Monday, 26 January 2015

Chapter 4 : Pasar Malam Pasar Malam in Ao Nang - How To KRABI Yourself with RM350

Previously in "How To KRABI Yourself with RM350",

Chapter 1 : Senandung Langkawi

***

Once settled with our check-in, rest for a while, shower and get ready; both of us simply grab our handbags and heads out. Mostly when others would check the beach or the Ao Nang street first, we went to check further away from the beach - the Muslim neighborhood. 

Malaysian in Krabi 


Krabi, Thailand is merely 816 KM away from our beloved Kuala Lumpur city, Malaysia. If you flew in via air (I'm refering to airplanes though), it will only take you about 1 hour and a half to reach Krabi International Airport. Unless there is someone who open the plane's door during the take off  - you eshould xpect some delay. Perhaps arrives the day after, due to delays, security check and investigations. If you want to drive, it is merely 18 hours journey if you could start your car. Or else may be years depending to your physical strength to push the car all way through. Malaysia Boleh would be the personal slogan. 

Hence, it is not something new when one Malaysian stays in Ban Ao Nang for her first time especially over the weekend and get a little bit confuse whether she did cross the international border or not. Trust me, it will be pack with Malaysian'plate numbered cars! 

Travel hacks : Like any tourist destination hot spot, it is wise not to travel and stay over the weekend in Krabi. Not only it will be pack with the local Thais, but also with neighboring country i.e Malaysia. Most of them are from the northern part like Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu. However, during this trip, I came to my realization that some Malaysian are really a group of adventure-seekers! I came across with a convoy of 8 Malacca-numbered plate cars. When I thought the journey from Kuala Lumpur to Ao Nang is tiring enough, Malacca - Ao Nang is just beyond my expectation. Moving forwar, the only way for me to be amazed and WOW at other fellow Malaysian travelers' adventure would be by "mengensot" or dragging yourself on the side while laying down all the way up north to Ao Nang. Other mode of transportation and journey should only be classified as average thrill! 

Halal Food in Krabi 


Due to this matter, and also to add that most Thai's Muslims call the southern regions as their home; it is not a shock that you could easily get Halal food in Krabi. There are dozens and dozens halal stalls and restaurants that offers variety of local delicacies along the Ao Nang Street. However they are certain restaurant do serve alcoholic beverages through a third-party bar. 

Halal food stalls near Krabi Resort
Credit to Nina Jasmine

Like any other tourist destination, in any part of the world; when there is a lot of tourist; the prices of goods will hike up to the mountains and beyond. For instance in Bali for example, the rent of sun-bathing lounge chair is  35,000 Rupiah while the tourist will be paying up to 100,000 Rupiah. A pack of Thai mango would cost only 20 Baht for locals or 70 Baht for the tourist. So for those who could speak the country's mother tongue, it is an additional advantage in order to enjoy the local rates. If only the face features are more less the same with the locals tho. Or else, you need to master another skills to get the 50 Baht discount for the mango, Special Effect Make Up. Yeah right, the Thais would believe a Nigerian black guy who can only speak "Sawadikarp" as their fellow Thai national!. (Even funnier if the black guy has Irish red hair, Indian almond shape eye and Native-American strong cheekbones - trying to blend in and bluff everyone that he is a local Thai)

Hence, it answer a lot of questions when you receive the bill for two with the amount of 280 Baht. Holding the bill with one hand while the other hand pat your forehead while your eyes glance back and forth between the bill and your 2 empty plates of Thai fried rice and 2 half-full glasses of fresh fruit juice. Some may say "well, it is only 280 baht, pay it up and don't be so scrooge about it". With the current currency exchange rate, 280 baht means you are paying around RM 35.00. 

Travel hacks : It is wise to bring a lot of your packed food or canned food like sambal ikan bilis, maggi for example (whiskers or pedigree if you find those type of canned fod tasty). Especially when you are in a very limited budget and going to stay for a long period of time. Or else, continue reading!

Muslim Neighborhood 


Many of us didn't realize the existence of a Muslim community in Ban Ao Nang area. Well, I didn't blame you when there is a continuous parade of Victoria Secret models in 2-piece-bikini during the day, all over the places. (rolling eyes) Okay fine, that statement is a bit exaggerated. Basically it is a parade of highly-confident-tourists with muffin-tops-at-the-hip parading 2-piece-Brazilian-bikini. Once a while, a Michelin-tyre mascot will join in a slow motion and blend with the rest of these muffin-tops wearing dark-colored brazillian bikini. Those bikini top that have 2 triangular shape that only cover those nipples. To find one Victoria-Secret-model-type is not even close to the phrase "finding a needle in a haystack" but more like "finding one in the whole barnyard!" Nevertheless, love the confident especially when they hop with joy like a 10-year-old school kid while singing loudly, "all about the bass".

