For those of you who have been following my blog, you’d know that I don’t travel much. Or at least that was what I’d tell people before. Since the beginning of my relationship, I found that my zeal for travelling (and everything else that came with it, including the monetary costs) had increased. NG is a frequent traveller – seasoned would be the right word and being brought up the way he was, he loved spending time out of the ‘Sim City’ that he resides and work in now. His now torn and tattered passport is filled with stamps from different immigration points around the world, ranging from the very popular JB stop (where he leaves the checkpoint to visit me every other weekend) to the exotic like Cambodia and even Morroco. Yes folks, he has been there. I’m envious.
Here I am with my nearly five year old passport – which will soon expire in less than six months (how I was reminded of this was rather cute, which I will explain on later) – and barely into the sixth page with visas from just Thailand, Australia and Singapore. How…bleh. Words fail me. Nevertheless, my start of a relationship with NG led me to plenty of travelling opportunities – namely in the form of countries that HE had never been to. Never mind that it wasn’t many as compared to me, and never mind that wherever I want to go, he has already been there (we got into a squabble about travelling destinations TWICE because of this matter but managed to come to a rather amicable agreement. Bah.)
So here I am, using this nifty gadget loaned by one very wonderful friend (and talented writer – NaNoWriMo is a good spot for meeting people like myself, no?), in a bus on my way to Krabi on what was supposed to be a DeepaRaya vacation in the south-western part of Thailand.
Day One: Just being on the road
Since the buses and trains were fully booked, we were left with no options but to fly into Hatyai and travel the way the locals (or backpackers do) – by bus/minivan up to Krabi. We were in fact prepared for the worse and had nearly reconciled ourselves into just staying in Hatyai and travelling around this little bustling city.
AirAsia – cheapest around (compared to MAS) and after a hearty lunch (for me anyway), it was a quick trip to KL Sentral where the boys got the KLIA Express while I rushed off to get my train ticket to Singapore for next weekend (NG wants my help in redecorating his new place…so neh.) It took us a while to get to the gate and passed immigration. Did notice one thing though. Plenty of M’sians travel…in groups that is. Immigration was jam-packed with throngs of people. Well, it just wasn’t immigration alone. The AirAsia counter was littered with people waiting and checking in. I got my first reminder – my passpost was due to kaput in March 2005 and the gent at the counter asked around to see if it was okay for me to travel. Luckily for me, I was only going to be in Thailand for less than a week. Woohooo! But that still means that I have to get a new one at the rate I’m going around the region on hols. :p
Now I never have many problems with airlines or airport service but this trip started off on a really bad note. For starters, some of AirAsia’s gates were display the same information twice, causing passengers to mistake their flights and thus miss them. While our flight to Hatyai saw us waiting in front of G8, there were two gates displaying flight information to Jakarta. After several times of hollering (why don’t these people just use the PA system or get a bloody hailer? It is just so strange seeing a red uniformed woman screaming and yelling for people in a first class airport!), the plane took off. Just then a young girl showed up in front of the gate only to be informed that she missed her flight. Half of the story was that she was waiting at another gate where the same information was displayed. -.-
That was not the end of it. G8 was displaying flight information for Bangkok instead of Hatyai but M’sians being M’sians, we just queue at the place we are told to wait. Never mind that after several yells from G10, did it sink into a few that they were in the wrong line waiting to board the WRONG plane. O’wait…it gets funnier. At the departure lounge (after discovering that our flight was delayed by half an hour), when the plane finally showed up…one of the crew made the standard announcement for boarding flights whereby families with children, elderly people and disabled passengers get to board first. Two doors but the crew stood only at Door B where the families, etc were waiting. Everyone else crowded around Door A. As me, NG and a couple of other more civilised people watched on, the group waiting at Door A got extremely disgruntled at the sight of old people and families with children boarding first. So they boarded themselves – they opened their door and started boarding the plane. The crew noticed and stopped them, to which she was told “You open just one door, you let them in and what about us? That is not fair to us!!!!”
What is the matter with people? Are they deaf or something? An Indian lady and her husband looked on, remarking really loudly that their behaviour was uncivilised and extremely embarrassing. First class airport, third class passengers. Talk about inconsideration and selfishness running rampant among M’sians. And you know what was the rush all about? Because AirAsia has free seating. That was why everyone shoved and pushed, and ignored older people and kiddies. Because they want to sit together. Never mind that some families with really young kids got separated. Never mind that these families have more problems keeping an eye out for their children (like they might get lost during the disembarkment (sp?), sitting with a complete stranger who might give you hairy eyeball looks). Never mind that old people have to hobble to the end of a plane for a seat. Never mind all those because you know what matters to the average M’sian? Themselves.
