This is part of my travelogue on my solo overland backpacking trip to Thailand & Laos in 2013.
Previously: Part 1 – The Preparation
Day 2: Tuesday, 27 August 2013
It was 5.30 am and I did not know where to go. So, I just followed the flow, and ended up at the temporary train station, which was actually a modified and air-conditioned cabin (a new station, in line with the electrification of KTM trains were under construction). I took a seat and decided, “maybe I should take the ferry and stay for a while on the island, and come back at 2.30 pm for the train to Bangkok?”.
Jam pukul 5.30 pagi dan aku tak tahu nak pergi mana. Aku pun ikut je orang ramai. Sekali, aku dah ada dekat stesen KTM sementara, Butterworth. Stesen baru dalam pembinaan lagi. Aku duduk jap kat situ lepas tu tefikir, patut ke aku naik feri, tidur kat pulau sekejap, lepas tu datang Butterworth balik untuk naik tren ke Bangkok?
I walked to the jetty, intending to board the ferry to the island. Then, it struck me. What if I missed the jetty back to the mainland? What if I missed the Rapid Penang bus to the mainland? What if I overslept?
Aku pun jalan ke jeti. Siap dah tukar duit syiling nak bayar kos naik jeti ke Pulau Pinang. Sekali, aku terfikir [lagi]. Macam mana kalau aku terlepas feri? Terlepas bas Rapid Penang ke [kalau aku decide nak ambil bas]? Atau aku terlajak tidur? Jadi backpacking ke Penang pulak nanti.
So, I decided no. I would stay for a while at the mainland instead. I exited from the jetty and proceeded to the bus/taxi station. It was early in the morning and still dark outside. I knew I would be ripped off. But I had no choice. “Uncle, ada hotel tak area-area sini? | Uncle, any hotel around here?“, I asked the taxi driver. “Ada, masuklah. | Yes, get in“, he instructed me. He brought me to this one budget hotel at a shop house. It looked fishy. Like the one in the movie where there will be girls sitting in line waiting to be chosen by the client. I climbed the stairs but halfway, I said to myself, “No, I don’t want to stay here“. I went back to the taxi driver and asked him to go to other hotels around.
Aku tak jadi naik feri. Aku patah balik dan ambil keputusan tidur kat mainland je. Aku pun pergi ke stesen bas/teksi. Luar gelap lagi, matahari tak keluar lagi. Aku tahu, mesti kena ketuk ni. Tapi, aku tak kisah dah. Tak ada pilihan dah. Ngantuk sangat ni! “Uncle, ada hotel tak area-area sini? “, aku tanya pakcik drebar teksi tu. “Ada, masuklah”, aku pun masuk tanpa fikir panjang. Dia bawa pergi hotel pertama. Hotel rumah kedai. Lain macam je nampak. Seram pulak rasa. Macam hotel dot dot dot. Haha. Pakcik drebar berhenti, aku pun naik tangga. Baru separuh tangga, aku rasa lain macam. Tak jadilah!
Soon, we reached one hotel which looked slightly better. I asked the person manning the reception area the rate for 6 hours and he quoted RM 60. I asked for discount and he showed me the fixed price schedule. I did not want to waste any more time. I paid him RM 60 and for the short taxi ride, I was charged RM 15.
Pakcik teksi tu pun bawa pergi satu lagi hotel yang nampak lebih semenggah. Aku tanya uncle jaga reception, boleh duduk 6 jam tak dan berapa harga. Dia cakap RM 60. Aku mintak kurang, sekali dia seluk bawah meja. Eh, nak ambil apa tu? “Nah”, dia tunjuk. Hah siap bawa keluar jadual lagi. Fixed price katanya! Aku pun malas nak pening-pening sebab dah pening, aku bayar jelah. Lepas tu bayar uncle teksi RM 15. Dekat je kot! Kesian, kena ketuk.
But I was glad. At least I had a very good rest at the hotel.
Tapi, tak kisahlah. Dapat rehat dengan hebatnya kat hotel.
It was 12.30 pm when I decided to go back to the train station to catch up my 2.30 pm train to Bangkok. This time, I decided to walk and not to take the taxi. With a large backpack and a small daypack, I walked across the busy road at Butterworth, back to the train station.