Red Star is our guest house location.
Red circle is basically the Muslim neighbourhood
Blue Star is the Ao Nang Walking Street
Travel hacks : This Muslim neighborhood located about 850 metres from the beach and less bikini-clad bodies walking around. The main centre of the neneighborhoods the Ao Nang Mosque, with a Muslim cemetery adjacent to it. The easiest landmark for this neighborhood to find the Ibis Styles Krabi Ao Nang next to the cemetary. 

Walking from our guest house to the neighborhood is actually  about 45 minutes.  Well, what do you expect when you have 2 girls who love-to-shop-yet-don't-have-enough-money-to-buy-a-souvenir walking by pass shops after shops. We may not have enough money but that doesn't mean we can not go in and pretend to have a lot of it! We even bargain for a beautiful painting from 4300 Baht to 3000 Baht and then asked "do you accept Visa?" when we already saw the sign, 'Cash Only' before entering the gallery. Along the walk, you will by pass a Starbuck, McDonald's and a hotel name Vogue Hotel & Resort (in exact sequence) on your left while a row of clubs, massage centres and seafood restaurant on your right. 

Ao Nang Mosque's Food Stalls


There are 2 mosque in Ban Ao Nang (please don't get confuse!) The one that located in the neighborhood is the Ao Nang Mosque, which is located 1 KM from the beach.

Ao Nang Mosque with its row of street food stalls 

Once the sun set, there will be a row of halal stalls owned by Muslim owners that give your cheap and delicious food! If the halal stalls next to Krabi Resort by beach only offer pancakes, various fried rices and noodles; the stalls in front of Ao Nang Mosque offer a bit of middle east and Asian flavours. You can find seafood satay, Japanese-style shiitake mushroom gill, Thai's adaptation of Malaysian-yong-tau-foo steamboat, Persian Kebabs, adaptation of Indian's Beriyani and mussels pancake. When both of us went there last week, there is nothing above 50 baht. I repeat, nothing above 50 baht if you order for 1 items. You can't expect to order 10 meals and pay only 50 baht. 

Travel Hacks : Most of the food stalls only open during the night after Maghrib prayers. Dress appropriately and wear a flip flop - anything that scream only the word comfortable. Not because the evening breeze is a bit chilly, but it just going to be so awkward when the locals aunties coming out from the mosque after the Isya' in telekung while you in mini skirts and bikini top. Trust me, the aunties will definitely get back inside and continue with any other prayers. Qiamullail all the way to Subuh Farj. If it is the Michelin-type-wearing-the-bikini-top-only, the aunties devote another 2 years inside the mosque. 

Ao Nang Walking Street 

There are 2 Walking Street in Ao Nang. Don't get confuse with Catalunya Walking Street and Ao Nang Walking Street. Catanlunya is the night market that is quite modern located near the beach. The one with the Greek statue in the middle of it. While Ao Nang Walking Street is located at Soi Ao Nang 11/1, approximately 1.15 KM from the beach.

This is Cantalunya Walking Street.
I' ill share with you readers, in Chapter 6

Ao Nang Walking Street
Ao Nang Walking Street is actually a night market located within the Muslim neighborhood. It only open for business during the night. Until to date, I still wonder myself, why the night market in Malaysia and Thai only open during the evening.  Please don't expect it to be a massive one like the one we have in Putrajaya Prescint 2 or Jalan TAR. There is only 15 to 20 stalls maximum and half of it selling foods! Cheap and delicious local delicacies! But I'm not pretty sure whether it is open every night or on specific night. In fact I've tried to Google for the information also not available! 

Soi Ao Nang 11/1 - Ao Nang Night Market. 

It was here when we finally able to find something to eat after almost 1 hour 30 minutes of window shopping. Mussels Pancake. It was basically mussels, eggs (who doesn't love eggs, right girls?), flour and some chili powder. At first both of us really thought it was a mere scramble eggs or telur dadar Reading the board it stated the price is 40 Baht. So I was basically frowning my eyebrows and said to myself, "Did he use a golden egg for the scramble?" After seeing the guy cooked the pancake that I'd realized that I was wrong! Indeed it taste so delicious with a bit of Kimball chili sauce!

The guy is actually a Thai national but can speak a fluent bahasa Malysia
psssst he look a bit like Kamal Adli, a Malaysian actor.
The 35 Baht Mussels Pancake
Yummmy!!


Travel hacks : Malaysian being Malaysian. Night market food is simply the best! Right? 

