2nd - 4th January 2015Our route out of Koh Lanta was definitely a lot more cramped than when we entered. Minibuses are certainly the cheapest form of public transport in Asia but you do have to sacrifice comfort, normally. Compared with Laos and Cambodia,Thailand's minibuses are much more forgiving to the taller traveller and for the first time in ages Jono and I were both able to sit down without requiring the flexibility of a contortionist.
The ferry crossing to the main land offered a chance to grab some fresh air and enjoy the mangrove bordered shore. The popular transit route attracts many monkeys and its quite good fun watching these cheeky primates harass unsuspecting tourists and locals. If you take your eyes off your food for a second you'll soon regret it.
|The Thai mainland|
|Bit of a squeeze|
The three hour journey to Trang went smoothly and without a hitch, although I guess our driver was a retired F1 driver. Trang is a provincial capital and offers very few attractions for tourists. The streets are mostly made up of dull concrete structures and small Chinese communities. Its a transportation hub at heart and therefore the place most people travel through and only few stop.
|Trang Clock Tower|
|A true Thai provincial town|
|The wrong side of the tracks|
|Buddies with Blisters|
First we travelled from Trang to Hat Yai by minibus. Once you reach Hat Yai we had to catch a motorbike taxi to the other side of town and wait for a second minibus. A few hours later you arrive at possible the busiest border we have ever encountered. The Thai/Malaysia near Hat Yai border is a favourite "visa run" option for foreign workers and if you cross on a weekend like we did you can expect queues that last hours. In European countries the queues would be well organised. In Thailand however queue cutting is a national pastime and the main culprits (from what I observed) are little, elderly Chinese women. On one occasion a coach load of these "grannies" approached the queue from the exit end and cut in right at the passport desk.
Luckily the Thai people are a peaceful bunch and amazingly the exploits of the "Hells Grannies" did not spark off a large scale riot, although I did feel like attempting to give a few of them a very nasty paper cut with my passport.
Our third minibus took us the rest of the way to Penang and weirdly the Malaysian side of the border was eerily quiet. I guess the main bulk of backpackers in South East Asia adopt the typical loop of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, but does this mean there's less to see in the Malay Peninsula?
Sri Trang Hotel: Tripadvisor