Category Archives: Lands

Yeti Lands: Don Mueang

Although the swanky Suvarnabhumi airport is the one that most travelers to Thailand both arrive in and depart from, budget travelers coming in from other parts of Asia likely end up in the Don Mueang airport.

Although a bit further out, Don Mueang isn’t that bad.  It’s small and super quick to get through.  The taxi mafia isn’t half so lively here.  The main problem is that the coaches don’t come out here.  A cab will cost 350-400 baht.  12 dollars is steep for a solo traveler or long-term couple.

But there is a solution.  You can take the city bus #59.  It, on the other hand, costs as of June 2014 all of 23 baht.  (Make sure you have correct change; perhaps buy something in the airport before leaving.  I had only had 20 baht and then 1000s but I was lucky enough to have a nearby Thai dude chip in the missing 3 baht.)

To catch old number 59, turn right when you step into the arrival hall and walk to the end of the airport.  Head outside and keep going straight.  There should be a parking lot to your right.  But what you’re looking at is the street to your left.  Keep heading straight and you’ll intersect with the main road and the bus stop will be obvious and just a little bit behind you.

The bus takes you to the Democracy Monument but unless you know how to say that in Thai or have it printed up, you just need to ask for Khao San.  The ticket lady will give you a shout when you get there.  On the way, to indicate how long the ride is, she might also indicate that you go to sleep.  Maybe that was just me though!

It’s a long ride in–I didn’t have a watch but I’d say it was over an hour, maybe an hour-an-a-half.  If you are pressed for time or just an impatient person, this might not be the option for you.  But for everyone else, it’s a great way to get into the city without bleeding too many baht and if you score a window seat you can see new parts of the city too.

Yeti Lands (and Fails): Kuala Lumpur

We felt pretty confident landing in Kuala Lumpur, back in February. We’d been to the airport before, and knew that the buses and subways were pretty easy to navigate.

Or so we thought.

(Dun, dun, DUN!)

The bus part went fine. We swanned past the ticket booths selling bus tickets for 9 MYR, smug as can be (we knew we could buy them for a whopping 1 MYR less [30 cents] at the bus itself) and boarded our bus without incident. We slept on the bus, and got off at the right (well, only) stop.

Once at the subway station, we quickly identified our stop.

‘China town is called Petaling St., right?’

‘I think so, yeah… Oh, I see a stop called ‘Petaling Jaya’. That must be it.

‘Definitely. We are so awesome at navigating KL.’*

(Those might not have been the exact words, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I was thinking.)

We bought tickets and hopped on the subway. Sure, the ride seemed a little longer than we remembered it. Sure, when we hopped off, the subway station looked a little less shiny modern than we recalled.  It looked, in fact, in utter ruins.   Still, we were feelin’ good.

Until, that is, we found ourselves, after wandering for a good hour or so, stuck on the median of an eight-lane highway, traffic zooming by on both sides, without a footpath (or a person-sized space in the traffic). Even we thought about flagging down a taxi at this point. Sadly, we weren’t exactly in a prime location for taxi-stopping.

Luckily, we spotted an overpass just up the road, with a sign pointing towards ‘Petaling Jaya‘.

‘We’re saved!’ we thought.

‘We’ll just cross over there, and probably find ourselves in the middle of Chinatown!‘ we thought.

Luckily, at that point, a Malaysian guy pulled up, told us to get in, and, in doing so, saved us from ourselves.

‘Where are you trying to go?! Chinatown? Oh my god. You have no idea how lost you are right now.’

He repeated that last phrase a fair few times during our trip, laughing in genuine amusement each time. And he was right — in our attempt to get to Chinatown aka. Petaling St. (Jalan Petaling in Malay, it turns out), we’d managed to take ourselves to Petaling Jaya, a ritzy suburb on the outskirts of KL instead. We were about 20km away from where we wanted to be.

In the end, our Malaysia saviour took us to a nearby subway station and gave us directions so explicit that even we didn’t screw them up. We got to Chinatown, ate mixed rice, and all was well with the world.

Moral of the story: Don’t be smug. Even if you’ve done something successfully before, you can still screw it up. Oh, and Malaysians are ridiculously nice.