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I walked all the way from Thailand to Malaysia

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Crossing borders on foot

If I say I walked all the way from Thailand to Malaysia and you haven’t done that, chances are you won’t believe me but I did!

P1330284Traveling to Malaysia from Thailand is easy, especially if you are already staying near the border. I was at Narathiwat, Thailand’s southernmost city for a couple of days before I decided to proceed to Kuala Lumpur.

If you are in Bangkok, it’s another story though that involves a two-hour plane ride or 14 hours trip on a bus.

Narathiwat is only an hour away by van from Su-ngai Golok Boundary Post and the van dropped me and my buddy Rolly right in front of the immigration building. I joined the long line to get my passport stamped with “exit” then we walked across the border to Malaysia, leaving Rolly on Thailand soil. The Customs and Quarantine officers were friendly, asking light questions about the contents of my backpack (my only luggage) until I said I had a bottle of Excedrin. That was when the officers looked at each other and asked me to step aside. Then they inspected my backpack, something which they didn’t do to others and asked me if I was feeling okay and how many days I had been ‘sick’ and they need to take my temperature if I had a fever or anything contagious. Baffled, I explained that the Excedrin was for migraine and it had been in my backpack forever. One of the female officers touched my forehead, then let me go, apologizing for the delay.P1330277

Then I was on Malaysian soil for the first time, all alone on my way to Kuala Lumpur and without one single Ringgit in my pocket.

If you don’t have Ringgits with you, cross the street after you exit the immigration building and there’s only one money changer in the area. I exchanged all the US dollars and Philippine pesos and Thailand Baht I had in my wallet for Ringgits then crossed the street. Communication is a challenge. I asked four people and after so many frustrated gestures I understood they all said the fare to Kota Bharu was 500 Ringgits.

I waited with other passengers at the roofed walkway where Bus 29 stops by every 30 minutes or so, and when the bus came, I boarded it, not sure if I had enough money. Passengers are required to pay the driver as soon as they board. I showed the driver all the bills I got from the money exchange and he looked at me with a funny expression then peeled off five Ringgits from the wad of bills. I have never felt like a stupid tourist in my life.P1330300

The bus ride to Kota Bharu is about an hour and will take you through several interesting towns and villages. I reached the bus terminal just right after sunset and waited for the next bus to Kuala Lumpur for three hours.

The trip to Kuala Lumpur took eight hours in a freezing bus with centralized A/C so if you can’t stand the cold, bring a blanket. These buses usually don’t hand out blankets and water and snacks, and there are no restrooms onboard either, so you have to take advantage of the short stops in between. It’s a trip where people sleep. Shortly before sunrise, we entered Kuala Lumpur and everything yelled civilization. Here is a city where everyone still mistakes me for a Thai but where almost everybody speaks and understands English.

By the way, the border from Thailand to Malaysia is less than half a mile away and crossing it on foot is no big feat. I got you there.

Destinations Malaysia Travel Asia Travel information Travelling tips

Kuala Lumpur quickie tour

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The Hop-on Hop-Off city tour is your best bet to explore this city with is skyscrapers, mix of towering  buildings and colonial architecture, mosques and temples on your own.

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IF it’s your first time to visit the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, the best way to get the most of it is to buy a ticket for the hop on, hop off bus and explore the city at your own leisurely pace.

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After failing to find a tour agency at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 a couple of weeks ago, I boarded the Express Train to the KL Sentral about 30 minutes away to try my luck. I had one day to spend and I was not going to sit it out at the airport, no matter how world class it is. I was really planning to visit Malacca but the tour agencies I found only do hotel pickups.

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The Hop-on Hop-Off city tour was my best bet. I bought a ticket for 45 Ringgits which was good for 24 hours—one ticket to see it all and explore this city with is skyscrapers, mix of towering  buildings and colonial architecture, mosques and temples on your own.

I waited at the spot where P1340479 - Copythe bus was supposed to stop and hopped on along with a handful of other tourists.

The Hop-on Hop Off tour will bring you to sites that will cost you more and more sites than you can cover in a day if you go out on your own. A voice over narrates a brief history of your current as you drive around.

The city tour will bring you close to over 70 attractions including the Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur Tower, National Museum, Bird Garden, Little India, China Town, Putra World Trade Center, Parliament House, museums and more.  The route will also stop by the rows of hotels, night clubs, restaurants big shopping malls are as well as bargain shopping centers and coffee shops. You can hop off at one street, shop till you drop and hop on the next bus to get to your next destination.

This is your ultimate city tour where you’ll never have to spend much for taxis or tour guides and you can snap thousands of photos along the way.

As long as you know how to read, you will never get lost.  English is a widely spoken language in Kuala Lumpur so communication is not a problem.

The buses go around in 20 or 30 minute intervals so you can take as much time as you want in a certain attraction or hurry up to the next.P1350106

I decided to do it lazy and stayed onboard for the whole route, and did yet another round. The fun of shooting photos minus the hindrance of a bus roof and windows is a big bonus.

Travel tips: Instead of hopping during the busy afternoon hours and spend time in the traffic, you can do your sightseeing in the different attractions. And oh, prepare for a stiff neck. Kuala Lumpur City is all about tall buildings.

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