Wednesday, 25 November 2015

THE VERY SOUTH THAILAND RIDE, Day 1 - Hiccups (5 to 13 August 2015)

10 awesome riders, Langkawi airport
Chris from Ti Baan Restaurant, Satun
Singapore to Langkawi, arriving to thick rain clouds!
Our ferry from Langkawi to Satun, Thailand
Enjoying Langkawi Geopark views
Tammalang Pier, Thailand
72.3km including journey by ferry


That was how long it took Claudine and VT to get from home to Changi Airport at the dawn of their adventure. Early morning rush hour, coupled by extra stringent checks at Tuas and the fact that only Gate A2 was opened to cars, all add up to the congestion and delay.

Arriving at Changi with an hour and a half to spare, Claudine and VT rushed to the check in counter. Earlier, YC and Alvin had texted to them to go Entrance 4, Row 10 of Terminal 1. But the good guys came over all the same to help them with check in. 

And then, another suspense!

First time bike tourers on flight, Claudine and VT did not realize that they have to book their bikes under sports equipment allowance and not baggage allowance. Payment for their mistakes was SGD171 for a 20kg bike!!!! 

Thankfully, with the quick thinking of George, YC and Alvin, the team managed to persuade the Airasia check in staff to accept Claudine's bike under the group's sports equipment allowance. However, VT's bike, weighing at 18 kg, only managed to go into cargo after a payment of SGD125 was made

What a stressful morning!!!

Introductions were made....

Papa Mike was properly introduced to fellow kampung friends, VT and Claudine. All three grew up in Taiping. Within minutes, it was established that Papa and VT were from rival schools. But what would make the day most interesting is the fact that Papa's dear mother once taught Claudine!

With what little time left, the team were all ushered into the little Airasia plane heading for Langkawi. ETD was 10.55 am. 

As soon as they boarded, Claudine downed a panadol 650. The possibility of missing their flights, the extra costs involved to check in their bicycles, the lack of caffeine and food were all adding up. 

Now, as she had had only a small "hiong peng " biscuit on her way to the airport, Claudine ordered a Vegetarian Mamee cup noodle on flight. Very eager to eat, with a pounding headache, she totally overlooked to collect her RM5 change, due! Was it an intentional rip off by the Airasia crew???

Meanwhile, it was overheard that the other team members had tucked in some warm food at the airport! That's called being prepared!

Now, while the morning was filled with hiccups, the afternoon was promising....

The weather during the plane's descent was not good. There was a drizzle. But weather at ground zero was dry!

Walking on the tarmac towards the airport, one is awed by the thick, black, columbus nimbus clouds brewing in the sky! Rain is an affirmative. But where will the rain fall???

Passport controls were a breeze. The baggage claim, however, takes forever! Most boxes came through the conveyor belt. 

Then nothing.....

.....and nothing.....

Finally, Claudine's and what looked like YC's bike box came through the door! 

Assembly line was outside the Airasia office, after Customs. The Pros....George, YC, KC and Alvin got their bikes up in no time. Claudine's handlebar was a challenge for VT. Papa Mike took some time deflating his 2 strawberries floaties. They were used as paddings!!!

When all were ready, the team managed a group photo outside the airport. Then they were all ready to roll. 

Turning right at the airport junction, a very light mist of rain cooled their path. Within 5 minutes of riding, the team came upon green paddy fields. YC reminisced that the passing scenery reminded him of Bali. 

Not long into the ride, the hills started. And it was here the team chanced upon a blue Ferrari. An old fat man was attempting to drive it while his wife in a headscarf rode beside him. Behind the Ferrari was a white Alphard with 2 men. 

The Ferrari revved its engine and hurtled ahead. The team rode on. They continued to climb the slopes. And then, they came upon the Ferrari again!

Ferrari, old fat man, wife with headscarf, Alphard!!! Bye bye!!!!!!!! The team, on their humble foldies overtook them.

After the rolling hills, came flatter terrain. Here, school children were on their home run. A Nissan Livina packed with kids cheered the team on. A fried cempedak stall was also sighted but no chance for a stop.

The team headed for Kuah town which is about 20 km from the airport. Spotting a deck of shops midway, Claudine called for a stop. Her water bottle had been empty since onboard. Water and kitkats were passed around. Nobody complained that the kitkats were flat. VT with the help of YC, borrowed a pump from a bicycle shop to further inflate Claudine's Cupcake. 

Then, everyone started rolling again. 

Kuah town. 

Celia whipped out a sardin puff for Claudine. 

A wrong turn to "Feri Pelancong".

Then, we finally reached the correct ferry terminal. 

Alvin and Celia went to purchase the ferry tickets for Satun, South of Thailand. Then, we finally started our late lunch at 3.30 pm. This will be VT's first meal of the day since waking up at 5.30 am!!!! Nasi goreng kampung, Nasi goreng kerabu, Mee goreng and Laksa. 

After lunch, we headed for the ferry terminal. Sailing time was 5.10 pm. With what little time, Papa Mike bought a bottle of Bailey's at the duty free shop. Toilet break costs RM0.50!!!

When it was time to board, we were slapped with an additional RM15 per bike, for cargo space, no negotiations! Our tickets, though costs RM30 per person. 

We passed through another passport control.

Then we met our boat. A really beat up boat that has seen its good old days! Small. Old. Doesn't seem to be sea worthy. 

Thank God we arrived safely at Tammalang Pier.

Another immigration point. 2 counters. One failed to serve after the computer hanged.

Lance had to apply for visa as he was holding a Taiwan passport. The whole terminal closes when Lance's passport was stamped! 

And rained. 

It rained so hard!!!!

Everyone had to bring their bikes back to shelter to put on their rain gears. Raincoats, windbreakers, slippers, SHOWER CAPS all came out from bags. Celia wore bedroom slippers!!!

Thankfully, it was only a 10 km ride to Satun town. Thankfully, the rain teetered off to a drizzle.

We arrived safely and in good spirits at Cliffs Man Hostel and Art Cafe only to be thrown another hiccup. They did not have our bookings. Only 2 rooms were available that night! Apparently, there were some failed communications between and the hostel!!!

During all these confusions, Chris from Ti Baan restaurant was called in as an interpreter and intermediary. Papa Mike suggested we all bunked into the 2 rooms available! Claudine suggested going to another hotel. Alvin and Celia tried contacting 

As it was looking quite obvious that Cliffs Man will not be able to cough up 3 more rooms at the very last minute, it was agreed that George and Claudine will be sent out to scout for other hotels. Again, Chris came to our rescue. He drove George and Claudine to Sin Keat hotel.

680 baht for a room with bathroom attached as compared to 400 baht at Cliffs Man with common toilets! Everyone jumped for Sin Keat.

The day ended with a warm dinner at Ti Baan restaurant. Chris is a Frenchman married to a local. Together, they opened this restaurant, voted as the best in Satun by Tripadvisor! Oh yeaaaahhhhh!

Chris was the perfect host! The restaurant closed its doors to all walk in customers that day! We were pampered with the best service ever!! Papa's Baileys was shared, a cake and birthday song was sang for George and Wendy and to top it all, Papa brought a boom box so we can enjoy our own music.

We finally ended the night by walking in the drizzle to the river !!! Hiccups!!!!!!!!

1 comment:

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