29 July 2016, Friday. After breakfast, I spent the morning in Siem Reap wandering around town. I’m not quite a shopping person, so last night’s walk along the night market didn’t quite excite me. I’ve been away for more than a month now, and it was about time I got myself a haircut, lest I start turning into Tarzan or Robinson Crusoe.
Got myself a haircut at a nearby barber. USD2.
Rather reluctantly, I left Siem Reap and headed to Poipet – the Cambodian-side town of the Cambodia-Thailand border. My GPS tells me that I should reach Poipet at approximately 2pm, and I was still deciding if I should put up the night at Poipet or if I should just head over to the Thailand border town of Aranyaprathet. If you google the Poipet-Aranyaprathet or the Poipet-Klongluk border (same thing – Aranyaprathet being the nearest Thai town to the border, and Klongluk’s the name of the Thai border itself), you’d realise that it’s infamous for border corruption and basically a overland traveller’s nightmare.
And when I reached Poipet, I really didn’t have to decide. The skies opened, and started pouring. So I just got myself a room for USD11 and stayed for the night. Knowing that this would be the last day in Cambodia, I tried to expend the remaining Riel I had with me. Funny though, almost everything in this town is quoted either in Thai Baht or US Dollar. And when asked for the equivalent in Riel, most merchants have to take out a calculator to compute the amount. The Cambodians seem to hate their very own currency.
There’s really nothing much to do in Poipet. Kinda reminds me of Stung Treng, but even quieter. I don’t see any tourists around. And even if so, Poipet would likely just be a stopover before heading to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, or crossing into Thailand – definitely not a destination of choice in itself. I’ve read that Poipet is like the rest of Cambodia time-travelled back 20 years ago.
30 July 2016, Saturday. The next morning, I headed to the Cambodia border control with trepidation. Is this border crossing gonna be smooth? Am I gonna run into any Customs issues? (Remember, I had a wee little trouble with Customs entering Cambodia.)
I arrived at the Poipet immigration control at around 0740h. The place seem crowded – not with tourists, but with locals. I think the immigration office is somewhat new, as I’ve read that it used to be a tiny hut. It’s now a proper building with multiple (I recall 2 or 3) counters opened. I joined the queue and didn’t have to wait long. Presented my passport, they took a picture of me (Logitech c920 webcam, again), and had all 10 of my fingerprints taken (electronically, not inked.) My passport was stamped, and swiftly returned to me. No fees asked.
Really? I smiled to myself.
The Poipet immigration control. Roadworks is still going on.
After immigration, I proceeded towards the border control. The locals in their scooters were just zooming past the border control. I slowed down (as I always do at border controls), and was pulled to the side by the border control officer. He asked for my passport, and I showed it to him. He noted the exit stamp and waved me on. No fees asked.
As I moved on, I was looking out for the Cambodian customs control – hoping that I wouldn’t have any issues with my bike. I didn’t spot any customs control, and before I realised it, I was joining the immigration queue on the Thailand side.
Leaving Cambodia. The distinct Khmer / Ankor styled gateway.
Joining the Thailand immigration queue. Notice the border building has a very distinct Thai-style to it – lots of gold and the King’s picture on it.
When I reached the Thai immigration border, the immigration officer seem to be at a loss as to what to do. I suspect that the majority of the overland travellers on their own vehicles are either Thai or Cambodians. Very few international vehicle traffic. After scrambling for awhile (and I waited 20 minutes), they gave me the TM2 (Information of Conveyance) and TM4 (Crew List) forms to fill. I filled them up and returned it to the immigration officer. Got my passport stamped, and returned to me. 10 baht fee (USD0.30) – which I suspect is the official fee as I noticed every local on a scooter passing through the border also paid the same amount. Obviously, I didn’t ask for a receipt.
Next stop, Thailand customs control. I handed my vehicle log card to the customs officer. She took it and keyed something into her computer. I think the Thai customs have a computerised system, and since I’ve been through Thailand before, they seem to have my records. And before long, the customs temporary import permit was printed. I signed on it and a carbon copy was given to me. No fees asked.
Total cost of border crossing – 10 THB.
