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Stuck in Chumphon due to unrest in the south

Posted by afarewell2barms on 28/8/2013 at 00:06

Me and my girlfriend are currently attempting the old UK to Oz overland route. Our latest obstacle is that our train from Chumphon (Thailand) to Butterworth (Malyasia) has been cancelled due to unrest in the Southern provinces... No one is able to tell us when the trains will be running again, or whether we would be able to get a ticket without a few days advance reservation...


It's possible that trains will all be running again tomorrow, and we will be able to get a ticket for same day - however given our usual luck, I doubt it.

So we are looking for other options to get to Malaysia...

From the research I've done, it seems I have the following rough options:

- Bus to Krabi, then Bus to Butterworth. - This seems doable, but not sure if we will have to pay through the nose for super shiny tourist bus, which we don't necessarily need.

- Bus to Hat Yai , then bus to Butterworth (doesn't seem like there is a direct bus so may have to change at some border town) - I'm a bit wary of this option given that Hat Yai is in the affected provinces and it's all flaring up right now. I realise that violence is not directed against tourists, but heading there as things are hotting up seems a little unwise ot me. Can anybody correct me on this, maybe I'm just being overcautious and it'd be perfectly safe.

These seem like the main options anyway, any other suggestions, or advice re the viability of the above would be much appreciated. Given the fact they had an old laminated sign at the train stations saying "train cancled as the mob are obstructed" it suggests this isn't that uncommon an occurrence, so maybe quite a few people have had this problem.

Anyway, cheers in advance for any replies.

#1 afarewell2barms has been a member since 20/8/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 6
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Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 00:29

You're just passing through, bus should be fine - either option. I don't think the security risk in transit would be that high. To my knowledge, nobody has been targetted on the buses travelling between Malaysia and Thailand.

How you get "overland" from Malaysia to Australia, though, is a better question. There ain't no land through part of that transit.

#2 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957


Posted by sayadian on 28/8/2013 at 01:28

I would agree with Madmac on this. Get the bus to Haadyai and then bus to Butterworth/Penang.
Haadyai has had the occasional indiscriminate bomb but then so has London and Madrid and other places.
Leaving Chumphon I think one company operate from the centre of town saving you going out to the bus station. You'll have to ask around about this as I've forgotten the company's name. I can recommend their buses though.
The Thai army will have plenty of checkpoints between Haadyai and the border. The Tahan Phraan are all along the road and they are very good soldiers. These scum who ambush teachers and monks wouldn't have the balls to attack a bus. It would be suicide for them.
Whilst in Chumphon enjoy the night market the food is excellent.

#3 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by somtam2000 on 28/8/2013 at 05:05 admin

I'm "stuck" in Ban Krut about an hour north of you :-)

The train cancellations are related to protesting rubber protesters blocking the tracks between Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phattalung -- not due to the ongoing troubles in the far south.

I'd head to Hat Yai by bus from Chumphon and get onwards transport from there to Butterworth - Hat Yai is the transport hub for the entire region -- they'd sell you a bus ticket to Auckland for the right price ;-)

Agree with Sayadian - enjoy the night market there.

Cheers

#4 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,568
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Posted by sayadian on 28/8/2013 at 05:22

Arrived at Ban Krut the wrong way-by bus which means a motorcycle ride of 10km to the beach. Found out later that it was only a short walk from beach side to railway station.
The point I'd like to make is hitching a ride to the main road is very easy as people are extremely hospitable there. We went to the station and there was no train for hours so we hitched, took all of two minutes to get a ride. The people also offered to put us up if we wanted to hang around.
The lady opposite the 7-11 sells excellent somtam and barbequed chicken.
At the main road there is a little shelter were you can flag vans going south. Probably one across the road going north.

#5 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by somtam2000 on 28/8/2013 at 06:08 admin

Ouch.

Yup, it's a short walk from the train station, but in the heat yesterday afternoon it felt like a very long walk :-) Have spent all day zooming around on a bike -- pretty area -- and great food!

