nice, so we rented a Kayak to check out the beautiful area. Tomorrow, or maybe the day after tomorrow, we will go to the island of Ko Samui, or maybe not... The only thing that is certain is that we will write about it on this blog, so stay tuned!

(PS, tonight, we will celebrate our 20th blog entry with a hot thai curry - and when the Thai say hot, they mean hot... Rahel is happy, and my taste buds are dead.)


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Comments (4)

Olin:

Alright, so we've been a little remiss in not commenting...I wish I'd been around to make recommendations on your (possible?) trip to Ko Samui....hopefully you skipped it? Sorry if we didn't catch you in time...we were vacationing in the US. The rest of the trip sounds good though. I never made it to Taman Nagara but heard good things about it.
Did you rock climb in Krabi?

I guess it's pretty touristed these days.

How about up north - Chiang Mai?

Good to hear from you guys.

Nikki:

We also wanted to tell you we had the best time staying in Railay (near Krabi). Definitely go there and go rock climbing (try King Climbers). Hope you're having a good time!

Sala & Rahel:

Hey guys

Thanks for your comments. We've been to Railay (the Kayak picture is from the surrounding area), and we've also been to Samui which is quite touristic indeed, but we stayed at a beautiful place and did something strange - fasting. More about it in the next blog entry :-)

Sandra:

Hallo zäme

Euer Reisebericht ist sehr spannenden und ich hoffe, dass noch viele weitere Erzählungen folgen (euer Blog ist meine früh-morgens-Kaffee-Lektüre).

Geniesst die Sonne und die Wärme und weiterhin viel Spass!

Liebe Grüsse aus dem verregneten Schweizerländle

Sandra

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 30, 2007 1:30 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Malaysia, part II.

The next post in this blog is Fasting in Thailand.

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