Goodbye, Cambodia. Hello again, Thailand!
Immediately after crossing into Thailand, I noticed a pretty huge wealth disparity between the two sides. Thailand, being the richer neighbour, is so much more developed and has better roads.
Oh, and I’ve got to start getting used to riding on the LEFT side of the road again.
Star Plaza in Aranyaprathet, Thailand. I haven’t seen malls like this in quite a long while!
After spending some weeks in Laos and Cambodia, where things are just a little less developed, I had a sudden yearn for some urban treatment. I didn’t want to head into Bangkok. First, I’ve been to Bangkok several times (always flew in though). And next, I’ve always hated riding into big cities of developing nations – the experience in Phnom Penh and Vientiane has been more than enough. So, instead, I headed to….
Siem Reap – Poipet – Pattaya.
Lunch and some urban treatment. Kinda reminds me that I’m a city boy after all.
Strolling down Pattaya beach in the evening. Haven’t seen a beach in quite a while.
31 July 2016, Sunday. I strolled along the Walking Street of Pattaya last evening. It was very crowded and filled with both tourists and locals. The street seem to be an attraction in itself, and I saw multiple groups of tourists with their tour guides holding up a flag for easy identification of the tour group, lest the little hatchlings (aka tourists) get lost.
Walking Street in Pattaya was crowded!
The adult entertainment theme ran strong on this street. To keep this journal suitable for the general audience, I’ve selected only this pic for publishing. =P
I headed to the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya in the morning.
Model of the Sanctuary of Truth just outside the attraction.
Tha Sanctuary of Truth.
The Sanctuary of Truth is not a temple. It is a privately-owned building (and land area) started by a Khun Lek – a wealthy businessman who used to be in the automotive import (Mercedes Benz) and insurance business. He started building the sanctuary in 1981 and it has been work-in-progress ever since. Like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, this building will likely be a work-in-progress for a very long time.
The entire building is made of wood. And the pieces of wood are joint using several wood techniques – butterfly joint, wooden dowels, wedge joint, tongue joints, and many others I cannot recall. No nails at all! Metal nails are only used temporarily to hold pieces of wood together, and after the joints are made perfect, the metal nails are removed. Amazing!
Many parts of the Sanctuary of Truth is still under construction.
My english speaking guide showing me the various joint-techniques used.
Woodworkers from Thailand, Myanmar and Laos work at the various wood carvings to be later installed inside or onto the Sanctuary of Truth.
The completed woodwork (left side) and the uncompleted templates (middle). The templates will be replaced by the completed pieces when ready.
View from the outside of the building. Everything’s wood! Amazing, huh?
Even the staircase and handrails are made of wood! Probably gonna need quite alot of maintenance. Check out the detail on the flights of stairs!
The Thais love their elephants!
The designs of the wooden sculptures are inspired by Thai, Khmer, Chinese and Indian cultures.
Sitting on the wooden balcony. Check out the angels on the roof top tips. Because part of the building is still under construction, Thai regulations require visitors (including staff) to don hard hats.
Inside the Sanctuary of Truth.
That’s me surrounded by wooden ladies.
"This work indicates that humans are only dust in the universe and will ultimately become one with it.
Physical beings deteriorate, ravaged by time, but truth and goodness are immortal.
Materialistic pleasure is a superficial physical and external joy. True happiness is found in intrinsic spiritual pleasure.
Ideals make human life more meaningful. Determination to go to the ideal world is something desired by all men.
Every belief, every religion and every philosophy leads there by different paths.
To ponder the great questions of heaven and earth, and yet live for humanity, to study and teach the sublime knowledge of scholar of the past, and to create eternal peace for all mankind, this is the true goal and knowledge great men strive to achieve."
– The writing on the wall in Sanctuary of Truth.
I left Pattaya in the afternoon. The initial plan was to head to Hua Hin. I thought I could use the beach to relax. I had planned to bypass Bangkok as I didn’t like the idea of getting stuck in the infamous Bangkok traffic jam.
