Crossing the border from Thailand to Cambodia

Initially we had planned to cross into Cambodia using a Thai train to the border and then a bus, which is what I had done in reverse in the past. After a bit of research online, we discovered that there is now a Thai Government bus direct from Bangkok to Siem Reap which seemed perfect.

This was actually one of easiest border crossings and travel days. I have prepared a blow-by-blow account so that you can follow along.

6:45am Wake up in Bangkok

7:15am Catch a (metered) taxi to Mo Chit Bus Station – only 150 baht and 10 minutes on the toll highway

7:30am Arrive Mo Chit, exchange our printed out tickets (we booked online) for new pieces of paper

7:45am Eat noodle soup after some kind Thai girls helped us order from the roadside stall with no menu

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Cycling in Bang Kachao

Bang Kachao: the lungs of Bangkok.

This is a conservation area in a bend of the Chao Phraya River just south of Bangkok. It is mainly full of agriculture and some protected areas. We were looking for a way to spend our last day in Bangkok so after much internet research we decided to try cycling there.

We hopped on the Skytrain then caught a taxi to the Khlong Toey pier. Before we entered the Wat to reach the pier, a woman started talking to us and offering us bike hire, water, map and ferry for 80 baht plus 5 baht each to get back across the river. Normally we shy away from touts like this but I had vaguely read something about getting a good deal from the woman outside the temple so we went for it. We were shepherded to a different pier and hopped on a longtail boat. We pushed off and then… waited. The engine didn’t start. After floating for a while a second longtail boat came to take us across the river while a third boat came to help our driver.

We were taken directly to a bike rental company’s office which we had expected. No chance to compare with other companies but the bikes looked fine and the price was as the woman had told us. And just like that we were off, cycling around quiet roads feeling miles away from central Bangkok.

Andy biking in Bang Kachao

Andy biking in Bang Kachao

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No fish sauce, no Thai food!

In the spirit of travelling overland we had a number of connections to get from Ko Phi Phi to Bangkok. We eschewed the rest of southern Thailand as we need to make some speedy progress to get to Hong Kong in time to meet friends.

We left Ko Phi Phi at midday on a longtail boat to the main town, then hopped on the ferry to Krabi – thanks to Brittany’s fantastic balloon popping skills this ferry was free. At Krabi we refused all of the official taxis as being too expensive and started walking. Eventually a car stopped and we negotiated an OK price to get to the bus station. Pretty sure it wasn’t a real taxi, just some guy with a car but we got there fine.

Leaving Ko Phi Phi

Saying goodbye to the Relax Beach Resort

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Christmas on Ko Phi Phi

Julian, a German that we met in Malaysia, had recommended a resort on Ko Phi Phi (Phi Phi Island) in Thailand. On the strength of his glowing recommendation we booked five nights at Relax Beach Resort over Christmas.

The five days passed by eating, swimming, snorkeling, beach yoga, reading and lying in hammocks. Very relaxing. The snorkeling was awesome, there was a reef just off the beach with tonnes of different fish. My favourite were the yellow and black striped fish that swam near the surface. You were literally swimming through them and could practically reach out and touch them.

Relax Beach Resort

Dining hall at Relax Beach Resort

We had bought Chang beers in Krabi where they were cheaper. To keep them cold we placed them in the toilet cistern. Each night before dinner we would partake in some toilet Changs on the balcony of our bungalow.

Toilet Changs

Changs cooling in the cistern

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Krabi – Why did I choose this?!?

Krabi Town was always a bit of a random, fill-in stop. Hudson, a kiwi we met in Taman Negara, had stayed in Krabi a week and really enjoyed it. Based on this we decided to spend three nights here. And it did truly live up to its name – we saw a lot of crabs.

We had booked into a NZ$100/night resort on Phi Phi Island over Christmas so we were feeling a bit cheap while we were in Krabi. As such, we eschewed all of the tours on offer – 4 islands, 7 islands, Hong islands, James Bond tour (seriously). Instead we did a couple of independent activities along with laundry and eating a lot of pad thai.

Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Suea)

This temple is well known for the 1,237 steps to reach the golden buddha at the top. It was a long, hot, long, sweaty climb to the top. There was a lovely cooling wind at the top though. Also free wifi. The views were awesome, looking out across the limestone hills. Totally worth the climb up.

View from Tiger Cave Temple

View from the top of the 1,237 steps

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Crossing the border from Malaysia to Thailand

As our next step after Penang Island we decided to head into Thailand. In a few days’ time we had a booking at a resort on Ko Phi Phi, but in the meantime we were aiming for Krabi. We hadn’t booked anything and figured we would just see how far we could get. Turned out this would require lots of different forms of transport. We left our hostel at about 9:45am.

Ferry

First we caught the ferry from Georgetown to Butterworth on the mainland. This is the way we should have arrived in Penang, it took much longer to go to the Penang bus station then get a public bus into Georgetown.

The best thing was that the ferry is free in this direction!

View of Penang Island from ferry

Looking back at Penang Island from the ferry

 

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