Saturday, 28 June 2014

Thailand to Malaysia by land: Dangers of Solo Travel

Well... I have learnt the downside to travelling solo today.

The bus picked me up outside my hostel at 6:30am, then drove round collecting people in Phuket for 2 hours! I ended up taking a Valium and pretty much sleeping till my drop off point at 4pm. When I got to Hat Yai, I couldn't find the large bus station the guide books talk about that have cheap transport... nor could the two other western girls on the bus with me. In the end, we just had to settle for the only tour company in the area and pay a ridiculous price to get across the border. They charged me 500 baht to get to Langkawi... or so I thought...

The next mini bus came at 4:30 and again, circled around collecting people for over an hour before setting off. We eventually reached the border, and as usual, nobody spoke English and we had no idea what we were doing! Eventually the mini bus found us and yelled at us a bit, but we didn't know what he was saying.

When in Malaysia, he drove for an hour before telling me to get out and get a taxi to Langkawi, assuring me it would be fine... I wanted to be in Alor Setar to cross, but I defintley wasn't... There was no use in arguing as he couldn't understand me... I saw the bus/ taxi stand and got out and wandered over. The taxi drivers told me the ferry to Langkawi had already stopped and there wasn't one until 8am. It was currently 8pm. I began panicking because I had no local currency, no idea where I was, and no idea what I was going to do.

I went to the cash point and my card was rejected. Great. I only had US dollars and Thai Baht. I ended up going over to KFC, the only place in the area, and facetiming my mum just crying my eyes out. Here I was, in a strange deserted country with no westerners around and nobody who could speak English with no money, no place to stay, and the potential of sleeping on the streets till morning came round. I was a mess!

In the end, I was able to google a close hotel, turns out around the side of KFC there was a small motel and I had no choice but to try my luck with a foreign currency. Thankfully, there was a female on the other side with her daughter and she could tell I'd be crying and was stressed out. She reluctantly accepted my money, charging me way more than she should, and gave me MYR in change!

I managed to get on the phone to Barclays and sort out the card issue. It took 30 minutes on hold to finally get through! But eventually I could go withdraw money, get food, and then cosy up in bed and wait out the night till I could get a ferry to Langkawi.

Literally the scariest moment ever. Gah!

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