View Larger Map
Mean: 28°c Max: 31°c Min: 24°c

Entering the Orange Zone

Hat Yai, Thailand
Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mum we waited until we left the Orange Zone in one piece before breaking the news....

Out of all the places we are visiting, Southern Thailand and Hat Yai are the only areas we plan to pass through that the foreign office warns against travelling to. Since 2004 when the area came under marshall law the region has experienced almost daily outbreaks of violence between Muslin and Buddhist's and to date the death toll is a frightening 3,500. Although no British nationals have been killed in the fighting to date we didn't want to become the first statistics. So we only planned a one night stop over with just enough time to get our train tickets for the onward journey to Penang, Malaysia.

We could have avoided coming to Hat Yai altogether but it just didn't make sense to do so. The other options would have been a coach from Krabi direct to Penang, KL or even Singapore but the journey times for any of these just sent shivers down our spines. The other option would have been to retrace our steps back to Surat Thani and catch the train earlier in its route. Equally this didn't appeal as we would have had to traipse 4 hours in the wrong direction to then catch the same train at silly o'clock in the morning whereas the departure from Hat Yai is at the much more leisurely time of 07:05.

Government bus vs Minibus

It's a no brainer, take the Government bus! It might be slower and slightly less convenient as it goes from and to a bus station situated somewhere out of town but most importantly you are more likely to arrive in one piece. Apart from day trips we have avoided minibuses as we have heard some shocking reports about bad driving that is enough to put anybody off. However from Krabi to Hat Yai our options were slightly limited, there was a Government bus but it ran from the bus station 4km North of the town, this wouldn't normally be an issue but the distinct lack of tuk-tuk's would have made the journey difficult if not impossible. Also with the travel warning for Hat Yai we wanted to be dropped off near our hotel so we decided on this occasion that the minibus was the best option.....

Unfortunately on reflection it was the wrong choice. But the journey was 'exciting' to say the least.

We got to reception bang on time at 6:50 and met another couple who were also waiting for the minibus. It got round to 7:15 and still no sign of the minibus so the other couple woke up the owner to find out what was going on. It soon came to light that the minibus had already been and gone but had picked up 4 passengers who were supposed to be heading to Samui, which is roughly 4 hours in the other direction! After a few frantic phone calls we were told he would come back to collect us.

We heard a rumour although we are not sure if it is true that minibus drivers get paid for the number of runs, not by the day or hour. Hence by the time he picked us up he had already lost 30 minutes which he was determined to get back anyway he could. To say he drove like a maniac doesn't do him justice. He drove on the wrong side of the road, on his phone, in the pouring rain and at ridiculous speeds mostly all at the same time. We thought the dangerous part of this trip was Hat Yai itself not the journey to get there!

We would challenge Lewis Hamilton to drive the same route and see what time he can post. We did it in 3.5 hours, pretty rapid for 288km including road works and bad weather.

Thailand Our Departing Thoughts

If you haven't already guessed we both love Thailand. Since we first visited it has become a bit of a safe haven for us, as we both know we will have a great time. Excluding the big capital cities such as KL and Singapore Thailand is the most 'Western' place we have visited in Asia but yet it is still different enough to feel you are a world away from home.

We have been in Thailand for nearly two months and in that time we have visited virtually every corner of this great country. From the most eastern to the most northern, the west and finally the south we have covered all the major compass points. We have seen some beautiful countryside and really been immersed in the culture of daily life from the hill tribes of the north to the nightlife of Pattaya and Bangkok. It has been a fabulous couple of months and although we are sad to be leaving, it is the right time to move on. Undoubtedly we will come back again but it is highly unlikely that we will ever be able to stay for so long, we both feel really privileged to have had the opportunity to spend so long in a country that is so dear to our hearts. We will sorely miss Thailand but not as much as we would have done if we hadn't seen so much of it as we now have.

Ross's final thoughts

I love this country, my liver doesn't, but I do. I have seen some beautiful sights by day and night : and my opinion of what 'wearing a belt' means will never be the same again. I will miss the food, the people and the weather (good or bad!) Until next time Thailand, bye bye.

Sonya's final thoughts

Out of all the countries we have been to so far Thailand is the one that I was already a little bit in love with, so it didn't come as a total surprise that in the time we've been here I ended up falling head over heals with this amazingly beautiful country. It is a cultural wonder and is so diverse and also a bit crazy too! We have been to some brilliant places and met some lovely people along the way and without sounding too cheesy, Thailand will always be in my heart and I wouldn't have changed the last couple of months for anything. But alas it is time to move on and see what other amazing experiences are waiting for us out there.

Hotel Review

We stayed at the Tune Hotel in a double private. There was an abundance of choice within a few minutes walk of the train station but we chose the Tune Hotel as since we first visited SE Asia we have heard good things about the chain. Tune Hotel is very similar to an IBIS although they use the same low cost model as Travelodge i.e. the earlier you book the cheaper it is. Also you need to pay for all extras TV, air-con, internet, towels, early and late check out. If you add all these up often you will find better value elsewhere but we got a flash deal with most extras included. The room itself was typical of a chain hotel, a characterless box with 4 walls and a bed but it served it's purpose and we didn't have any complaints. We wouldn't rush to stay at another Tune as we feel you can get better value elsewhere especially at privately run Guesthouses which have been our favourite haunt throughout Asia. However they do offer a quality service and it is good to have as a backup. As Tune expands in the UK especially London if they provide a similar quality service they will be very good value for money.


© 2014-2021 All rights reserved.
All images and logo's are licenced. Please contact us before copying any content or linking to our blog - Thanks! :-)