After more than two splendid weeks, it was time to say goodbye to Malaysia. The country is a fierce contender for a top spot on my list of favourite countries. It is easy to travel in but is significantly less touristy than Thailand (at least concerning western tourists). The locals have been open and friendly and the food was as diverse as good.
I wanted to spend the second half of my trip in Thailand and my stay in George Town was meant to be just a stop-over on the way there. Going straight from Kota Bharu was not an option as the deep south of Thailand is still suffering from ongoing violence.
Getting of the beaten track is one thing but putting myself between the bombs of Muslim separatists and the bullets of the Thai military would have been (far) too much. The Bangkok Post reports at least one incident per week in the three southern-most provinces.
On my last day in George Town I met couchsurfer Huyen from Vietnam who was on the way to Thailand as well. We decided to join forces and got on a mini-bus towards Hat Yai early Saturday morning. Usually I avoid these mini-buses as they are uncomfortable and the drivers tend to be on the mental side of things. Yet to avoid them would have meant to take several local buses or the train and both options have a lot of room for massive delays.
Our lead-footed driver brought us to the border in just under three hours and the border was crossed some 50 minutes later. The Thais always make quite a fuzz about putting that one single stamp into the passport, usually causing a minor delay.
We reached Hat Yai not much later and were dropped of at the bus station. Staying in Hat Yai was not really an option for me, there is not much to see and it is still somewhat close to those troublesome provinces. Everything seems to be safe though, we didn’t come across a single check-point on the way from the border.
Krabi was to be my destination for the day. I had seen a lot of pictures from the area, tropical beaches and limestone-cliff scenery en masse. Buses go there every hour and around 6pm I was back at the coast that I had left in George Town nine hours earlier.