#6 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,568
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Posted by afarewell2barms on 28/8/2013 at 06:25

Thanks for the replies. Also "Haadyai has had the occasional indiscriminate bomb but then so has London and Madrid and other places" - a great way to put it into perspective... Although it is slightly alarming that only a few days ago some town headsman were gunned down somewhere in the South - again, like you said, shootings happen in most European cities/countries (maybe not to the extent of 5700 deaths or whatever in the past 10 years though)... I guess its mainly the thought of bombs that's a bit unnerving - would just be a case of wrong place wrong time...

Anyway, you as mention, I've since realised the transport delays are rubber plantation and palm oil workers protests. I'm sure I'm being a bit overcautious worrying about travel through the Southern provinces - its just I've never really traveled through anywhere with an FCO warning in place before (or for that matter, anywhere more dangerous than moss side in Manchester :)

You're right about the night market - had some belting stuff last night. Nice place in general I think, nice people, relaxed atmosphere, cheap as chips, not really a chore being stuck here. We'll try the trains again tomorrow, mainly because I'd much prefer to travel in the comfort of a sleeper train - but otherwise we'll get the bus to Hat Yai, and get a bus over the border from there.

Thanks for the info about hitching too. Someone has mentioned to me before about how easy it is to hitch around Thailand as everyone's so hospitable. Coming from the UK where hitching is just about impossible unless you're in a climber area, the notion kind of slips your mind. We haven't properly hitched at all so far on this trip, I should man up and give it whirl though.

#7 afarewell2barms has been a member since 20/8/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 6
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 28/8/2013 at 08:52

Bus to Krabi and fly to KL. Not sure why you're skipping some of the islands. Overland travel is boring in Thailand. The best sights are done via boat.

#8 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by afarewell2barms on 28/8/2013 at 09:23

I'm not sure I agree about travelling overland being boring - It's all personal preference I spose. Was pretty amazing in the North I thought. I realise much of the south might be best appreciated by boat, but we've only got time/money for one Island stop, so we did Koh Tao - very much enjoyed it. Would love to see the Andaman coast Islands but not really got the time or money.

We're trying to do the whole trip from the UK to Australia without flying, and as the dosh is running out we need to get to Aus in next couple of months in order to start earning (need time in Indo to try and get on a boat - fully aware it's unlikely, but got to try)

We hope to return back overland in a years time too, via a different route, but obviously we'll still be coming back through Thailand. Hopefully we can see some of the Andaman coast islands then.

#9 afarewell2barms has been a member since 20/8/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 6
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 28/8/2013 at 09:40

There are no regular boats from Indonesia to Australia, apart from illegal people smuggling boats. You'll have to fly. Not sure how you are going to survive for 2 months if you have little money now.

#10 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by sayadian on 28/8/2013 at 10:09

On the subject of Ban Krut (if anyone is still stuck there :-) )
On Saturday afternoon/evening there is an amazing market selling local produce and cooked food. Don't miss it.

#11 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 28/8/2013 at 10:16

That's amazing. Food at markets is rare.

#12 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by somtam2000 on 28/8/2013 at 10:22 admin

Leonard - thanks for that contribution. A lot of value adding there. Cheers.

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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 28/8/2013 at 10:33

Sorry, couldn't resist. MM loves the word "amazing".

#14 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 10:34

"Not sure how you are going to survive for 2 months if you have little money now."

I think he means little relative to the two months he's got.

Boat travel to western countries is a problem though. I can't say specifically it's not possible to get from Indonesia to Australia, perhaps via New Guineau, via boat, but I can see how that's very problematical. I once thought about taking the boat from Germany or Holland to Thailand when I moved here. But much to my surprise, if I travelled with my shipped property it was an astronimical 100 British pounds a day! It just wasn't affordable.

At any rate, that sounds like the tough leg of your journey. Crossing into Malaysia should be easy.

Our of curiousity, how did you get through the "stans"? I am assuming you didn't travel via Iran - Pakistan. Trans-Siberian railway?

