Myanmar back and forth
20.08.2006 28 °C
Day 32 - July 15.: The slowboat took us to the mainland without insident and the sea was really calm so we got a good nights sleep.
What we was told afterwards was not so calming though. Apparently this particular ferry sinks one or two times a year. They (the owners I guess) get it to the surface agaian and fix the damage before they put it back to service. I guess I'll stick to the catamaran next time
Since we were taking a VISA-trip to Myanmar (Burma) we were picked up at the docks in Chumpon. The bus-ride crossing Thailand from the east coast to the west coast took us two hours and during the ride the weather changed from sunny to monsoon.
In the little town of Rangoon we got our passports stamped before a 20 minute (or so) boat ride across the river to Myanmar. There we stayed for another 15 miutes while we got our passports stamped again. We didn't even have to leave the boat. In one way that was a bit sad because we originally wanted to stay in Myanmar for a day or two, but that far south it's nothing to see anyway so at least now we can say that we have been there The rain was pouring heavily anyway so we probably wouldn't have seen too much anyway.
There was nothing to be said about the entertainment while we were waiting anyway. A group of local youth's (wow, that makes me feel old ) came down to the boat to sell cigarettes and liquor and they kept us well entertained
Back in Rangon we got new stamps from the immigration office and then crammed back into the bus for the ride back to Chumpon. We had already baught train-tickets from Chumpon down to Butterworth in Malaysia. That left us to pass the rest of the day exploring the city. We ended up renting a room at a local guest-house so we could take a shower and rest up a bit since the train we were taking didn't leave until 11 in the evening (sleeper train).
Our plan was to go to the Perenthian Island, two small islands on the north-east coast of Malaysia. The only way to get there, our travel agent on Koh Tao told us, was to take the train down to Butterworth (on the west coast) and then bus from there on to Kota Baharu.
At the train station we waited and waited. The train was delayed - no surprise there. We talked to a couple of other back-packers and found out that the best way to get to where we were going was not by Butterworth. Actually the train-tracks splits some distance before you reach the Malaysian border and from there we could take a train going to the east side of Malaysia. The east-going train-line were little known it seems since they too had trouble getting the correct ticket.
When we got on the train we talked to the conductor and double-checked the information about the trains and he also told us that we would arrive at the train-station were the railway split at 7 in the morning.
The sleeper wagons in Thailand are not bad at all, but the trains are not quite as good as those in China. The lower berths are spacious enough for two even thoug I had to lie diagonally since they werent long enough I suspect they ran the train a bit faster than it or the railway were designed for too since it rocked quite hard. A lot of noise too. It still beats taking the bus