Sunday, 13 November 2011

Malaysia, and then back to Thailand.

After Chris and Helen left I packed up and headed towards the border from Trang. I decided to use the easternmost crossing in Wang Kelien as I'd read that there's some quite nice scenery through there. The road was rather uneventful, but nice scenery and limited traffic but lots of unsigned roadworks going on. It looks like they may be developing this route as an alternative to to the main Asia Highway 2 through Bukit Kayu Hitam, at least on the Thai side.

Once you get closer to the border there are lots of scooters with many jerry cans attached, I assume they have been across the border to get the cheaper petrol in Malaysia. PROTIP: Foreign Motorbikes in Malaysia get to fill up with 95octane fuel, which is subsidized by about 50% by the Malaysian government, foreign cars have to use the 97octane which is more in line with the international market. Once I saw the locals and their "illegal fuel" I realised I wouldn't make it to the border with what I had left I put a small amount in and will fill up in Malaysia (AU61c/L vs. AU$1.23/L) and would fill up the rest in Malaysia for cheap!

The Thai side of the border was easy: fill out the departure form, hand the temporary import form for the bike back, ride across. The Malaysia side took an extra hour or so and I'm not quite sure why. When I enter Malaysia I'm supposed to use the carnet that I got at great expense, however, at this border they were saying there were "new rules" and that I would have to get the ICP (which I had anyway, still valid) and extra stickers for the bike because the number plates were the wrong colour. After arguing for a while they issued another ICP for no cost and took away the old one, but I had to pay 150baht for the stickers and a photocopy of the insurance and my licence, and the carnet remained unsigned. All of this sort of just happened even after my insistence that they only needed to fill in the carnet. It was stupidly hot there so I was in no mood to argue after an hour and just let it happen, I thought there might be problems getting the bike out again, but whatever they needed to do to let me in I did so I could get to a hotel with A/C!

One of the new stickers, the other is on the front.
The problem with the numberplate as they explained it was that it had a white background when all Malay numberplates had to have black backgrounds. After sitting and watching many many cars and bikes go through the border without this requirement applied I figured out why it was a rule (but not why I was selected). It's so that the Malay police can refer to numberplates on thai vehicles with latin characters, but still it seemed to be randomly applied.

Finally I got out of there and down a nice windy road to the plains below, and past a plant where they were slowly removing one of the limestone hills for material. I headed towards the main expressway trying to find a hotel somewhere close to the border for the run in the next day. I eventually found the T Hotel and I'd stayed at another location of the same hotel at Kuala Perlis. Very nice clean rooms, if a touch expensive and mostly used by business travellers, but breakfast is included!

Breakfast in Malaysia! That red stuff was HOT.

The next morning I got up and went through the Bukit Kayu Hitam crossing. The Malay side was again a problem. Because my bike wasn't imported into Malaysia with the Carnet, there were some issues signing the carnet to get it back out. Most of it I didn't have to do anything for, just follow the customs guy around and try and sort it out, it took an hour and a half to get through this crossing though. It turns out that the ICP I had from the day before had been issued by the JPJ (the Malay road authority) when I should have seen the Customs office instead.

I had a quick visit to the Duty free, then off to the Thai border! I used up the second entry on my visa, and then got the bike in for another 30 days, then purchased another 30 days insurance for 300baht. Easy now that I know what I'm doing! Then I was officially in Thailand again!

And only about 2km into Thailand I saw my first dead body. I'll spare the details, but there was a lot of red/pink and it was a big advertisement for helmets. I pulled over shortly afterwards because I felt a little sick and obviously my thoughts were elsewhere rather than concentrating on riding in this traffic... A bit further up the road I saw another ambulance with a knocked over bike but I couldn't see if that one was a fatality. There were a few other ambulances around this area too. I guess with 12000 deaths a year in Thailand It's likely to see this stuff, just didn't expect it all on the same day.

I made it to Hat Yai shortly after, I had arranged to meet up with a German rider I met while in the Northern Territory. His bike was broken when in Australia but he managed to get it all fixed up and travel through Indonesia, Malaysia and some of Thailand. I think I mentioned him before. This is him, but the article is all in German. We chatted about world travel for the afternoon and then decided to get some food a the night markets, I jumped on the back of the scooter he borrowed from another German living there. However... About 500m down the road the scooter had got a flat rear tyre. The hotel I was staying in was close so he pushed it round there and we used my tools to get the tyre off to see if we could patch the tube. But patching wasn't an option as it looked like the valve had been ripped out of the tube leaving a 50cm long hole, and this was a tube that was put in earlier that day because of a different problem! He eventually found his way home via Mototaxi and was instructed by the owner (who was away) to replace the tube and tyre with Dunlop items, not this local thai crap :)

I got away moderatly early the next day and headed to the coastal town of Songkhla. There's a bit of a write up in the lonely planet guide but they do this thing where they make a town sound tiny, and when you get there it's a huge place. I was only there to have a look at the beach anyway.

The serpent at the north end of Songkhla

Close up of it's face. There's sections of the body futher south.

The beach, sandbags everywhere to prevent it from leaving. There's meant to be a mermaid statue here but I didn't see it.

I checked out the guide book while I was here, didn't look like there were too many accommodation options until I got closer to Ko Samui (big party island). So I headed 200km-ish up towards the coast near there at Khanom.

And I ended up at the Talkoo Beach Resort for 500baht a night. I'm staying in a bungalow away from the beach and I think they were trying to tell me that at this price there was no tv, but there is one... Possibly the best cheapest place I've stayed, so I stayed another night!

Sunset out the window. The housing across the road is for the staff.

The room! need a wider lens.

The sink! This was mentioned in the lonely planet guide.

The rough sea.

Beer in the very quiet bar. One customer, me!

The beach is made out of shells in places!

Still rough seas

More beach!

Tomorrow I'll head to Khao Sak national park and try to get a bungalow over the lake. It's west of here but there's only a couple of spots north of here and I think they will be taken up with escaping Bangkok-ians.

And now for some leftover photos:
The rain yesterday. I stopped once the water hit my underwear.

Me gesturing to a waterfall. This was near Trang.

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