Plains, Trains, & Automobiles: The Long Way to Bali
After Koh Tao, we were making a beeline to Indonesia. And what a journey it was! Our guesthouse on Koh Tao gave us a ride in the back of a pick-up truck to the dock. Rather than taking a package deal trip to Kuala Lumpur, we thought we could do it faster on our own (can you see where this is going?).
Summary of our ridiculous transportation:
1. Board ferry at 10am. Stop at Koh Phan Ngan & Koh Samui en route. Dock on mainland Thailand in the middle of nowhere (Don Sak).
2. Board bus (included in ferry price). It looks like an old crummy school bus with no A/C. Ride for an hour to Suratthani.
3. Take sawngthaew into town to a travel agency. Negotiate ride to Hat Yai.
4. Take minibus ride to Hat Yai. Arrive around 10 pm at night. Walk a mile to the train station and find out no trains cross the border at night. See lots of rats. Find a crappy, cheap place to stay.
5. Take train to Butterworth. The train was an hour late. This was my first border crossing by train. When we got to the border, there was this interesting sign.
6. Take a bus to Kuala Lumpur. While we waited 45 minutes for our bus, a little boy from Singapore chatted my ear off. He walked around the bus station telling people that I was his friend Shakira and rubbing my face. According to his mother, he loooooves Shakira, and he told me how I looked just like her. Jaded by flattery, I ignored the fact that he must not see that well.
7. Got in to KL and took local bus to Chinatown.
8. After search for a vacant place to stay and getting just a few hours of sleep, we took the monorail to the central station.
9. Took an AirAsia bus to the airport.
10. Took a flight to Denpasar, Bali.
11. Got in late and took a taxi to the bus station 30 minutes away.
This is where things get a bit hairy. Our plan was to take an 18-24 hour bus ride to Yogyakarta, Java. We sat on the bus for 30 minutes waiting for it to leave. The money-taker was arguing with everyone that got on the bus about price and locals were refusing to go. At this point, I believe it’s pushing 11:00 at night, we are completely exhausted, and both have an uneasy feeling about this long bus ride. We make the decision to get off, screw the leg to Java and stay on Bali. Although we knew the effort might be futile, we decided to try to get our money back. We tried pulling the “Well you said the bus was leaving an hour ago” remark to which they frantically tried to push us back on the bus and said that it was leaving right now. We told them we weren’t going and the conductor tells the driver to go. Our stuff is still on the bus!! Lauren saves the day and stands in front of the bus, while I bolt back on to grab our bags. As this scene unfolds at the bus station, a worker from another bus company reams out the conductor and demands him to give us our money back. We finally got half of it refunded, considered it a success, and walked our tired bodies down a back street. We found a place to stay and collapsed.
The next day we took two bemos (local minibus) to get to Ubud. And here is where our Bali adventure began!
In case you need a recap of our trip from Koh Tao to Ubud, we took a truck, a ferry, a bus, a sawngthaew, a minibus, a train, a bus, another bus, a monorail, a bus, a plane, a taxi, and two bemos. I’m pretty resilient on long travel, but I reached my limit and couldn’t stand the thought of getting on another bus after that!