Crossing into Thailand
Hat Yai Travel Blog› entry 11 of 28 › view all entries
We bought ourselves a minibus transfer from Penang to Krabi in Thailand, throught a cafe in Georgetown. Our guesthouse sold the same tours but for quite a bit more money, so we went to buy it elsewhere. When the minibus appeared not to be turning up they refused, in no uncertain terms, to help us phone up and work out why. In the end we worked out how to operate the phone, and found out that it was just running a bit late.
We needn't have worried about a bit of a delay at the start of the journey: the way the transfers work is that you get bussed across the border to a town called Hat Yai, where all of the companies have little offices. You wait there for a couple of hours before being picked up by another minibus to take you to your destination. It all makes a lot of sense, really.
Just before crossing the border into Thailand we stopped at a little cafe to get some lunch, and the minibus driver shouted at everyone to hand over their passports. We're always very careful about who we hand our passports over to, and so carefully ignored him. He wasn't too insistent, so there was no trouble. It turned out to be entirely above board; he was submitting people's passports to some sort of desk at the back of the cafe where they filled in the Thai immigration form for you. It was all designed to get people through the border quickly. Because we hadn't done it, we had to fill the form in ourselves at the border, and keep the bus waiting. The driver wasn't very happy, but we were!
Just as with the transfers we'd got between the Perhentian Islands and the Cameron Highlands, and between the Cameron Highlands and Penang, this trip served to highlight the relative ease with which one can travel around southeast Asia, compared with India or China; there are so many organised tours and transfers, and they're easily bought through guesthouses, cafes, kiosks etc.
We got dropped off in Krabi town "conveniently" outside a kind of tourist office which organised local accommodation. There seems to be a lot of that sort of thing that goes on. Sometimes it's quite handy if the place you end up is the sort of place you wanted to go anyway. In this case the range of accommodation on offer seemed more expensive than the places we'd been reading about in the Lonely Planet. We headed off on our own to find somewhere from the book at the other end of town. It was quite a walk in the end, but we found the place, and it turned out to be really lovely and really cheap, so we did well. We'd decided to stay in Krabi town to keep the costs down, and we were able to organise the tours we wanted to do through our guesthouse, with pickups from right outside, so I think we made a good choice.