The boat pulled into Surit Thani on time and we were greeted by various bus companies. I checked my ticket and was hussled onto a van for transfer to the travel shop. We kicked our heels until our minibus and driver appeared, then all bundled aboard. We were full to the gunnels as we set off towards the border at Hat Yai.
One quick stop for some breakfast and we arrived at Hat Yai around 12:30. First we had to check out of Thailand and were delayed by three Indian guys on our bus – not their fault, as they didn’t realise that people with an Indian passport need to pay a departure tax from Thailand. They were telling us it was 30 Ringgit, which is bizarre as this is the Malaysian currency. I would have expected a Thai border to demand Baht.
All the same, we re-boarded and drove to the Malaysian border where the queues were even larger. We also had to undergo an in-ear temperature test as they scanned for signs of H1N1 Swine Flu. I can categorically state that I am medically “cool”. My body temperature is a chilly 36.5 degrees C – the bottom end of the accepted average. It also means I’ve not been snogging any dirty porcines recently.
The immigration queue was horrendous and it took us almost an hour to pass through. Then we waited for the Indians. And waited. And waited.
Finally, our driver went in to check – they’d been refused entry. Apparently a large number of Indians come into Malaysia and choose not to go home again. I assume these guys didn’t have onward tickets or something and on these grounds they were bounced back into Thailand.
So we continued our journey, somewhat delayed. Three of our group were heading for Penang and the minibus took us there where the other three (including myself) were dropped off to change onto a KL-bound bus. Unfortunately, due to the delay we’d missed the connection we should have got and had a 2Â½ hour wait for the next one. This also meant we’d be arriving in KL at 2am instead of 10:30pm.
I never seem to get to KL when I’m supposed to.
To kill time, we searched for free wi-fi (amazingly with no luck, given this is Malaysia) and I introduced my new Swedish friends to KFC which they had never tried before.
Eventually, our bus arrived and I’m sat on it now tapping this lot up. With luck we’ll not be later than 2am into KL as promised, but we’ve been sat at a terminus near Panang for almost fifteen minutes now so I don’t hold out much hope!
Fingers crossed my second hostel doesn’t baulk at me. I did check mails in Penang and they hadn’t sent anything detailing a problem. I’ve also emailed to ask if they could reserve two more beds for my companions as they have nowhere organised.
[update – we arrived at 3am, and thankfully my hostel (Trekker Lodge) took all three of us]