Expenses


Pancakes    = 40 baht
McParfait   = 45 baht
Total       = 85 baht

Balance    =  Thai Baht 881 and RM38.00

Another 2 nights to go! 
***

Next : Chapter 5 : Psssst Private Beach - How To KRABI Yourself with RM350.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Chapter 3 : Bargaining for KRABI's Rooms! - How To KRABI Yourself with RM350



Previously in "How To KRABI Yourself with RM350",
  1. Chapter 1 : Senandung Langkawi
  2. Chapter 2 : Hat Yai City to Krabi
*** 

Krabi Bus Station


Both, Eeman and I; was asleep when the Executive Coach arrived in Krabi Bus Station. A navy sailor who sit next to our row wake us up and informed that we had arrived at our destination. Imagine this, a hot sailor wake you up from your nap and inform you had arrived in KRABI, the adrenaline rush is like both of us flying all over to the stars, moon, outer space, a different dimension and back! 

Eeman said to me, "Babe, we arrived babe! I can't wait the ocean breeze, sun-bathing under the hot warm sun and jump into the ocean!" We basically grab our handbag, put on shades, wear our head scarf and slip into our flip flop. I even brought out my lace-umbrella (purposely bought in KL to have the romantic ambiance while enjoying the sunset). We ran out of the bus, I'm screaming "Laut Eeman Laut - Cepat!" while I could hear Eeman scream, "Yeah!!!" out of her lung!

Krabi Bus Station

Boy oh boy, our joy crushed within  less than a mili-second. There is no beach, no warm summer sun, no ocean cool breeze. The bus already took off and out of desperation and feeling being cheated, "Damn, that navy really troll us up babe! I think this is the city between Trang and Krabi. This is not even Krabi!". I could see Eeman show her disappointment and we thought, How could we survived and bought another ticket from this city to Krabi with this kind of budget!

Helplessly, we drag ourselves and bags to the ticket counter and politely ask, "How much? Here to Krabi?". Eeman already activate her bargain mode, regardless what ever the amount being told for the ticket, she will start bargaining. That is our hacks in bargaining skills. The lady behind the counter answer, "here Krabi?" and resume with her duties. Desperately waiting and need an answer, I ask again and being given the same reply! I about to raise my voice and ask again when a Caucasian lady approach us and said, "honey, this is Krabi" and our mouths' jaw drop instantly. "Then why the lady didn't tell us we already in Krabi? Why does she keep on repeating our question?" I asked while pointing towards the ticket lady. The ticket lady point down as indication of "here" and said, here, Krabi". We forgot that most locals don't speak English fluently. Bugger. We had become the most smart backpacker to the most bimbo beyond Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie!

Travel hacks : As most Thais is not fluent in english, it is best that we Malaysian didn't carry on with our Malaysian'-style of communicating. You know, the one with lets-chat-while-all-eyes-glues-to-the-smart-phones-screen. It is best to do how the normal people chat those days; face each other, look into the eyes, short sentences and read body language. Body language is the key to ensure that both parties of communicating, you and the locals; are basically on the same page. 

Apparently according to Lynette, a Dutch who travel around Asia with her not-so-gorgeous-as-the-tourist-information-counter-officer-in-Hat-Yai Dutch boyfriend; the beach is located in Ban Ao Nang and it is about another 15 minutes top ride by Tut Tut from the bus station. She even told us that the beach is hardly 18 miles further from the city. I do believe that she even heard that before hand, I suggest to Eeman we walk to the beach area and enjoy the sigh seeing. 18 miles of walking with our bags - once done with the adventure definitely I will win any marathon in Kuala Lumpur! Again, another bimbo image being portrayed to the Dutch couple. (cry

Travel hacks : In Thai, the word "BAN" mean Beach. Krabi's most popular beach is call Ban Ao Nang, but it is a bay actually. Located about 18 miles and has some 83 islands scattered around. There are 4 other beaches in Krabi, Ban Noppharat Thara, Ban Railay, Ban Pra Nang and Ban Tubkaak. Ban Ao Nang basically being classified as the most developed beach attraction in Krabi. Hence, if you are not going to be camping in a tent, Ao Nang it is!

Getting to Ban Ao Nang


The presence of "ulat" in Krabi Bus Station remind me to Hat Yai bus station and railway station, but the numbers are not as many. We did asked for the rate from Krabi Bus Station to Ban Ao Nang to few taxi drivers and "ulat" (the word taxi is for the mini van). 3 drivers out of 4 informed us the rate is between 350 to 400 baht while the fourth informed us, "one-hundlet-baht". Suspiciously we asked again, he tell the same amount and take out his hand and show us FOUR fingers. We just smile and said, "That's FOUR not one"

Travel hacks : In order to go to Ban Ao Nang in the cheapest way possible (other than walking 18 miles) is actually by taking the government's tut tut. The fare is only 60 baht per passenger. The locals call it as "SHARING". That is the keyword, asked for "Tut tut SHARED" . It is a bit bigger than the normal tut tut that we usually see in Hat Yai or Bangkok. It could accommodate up to 8 passengers sitting next to each other. The tut tut will go around the city for a while while looking for other passengers. Don't expect it to go straight away to Ban Ao Nang from the bus station.

