From Guangzhou to BangkokAs I mentioned in the previous part of the blog, it was a great day for me as I was about to be joined by my mates in Bangkok very soon and it was like a life long dream coming true.
|Metro stations in China are usually that much crowded.|
|Khaosan road is closed and empty because of the curfew|
|Yes, its a main road in Bangkok, quite and empty because of the curfew|
It was the worst news for us as the military imposed curfew in Thailand after 10pm till 5am due to that political unrest. We faced the same situation the previous night after I arrived at 6 in the evening, on May 21st, 2014, when the aircraft I was traveling in landed at Suvranabhumi airport in Bangkok. Now was the time to enjoy the time with two of my best mates, Naveed and Waseem, who had been keeping me updated about how we would be spending our first night, since the previous night and I found Penpark place to be the perfect place to stay, neither too close to Khaosan road, backpackers heaven in Bangkok, to get irritated of loud music nor too far to get separated from one of the great places to live close to in Bangkok.
|They say Thai food is tasty. I wonder if it is|
|Me at Penpark place, a perfect guest house|
After a great trip to Kalash together, we always dreamt of a traveling abroad and Thailand would be the topic. So me and my two companions, Naveed and Waseem would talk and plan for a lots of stuff to do in Thailand, two months prior to the trip. On every Saturday night we’d sit, discuss and kill time talking about the upcoming traveling season.
|On the ferry from Krabi to Phi Phi|
Thailand, mostly famous for prostitution and nasty night life usually makes everyone suspicious and people like us from such a typical and religious culture can’t afford such a position in the society. The reason behind such a mindset is that people from Pakistan usually find Thailand to be perfect for such stuff and get involved in the world most ugliest yet profitable business there. But very few people know about the different side of Thailand. Its famous islands in the south, jungles in the north, natural beauty, being cheap, convenient and safetywhich makes Thailand one of famous tourist destinations in the world.
|A pack of pinapples just for THB 20, helps a lot in boiling weather|
Khaosan road became famous among the US soldiers during the Vietnam war when they used to come to Bangkok, very close to Vietnam, to fulfill their never ending lust for sex and prostitution. Later, it became one of the most famous places among hippies and other tourists from around the world.
|Home to Backpackers|
|Glowing night at Khaosan road|
Why would I like to stay near Khaosan Road?
Days and nights totally reflect each other in terms of activities and fun at Khaosan road. One can’t imagine what it’d be like at the same place after the sun sets. Its just like a cheap street market with garments, bracelets, chains and a few “7 Eleven stores” all around. But after the sun sets, the real crazy fun can be witnessed with crazy tourists owning the streets. Lots of people from each and every part of the world come out of their hostels and hotels and can be seen at Khaosan road. Music gets louder and louder as the mid night approaches and gets crazy and party stuff gets to its top level by mid night with people dancing and having fun all around.
Though there’s no metro station near Khaosan road and transport to and from the Khaosan road can be expensive sometimes. But it doesn’t have to be mentioned that one can find transport buses to find access to different places and metro stations. I always prefer to find an accommodation in the neighbors of Khaosan road as there are many ways to kill time and enjoy when I’m lonely.
Bangkok Public Transportation
Bangkok transportation system is developed and can be said to be much developed compared with the one in Karachi, Pakistan. The skytrain runs from airport to Phaya Thai, the last station connected to the metro station which gives access to several locations in the city. One would love to use metro to avoid taxi fares and most of all the worst traffic in the Bangkok.
|Ugly traffic in Bangkok|
Going to Phi Phi Island
After getting frustrated with this curfew scene for two consecutive nights, I left the hotel early in the morning with Naveed and Waseem sleeping in the room and got the tickets to Krabi, the town around 800km away from Bangkok, most convenient to catch ferries to Phi Phi islands and other famous islands. The itinerary was supposed to be as follows.
Bangkok - Surat Thani by train (7:00pm to 9am) costing THB 700
Surat Thani to Krabi by bus (2-3 hours) costing THB 200
Krabi to Phi Phi islands by ferry (2 hours) costing THB 400
The combined tickets can be bought from several agents on the Khaosan road or the train+bus tickets can be purchased from Lamphong station for THB 950. It’s always better to pay the travel agent THB 100 or THB 150 more and get the tickets.
|Train station in Bangkok, tourists are sometime more in number than locals|
|Stand up! Its national anthem. This was normal during military control|
|Train, we traveled in|
|Seats are comfortable and turn into bed after 10|
Bangkok to Surat Thani
The train was comfortable but it wasn’t up to my expectation which I thought would be like they are in China. The food is expensive and doesn’t taste too good. One has to pay the triple price of what they usually pay in the city for a bottle of water. So it’s always advisable to get your food and drinks with you on the train if you really want to save some money and spend it for some better purpose.
The train got delayed due to some unknown reason and it reached at 10 at Surat Thani where the buses were already waiting for the passengers. One should not expect a good and committed treatment in Thailand and should be ready for a little bit off the track work. As the bus was supposed to take us to Krabi directly and it’d take two hours but instead we were shifted to a double cabin vehicle and then had to wait at some hotel for an hour, where we had our food after 20 hours. Another bus came and stopped at different tourism offices to carry some more passengers. It took 4 hours instead of two and was a difficult journey. It was 2 in the afternoon and the last ferry to Phi Phi islands leaves at 3pm. We got the tickets and we were running to the ferry. Just after getting on the ferry all of our tiredness was gone. With every air molecule striking our body, we were getting more and more energy. What else could be the source of relaxation more than being on the board of a ferry to Phi Phi islands and earphones in the ear with the most favorite songs playing?
|Found some crazy friends to spend some great time|
|While on the road to Krabi|
|Don't they look desperate after seeing the food?|
|No shirts on? No problem, its the trend there to stay topless all the time!|
|Its the backpackers place. Its quite revealed|
Phi Phi Islands
Beyond our expectations, the islands turned out to be a developed piece of land with every expected facility and a lot of tourists all around. It was very different to see the flood of people for the purpose of tourism, relaxation and partying.