#15 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 28/8/2013 at 10:53

[li]Step 8: The final leg from Asia to Australia is the problem. Although there areferries from Singapore to Indonesia, and you can get as far as Bali by scheduled buses, trains and ferry (see the Indonesia page), there are no regular passenger ships to Australia from either Singapore or Indonesia. Or anywhere in the Far East to Australia, in fact. You therefore need either a cruise or passenger-carrying freighter for the last leg from Southeast Asia to Australia.
[/li][li]There are very few freighters on the Asia-Australia route that will carry passengers, but try Swiss company www.globoship.ch. They have twice-monthly freighter sailings from Singapore to Fremantle (Perth) in Australia, costing 1,334 Swiss Francs (about £833) one-way and taking 7 days. Their website is in German, so use Google language tools to translate it. They also have a monthly Singapore-Melbourne freighter taking 15 days, 6,990 Swiss Francs (£4,368). The ships only have one or two 2-berth cabins for passengers, so book this bit first, and book early!
[/li]
cheaper to fly!!

#16 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by sayadian on 28/8/2013 at 11:06

There's a train from Istanbul to Tehran.(lovely journey taking in Lake Van). It's perfectly feasible to get a visa for Iran. From there travel south and cross the border at Quetta into Pakistan. Next stop India but how do you get from India to Thailand? Nepal-China-Laos-Thailand. I am guessing on this one but it should be possible. If anyone is interested in Iran. It's a beautiful country. The North is Alpine with lush mountain meadows in summer and great beaches. OK for the guys but sorry girls you have to wear an abaya all the time you are outside.
Of course if these idiots we call world leaders pick a fight with Syria it may not be such a good idea.

#17 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 28/8/2013 at 11:08

Thais never understand why westerners want to get involved in these wars. Makes little sense to me either. Why should we care about Syria anymore than Myanmar or any of the African nations that had these fights.

#18 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 11:21

I can read German:

Leonard has the key info listed.

I included the link witht he specifics:

Singapore - Jakarta - Freemantle

http://www.globoship.ch/frachtschiffe/ab_uebersee/asienaustralien

#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by chinarocks on 28/8/2013 at 11:28

In principle I don't agree with intervention either. However, chemical weapons are a red line and illegal in international warfare.

As I understand it this will be a few very surgical strikes on designated high value sites, rather than an attempt at "regime change" or the like.

Russia's role in all of this is disgusting, they should be utterly ashmed of themselves. Not that they will be or anything.

#20 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 28/8/2013 at 11:31

That's if the chemical weapons are real this time. Boy that cried wolf it's easy to be skeptical.

#21 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 11:40

In my view we do not have a dog in this fight. There are no good guys to back here. I would prefer that we did nothing.

#22 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by chinarocks on 28/8/2013 at 11:43

Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons, but not WMDs. Remember Halabja and the 5,000 dead Kurds, which America chose to ignore at the time and actually indirectly funded.

#23 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by chinarocks on 28/8/2013 at 11:44

"In my view we do not have a dog in this fight. There are no good guys to back here. I would prefer that we did nothing."

I agree, they're as bad as each other essentially. Although at what point, if any, do humanitarian concerns outweigh not having a runner in the race?

#24 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by sayadian on 28/8/2013 at 11:54

'Although at what point, if any, do humanitarian concerns outweigh not having a runner in the race?'
I always find it a bit bizarre that it is seemingly OK to bomb the crap out of cities, shoot people indiscriminately but use chemicals and it is not 'cricket' as the Brits say.
Madmac
Unfortunately, the only man to support, by leaving him be, is Assad. What will replace him will be much, much worse.
Why the hell are we batting for Al Qaeda now? Frigging weird world!

Travel is going to get more and more difficult for Westerners as our governments are determined to make more enemies.

#25 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by MADMAC on 28/8/2013 at 11:55

In my view, since we can not separate the wheat from the chaff, humanitarian concerns are not relevent. Military force can only be effective in dealing with humanitarian crises as part of human conflict if one of the following apply:

1. One party is so dominant and so ruthless, while the other so victimized, that intervention makes sense to terminate the conflict (think Ruwanda 94 where said intervention made sense, but did not happen).

2. That both parties are amenable to a third party negotiated resolution and we are just going to police it (think Bosnia 96).

In the case of Syria, we could conceivably strike chemical weapons storage sites provided we knew where those were. Or we could strike and destroy Syrian Army heavy weapons and level the battlefield as it were. But I don't really see the efficacy in either action. This is an internal Syrian conflict and it is up to the Syrians collectively to sort it out. The United States can not be the military arbiter of every conflict on the planet. It breeds resentment and there is always unanticipated blowback.

#26 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957


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