Remember, it is 60 baht! If they charged you a higher amount, simply walk away.
During our ride, there are 12 person all together. 8 seated, 3 standing at the back of the vehicle while one sit in front next to the driver. Luckily there  roller-blades is not popular in Thailand nowadays (I guess?!) or else the tut tut driver will ask them to hold on to the tut tut's railing. Like what we did before, in the early 90's during the roller-blade craze with bicycle. 

The driver will drive the tut tut to the Ban Ao Nang via Ban Noppharat Prata road. Along the way you could see dozens and dozens of Tsunami Evacuation Centre sign-age in every 100 metres. This also will be shared later in a different chapter!

Hunting for Rooms! 


We arrived and get out from the tut tut basically at 5.30pm Thursday 15th January 2015. If the journey was delayed for another hour, it will be a complete 24 hours journey from the moment I get out from my house! A lot of readers ask me why I choose to travel by land when I could easily took a flight to Krabi.

Once I did read somewhere in the internet, most flights will arrives in beach locations and cities before late evening. Hence, we simply assume that due to this matter, we could easily walk in into any guest house and start the bargain wars for the room rates. And indeed it works!

Travel Hacks : Once we arrived at the Ban Ao Nang street, first thing first that we did is actually scout the location. Do a bit of logistic. Here are the checklist step : 
  • Go to the beach and look around. Where is the main entrance and staircase to the beach. That will be the focal point and and it will be pack during the day. 
  • Find a halal restaurant first. As you know there are alot of halal restaurant along the beach. The price range for a plate of Pad Thai is mostly between 70baht to 90baht. Choose a restaurant that offer the cheapest meal!
  • Once you have choosen your favourite halal restaurant, then start to look around in a 360 spin. Look out for GUEST HOUSE / HOSTEL. Walk in and ask for the availability and rate!  

How to Bargain?


Travel Hacks : In order to bargain for room rates you need to have 2 players! In our adventure it is Eeman and myself. One will play the good customer while the other one will be the bad customer. The Good customer will start to ask for the availability. If there is availability, then he or she will continue to ask for the rate for a night. Regardless any amount the reception person said, the partner aka bad customer will step in and simply ask, "cheaper can?". Keep on bargaining another one or two time. Sensing the reception personal is almost annoyed, the good customer or me; will jump in and said, "sorry, we going to stay long time. 2 weeks. what your best rate?"

We did use this genius script and wallah! We managed to get our room for 500 baht per night instead of 700baht, deposit 300baht returnable once check-out. However, we inform the guest house manager that we will be paying on a 3 days basis. During your third day check-out simply pack your belonging and inform them that you need to go back to Kuala Lumpur for a family emergency. Kindly apologized, give your best smile and ask nicely for your deposit. (smart right?

Marina Guest House

Marina Guest House located above a massage centre in Ao Nang Street and it is about 150 meters from the beach's main staircase. Well it is a real genuine massage centre, not the hanky panky ones with happy endings. The payment counter of the massage centre also double as the guest house's reception. There are 3 floors upstairs and each floor has 3 rooms and a shared toilet. Its very clean indeed and the toilet is a personal one like those we usually find in a shop-house designs in Malaysia. Flush-seated toilet, hot shower, a sink and towel rack. The toilet space is quite big though, believe me, I danced  zapin during my shower, so it is big!

There is a shop renting out motorbikes beside Marina Guest House.
2 rows of colorful bikes to welcome you before you reach the guest house
The room is not as fancy as Singapore St Regis but trust me, it is very clean and comfortable. For the rate of 500 baht per night, the room provide you with the basic amenities : 2 single beds, 2 fans, a towel rack, and 2 electrical sockets. 

This is me. Not the "Amah"
A personal balcony at the end of the floor as the smoking area and where you got to hand your clothes dry. Wifi connection are available in the sitting area. he connection is quite fast, even faster than some Unifi's speed in certain areas back home. And by having the connection only in the communal area actually give us an opportunity to mingle with other travelers, exchange notes, play games and selfie with the gorgeous one and try to make friends back home jealous after you upload it
 in your instagram account! 