Dalam pukul 12.30 tengahari, aku checkout dan jalan kaki ke stesen keretapi. Taubat tak nak ambil teksi dah. Menapaklah aku dengan backpack berat gedabak, dok lintas jalan sorang-sorang kat Butterworth tu.
I went straight to the temporary station. I was so excited I stormed into the station but then, I saw several people and backpackers with a dissatisfied faces. What did I miss? I went back to the door and saw this notice:
Sampai je stesen, terus tolak pintu, masuk dan letak beg. Sedap dapat air-cond. Sekali nampak ada beberapa orang dan backpacker lain muku sugul, runsing, tertekan. Eh, kenapa ni? Apa yang aku terlepas? Aku pun jalan balik ke pintu lepas tu nampak notis ni:
Oh my. Cancelled? So, is this the end for my unprepared and unplanned trip?
Adoyai. Batal? Jadi, ni jelah pengakhiran kisah aku ni?
I entered the station back to get my refund and was informed that the train was cancelled due to some kind of protest from the Thai rubber farmers regarding the price of rubber. So, they closed the rail line. Then, I saw a guy, selling his ticket bus to Hat Yai to people like me, affected by the sudden cancellation.
Tak boleh jadi ni. Aku masuk stesen balik, dapatkan refund. Kakak tu kata, ada protes petani getah. Habis ditutupnya jalan keretapi kat Thailand tu. Lepas tu, aku nampak pulak seorang lelaki jual tiket bas ke Hat Yai dalam stesen tu untuk orang-orang yang terkandas.
I knew there were a lot of minibuses to Thailand being offered at the bus station. But with the scorching sun, I dared not to walk. So, I paid him RM 38 for the bus ticket and he told me and others who bought the ticket from him, that the bus will be available around 2.00 pm. I decided to have a lunch and perform my prayers first.
Aku tahu, ada banyak minibus ke Thailand dekat stesen bas seberang jalan tu. Tapi, nak menapak lagi dengan beg ni, memang idak lah! Aku pun bayar lah lelaki tu RM 38 untuk tiket bas ke Hat Yai. Sekurang-kurangnya, kata dia, bas akan datang jemput kat stesen keretapi ni nanti. Oklah tu. Ada sejam lebih lagi sebelum bas sampai dalam pukul 2 lebih. Aku pun pergi lunch dan solat dulu.
Later, the bus came and we boarded the bus. Around 2 hours later, we reached the border and after all the necessary documentation, lined up at the immigration counter to get our passport stamped. Ah, couldn’t believe I was already in Thailand!
Dalam pukul 2 lebih, bas pun sampai. Dalam 2 jam lebih macam tu, aku sampai sempadan dan lepas urusan imigresen, aku dah pun berada di tanah Siam. Eh, macam tak percaya aku dah dalam Thailand!
READ HERE FOR MY EXPERIENCE CROSSING THAI’S BORDER VIA TRAIN AT PADANG BESAR [IN BAHASA]
The bus proceeded to go to Hat Yai. I saw the skies getting darker. “It is going to be a very heavy rain”, I told myself. Along the way from Butterworth to Hat Yai, I sat beside an Indian guy who used to live in the UK and is having a turtle conservation project in Koh Tao, Thailand named Rahul. It was a great company. We chatted along the way until we did not realize, that we have reached the Hat Yai bus station. And indeed, it was raining heavily.
Bas terus ke Hat Yai dan sepanjang perjalanan, aku tengok langit makin gelap. “Nak hujan lebat ni”, aku cakap kat diri sendiri. Sepanjang perjalanan dari Butterworth ke Hat Yai, aku duduk sebelah mamat dari India yang pernah tinggal di UK dan ada projek alam sekitar berkaitan penyu kat Koh Tao, Thailand. Dok sembang-sembang dengan dia, tak sedar kami dah sampai stesen bas Hat Yai. Dan macam aku jangka, hujan lebat giler.
To be continued – Part 3
If you missed your train to Thailand from the Butterworth train station, another alternative is to get buses or minibuses from the Butterworth bus station. Depends on the location, some even provides for trips to Bangkok. Prices are fixed but you can try your luck to haggle. The bus I took was RM 38 [as of August 2013], but I found out later that bus ticket to Hat Yai can be bought from as low as RM 35 at the bus station.