Koh Lanta to Penang, Malaysia- Our friendliest bus journey

We were leaving Thailand, and for good this time 😦 We were both quite sad to be leaving a country that has been so good to us and in which we originally started our adventure, it felt quite poignant, like leaving a second home. We had become so used to its customs, language and the way everyday life goes.

We started our journey at about 7 in the morning. It was the usual sort of long journey; cramped mini van, too many bags crammed into every spare space, bongos bouncing off Adam’s legs for hours on end, many stops and mini van changes. But our last leg of the journey really made it for us as we were lucky enough to have some very friendly and chatty Malaysian companions.

Our companions were nice enough to explain what was going on at each point of the border crossing as the driver was unable to. Just the command given of “PASSPORTS!” With an expecting open hand makes both of us respond with “eeerrmm…No!” But our travel buddies were able to explain actually what the driver wanted and why. It definitely put us at ease as border crossings can be quite stressful and confusing when not in your own language or script.

After the border crossing, which occurred event free and included putting our large backpacks through an unmanned scanner (I questioned the point of it…) We got chatting to our fellow passengers, one a young Malaysian couple and one an older man and we hardly stopped talking for the remaining 6 hours of our journey to Georgetown, Penang. The older man was extremely animated, excitable and fast talking whilst the couple were a bit more chilled. We discussed everything to holidays to jobs and the difference between our countries. Talk got serious when they mentioned the upcoming elections happening on May 5th. They asked where we would be, we answered Kuala Lumpur and their response deeply worried us. “For your safety I recommend you leave the country, or at the least do not stay in KL.” Oh. We can’t afford to get any extra journeys out of the city. “You will need to find a secure hotel and stay inside then” they warned us. The older gentleman reminisced about the 1969 elections where people were killed in riots and told us that tensions are as high as they were then and would not want us caught up in anything by accident.

We have heeded their advice, have got extra advice from the hostel we are staying in, and are currently taking it easy inside. It looks like we are going to have to play it by ear. Nothing may happen at all, but I know that I do not want us being caught up in something we have no idea about. I also worry for the tourists who do not know about what is coming and all the “accidents” they could get caught up in.

We are both very lucky and grateful to have met such friendly and helpful people, and made us think “I hope our first amazing insight and account into Malaysia and Malaysian people doesn’t let us down…” And so far it hasn’t and actually leads us quite nicely into our ‘Travelling Highlight of the Week’…

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