The view from our balcony aka smoking area.
Overlooking the ocean
Travel hacks : Unlike in Malaysia, the electrical sockets in Thailand is complete different. It is a 2 pin socket and the size ois a bit smaller. Hence, if you  never been to Thailand before, it is wise for you to buy one. The electrical pin is available at most stalls along the Ao Nang street for 100 baht. However, if you go to any 7 Eleven or Family Mart nearby you can buy one only for 49 baht!


The 49 bath electrical pin. 
There are alot of budget hostels and guest houses in Krabi, Ban Ao Nang especially. Therefore, if you ask me which one provide the cheapest rate with high value, every single one does. If you follow the checklist and the correct method of bargaining, trust me, you will be staying in a place where you could easily call it as, My Krabi Home.

Expenses

Tut Tut     = 60 baht
Room       = 750 baht
Total       = 810 baht

Balance    =  Thai Baht 1094 and RM38.00

*** 

Next : Chapter 4 : Pasar Malam Pasar Malam in Ao Nang - How To KRABI Yourself with RM350.


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Chapter 2 : Hat Yai City to Krabi - How To KRABI yourself with RM350

Previously in How To KRABI Yourself with RM350,  Chapter 1: Senandung Langkawi Train

***

Credit to whasib

In this chapter, all of you will be have a walk through the wonderful adventure from the Hat Yai to Krabi, Thailand. Believe me, the journey itself is an adventure and really did challenge ourselves physically and mentally. Basically, if you can survive this kind of journey you will be able to compete in Amazing Race. When I said 'able', it doesn't mean winning though. (rolling eyes)

Hat Yai Railway Station

Both of us arrived in Hat Yai Railway Station around 9.45am (Thailand time). Surprise surprise, the train didn't stop yet in the platform when the coaches full with travel agencies' personal or what we Malaysian call "ULAT". They will tail you everywhere you go and surround you like a swarm of bees and you were the beautiful blossom flowers that full with delicious sweet nectar (call it exaggerated metaphor but well - if we don't compliment ourselves, who would right?) They will even usher you to their travel offices located adjacent to the railway station and be sweeter than the sweetest sweets. The ssweetness of their offerings; if being put as a parallel example as a candy, it would be swarmed by millions of ants for a month. Both of us label them as "shadow" for their hard-sell marketing technique and tailing all tourist until to one point, Eeman felt so annoyed and simply ignored them.

All of them will offer their transportation services to all southern Thai tourist destination from Phattalung up to Surathani - air-conditioned mini van with a small group of 10 to 12 passengers per trip. The van will only proceed once it is full with passengers. By any chance of luck, if there were cute collage students together in the same van, obviously the journey will be something. Beautiful nature scenery outside and good-looking and pleasing to the eyes inside, our face blush all the way (enjoying the day dream running along the beach with the cutie-pie enjoying the ocean breeze whereas the cutie-pie is snoring in front of you).

The fare for these ride is between 500baht to 800baht - depending to your bargain skills.

Another type of "Ulat" that will there to welcome you is the tut tut drivers. Be prepared to give them a cold-look and a glimpse of Malaysian-style-glance or jeling. Reason being the drivers will simply charged you a ridiculous fare to anywhere within the city. One even charged us 50baht for the trip to Hat Yai Bus Station! Around RM5 plus babe! Can you imagine?! Hello - with this challenge a 10 cent is worth RM1,000! In other words, these drivers are more less the same like some our local taxi drivers that park their taxis for hours in front of Sungai Wang Bukit Bintang and charging you not by the meter but informed you the fare from Bukit Bintang to KLCC is RM30.

Travel Hack : What we did is, once we disembarked the train; we immediately went to the tourist information counter located at the main exit gate at the platform. All these "Ulat" will guide you to use the exit gate B which is located at the end of the platform to avoid the tourist to passing through the information counter.

Look out for this sign-age! Tourist Information Counter is
located at the main gate with this sign on top! 
At the counter, we were told the cheapest way to Krabi is by taking the executive coach bus from the bus station to Krabi town. The officer that assist us; not only cute, adorable, handsome, "drop-dead-wakeup again-look at the face-fall dead again" gorgeous; but very kind enough to show us and teach us on the tricks to enjoy the locals' tut tut fare! He told us that we - are gorgeous need to take a tut tut that is on the move instead of those drivers that simply wait for their passenger-nee-victim. The supposed tut tut fare from the railway station to bus station is only 30 baht!

Even it is a travel challenge with a limited budget - style is on baybeh

Hat Yai Bus Station

The tut tut ride from the railway station to bus station station will take about 10 minutes. Don't expect the bus station to be air-conditioned like our UTC Puduraya though. In fact it is an open space area and adjacent to it is a row full with travel tour counters.

