Time to say goodbye
Our time in Thailand has been amazing, from the hiking in Pai, the cooking class in Chiang Mai to the beautiful diving experience in Koh Tao, it was time for us to wave goodbye (for now) and write down another chapter in our trip.
After finishing our Advanced PADI Open Water course in the morning around 12pm, we had to rush for the 2:30pm catamaran that was leaving Koh Tao island the same day. Of course, we had to celebrate with some beer
s (one to be precise) our accomplishments first. We were joined on our farewell trip by Jessica, our scuba partner in crime, who was heading to Bangkok. Cheers for all three of us.
Ferry to the mainland
We managed to find our way to the catamaran, and to our surprise we found a very nice one waiting for us: with TV’s, nice lounge seats and the most important part, air conditioning. It did not take long for me to fall asleep while Perine and Jessica watched a movie. Having an AC was definitely good, but shall I mention that it was dripping on me every 1-2 minutes?
Once we arrived on mainland, the travel agency had everything organized for us, so we took a bus to the Chumphon train station. Our overnight train would arrive in Chumphon only around midnight, so we had a lot of time to spare. We looked for the best coffee shop around, and we planted ourselves there to have some food, social time, good coffee… and also A/C and Wi-Fi! We later had to say goodbye to our friend Jess, who was flying back to US the next day, as her train to Bangkok was scheduled earlier than ours.
The night train
Later on, we boarded the train heading to the border with Malaysia. Since our train was a sleeper train, we were happy to discover a nice train cart, with A/C and clean sheets. I can tell you, the night flew by for both of us. In the morning we arrived to Padang Besar, where we had to pass the border to Malaysia. There were no charges, just a bunch of border employees that did not have a lot of work, nor a lot of experience it seems; luckily we were only a bunch of foreigners there so it went pretty fast.
Little anecdote: Two fellow Vietnamese travelers had been stuck at the border for more than ~40 minutes, because “the boss needs to stamp” their passports. 🙂
George Town, here we are
After a long day and night, we finally managed to arrive to Butterworth, which lies approximately 3 km east of George Town, the capital city of Penang. The two are connected by bridges and ferries. We went for the ferry option since it was the most convenient for us. A free shuttle will drive you from the station to the pier. The ticket for the ferry costs about 50 cents: at this price expect nothing special, you will seat on benches in the middle of cars, but the cruise is only 20 minutes so it doesn’t really matter! The ferry lets you at the Jetty; from there we walked about 20 minutes to our homestay.
In the end, we arrived at our hotel in the afternoon, just in time for a shower before grabbing our dinner: Indian food. This was our first food teaser for Penang island, and we were positively surprised.
Read more about our George Town experience (soon to come).