While travelling towards Bangkok (I had to bypass Bangkok to get to Hua Hin), I soon realised that the highways and main roads are OUT OF BOUNDS TO MOTORCYCLES! There is a arterial or what the Thais call, frontage road that runs parallel to the main road and highway. Motorcycles travelling on the highway or main road get a 5,000THB fine if caught. Okay no problem – just got to go a little slower to avoid the traffic and potholes.
And then, somewhere near Bangkok, I got stuck in a jam. =( So bad that even motorcycles have a hard time passing through traffic. Then, my nightmare started. After getting stuck in a jam for about an hour (and being cooked in my riding jacket), I reached a bridge that’s out of bounds to motorcycles (trucks and trailers carrying construction material okay, though.) Arrrgh! So I looked for an alternative crossing. Punched it into my GPS and made the detour.
And then…. the next bridge is ALSO out of bounds to motorcycles! WTF?!?! Okay, I’m officially stuck in a Bangkok maze. Exhausted, thirsty, and almost being cooked alive, I found a 7-11 and went inside for the air-conditioning and a cold drink. Inside, I tried asking for directions, but nobody spoke english.
After some finger pointing and google-mapping, one of the counter girl finally understood that I was trying to head to Hua Hin on a motorcycle and am stuck here as I couldn’t cross the river. After some more gesturing around, the counter girl had a brilliant idea. She hailed a motorcycle taxi, gave the motor-taxi rider the instructions, and asked me to follow him.
After 10mins and 20Baht, I reached a ferry point.
“Motorcycle cross here.” the motor-taxi guy told me.
“Ahh! I see! Kor pun karp!”
Motorcycles cannot use the bridges. Motorcycles are banished to the ferries. 10Baht for the river crossing.
sgBikerBoy and his Pulsar 200NS doing a river crossing.
And by the time I got to the other side, motorcycles get banished into the arterial roads again. No highway for motorcycles. Arghh!
The time was 5pm. My last meal was breakfast. I hadn’t had lunch. I was hungry, tired, and I didn’t have much daylight left. When I saw the world famous golden double arches from a distance, I turned in immediately and ordered a Big Mac meal. I got a room nearby after the meal. The sun’s setting, and I had a strict no travelling in the dark rule that I didn’t want to break – not especially when I’ve just battled the Bangkok jam hours earlier.
Getting stuck in the Bangkok Motorcycle Maze. 2h25m?? It was more like 5h for me…
I’ve concluded that Bangkok doesn’t like motorcycles. And for the purpose of this trip, I don’t like Bangkok too.
1 Aug 2016, Monday. After the slow progress yesterday, I was thinking if I should even head to Hua Hin. Perhaps I should push my way down south a little bit more today. I went back to McDonald’s for breakfast at 0530h (they are opened 24hrs) and left Samut Sakhon at 0730h.
But wait, it’s been more than 500km since my last chain lube, and I’ve already finished my bottle of Motul C2 chain lube. I stopped by a Big C hypermart along the highway and went in searching for some lube (and a perfect excuse to get some airconditioning too). They didn’t have a chain-specific lube, and I eventually ended up getting the Sonax MoS2 Oil multi-purpose lube.
I know, I know. I should always use a proper chain lube. But I didn’t want to spend too much time hunting for one, and figured that using this would be better than letting my chain go dry.
After some 20km or so, the arterial road merged with the main road and motorcycles are now allowed onto the main road. Whoopie!
Nice, long, and straight stretches of roads now see me doing proper highway speeds. I’m moving! I’m finally moving! And so, I eventually ended up doing this…
I iron-butted my way down south to Surat Thani. Yup – that’s about the correct number of hours I was on the road for.
And when I reached Surat Thani, it was almost 5pm. So not much sightseeing today. Secured a room, got a shower and fired up Trip Advisor app on my iPhone. The only 2 things that got my attention was the Surat Thani City Pillar Shrine and the night market.
The Surat Thani City Pillar Shrine against the setting sun.
Another view of the Surat Thani City Pillar Shrine.
Surat Thani night market. Street food for dinner. One of the best Pad Thai Seafood I had!
Ouch! Butt hurts. Need rest… ouch.
