When you are constantly travelling at a remarkable pace, you tend to meet more travellers on the road as compared to your friends who travel once a year. While locals break the ice by asking my marriage status or why am I travelling without a boyfriend or friends, travellers break the ice by asking about home country and the neighbouring countries. Mine has always been South East Asia countries.
I stumbled whenever traveller friends asked about Thailand or Singapore. To be honest, I vaguely remembered having been to Bukit Kayu Hitam, let alone crossing the border into Hatyai. As for Singapore, I have been to Singapore once, only if you count a transit at Changi International Airport a visit.
My friend, Jaja is extremely crazy about everything Thailand. When she invited me to join her to Thailand, I could not refuse her offer and I promised her I would make it for the trip, no matter what. There are things in life that come unplanned like falling in love or rather falling out of love. Back then, it was the former that I had been advised by many to postpone the trip for the person whom I was pursuing was scheduled to leave Malaysia for UK.
Regardless of the advices, I left Kuala Lumpur on a rainy night to embark my Thai adventure trip with Jaja. If you ask me now if I regret not having stayed in KL that weekend, I’d say I have made the right decision of going to Thailand.
The night I left for Hatyai, it was raining cats and dogs in Kuala Lumpur city centre. The traffic was worst as it was a Friday night and coincidentally the starting of a long Chinese New Year holiday. I had not converted my money to Thai Baht. I was lucky to hail a taxi whose driver was cool enough to discuss the fastest route to get me to Pudu Raya. By the time I reached Pudu Raya, the money changer was closed earlier than it usually would; must be the Chinese New Year Holiday.
Jaja bought the bus ticket at MYR65 per person which she told me a bit pricey than the usual price (MYR50). We packed enough food to last us the night from 7-Eleven and boarded the bus. For the sake of clarity, by the time we boarded the bus, we only knew of crossing border and being dropped at Hatyai. We had not decided which island we wanted to seek refuge from the busy metropolitan life. Talk about the need for some peace of mind.
I pulled out my sleeping bag and held my blackberry throughout the night for romantic exchanges with you-know-who. It was indeed the sweetest bus ride I have had but it didn’t survive as far as I thought it would.
Sadao – Upon reaching Sadao, we were subjected to the immigration check and the custom check where we got our passports stamped. At the custom check point, make sure you have arrival and departure card together with optional MYR1 as the process fee.
The journey to Hatyai to Sadao takes approximately one hour. Once we arrived in Hatyai, we hopped on a motorbike riding pillions. Yes, the common sight of 3 people on a motorbike. That’s us and the rider. Before we reached the bus station which was apparently the wrong station, we were brought to a travel agent office whose charges are Baht950 one way from Hatyai to Koh Lipe. We refused and insisted of being sent to the bus station. The motorcycle ride was expensive. We were both charged MYR10 each.
Apparently we were not at the right bus station, so we had to take a tuktuk to go to Terminal 2 where we would take a mini bus to Pakbara jetty. After 2 hours at the price of Baht120, we were dropped at the pier. Jaja and I went separate way to hunt for the cheapest price to Koh Li Pe. We still had not made up our mind where we would go, but we came into consensus that we should go to Koh Li Pe first and we would decide as and when we arrive in Koh Li Pe.
We agreed on Baht900 for a return ticket to Pakbara-Koh Li Pe-Pakbara-Hatyai. Realizing we still had time for lunch, we bought somtam and ayam percik pulut; famous Thai delicacies.
Our tickets were attached with number. It is noteworthy to understand the process at the pier. You’ll purchase your tickets and you will get a number attached to it. Bags will be gathered at one place because the bags will be loaded into the boat first. The boat was overloaded with passengers for there were many people sitting on the floor and at the edge of the boat. The boat ride took another 3 hours with a short stop at Koh Tarutao and Koh Ngai.
There is no proper pier at Koh Li Pe because of the shallow water filled with rocky coral reefs. Shuttle by long tail boats is at your service at the price of Baht50 to your final destination – Sunrise beach, Pattaya Beach, Sunset Beach, Castaway and Mountain Resort.
I personally don’t like crowded places for a vacation, so with Jaja’s consent, we proceeded to Koh Adang. Little has been written about Koh Adang in my Rough Guide Thailand and a search on Google does not provide the desired information. When we arrived, we were informed all rooms had been booked out, leaving us with military tents. Being an adventurous me, I’m okay with camping by the beach. Jaja was cool with it too. We paid Baht350 a day for the tent all equipped with sleeping bag and pillow. The resort staff would put up the came for you once you have decided your strategic location.
Koh Adang has only one accommodation available for the visitors which is runned by the government. Chalets and wooden rooms and of course, numerous tents by the beach. There is only one restaurant which opens from 7.30a.m. and 3.30p.m. and resumes business from 5.00p.m. – 9.00p.m. It’s halal, so worry not! Do I have to tell you there’s no nightlife in the island?
Dinner costs us Baht425 for fried rice and cashew nut, fried sea bass and sweet and sour sauce and drinks. The joy of discovering your tent in the dark night is half the fun living at this island. It took us almost 20 minutes to locate our tent. We ended our first day of Thai adventure with a sound sleep.