Phi Phi islands became famous after the movie “The Beach” in which the famous actor Leonardo DiCaprio visits the islands after being suggested by some tourist friend at Khaosan road.
The island was badly hit by the Tsunami in Indian Ocean in 2004 but unexpectedly gained its lost name very soon. Today the island is very famous amongst the western tourist as it offers each and every kind of activities. Party people have their different part of the beach to feed their soul. There are a couple of very calm beaches offering very relaxed and quite environment for peace loving minds.
Ton Sai bay is the most famous beach of all, perhaps not the most beautiful one. There are a number of beach bars on Ton Sai bay and some of these offer a very lively and happening night life on the Phi Phi islands. Slinky Bar, Ibiza bar and the Woody Bar are the famous for the fire shows and then beach parties which goes on till 3 in the morning.
Relaxation is equally offered during the day time. Set a target of reading several books in a few days and its always easy to meet the target as one can read the book on any beach with beautiful scenery around. What could be better than lying on the beach with nothing on mind but a book in hand and nothing to worry about?
|Stairs to viewpoint. Really a hard job to go up|
|Finally I was up|
|The weather got better just before sunset|
|Capturing sunset from viewpoint|
|Our usual dinner at Phi Phi, one slice was enough usually|
Things to do!
Different entertainment opportunities are available at very reasonable amount of money at Phi Phi islands. From professional scuba diving to half day tours of different islands including snorkeling and rock climbing, the activities offer everything to tourists with a taste of adventure, relaxation or cool fun. The full day and half day tours cover different islands.
|In the longtail boat to half day tour|
|We didn't sleep the whole night. But it took away all the tiredness|
Arpit, a traveler and a couch surfer from India, we enjoyed talking with about the things across border and about how we miss the people from behind the border despite the fact that our politicians and army are always exchanging harsh words and fire, suggested us to visit Railay beach, close to Krabi, famous for its rock climbing activity.
Railay beach is a very calm and, according to some, the most beautiful beach in Thailand. There are not much cheaper hotels and no hostels on the beach and mostly there are resorts. Contrary to the fact that the resorts are very good and located just in front of the beach, the rooms are not too costly. The beach had its own specialty and was surprisingly too calm and cool. But our minds were not ready to synch with this relaxed environment after such a happening life and lively nights in Phi Phi.
Back to Phi Phi – An Insane but Good Decision
“We should go to back to Phi Phi”, suggested Naveed eventually. He actually spoke what was in our hearts but we were not ready to share beacaue of confusion. He got our consent the same second and it was decided that we’d leave for Phi Phi. It cost us almost THB 1000 extra to get to Phi Phi as we had to book a separate long tail boat and a private car to get to Krabi pier to catch the ferry to Phi Phi. No, we couldn’t believe when we got on the ferry. The lever excitement got higher and higher as the island came closer. This is what we call falling in love with a place!
|Last sunset at Ton sai bay, Phi Phi|
Leaving for Malaysia
After spending two more crazy days at the beautiful island, it was the time to leave for Malaysia, though unwillingly. The ferry had to leave at 8 and after taking a sleep of 2 hours we were trying to get ready for the longest journey of our lives. The plan was to go to Penang, Malaysia by bus or train as mentioned below.
Phi Phi islands to Krabi by Ferry – almost 2 hours – cost THB 350
Krabi to Hatyai by bus – almost 3 hours – cost THB 200
Hatyai to Penang by bus or train – almost 7 hours
Somehow, after a long but comfortable journey we reached Hatyai at 4 in the evening. All the buses for Penang had already left and we were apparently left with no choice but to stay in Hatyai for a night. Luckily a travel agent provided us bus tickets which was running from Hatyai to Singapore. The bus service was provided by some Malaysian company and had a wifi and was very comfortable.
The ticket from Hatyai to Penang would cost almost THB 500.
By Road or By Air?
The airline tickets from Krabi or Phuket to Penang or Kuala Lumpur are very cheap if purchased a few days in advance. Air Asia is usually the best option while traveling in between Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore. The prices that we expected to be PKR 5000 turned out to be PKR 11000 three days before booking. So, my decision was to travel by road, which was also the part of my plan prior to the trip, to which Naveed also agreed reluctantly. It turned out to be a clever decision as it added much to our experience and saved us a good amount of money.
|Bus from Krabi to Hat Yai|
|Ready to get transferred to the big bus to Malaysia|
|Yes, Malaysia is close enough|
|Street food on the way. Muslims are all around as you come close to Malaysia|
As usual, our planned changed just half an hour before the bus driver would drop us at Penang when Wasim suggested to let Penang pass by as it was 2 am and we’d face difficulty finding an accommodation at that hour.
“So? What do we do then? What do you mean?”, I asked.
I decided to go with the flow as was the situation and a compelling reason.
Our next stop was ……….. (Read the upcoming Malaysian part of the blog)
Is it safe in Thailand?
I wonder when people from Pakistan ask this question as living in Pakistan is the most dangerous thing a person can do.
Thailand is generally very safe. There's no mugging or killing or kidnapping for ransom. However, there's too much scam in Thailand, specially in Bangkok.
No Tuk Tuk:
Try not to take the Tuk Tuk, we call Rikshaw, in Bangkok. They will probably get you scammed or ask for extra money or will try their best to take you to some brothel or ping pong show.
Be Carefull before paying
Always ask atleast two or three vendors before paying for anything. People usually try to sell things for tripple times the reall prices.