Oh, and those 2 bears? They’re the hotel props. And I can so see myself slumping into a cushioned sofa in that slouching position. Ahhh…
02 Aug 2016, Tuesday. I woke up this morning feeling a little frustrated with myself. I left my original iPad charger and lightning cable in the serviced apartment in Samut Sakhon. So I’m one USB and one lightning cable less for the remaining of this trip. Thankfully, I brought spares – as keeping my iPhone charged is very important to me. It’s not only a phone, but also a GPS, internet device, currency exchange calculator, messaging device, hotel booking apparatus, weather forecaster, language translator, and possibly another 1,001 other uses. You can tell that my iPhone is probably the next most important tool after my motorcycle itself.
After iron butting my way down south to Surat Thani, and with really nothing too much to explore around here, I headed to the nearby ferry pier to make my way to Koh Samui – a very touristy island on the southern side of Thailand.
The journey from Surat Thani to Don Sak took about an hour. Ferries run from Don Sak to Koh Samui every hour on the hour. I headed to the Raja Ferry pier as during my (very quick and very limited) online (iPhone) research, Raja Ferry had the most complete information and transparent pricing on their website. 220baht for the crossing for the motorcycle including the rider. Not exorbitant at all for the 1.5hr ferry ride.
Raja Ferry Port.
I reached Raja Ferry pier just before 0730am, and was planning to catch the 0800am ferry. Obtaining the ferry ticket was painless – paid 220baht at the ticket counter and rode into the pier. Funnily enough – although the ticket counter girl told me that the “next ferry” was at 8am, it seem like the “previous ferry” was still around and was just about to leave.
As I was directed to board the ferry and ride through the ramp, I kept repeating “Koh Samui? Koh Samui?” You see, the same pier and ferry company also operates to the other nearby islands of Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao (I think). So I wanted to make sure I was getting onto the correct ferry. Thankfully, I received nods of acknowledgement from the ferry staff. I think I was the very last vehicle to board the morning ferry.
Boarding the Raja ferry to Koh Samui.
The Raja Ferry from Don Sak to Koh Samui left the pier at approximately 0730 and took exactly 1.5hrs. Since it was so early in the morning, I was probably the only tourist on board the ferry. The other vehicles in the vehicle bay seem to be work vehicles – trucks carrying workers, materials and supplies to the island of Koh Samui. Even the locals on board seem to be workers and not local holiday makers heading to Samui.
Vehicle bay in the ferry was full of work vehicles.
Another view of the vehicle bay on the Raja Ferry to Koh Samui.
Last one onto the ferry. Koh Samui, here I come!
Surprisingly, I had good 3G internet connection throughout the journey, and so I took the opportunity to do some research while on my way to Koh Samui.
Koh Samui is one of the larger Thai islands in southern Thailand. It’s quite big actually – about half the size of Singapore. Famous for its beaches and full moon parties, it’s one of the favorite destinations for tourists and almost self sufficient on its own. It has its own airport, hospital, and even a court and an island jail. I saw car and motorcycle dealerships selling brand new vehicles and real estate outfits selling Samui properties. There are also schools and other municipal offices. So it’s not just a tourist island, but locals born and breed here too!
The more popular beaches in Samui are the Chaweng Beach (north east of the island) and the Lamai Beach (south east of the island). There is a ring road that circles the island of Samui and most places seem to be not too far from the main ring road. The middle of Samui are highlands and forested and have some natural attractions like waterfalls and viewpoints. Most stuff on the islands are found around the circumference, near the beaches of Samui.
I punched into my GPS the coordinates of the Tourist Information center in Chaweng, and made my way there upon disembarkation.
Along the route, I saw a turn out to Namuang Waterfall. Since it was still early, I decided to go explore a little.
Namuang Waterfall. After all the amazing waterfalls I’ve visited in Laos, Cambodia and other parts of Thailand, this one is just…. meh…
They do have a waterslide here though… Maybe because it was still very early (9’ish in the morning), I didn’t see anyone playing here.
Upon reaching Chaweng Beach area, I did my usual drill of scouting around for a place to stay. And when I turned into one of the streets, I spotted 3 Singapore-registered motorcycles! I stopped a little further down the road and made a turn back, and incidentally, the 3 Singaporeans happened to be standing around! They were all surprised to not only see a Singaporean, but also a lone rider on a Class 2B motorcycle (below 200cc) – with a P-plate! (Probationary plate – indicating that the rider is in his first year of riding after obtaining his motorcycle riding license.)