It doesn’t end there. True to form of all ‘budget’ airlines (like Virgin Blue, etc), you have to buy your own food. I’ve flown budget countless of times and it’s always a good idea to pack your own snacks and drinks, especially for a 47 minute flight like this. Me, NG and his friend got plunked right at the back because we decided to let everyone board first rather than clamber and rush around like animals. Common sense tells you that by the time the snack cart comes to you, you wouldn’t have much time to eat before landing begins. A woman decided to buy a cup of Maggi noodles and proceeded to happily eat it until the announcement for landing came on. An air stewardess came and the woman started creating hell over a cup of noodles which she had not finished. By the way, time estimated from purchase to announcement was a good ten minutes.
“You should have warned us that landing was going to be soon instead of asking us to buy stuff to eat knowing that we can’t finish it!” On and on she ranted, in Cantonese, in Hokkien and in English. And here I was in my seat two rows ahead, thinking to myself…
“No one put a gun to your head and told you to buy a fucking snack or at least…you know very well that this is a short flight. An announcement was made before take off about the duration. You have a watch. You have eyes. You are an adult. Why the hell are you scolding another human being for a stupid mistake that you made? Plus, how long does it take for you to eat a cup of instant noodles, anyway?”
When the landing was rough, she opened her mouth again. “BAD LANDING!” she yelled. And all the Europeans turned to look and started shaking their heads. Some were laughing – at her or at her comment, I don’t know. But whatever it is, a bad landing is sure better than a landing that ends up in a gutter or worse, in a fireball. Aren’t you the least bit thankful that the pilot brought you back to Earth SAFELY? Do you think driving an Airbus is like driving a car? Do you drive in the first place? Do you know what it is like to have nearly 100 people’s lives in your hands for the next one hour? Do you know what it is like to shoulder than kind of responsibility? And here you think that just because you paid a measly RM179 which isn’t even enough to cover the cost of fuel, you have the god given right to create hell and fire over a cup of noodles?
Which she did actually…as we taxied down the Hatyai Airport tarmac and parked. I don’t know how long she complained for, but complain she did.
Sometimes I just don’t get people.
So here I am, in a very comfortable 2nd class bus (trust me when I say that it is wayyyy better than our local busses with its big space and nice foot rest, seat – it’s like a thin armchair!) that cost me 135 baht, on a five hour trip to Krabi. One more hour to go but luckily for my tummy, we managed to stop for dinner where NG and friend had mixed rice with extremely hot chillied meat dishes for 30 baht each. Me? I had two paus – 20 baht. Not exactly cheap but never mind. I was hungry. Perhaps better and cheaper food will await me when I arrive at Krabi. From the looks of things, we will be there at around 10plus. Just nice for checking into a room and sleeping the night away
Note: If you know Hokkien, it comes in handy in Hatyai.
Travel tip: When buying bus tickets, never fall for the touts, meaning people who yell around out on the streets – they either do 1) slaughter you 2) con you (sell you a cheapo third class ticket for the price of a first class – or send you to the wrong bus/wild goose chase) and 3) both. When at Hatyai Bus Station, always go straight into the counters in the middle of the bus stand to purchase your tickets. That way, you are assured of a decent price and good service (plus your actual destination). Busses can get pretty cold but on this one, they gave us blankets! Hurrah for Thai service! Also, when arriving by plane, get a limo service from the airport if you are travelling in a group. It costs 200 baht but you get insider tips (like the one on the busses – I got it from the cabbie driver – nice old chap!). If you’re alone, take the minivan which will cost you 35 baht to the city centre. Finally, don’t forget to be friendly and smile – sawadee should be the first thing you know – and it never hurts to be polite!.
Lo kun (for now that is!)
Day One Part II: Finding the right place to stay
Chances are if you’re on a budget, don’t expect much but the basics.
From the bus station, hitch a ride with the ‘taxis’ on two wheels – they are pretty friendly, going for 40 baht per taxi and youcan even get them to recommend some affordable roomy places to live in.
We got stuck in this little corner called Asian Guest House – run by a Swedish dude. Or rather we suspect he is Swede. He lives in a shoplot but has made partitions for four cosy sized rooms. Each room comes with a table, chair, fan, a double bed and a moisquite net which hangs above your bed. Blanket and towel is included and they smell very strongly of softener. Good sign no? The cost? 150 baht a night. There are several cheaper places around the corner but they are in either noisy locations or in the middle of nowhere.
Water (for bathing) is very cold and be prepared for some shockers in the bathroom/toilet (they have no toilet flush – so every time you do your business, you need to pour water down the toilet bowl – squatting mostly). Other than that, welcome to Krabi – a little provincial port for those journeying further on to Koh Pi Pi, Koh Lanta or other locations nearby.
Coming up next:
PICTURES: Hatyai & Krabi – Part I