Getting around Southeast Asia

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There are a lot of ways to get around SE Asia.

There are many options for getting around.  Bikes, motos, motorcycles, songthaws, hitchhiking, boats, even walking are all options to get from point a to point b.  These can be some of the most rewarding ways to travel, but also some of the most frustrating.

If you’re on the tourist trail, most cities have a plethora of “travel agencies” that will be glad to sell you a ticket to wherever you want to go.  They will charge as much as they think they can get away with, so shop around to at least 4 or 5 places.  It goes without saying that the further you are from the main strip you’ll probably pay less.  Also, if you are dropped by one leg of a journey, they will likely take you to a very expensive place.  Big offices, or those with air conditioning, will pass the cost of their office to you and should usually be avoided.

Our best experience came in Bangkok, when we where thinking of taking a long bus ride to Kuala Lumpur, about 24 hours away.  We’d checked in a lot of places already, and heard a variety of rates.  We we unsure about the transfer in Hat Yai because it was reportedly bandit country.

We walked into a nice office and stopped in surprise.  There was a young, bearded, white guy behind the desk.  “Come on over,” he said.  It was the first (and only) time in 4 months of travel that we had seen a white guy as a travel agent.

We approached, sat down, and asked him about the bus to Kuala Lumpur.

He paused, and looked confused.  “Where?”

“Kuala Lumpur.  Malaysia”  we repeated.

He was even more puzzled.  “I don’t know anything about Malaysia.  I’m from Isreal.”  He turned around  and it was clear that our time was up.  We left immediately.

We ended up buying tickets much further south at a good price on the nicest night bus ever.  But that’s another story.


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