The Singaporeans in Samui group shot. The hotel staff who took this picture didn’t manage to include the other 2 more Singapore-registered bikes.
Samui is all about its beaches. I spent some time frolicking along Chaweng Beach.
Headed to the nearby mall for some air-conditioning, not retail therapy. I didn’t get anything more than 2 packets of snacks and 2 packs of coconut juice.
When I entered Central Festival mall and was looking for a place to park my bike, I was shoo’ed away from the normal motorcycle parking area. Interestingly and perhaps because I had my top box mounted, my Pulsar 200NS was considered a “big bike” and I was ushered to the “big bike” parking area in the VIP parking section. I felt so privileged! LOL!
I spent some time strolling within Central Festival mall and its vicinity, and before long, it was dinner time. I headed back to my hotel room to dump the stuff I got from the supermarket and headed out on foot searching for some dinner. And just as I finished dinner, I spotted…
…the same group of Singaporeans! Incidentally, the hotel I eventually got was a mere 30 steps away from where they stayed. They invited me to join them for dinner, but I was too full as I just had mine minutes ago. So while they had their dinner, I sat around and chatted with them. I found out that they were all experienced riders and have arrived Samui the day before. They will be heading to Trengganu, Malaysia the next day.
Meet Zairul, Fariz and Ariff who rode their big bikes up from Singapore!
It’s always nice to meet Singaporeans on the road. And it’s always very nice to meet fellow riders on the road.
It’s been SEVEN years! It’s been SEVEN LONG years! And I know if I don’t do something about it, my interest would wane. NO people! I’m NOT referring to the seven-year itch. It’s been seven years since I last went diving!
I had somehow planned for this, and brought along my PADI certification. I obtained my PADI Advanced Open Water certification back in 2009 and have not went for any dives since. And since I was in Koh Samui, diving was my main objective here.
I found Silent Divers while googling for dive shops in Samui. They had pretty good reviews on the internet and my accommodation was merely 30m away from their shop. Actually, I had first found Silent Divers THEN decided to get an accommodation somewhere near here.
I walked into Silent Divers and spoke to Steve – the new general manager of the dive shop in Chaweng Beach. Steve was from the UK and now works in Samui. When I enquired about the dive options available, he broke the bad news.
“We’re not likely to be heading out tomorrow. Or for the next 2 days.”
Apparently, a storm’s brewing, and the weather forecast for the next few days was bad. Windy, with waves that might go as high as 3 meters. I’m not sure if this was related to the typhoon that hit Hong Kong around the same time too. I was disappointed, naturally. But at the same time, appreciative that Steve was looking out for his customers. I left my contact number with Silent Divers and Steve promised to call me back if the weather forecast changes.
I got the call at around 5pm. “Okay, I have ONE last spot to Koh Tao for tomorrow morning. Are you still keen?”
Of course I am!
The best dive site in Koh Samui was the Sail Rock. Unfortunately, because of the unfavourable weather, most dive shops will not head there for the next few days. But because the weather forecast seem to suggest slightly better weather tomorrow, Silent Divers suggested going to Koh Tao instead – where the island’s landmass will help shield some of the wind choppiness.
Okay, whatever. As long as I get to dive. =)
03 Aug 2016, Wednesday. I woke up with excitement in the morning as I prepared for the dive.
I’m going diving! I’m going diving!
On board the speedboat heading to Koh Tao. GPS tells me that we were travelling at 30kts.
That’s me in a super-happy dive pose.
Underwater group shot.
Perhaps because of the storm, I was a little disappointed with the underwater conditions. Visibility was approximately 5-9m or so, not exactly great. I vaguely recall my last dive in Tioman was amazingly beautiful. Clear waters with very, very good visibility.
Corals. Didn’t find Nemo hiding there though.
Oh, isn’t that Dory over here? Hey Dory, is Nemo home?
Another dive group, not ours, spotted this sea turtle.
Taking a break after the first dive.
