Battling Across the Border

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Flag of Malaysia  , Kedah,
Friday, April 8, 2011

A paddle on the beach and a swim in the pool followed by beachside muesli and mango shakes made a fantastic start to the day. The taxi to the port was pretty straightforward (patching my front puncture with a bit of old inner tube hadn't worked) and on arrival we were greeted by a guy from Tiger Ferries clearly expecting us. It was all going very smoothly until he worked out that our Thai visas had expired the previous day. We knew about this and explained that we were expecting to pay a fine. He then explained that it was not possible to pay this fine on Ko Lipe, the last Thai island we would visit before Lankawi and that we would have to take a detour to the mainland. This would add a day to our travels and also mean a 50mile cycle before buying another ferry ticket to Langkawi from Satun. Nightmare. The guy said our only way of getting to Langkawi today was to take a bus. He would provide this bus, but would not refund the ferry ticket. This would mean we were paying 60 each for said bus which only got us to the border. If we wanted a refund we would have to wait in Lanta until 1pm and meet the guy we had paid for the ticket off the ferry from Phi Phi island, but they weren’t sure he was coming today!!?? In the end, we decided to get on the boat hope for the best. A night on Koh Lipe would at least be lovely, although we would lose our money for the onward journey and have to pay again.

The journey was very random and none of the other passengers really knew what was going on, or where we were. The first boat turned out to be a speed boat, and Mikey and I took the front seats and had a fabulous time sunbathing checking out beautiful island after beautiful island. We picked up more passengers from two other gorgeous looking white sandy beaches on tiny islands and then stopped in a port near Trang. We were told to take all the gear off the speed boat and onto a very rickety looking ferry next door.  They then said that this wasn’t actually our ferry, ours would be here in an hour. No problem – we headed off for some iced coffees and fried rice. The ferry that turned up was pretty small but seemed ok and was certainly had no problem taking the bike. The crew found the bikes very funny and wouldn’t let us carry them, excitedly lashing them to the bow themselves. They decided they wanted some money for taking the bikes but as we didn’t have any change they let us off!

The 2hr journey to Ko Lipe passed in a sleepy daze, relaxing on the upper deck spotting flying fish. When we arrived Lipe looked to be an absolute paradise. A pristine, empty white beach with crystal clear blue sea  and just a few coconut thatch shacks to relax in. We were fully expecting to be kicked off the ferry at this point and told to sort ourselves out. Scarily the man this morning had taken our ferry ticket and receipt leaving us with nothing but a sticker to show that we had paid for the full distance. Then a man appeared and said he was going to help us get to Langkawi! He took our passports and 1000bt (the fine amount) and disappeared in a longtail boat to shore, leaving us with nothing but his name  - Eeyore.

Everyone else left the ferry to go to shore and we were left feeling incredibly nervous and positive that there was absolutely no chance that they were going to take the ferry onwards with just 2 people on board. Twenty minutes later however Eeyore returned with 6 other people and our passports which had been stamped!! Amazing, we couldn’t believe it. He was still looking a bit shady and worried as he handed them over and asked us what our plans were for the future. When we explained we were headed for Singapore he was visibly relieved and said he’d got the stamp, but wasn’t supposed to and it might be a problem if we tried to get back across the border!! What a great guy.

The last part of the journey only took an hour and on arrival at a port we were chucked into a speedboat with the bikes and pannier and waved goodbye to Tiger Ferries and their loopy crew. The journey then took another strange turn when we were told to leave the bike and get in a taxi to go to immigration. This turned out to be a 15 minute journey away and we spent the whole time stressing about the unlocked bikes and all of our worldly possessions left untended! However Malaysian immigration stamped us in with a smile, giving us a free 90 day visa, and the taxi man brought us straight back to our bikes afterwards.

At that point we merely had the problem of my flat tyre, a massive hill to get out of the port and a 3km ride. We temporarily fixed the puncture using yet more cut up inner tubes, but they don’t stick properly so I had to ride as fast as could before it deflated again. It collapsed at a perfect point in the middle of the main beach strip Pantai Cenang and I left Mikey with the bikes to try and find somewhere to stay. It was now dark and we were starving. After checking our lots of rooms we chose a lovely one, despite the fact that the mad lady at reception kept showing me rooms and then saying I couldn’t have that one for some reason. She eventually consented to let us have a twin on the ground floor and we collapsed in it! (The next day she let Tom have a double – but not us! Weird)

Showered we headed out for our first taste of Malaysian cuisine, feeling pretty disorientated and unable to believe that we had actually made it! Mikey had a bit of a temper tantrum about the fact that we are back in a Muslim country and we can’t have beers with the meal any more – annoying after a long hectic day, but settled for taking some back to room with our past-supper cornettos. Got back to the room to find a message that Tom has booked a connecting flight to Langkawi and will be here at 10.30pm tomorrow – Can't wait!
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triciagick on

Can't believe you entrusted all your worldly goods to Eeyore. Don't forget though that Eeyore was traditionally always glum bit of a worrier! X

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