Again, you will be welcomed by a swarm of "ulat" that going to promote their services to you. However, they are more proper. Not in term of the marketing technique but they do wear a red color vest. A uniform compared those at the railway station. However, having these experience make me wonder, "now I know how Kim Kardaishian feel when she arrives in any airport and welcomed by a swarm of paparazzi"

The ticket counters are located inside the bus station compound. If you are lost and couldn't find where to buy the ticket, there is a tourist information counter located in the middle section of the station, exactly in front of the main entrance.

Travel hacks : Do not buy the ticket from the travel agency located outside. The fare is the same rate as the one near to Hat Yai Railway Station.


Hat Yai Bus Station 

Executive Bus Hat Yai - Krabi

Travel hack : take the non-peak hour bus!

Don't ever ask me to translate this one!
My advice to you, once arrived at the bus station - simply take your time. Just relax, have a cigarette, sit down at the muslim-halal stalls and order some meal and drinks. Why?! The bus fare from Hat Yai to Krabi is between 240baht (peak hour) to 186bath (non peak hour). The peak hour are those bus scheduled at 8.15am, 10.45am, 3.15pm and etc. These are the time where the trains from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok; and most international flight arrives in Hat Yai. Hence, the bus station will be pack with foreign tourists who are looking for bus tickets.

The non-peak hour is an hour later, 11.45am and 1.15pm (upon your arrival in Hat Yai from KL Sentral) and you will enjoy the local fare of 186baht! Well, call me a cheapskate but hey, with this kind of budget, if I need to walk in order to save a dime - I definitely would (again it is only a metaphor statement though - don't take it seriously! I will not ask you guys to walk for 300plus KM to Krabi). The route itself is actually Hat Yai - Phuket, along the way it will stop at 3 towns. Krabi one of them.

For 186baht fare, the bus is quite comfortable and amazing! Simply because it is a double-decker-pink-color bus! It is spacious and you are able to recline the seat lower than a normal express bus available in Malaysia. Reason being is due to the size of the bus itself, which is way bigger than the normal ones, it gives each passenger a big space for your feet to rest. I must say, the space for each seat is way bigger than Air Asia Boeing 737 airplanes'. There is a VIP Lounge located at the lower deck and a toilet. The upper deck will have normal seats; 4 each in a row.

The journey from Hat Yai to Krabi is about 5 hours and you will enjoy the mountain scenery of southern Thailand. Sit back, relax, read a book, play cards with your travel buddies, scrabble or just wear your eye masks and doze off!

video

Meal Stop

Every Hat Yai - Phuket bus route will have 1 meal stop. Usually the bus will stop at any rest area available between the first town, Phattalung and the second one, Trang. No worries, as the southern Thailand has a high number of Muslim populations, all rest area will have at least 1 halal stall. Luckily for us, our bus stopped at an area with all stalls offer halal foods.

I had a bowl of Mee Celup which cost me 40baht. The dish is not the same as our kelantanese-mee-celup though, it is more similar to our plain-flavoured "mee sup". For those fellow travelers who doesn't like spicy-flavored meals, the dish will  definitely be your cup of tea. However for those who can't live without a pinch of chili powder, don't panic. Chili, chili powder, olive oil and peppers are available on each table . You may add to suit your taste buds. As for the drinks, the drink stall have a wide range of selections; from tea to carbonated drinks. A bit pricey when the price range is between 20baht to 60baht. We didn't order any drinks though.

Yummy!!

Travel hack : Bring your own water bottle. Most restaurants in Thailand provide free flow of drinking water. As long as you order a meal, they don't have any issue if you refill your water bottles with the drinking water over and over again! Just  make sure your water bottle is not bigger than 5.5 litre.

Phattalung and Trang Stops

The 2 stops before Krabi Town are Phattalung and Trang. The bus will only stop for 15 minutes to pick up passengers that heading north, Krabi and Phuket, which also give you some time to go to the toilet. Even some of the local shop-owner will get onboard and sells local delicacies. Well, both of us bought a pack of Thai mango! Cost us 20baht! No travel hacks for this one (Don't be a scrooge until to the extend of packing fruits and munchies from home. Worst cases, packs of durians, bottle of cencalok, a kavadi of petai in your backpack - screaming to the world, "Am a Malaysian, petai daily is a must. Enough is enough!).

This is my fave of all time! THai Mango or what we call as "mempelam muda berlemak"!
After Trang Bus Station; it is only another 100 plus KM to Krabi. Approximately another 1 hour to go.

