Our plan was to take the train from Laos, through Thailand, Malaysia & finally into Singapore.
Part 3 – Chumphon to Butterworth 15.5 hrs (+5.5 hr coach, ferry & songhaew)
Colin had divided the train journey into handy 7hr segments, but as there wasn’t much of interest for us in Hat Yai (Thailand) we decided to skip it & forge on into Malaysia.
This meant a long journey by ferry from Koh Teo, before a 15.5 hr train journey. It wasn’t helped by the fact that we had to check out of our room at 10am & the train wasn’t until 22.30! We had planned to stop before Butterworth & go to Langkawi Island first. Due to language & other communication problems … Butterworth it was … & therefore Penang Island.
We finally managed to get the last two tickets on the entire train. Unfortunately, this meant we were sleeping in different carriages; Colin at the end of carriage 3 & I was the first bed in carriage 2 (behind the drivers carriage: no1). Note: Thankfully there are shower facilities at the station, cold, but very welcome.
My top bunk had no ladder, so I literally launched myself from the armrest of the seat below into bed. This time I was wrapped up warm & had my earplugs so slept better.
In the morning I found Colin’s seat & we made our breakfast of peanut butter sarnies (we bought a horrible breakfast on the train last time!)
Getting across the border
Most of the Western passengers got off at Hat Yai, so apart from 3 old Aussie boys sitting next to Colin, we were the only Westerners going across the border at Padang Besar.
The border crossing was a breeze. We were asked to get off the train at the station & enter the waiting room where we were ‘stamped out’ by Thai Customs. We then walked through to another waiting room where we received our Malaysian stamp & a quick bag search. Then, back out to the platform & on the train … Literally 10 mins.
The train separates at Pedang Besar & only the first two carriages went on to Butterworth. At Butterworth, we walked over the ramp to the car ferry to Penang (note there are no money changers or ATMs at the station although it says there is!) We were able to use Thai Baht on the ferry despite receiving a very unfavourable rate.
Roughly 24hrs after checking out of our last rooms, we arrived at our next, in Georgetown, Penang Island.