Took on the most epic journey of my lifetime so far to get from Bangkok to Taman Negara National Park. It took a total of 50 hours and included 3 train journeys, 2 taxis, 1 tuk-tuk, 2 buses, 1 mini-bus and 1 boat ride!
Me and my mates had decided to split up for a few weeks because they were really keen on going to the Southern Thailand islands and beaches and I, being a bit of a nature nerd, wanted to see Malaysia and Borneo. I will be joining up with them again at the end of April for an attempt at the ridiculously high Mt Kinabalu in Eastern Borneo!
The first major leg of my solo journey was an overnight train from Bangkok to Hat Yai in Southern Thailand. The scenery was pretty amazing and the sunset was one of the best I have ever seen, quite literally stunning! It was a fascinating trip because it took me from Buddhist Thailand to Muslim Thailand. Buddhists would get off the train and Muslims would get on until we arrived in Hat Yai, a train packed full of Muslims plus myself and a very few other travellers. I think if someone had played a game of Where's Graeme, it would have been one of the easiest and least satisifying games they'd ever played!
The trip was relatively uneventful except when I accidently opened the toilet door on an elderly Thai lady! It seems that locks are a luxury extra out here!
Next was a five hour train journey to the border on a local train and I made friends with a couple of Thai students who helped let me know where it was I needed to get off! Unsure where the border was I managed to find a French couple who were in the same quandry and we contrived to pay for a tuk-tuk to the border, it turned out to be about 400m away, the driver had been relunctant to inform us of the distance!
The border crossing was an absolute doddle and once over the border we apporached an imposing looking customs guard. He began to ask us questions but not the ones I was expecting, it turned out to be small talk about our travels and ended with him wishing us a safe and enjoyable onwards trip!
We managed to get on a local bus to the nearest town called Kota Bharu and from there I bid them farewell and got a taxi to the nearby train station. I arrived and was informed that the 6 o'clock train to my destination was fully booked but they had seats on the 8pm train which arrived at 2 in the morning. After much deliberation I was informed that there were plenty of guesthouses still open then and that it wouldn't be a problem getting a taxi to the town centre. An American girl then turned up at the train station and was heading to the same place so when we arrived at Jerantut we were able to get a mini bus to a guesthouse which is higly recommended in the Lonely Planet.
The following morning we did a lot of sorting out and were on the bus that afternoon for Taman Nergara National Park. From there it was a final three hour boat trip to the accommodation and I was assigned a seat on the boat with 3 very friendly Swedish girls, it is a hard life! The boat trip was really beautiful, with dense jungle on either side and sandbanks that occasionally had wildlife on such as gibbons, monkeys and deer, very cool. The water on the other hand wasn't quite so beautiful, it could have been millimetres deep and you wouldn't have known it was so dirty!
Will post an entry on my onward adventures in due course but I can tell you there is 100% humidity, tropical storms, rats and leeches to look forward to so stay tuned!
Take care of yourselves,