Expenses

Tut Tut     = 30 baht
Bus Fare   = 186 baht
Meal         = 40 baht
Mango      = 20 baht
Cigarettes = 70 baht
   Total     = 346 baht

Balance    =  Thai Baht 1904 and RM38.00

***

Next : Chapter 3 : Bargaining for KRABI's Rooms! - How To KRABI Yourself with RM350

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Chapter 1 : Senandung Langkawi - How To KRABI Yourself with RM350

Credits : Rail Pictures

This adventure was basically started with only a one-way-ticket from KL Sentral to Hat Yai. We bought a sleeper coach ticket. Whereas other mode of transportation and accommodation-wise are all impromptu. What do you expect, we only planned this vacation over dinner last Tuesday 13th January 2015 and we immediately purchased our ticket for the following day Wednesday 14th January!  

Usually, when a person talks about KTM Senandung Langkawi or Intercity train services in Malaysia - the words delay, tiring and slow came in mind. Trust me on this as I am one of this group that have such opinion pertaining to the train-ride! However, this experience really change my perception towards the KTMB services especially when you are traveling with a strict budget. Believe me to travel with RM350 to Thailand really challenge my own financial management. There are times where both of us look at each other and have the same thought, "Should we go and withdraw more Thai Baht from the nearest ATM machines?"

Introduction 


The Senandung Langkawi Train operates overnight on daily basis from KL Sentral Station to southern city of Thailand, Hat Yai. There are basically 4 type of coaches available to the mass - Economy, Second, Sleeper and First-Class Berth. Both of us purchase for the Sleeper coach tickets though; as the First Class Berth is a bit pricey for this assignment. 

AEC : Air-conditioned Economy Class 
ASC : Air-conditioned Second Class
ADNS : Air-conditioned Day Night Sleeper
ADNFB : Air-conditioned Day Night First-class Berth

Ticket Fare

The train tickets are basically more less the same with the bus fare from KL-Hat Yai or vice versa. If you opt for the bus, the ticket fare is roughly between RM50 to RM60 depending on the type of bus and its onboard services.

For the Senandung Langkawi Train, the ticket fare for the seating coach are RM48 all the way from KL to Hat Yai.  However, if you are able to sit for the 12 hours journey (and yes the sit is unable to be reclined) be my guest!

For the sleeper coach, there are two type of ticket fare that doesn't have much difference. For the Upper deck sleeper is much more cheaper at RM54 while the Lower deck is RM60. Each fare is for one-way trip to Hat Yai.

Train Schedule

For Senandung Langkawi Train from KL Sentral to Hat Yai depart every night at 10.00pm (Malaysia time) and reach Hat Yai Thailand at 10.30am (Malaysia time). Thailand timezone is -1hour compared to Malaysia's. So basically estimated arrival time in Hat Yai approximately at 9.30am.



Sleeper Coach Review 

Frankly, the sleeper coach are very comfortable. You will be provided with a blanket and a pillow. Well, please don't expect a warm thick blanket (those brown-colored with gold-satin-trim by the end type; the one we usually have in a standard 3 star or 4 star hotel) and duck-feather pillow that will obviously ensure a comfortable sleep at night. However, the pillow and mattress provided for each sleeper is very comfortable for you to lay down, rest and sleep through out the journey.

In term of space, for backpackers (well, your truly only bring a backpack an a canvas-tote)  you will find an ample space for your bags and also able to lay down. I am 5' 7" tall and beforehand, I would feel that the sleeper coach is quite small for me height. However, the space itself is a little bit bigger than the international-standard single size bed. RM60 for the train ride and able to sleep comfortably through out the journey - well it is a bargain, man!

Ignore the not-pedicured nails!!

The differences that I realized between the Upper deck and Lower deck is basically the Upper deck is located on top of the Lower deck (for the obvious reason judging by the name though - bimbo moment). There is a steel staircase that you could climb-up to the Upper deck. So no worries - no jumping or climbing skills like monkeys required here. 

For the Lower Deck. you will have a small counter top by the huge personal window. In case you want to view the panorama nature scene along the way. Unfortunately, since Senandung Langkawi is an overnight train ride - forget it. You will only able to enjoy the breath-taking view once you reach Sungai Petani Railway Station approximately around 6.30am. And boy, the view of sunrise over the paddy field along the ride to Alor Star is awesome! Being a city girl myself, it is not a daily experience to watch such spectacular view. 

The counter top are sufficient to put some books, water bottle
and power-bank to charge your mobile

video

Travel Hacks : Opt for Sleeper in the middle of the coach as it is more quite and less bumpy. Choose between the number 20 to 30! Tell no one of this travel hack as it is a secret!! *wink*

Surau On Board

For Muslim travelers, a clean small space provided on the train if you guys want to perform your prayers. It is located in L4 for the ladies and L3 for the gents. Bring your own telekung as there is none on board. However, sejadah is available in a small quantity for each surau. Water pipe and fresh clean water supply available within the space as well for whudu'. 

