Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 11 - Crossing the Border

Finally we are leaving Kota Bharu, a very Muslim town where women are required to cover themselves at all times and completely ignore men they don't know.  Not exactly my kind of place! My ticket out of here (scribbled on the back of a receipt, no less) was on the bumpiest bus I've ever been on, to the border town of Rantau Panjang.  Honestly, I wish I had a sports bra to wear!

From Ratau Panjang we walked across the Thai border into Sangai Kolok, with buses, cars and scooters whizzing past us but not another soul on foot.  We got our passport stamped with must exit by June 5, watch out Thailand!

The heat, the stress of walking across the border and the weight of my backpack on my broken shoulders were all getting to me at this point.  I then lost all spirit after discovering the only way to get to the train station was via the back of a moto. Not happy Ali. With a few tears, and much convincing, I was finally able to get on the back of the moto after begging the driver to "drive safe for me".  I hopped on and clung to him like my life depended on it (because it literally did!).  Upon arriving at the train station we encountered the first of many military men armed with machine guns.  This part of Thailand is known for it's political unrest.  In fact, Lonely Planet suggests not to pass through this area unless absolutely necessary. Oops.

The plan was to catch a train from Sangai Kolok straight up to Bangkok, however we've just learnt the trains still aren't running due to the floods (contrary to what our hostel in Kota Bharu told us!).  Thinking this could be the case, our Plan B was to get a bus instead.  That didn't work out too well either when we were told all the buses to Bangkok are completely full until April 10, 3 nights from now.  Shit.

Plan C? Minivan. Shudder. We asked at the bus terminal about getting to Hat Yai instead, and were told we could get a minivan.  So I'm currently on a minivan, squashed in the backseat between Tom and two hilarious UK girls, Holly and Kristina.  We've already passed three military checkpoints, soldiers with machine guns and too many bunkers to feel comfortable.  Its a 5 hour drive to Hat Yai, fingers crossed the rest of the journey is uneventful!

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