The alarm wakes me up abruptly. I now have exactly one hour to hop in the shower, finish packing, and clean up the apartment so that when the maid comes in on Thursday she doesn’t think I’m a complete slob. I am only partially successful with the last task.
Sam and I head down to the lobby ten minutes behind schedule to find that the taxi driver still hasn’t arrived. When he does roll up a few minutes later, he looks even drowsier than we do.
Arrive at Chiang Mai airport and walk up to the Nok Air ticket counter only to discover that our flight has been cancelled. We won’t be flying straight to Hat Yai today. Surprise!
Head up to the McDonald’s on the second floor of the airport. The walls are hot pink and it looks more like a club than Mickey D’s, so I ask Sam to take a picture of me in this swanky fast food joint. On. On. ON! It looks like I killed my camera’s battery when I left it charging overnight. Hmm, what am I going to do about photos in Penang and Phuket this week?
We begin boarding a flight that is heading to Bangkok instead of Hat Yai.
We land in Bangkok, pick up our luggage, drop off our luggage, and check-in again for our connecting flight.
It’s time to begin boarding. Why aren’t there any other foreigners on this flight?
We land in Hat Yai and pick up our luggage again.
We find a minivan driver and explain to him that we want to go to the local bus terminal so that we can catch a bus from Hat Yai to Penang. He eagerly nods at everything we say so we purchase two tickets and hop in the van with him. Excellent! We are on our way.
The bus driver has now been dropping people off all over town for over an hour but it still doesn’t appear to be our turn. We keep chiming in with ‘bus terminal? bus terminal?‘ every few stops, but it soon becomes apparent that our bus driver doesn’t actually speak any English. How did we miss that?
After an unsuccessful game of charades and using the Lonely Planet dictionary to speak Thai, our driver pulls up to a random travel agency and recruits a local girl who speaks English to save the day. A few moments later we are standing in front of a bus company that has a minivan leaving for George Town, Penang. We make it with 10 minutes to spare.
Our new driver who is taking us to Penang stops across from a 7 Eleven to wait for another passenger. Sam eyes the convenience store for about a millisecond before he bolts out of the van in search of treats. He emerges victorious with a handful of chocolate bars – the Reese’s Nutrageous bar is his current poison.
Receive a Thai exit stamp in Sadao, Thailand.
Receive a Malaysian entry stamp in Bukit Kayu Hitam, Malaysia. The immigration officer doesn’t bother looking at the x-ray machine as my backpack goes through; she’s too engrossed in her novel.
Pick up 4 more passengers who are standing in the rain on the side of the highway. Who are these people?
We get pulled over by the Malaysian police… I’m confused.
Another police officer pulls over a minivan just like ours. They sure know their targets.
The sun has already set by the time we get on Penang Bridge; the island is almost within reach!
We get dropped off in a seedy corner of Lebuh Chuliah where we step over mirky puddles while a lady of the night leans against the arches of a colonial building. Well hello again, George Town. You haven’t changed one bit.