Malaysia here we come

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thailand's last train journey

Sounds romantic, doesn't it? Sadly it wasn't in any shape or form. When we wrote our transport blog a few weeks ago we talked about how shockingly poor the train service has been in Thailand and we had one more trip for it to redeem itself. Luckily we also said we weren't expecting too much.... we say luckily as it was just a terrible journey.

Firstly we came to Hat Yai a day early to purchase our tickets only to be told by the 'advanced ticket office' you can only buy them on the morning of travel. Now the ticket office opens at 6:00 and the train we want to travel on arrives at 6:35, technically yes this is booking in advance but not quite what we had planned.

So we merrily got up at 5:00 so we would be one of the first in the queue. As Ross was setting the alarm he did comment this is crazy 'we are less than five minutes' walk away from the station and I'm getting up earlier than I would if I was catching a train to London from Birmingham'. Oh how we miss civilisation and online booking.

Anyway the alarm went off bright and early and we checked out and were at the station by 5:50. No more than 10 minutes later we had our tickets in our hand and a smile on our faces until the ticket clerk then dropped the bomb shell 'train is late around 08:00'


There is not much to do at Hat Yai station that can keep you occupied for more than 5 minutes and time ticked by incredibly slowly. We did have a stark reminder of the unrest in the area as numerous armed guards boarded the local commuter services before departure.

08:00 came and went. Ross went to check the 'real time arrival board' which consisted of a hand written whiteboard. It said 08:05 it was now 08:15. The information desk then said 'bit later, maybe 08:20' by 08:45 we asked again 'it come soon'

In fairness we departed just before 09:10 but over 2 hours late. By this time we should have been in Malaysia and well on our way to Penang.

Things did get better after this as the train spilt and only 2 carriages went forward to Penang. Immigration and customs were a breeze and we were only at the border for about 45 minutes and for once everything was in one building, unlike when we arrived and departed from China where we had to do the formalities in two different border towns.

We finally got to the hotel at 16:30, much later than we planned but we did manage to make some time back on route. We wish goodbye to Thailand but both hope we never have to see a traditional train in the land of smiles again. When the new High Speed Network is up and running we just hope they can operate it in the way it deserves and change the perception of the train. Only two more train journey's to the point we deem it to be impractical to continue our big adventure by land.

Malaysian Time Warp

We might have gone forward an hour in time but we have also lost 543 years, all without any train lag. : Yes it's not 2556 anymore but we have stepped back to 2013.

Stepping back to 2013 is going to take some getting used to. Strangely we have gone back in time but everything seems so modern apart from our hotel!

Ta Ta for now

Team Chip

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