Tina and I chose to be practical and frugal on our recent trip to Bangkok to celebrate our 10-day-paid-working-holiday within 4D3N vacation in Thailand’s capital city. We didn’t have too much cash to spend to begin with, so instead of shelling out 2,000 Malaysian Ringgit or equivalent to almost twenty-eight thousand Ph Pesos or 643 USD for the 3 of us (Tina, Gabby and me) for just ONE WAY airfare tickets from PEN-BKK , we initially wanted to take the train from Butterworth to Bangkok but tickets were already sold out 3 weeks before the Hari Raya holiday (FYI, that sleeper train travels from Singapore-Kuala Lumpur-Butterworth-Hat Yai-Bangkok) We went for the second best thing; we decided to take the van-bus-bus-van route, crossed the Malaysian and Thailand borders and enjoyed our days the way we know how. 🙂
We left Butterworth, Penang via bus from our apartment and took the usual-12-minute ferry ride from Penang Sentral Bus Station to GeorgeTown in Pulau Pinang.
Junk foods are necessary for us when we travel. Unhealthy, I know but it’s like reminiscing those good ol’ days of educational field trips in school (lame excuse!). Gabby and I loved what Tina prepared and what we selected from the grocery shelves together. So these were our baon we munched en route to Bangkok.
Komtar building. The tallest structure in this UNESCO Heritage Site. We arrived in GeorgeTown a few miuntes past 7AM, August 17, 2012, Friday (We’re on official work leave, ya know! Holiday at work stretched from August 18th to 26th, 2012; we filed a leave and went a day in advance!).
We pre-purchased one-way tickets from Penang-Hat Yai-Bangkok from one of the travel agencies in Prangin Mall, near Komtar few weeks before our trip for only 120 ringgit each or a total of 360 Malaysian Ringgit for the 3 of us, equivalent to 5040 Ph Pesos or 115 USD (Please do the math on how much we saved, Thanks!).
We were supposed to depart in a 12-seater-van at 8:30AM, but the it arrived and picked us up at almost 10AM. Super late. #iamnotcomplaining #justsaying
It was almost 2PM when we reached the Malaysian border in Kedah. Like what we had last year, the driver parked at a bus stop station for mandatory lunch. There, one could find mini-grocery, toilets, foreign exchange and eateries. We ate but only for the sake of eating lunch. There was not much too choose from. #iamnotcomplaining #justsaying
Tina and I agreed that Penang versions are way too better than Kedah’s. #justtryingtobehonest
My favorite Char Koay Teow but not this plate; It fell flat on my standard. I love CKT from that hawker in Gurney Drive, Penang.
Koay Teow Soup. This should have been good tasting noodle dish but this one didn’t even impressed Gabby.
Finally, we’re about to exit Malaysia.
It was our second time to cross the Malaysia-Thailand borders on foot; our first was last year when we just went to Hat Yai. Obviously, this is the nice traveling experience you miss when you cross borders on board an aircraft.
Someone who will cross borders of two countries must at least have coins from the 2 nations’ currencies. They come in handy when you need to use the public toilet.
The queue at the Imigresen was quite long but manageable. We breezed through Immigration proceedings without a single word, actually. It only took a smile and a passport to pass through. 🙂
After exiting Malaysia, we hopped on the van again. About 15 minutes after, we found ourselves on queue at the Immigration counter to enter Thailand this time. Just the same as the process in Malaysian border, it was hassle-free in entering Thailand. 🙂
After an hour from the Sadao border in the Southernmost tip of Thailand, we arrived in the travel agency office in Hat Yai. Yes, the Thailand border is an hour away from Hat Yai town proper. The passengers of our van who left Penang for Hat Yai were all Thailand bound but to different areas. Some went to Samui and Krabi for Thai beach and resorts, and it was only the 3 of us who went to Bangkok. All of us were distributed to various vehicles of the travel agency depending on our destination.
