We were off to Thailand, goodbye Malaysia (thanks for having us) hello tropical islands, spicy food, Buddhists & cheap beer (this order does not necessarily reflect the importance of each item). We went by train (see previous blog), this seemed like a good idea at the time – as so many of my ideas do. But, crossing by land only gives you a 15 day visa and then you have to cross the border somewhere else to get, you guessed it, another 15 days. If you cross the border by air (fly in) you get 30 days. We didn’t. But we were planning on staying approx 6 or 7 weeks, so no matter whether we came by train, or I flew in on my broomstick, this was never going to compute.
So basically I f##ked up. Again. But in the immortal words of someone “insert your own quote here”. So anyway we went from Penang to Butterworth to Chumphon to Koh Tao, then to Koh Phanang for something different (like another beautiful tropical island) then back to Koh Tao (to do Visa run to Burma – meant to be easy – wasn’t, never happened), back to Chumphon, back to Butterworth (after holding up the train to process our overstaying by 1 day, 500 Baht each fine) and of course, back to Penang. Hi Malaysia, guess what? We’re back. We thought we’d use this opportunity to stay somewhere different, try some more of the famous dishes (Chocolate Roti) and do some more exploring. One out of three ain’t bad? We went looking for something (never you mind what) and, unusually, got lost. But this did have the happy ending of walking off way too much curry, plus chocolate rotis, from the night before, and finding the two Buddhist temples (1 x Thai, 1 x Burmese), they are fabulous, and I have decided that Buddhism is actually a quite nice religion when you consider the alternatives.
Not that I have ever considered any of them (except to express utter disbelief), but this just seems sort of sensible, so sensible in fact, I’m surprised it’s a religion. Anyway, I digress (because I’m like that). Temples were beautiful, did lots of unexpected walking, blah, blah, blah. Visas. Why I’m writing this blog. In Georgetown (and I believe Kuala Lumpar and several other places – do your own research) you can get a 60 or 90 day Visa BEFORE you go to Thailand. Duh. For very little cost – 110 Ringgit (1100 Baht) for 60 days – unsure of the 90 days because we didn’t get it. For an extra 30 Ringgit, you can hand your passport to someone else (before 9.00am) and you will get it back at 4.00am that day, ready to go with your 60 day visa. Giving you plenty of time to sightsee (or in our case, get lost – actually ends up being the same thing, except getting lost is sightseeing without an itinerary – think accidental tourist, sounds better). If in Penang, go see Jim. At “Jim’s Place”, yep a lot of thought went into that. He’s hilarious & efficient. Sort of like the perfect employee, or even better, friend.
Jim Tachinamurthy (do not try to pronounce this EVER, luckily he answers to Jim)
Mob: +6016-6536963 (as of now)
Ph: 604-2618731 (as above)
Address: No. 431 Chulia Street (the sign is the size of a postage stamp so keep you eyes open)
Email: email@example.com (did I mention he’s modest?)
But if I were you, just turn up, you’ll get the same result. Plug for Jim complete, you can thank me later mate.
Visas done, we’re off to Bangkok tomorrow on the train, but because we booked late (day before) we have top sleepers not bottom – regardless it’s a great way to travel (for me, I’m short, sorry Big J, you’re not). See you in Bangkok.