Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand & Laos – Part 1: The Preparation

This is the first part of my travelogue on my solo overland backpacking trip to Thailand & Laos in 2013.

***

Prologue

I never thought this trip would ended up the way it ended but I really consider this to be the trip of the year. I had just resigned from my job 4 days earlier. I did not book anything in advance, be it accommodation or onward tickets. To be honest, I did not properly plan for this trip. What I wanted was just time and space of my own, to be independent for a while and to embark on an adventure that I never thought I would take.

Aku tak pernah sangka yang trip ni akan jadi sebagaimana yang terjadi, tapi bagi aku, inilah trip of the year bagi tahun 2013. Aku baru je berhenti kerja 4 hari sebelum aku pergi untuk trip ni. Aku tak ada book apa-apa, tempat tinggal ke, tiket ke… Memang main redah je! Jujurnya, memang tak rancang langsung untuk trip ni. Sebab masa tu, apa yang aku nak cumalah masa dan ruang untuk diri aku sendiri, untuk berdikari sendirian buat seketika.

Not so many people know about this trip. Only the close ones, family and friends. Throughout this short journey, I did not update my Facebook account. I just wanted to enjoy the moment for a while, to experience new experiences while being away from my comfort zone. True enough, some did not agree about this trip. I admit, I was selfish when I embarked on this journey. But I learnt a lot, saw a lot within the short span of time.

Tak ramai pun yang tahu pasal trip aku ni. Yang tau pun teman rapat dan keluarga. Sepanjang perjalanan singkat ni, aku tak update langsung akaun Facebook aku. Aku cuma nak hargai momen-momen tu sambil tengok dah belajar benda baru, keluar dari zon selesa aku. Ada sesetengah pihak tak setuju dengan tindakan aku pergi untuk trip ni, dan aku akui memang aku pentingkan diri sendiri masa aku buat keputusan untuk pergi juga. Tapi, dalam tempoh singkat aku berkelana, aku bersyukur dengan apa yang aku alami.

And this is my travelogue on the journey.

Dan inilah travelog perjalanan aku.

*****

Day 1: Monday, 26 August 2013

I have booked an Air Asia ticket to Hat Yai a few days earlier for a bargain price of less than RM 50. The flight was supposed to be at 11.00 am. But I was still contemplating whether or not to go for the trip. Finally, I missed the flight. My mum was shocked to see me not going when I went to her workplace at 11.30 am. “Tapi, Iwan nak pergi jugak. Nantilah Iwan pergi KL Sentral beli tiket tren / But I still want to go. I will go to KL Sentral station later to buy a train ticket”, I told my mum.

Aku dah book tiket Air Asia ke Hat Yai beberapa hari sebelum hari ni dengan harga durian runtuh kurang dari RM 50. Sepatutnya, flight pukul 11.00 pagi, tapi aku keliru lagi, nak pergi ke tak nak, nak pergi ke tak nak. Fikir punya fikir sampai terlepas flight tu! Aku pergi kantin mak aku dalam pukul 11.30, mak aku terkejut tengok aku ada kat situ. Dia ingat aku pergi dah. Haha. “Tapi, Iwan nak pergi jugak. Nantilah Iwan pergi KL Sentral beli tiket tren”, aku beritahu mak.

On the Kelana Jaya line LRT heading towards KL Sentral station.

Soon, I brought my sister and we took the LRT to KL Sentral station. Deep in my heart, I prayed that there will still be a ticket because I planned to leave on the same night.

Tak lama lepas tu, aku bawa adik perempuan aku naik LRT buat teman aku ke KL Sentral. Aku berdoa sepanjang perjalanan, tolonglah bagi tiket ada lagi. Sebab aku plan nak pergi malam ni jugak.

35 more people to go!

I reached the KL Sentral station and straightaway rushed to the KTM Intercity ticket counter. I took the number and was shocked to see another 35 people were waiting before me. Whilst seating and waiting for my turn, then I realized, on my last overland backpacking trip to Thailand in 2011 [read here: in Bahasa], I took the train to Padang Besar and then to Hat Yai. “You have never tried taking the International Express from Butterworth to Bangkok, and I think you should do just that“, my mind was telling me.