A little while later, the lady at the office asked us to go with Uncle (salutation for an old Malaysian man), to ride his car, free of charge or inclusive of the fare we already paid in Penang. Uncle took us to the Hat Yai Municipality Bus Station via his vintage Mercedes Benz. Cool eh? 🙂
Uncle first went down his car and bought us bus tickets for our Hat Yai-Bangkok trip. Remember everything was paid at 360 ringgit in a travel agency in Penang. So we only had to wait for the tickets and get on the bus.
This is the bus station in Hat Yai…
Bought this bottle from Tesco Lotus grocery store right across the station. Coke is undeniably refreshing wherever, whenever.
The bus we rode from Hat Yai to Bangkok was unremarkable. It wasn’t a double decker, had little leg room and not as comfy as what we rode going back. The ticket that Uncle from the travel agency bought was priced at 55 ringgit or 550 baht per pax only. It was way cheaper than what I personally purchased for our return. Lesson learned : Do-it-yourself-travel is better unless you’re traveling on an unfamiliar place where you need aid from a travel agent and a tour guide (like in the moon perhaps? hehe!).
Malaysia (and the Philippines) is 1 hour ahead of time in Thailand. We left Hat Yai for Bangkok at around 6PM, Thailand time.
Have I told you the trip to Bangkok from Hat Yai is about 12 hours? We’re on a budget travel, remember? 😉 We just thought that we’re on a trip from Cubao in the Philippines to its Northern part, say Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte (God, we miss those places!), only that in this journey, we crossed two countries. 🙂
At 5AM of Saturday, August 18, 2012, we arrived in Mo Chit Central Bus Station, Bangkok. The first thing I did was to ask my family to sit and wait in one corner with our luggages and bags and I left them to buy our return bus tickets from Bangkok to Hat Yai. It is always wise to secure a return ticket days (or weeks ahead) before your trip. It spells security, convenience and worry-free.
We hailed a cab from the station to our hotel, freshened up, and enjoyed the weekend until the first few days of the following week.
Oh yeah! We’re proud commuters, baby! 😀
When in Bangkok, ride the tuk tuk! 🙂
Then after 4D3N of fun-filled family bonding, we had to face the most difficult part of traveling. Leaving the place where you spent memorable moments has always been a challenge, at least for us 😦 Parting, indeed according to Shakespeare, is such a sweet sorrow; separation anxiety with Bangkok kicked in as we arrived again in Mo Chit Central Bus Station at half hour past 3 in the afternoon for our 5:50PM departure to Hat Yai.
Don’t you wish every bus station would look like that of Mo Chit’s or even better?
Try to find my family again on the next photo. This time with that monstrous bag! 😛
Mo Chit Central Bus Station is a few minutes away from Mystic Place Rooms in Bangkok, the wonderful hotel we stayed in. This bus station has ATM machines and our favorite convenience store…
And this was the ticket counter where I personally bought our return bus tickets from Bangkok-Hat Yai. Although the lady at the counter didn’t informed me of the inclusive of the bus fare, I forgave her easily because the purchase was sulit (worth it!)
Cluelessly, we went inside our double decker bus, saw the bus captain and a crew geared like flight attendants. We didn’t expect that the bus ticket fare of 831 Baht or 83.10 Malaysian Ringgit per pax included the following :
A blanket, with seal of laundry shop for assurance 🙂
A cup of distilled water and a box filled with sachets of coffee, creamer, sugar, tissues, a couple of wet ones, and a croissant for snack. 🙂
Best of all, there’s so much leg room per seat. We loved it! #makakaulit!!! 🙂
We all slept on the bus the whole night, we had restful sleep. And at 6AM, Thailand time, we were back in Hat Yai Bus Station. Right across the street was the travel agency where I bought our ticket for a 12-seater-van that took us back from Hat Yai to Penang. Since it was still holiday in Malaysia, they charged us more; a usual ticket of Hat Yai-Penang would only cost 35 ringgit or even less, but we paid for 49 ringgit per pax but it was the earliest trip back to Butterworth at 8:30AM departure; it was OK nonetheless. 🙂
This Blog’s Bangkok 2012 Series includes :
- Our Bangkok Hotel : Mystic Place Rooms in Bangkok
- Our Sunday at the Grand Palace
- Chatuchak Weekend Market : Shop! Eat!