Border crossing

Friday, May 11th, 2012

  • After my first night on a sleeper train I was in surprisingly good form this morning. I didn’t get the best nights sleep I’ve ever had, not because the bed wasn’t comfortable, but because the AC on the train was set to near arctic temperatures.

    After the early morning arrival at Butterworth train station (basically an unpowered hut) I had nearly 8 hours to wait for my next train to Bangkok. With that in mind I hoped the ferry over to Penang Island for a bite to eat and the opportunity to recharge my laptop.

    By 3 o’clock I was once again aboard a train for the final leg of my trip to Bangkok. This was another overnight sleeper train where the seats convert into beds, though it was somewhat more comfortable and spacious than the previous sleeper train from KL.

    Some three hours later the train trundled to a juddering halt at the Thai border.

    I’ll admit that I’d been rather concerned about this border crossing. I wasn’t carrying anything illegal, but we’ve all heard horror stories of people having drugs slipped into their luggage. Drug smuggling carries the death penalty here so because of this, I had watched my luggage like a hawk ever since leaving KL.

    I was quite sure that this border crossing would be rigorous and time consuming, but in the end this was the easiest border crossing I’ve ever experienced. We simply got off the train, without our luggage, walked along the platform to a booth where we officially left Malaysia, then walked along a short tiled corridor to another set of booths where we then entered Thailand. There was no drama, no sniffer dogs, no long stares from immigration agents, no tough questions, and absolutely no luggage inspection of any sort.

    So I’m in Thailand, and by this time tomorrow I’ll be in a city that has a reputation for being one of the most wild and crazy places in the world. Bangkok, here I come!