Sampai-sampai KL Sentral, terus aku pergi ke kaunter tiket KTM Intercity kat tingkat atas stesen ni. Sementara tunggu giliran, aku teringat, last trip aku ke Thailand, aku naik tren ke Padang Besar lepas tu terus ke Hat Yai. Aku fikir, dah alang-alang aku nak buat overland trip, baik cuba naik tren International Express, direct dari Butterworth ke Bangkok.

When my turn came, I asked the girl manning the counter, “Tiket Butterworth 3rd class malam ni ada kak? / Do you still have the 3rd class ticket to Butterworth for tonight? (Being cheapskate me. Lol)”. “Dah habis lah, dik. 2nd class ada lagi kalau nak / Sold out, bro. But we still have the 2nd class ticket“, she informed me. So, 2nd class it was. I bought that ticket and an onward ticket from Butterworth to Bangkok before going home, planning to pack my bags for the journey.

Sampai giliran aku,aku tanya kakak tu, “Tiket Butterworth 3rd class malam ni ada kak?”. Dia jawab, “Dah habis lah, dik. 2nd class ada lagi kalau nak”. 2nd class pun 2nd class lah. Aku beli tiket tu dan tiket International Express, lepas tu balik semula ke rumah.

After packing up, sending my sister to clinic, and bidding farewell to my family members, my little brother sent me to the Kelana Jaya LRT station for me to take the LRT to go to KL Sentral station. It was 9.00 pm when I reached the LRT station, and the train for Butterworth will leave at 9.30 pm. But thanks to the punctuality of the LRT, I managed to arrive in time.

Dah kemas beg, hantar adik aku ke klinik, bye-bye famili aku, adik lelaki aku pun hantar aku ke stesen LRT Kelana Jaya sebab aku nak ke KL Sentral. Dah lewat masa aku sampai Kelana Jaya. Berdebar jugak. Mau tidak, sampai Kelana Jaya pukul 9.00 malam, tren dari KL Sentral ke Butterworth pulak bertolak pukul 9.30 malam. Nasib baik LRT punctual, ngam ngam soi sampai KL Sentral.

Taking the train to Butterworth, the start of my journey.

Sharp at 9.30 pm, the train left. As I did not manage to meet my dad before leaving, I texted him in the train:

Tepat pukul 9.30 malam, keretapi pun berlepas. Sebab aku tak sempat nak jumpa ayah aku sebelum pergi, aku Whatsapp dia:

Peace on you, dad. I am embarking on a journey for a while. Please pray for my safety. Hehe. Tq

I tried to sleep in the train but I could not. But I managed to catnap, at least.

Aku cuba tidur sepanjang perjalanan, tapi tak dapat. Lelap je dapat.

Finally, the first pit stop.

After 8 hours of train ride, I reached Butterworth at around 5.30 am. It was my first time reaching the Butterworth station as an adult. It was also my first time, reaching the Butterworth alone. I did not know where to go or what to do. I walked here and there. The train to Bangkok will leave at 2.30 pm, 9 hours from now. So, what should I do? Where should I go?

Lepas 8 jam perjalanan, aku sampai Butterworth lebih kurang pukul 5.30 pagi. Pertama kali sampai stesen ni masa dah besar dan pertama kali sampai sini seorang diri. Tak tau weyh nak ke mana atau buat apa. Tren ke Bangkok pukul 2.30 petang baru berlepas. Ada 9 jam lagi. Aku dok mundar mandir seorang diri. Nak buat apa ni? Nak pergi mana ni?

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To be continued: Part 2

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KTM provides for train service to the northern regions everyday, leaving the KL Sentral station at 9.30 pm. As of August 2013, the 2nd class train ticket from KL Sentral to Butterworth is RM 34.00 while the International Express from Butterworth to Bangkok costs RM 104.00 for upper deck and RM 112.00 for lower deck.

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13 thoughts on “Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand & Laos – Part 1: The Preparation

  1. Ah seru sekali Khai.. I’ve been from Bangkok to Penang, but have no budget on the direct train so I took a train to Hat Yai, then bus to Padang Besar, then to Penang. Long way to go. After I counted on my expenses, it’s all more expensive than the direct train. hahaha stupid.

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