Taking a surface group shot. The other 3 divers in my group are from Guangzhou, China. They were quite surprised when I conversed with them in Mandarin and Cantonese.
One more group shot on land. That’s Damian, our dive guide, with the bandana there. Damian’s Spanish, and he has been working here in Thailand for the past 4 years.
My second dive was horrible. Not that the dive was no good, but I had the worst case of motion sickness, ever. After we surfaced, I started feeling really unwell. And as the group swam back towards the boat, I didn’t seem to make any progress. I’m not sure if it was the motion sickness, fatigue, strong currents, or just lousy technique, but the distance between me and the rest of the group seem to get larger and larger. It seem that no matter how hard I kicked, the group and the boat still seem so far away.
And then, I puked. Twice. Into the sea. I’m sure the surrounding fishes were quite happy.
Damian, our dive guide, came to my rescue. As he grabbed me, and we both kicked together, I seem to be making a little more progress.
“How much air have you got left?” Damian asked.
“About 60 (PSI).”
“How about we go underwater? It’s more comfortable.”
So we descended approximately 5m underwater and made our way towards the boat.
Once near the boat, we made our way to the surface. And that was when all hell broke loose. As I reached the surface, and for the first time in my life, I experienced the worst case of vertigo. I knew I was already on the surface. I could feel the surface air. I could even see the boat. My BCD was fully inflated, and I knew I was safe. But the whole world started spinning and I was struggling to make sense as to which direction was up. And because we have already surfaced and are so near the boat, Damian had let go of me, (reasonably) expecting me to make the last couple of meters back to the boat myself. But as I was blobbing on the water surface and the whole world seem to be spinning, I needed to grab something – anything – as reference to steady myself. But there was NOTHING that I could grab. So I started flailing my arms – the signal for distress, and Damian came grabbing me.
And just as I steadied myself. I puked again. Sorry Damian.
And over the next 1.5hr journey back to Koh Samui, I threw up so many times on the boat that I’ve lost count. My stomach was totally emptied, but yet I continued puking. You know that feeling of the oesophageal sphincter involuntarily opening up and yet nothing comes out? Yup. Not nice. Definitely not nice.
I’m planning to leave Samui tomorrow and I hope I get well enough by then.
04 Aug 2016, Thursday. After a good night’s rest, I felt much better in the morning, and figured that I should be well enough to ride again. I took the anti-clockwise southern route from the pier to Chaweng Beach when I arrived, and figured that I’d like to see the rest of Samui on the northern side and continued anti-clockwise direction on the ring road to head back to the pier.
The 3 Singaporeans I met 2 days ago also took the Raja Ferry to Samui. But they intended to leave Samui on the SeaTran instead. Raja Ferry and SeaTran are the 2 main ferry operators between Don Sak / Surat Thani and Koh Samui. I too thought it’ll be nice to try the other ferry operator back.
The SeaTran ferry approaching the pier. This time, instead of the last, I was the first vehicle to board. Heheh.
Met a fellow Thai biker with his brand new Kawasaki. He was heading towards Nakhon Si Thammarat with his girlfriend.
Can you spot the Pulsar 200NS hiding there?
Comparing Raja Ferry and SeaTran, SeaTran’s ferry was so much newer. The air-conditioned cabin is also much cleaner and seats are more comfortable on SeaTran. The only advantage Raja has are reclining seats – the ones on SeaTran are fixed. But for both at the same price – 220 baht per journey for 1 motorcycle + 1 rider (pillion pays separately), I’d choose to go with SeaTran if I ever had to head to Samui or Phangan again.
I reached Don Sak at 1130h and made my way down south towards Hat Yai.
Day 45’s route. Koh Samui to Hat Yai.
Got a room for 1 night in Hat Yai. No prizes for guessing where I’d be heading tomorrow. =)
05 Aug 2016, Friday. Border crossing day. Will be heading into Malaysia this morning. I didn’t like Hat Yai very much. Not that there was anything wrong with the town. It was just that after visiting the other places in Thailand (and Laos, and Cambodia,) Hat Yai just wasn’t too exciting. Many Singaporeans making their way into Thailand or beyond typically make Hat Yai their first night stop before punching further up north.