Credit to Rosmawati Yusof

However, it is purposely installed for whudu' not SHOWERING! And please do not sleep in these spaces as it would make others not able to perform their prayers. We are Malaysian not cavemen though. Take note! 

Meals 

Strangely enough, I do remember take the train ride from KL to Ipoh way back when I was a kid with my mother and they do provide a saloon or restaurant coach. However, there is none available in Senandung Langkawi (I'm not sure about other KTM's train route whether they still have it). 

Breakfast carts are only available once the train arrived in Butterworth Train Station around 6.00am (Malaysia time). Don't expect MAS or Air Asia menu selections of 6 to 10 type of meals. However, for sure, Nasi Lemak is available and a glass of Teh Tarik. For coffee-lovers, Nescafe or Black Coffee also available in the menu. Instant 3-in-1 type but the attendants will assist to prepare it for you. 

The price is quite pricey for me. I ordered Nasi Lemak and Nescafe Tarik which cost me RM8 in total. Hence, my personal advice for you guys is to bring your own meal. Buy any take-away meals from warung or gerai on your way to KL Sentral and enjoy the meal on board. KTMB doesn't have any policy not allowing outside foods and drinks to be brought along the journey.

If you want to buy from the breakfast cart, be QUICK! Trust me, all the items are selling out quite fast! After all, there are only few carts to cater for all 9 coaches. Every single passenger just wake up from their night sleep and obviously almost everyone is hungry like hell! 

Padang Besar - Sadao Passport Check-Point

Stop laughing you guys. It is pronounce as Sadao not Sador (muscular in Malay layman term). 

We arrived in Padang Besar - Sadao Passport Checkpoint around 8.30am (Malaysia time). Every passenger need to disembark from the train with your luggages and backpacks for the custom check. However, you may leave your luggage and bring along your valuable items only. However, it is highly not advisable! 

Credit to Teak Door Forum
As usual, at any border check point, you guys going to line up and have your passport stamped and bla bla bla. Yes, that right MANUALLY. There is no integrated computerized immigration system like the one in Malaysia international airports. But however, since this check point only caters for the passenger trains going back and forth between Thailand - Malaysia, the whole process is quite quick and smooth. What do you expect, there is only 2 trains in the morning and 2 trains at late night! So basically you can do the math on how smooth the process is. 

Credit to The.Estherchew
Once you got your passport stamped, you are able to go upstairs and enjoy your breakfast in the cafeteria. The cafeteria owned by Thai muslims and they only accept Thai Baht. But let me warn you, the price is a bit pricey as there is no other options available. If any of you didn't bring any Thai Baht (for those who want to exchange the currency in Hat Yai) - there is a KTM personal that will help you to exchange small amount of MYR to Thai Baht. 

The train will continue its journey at 10.30am (Malaysia time) and it will give you approximately 2 hours plus of rest time. You may have your morning stroll along the station platform to stretch those legs or even have a quick shower in the toilet located at  Level 1. It is not a shower cubicle though. But it does help the passengers to freshen up a little bit.

From Padang Besar - Sadao Check Point the train will continue its journey straight away to Hat Yai Railway Station.

Travel Expenses : 

1. Train ticket      = RM54.00
2. Onboard Meal = RM8.00
     TOTAL          = RM62.00

Balance               = RM288.00 

I already exchange RM250 in KL Sentral, and as a result I had Thai Baht 2,250.

***

Next : Chapter 2 : Hat Yai City to Krabi! - How To KRABI yourself with RM350!



Intro : How to KRABI Yourself with RM350


Previously whenever I've got RM350 extra in hand, usually I will be heading to Aldo to buy some pair of new great skyscraper-heels. However, like any other material that some call as shoes, it get ruin after few years. Better still; gone, missing or misplace by some unfortunate events! 

Interestingly, last week, one of my friend Eeman Teoh and I had decided to have a short-wild-and-impromptu vacation in the exotic beach in the Land of Smile, Krabi, Thailand! With RM350 in hand. That right fellas, RM350 ONLY! Well, not for to person though, but each RM350 per pax! 

When someone came up to you and said, he or she going to go for a vacation by the beach in an exotic land like Thailad; our brain will process immediately roughly a-four-figure budget. I didn't mean RMXX.XX - that is way to cheap though. (laughing out loud). The flight tickets, accommodations, food and etc. Mounting it all up, basically all of us can bought a Coach handbag already! 

Ironically, when we came up with this so-called travel challenge (reason being as both of us usually travel and have a HUGE tendency spent money impulsively) - to have a vacation with RM350 is definitely a challenge for us! 

Throughout this series, I will going to share with all of you readers, the tips, review, travel hacks about Krabi especially when it come around traveling with a VERY very very limited budget!