Day 46 – Hat Yai, Thailand to Penang, Malaysia.
When I first reached Chiang Mai some weeks back, I met a couple living there at a motorcycle accessories shop. They were preparing to ride into Indonesia on a multi-week trip, but doing it slowly. So we’ve exchange facebook contacts, and have sort of kept lightly in touch since.
While facebook surfing the night before, I realised that the couple was in Georgetown, Penang! So I contacted them both, and made arrangements to meet up for lunch in Penang.
Goodbye Thailand! It has been an amazing trip!
Sadao (Thailand) – Bukit Kayu Hitam (Malaysia) Border Crossing
Crossing from Sadao into Bukit Kayu Hitam was painless. Sadao seem to have started operating from their new immigration building. It was definitely there (couldn’t have sprung up overnight), but I didn’t remember seeing the new immigration building, and definitely remembered using the old immigration booths.
The new immigration complex in Sadao, Thailand.
Rode up to the immigration booth, got my passport exit stamp, surrendered my TM2 and TM4 (motorcycle “immigration”) forms and scooted ahead. Reached the customs counter just about 15m ahead, stopped by the roadside and surrendered my motorcycle customs form.
All done within 2 minutes. No fees.
Selamat datang ke Malaysia! (Welcome to Malaysia!)
It was even simpler on the Malaysia side. Got my passport stamped at the immigration counter and off I went! No queues, no fuss, no fees. And before long, I entered into very familiar territories. You see, Singapore borders Peninsular Malaysia on the south and I make rather frequent trips into Malaysia. And so it *almost* felt like home the moment I crossed the border of Bukit Kayu Hitam.
Familiar highway postings on the Malaysian highway.
Just before I crossed the border, I recalled that Malaysia (and Singapore) is 1 hour ahead of Bangkok time. I had arranged to meet Michel and Pim at “11’oclock”. While my GPS suggested that I should arrive in Georgetown by 1030h, it really was 1130h in Malaysia! I just lost 1 hour by crossing the border! Michel needed to do a slightly early lunch as he needed to visit the Thai embassy in Penang at 2pm to get some visa matters sorted.
Lunch with Michel and his wife, Pim. I introduced them to Bah Kut Teh – pork rib soup. It is always so nice to meet fellow motorcycle travellers, and definitely very nice to meet them again!
After lunch, I headed to the Givi shop in Penang. The right side of my E22N pannier broke when I fell in northern Laos. I’ve been keeping it together with a tie-down strap since then. And since there was a Givi shop here, I thought I’ll head over to get a replacement box for my broken one.
The Givi shop in Georgetown, Penang.
I love my Givi E22N panniers. They’re large enough to keep my stuff but slim enough to maintain lane splitting abilities. I’ve reviewed them herewhen I got them in May this year.
But for the purpose of this tour, the E22’s were a little too small. I wished I had larger side boxes for touring. So when I got there, I asked the Givi Guy if there were anything that’s bigger for touring, but still able to fit the existing mounts I have. I wanted the ability to swap the E22N’s to something larger when I tour, and then back to the E22N again when I’m in commuter mode.
And I ended up with a set of these…
Givi E36N’s on my Pulsar 200NS. With these slapped on, my Pulsar 200NS is now officially a BIG BIKE.
The E36N’s look like hard shell travelling luggages slapped to the side of my motorcycle. Way, way, way more storage space than the E22N’s. Reduced lane-splitting abilities in exchange for a lot more storage. The Givi Guy also took the time to readjust my mounting brackets and installed an additional horizontal brace bar. He commented that the existing installation appeared to be a shady job – definitely NOT from a Givi authorised dealer. After the Givi modification, my pannier brackets are now significantly sturdier.
While waiting for Givi to adjust my pannier brackets, I had a long chat with Leonard – a fellow motorcycle adventurer in Penang.
After the acquisition, I headed back to the hotel to link up with Michel and Pim again. We had agreed to do dinner together. Michel was yearning for some hamburger and we went to Penang Times Square to get him some.
Michel insisted to buy me dinner. Thanks for the wonderful food AND especially company, Michel and Pim!