Days 1,236-1,237: Escape From Khao San

Sun 20.05.12–Mon 21.05.12:

When you gotta go, you’ve gotta go. I don’t need The Hangover II to tell me that Bangkok is more addictive than crack. I could happily stay here a long, long time, become that crazy drunken hippy guy with the nifty hat and the funny stories. But there is adventure afoot and nobody ever won an award for finishing 98% of a race. I HAVE FOUR COUNTRIES TO GO AND – ONE WAY OR ANOTHER – I WILL CONQUER THEM ALL!!! Wahaha!

…and I’ll take my WAHAHA water with me!

After my snail-like experience on the public bus from the border with Laos to Bangkok, I opted for a ‘VIP’ bus to take me down to Singapore (you can buy a direct ticket for about forty quid). It left at 6pm, giving me ample time to get myself a new fake student card on Khao San Road. Yes, I’m a criminal mastermind, I know. The bus left from Ratchadamnoen Klang street, just south of Khao San, and with a couple of German girls to chat to and exceedingly comfortable chairs, the journey towards Surat Thani was a rather pleasant one.

We arrived at Surat Thani early Monday morning. The German girls got off and I was transferred to a minibus which took me down to Hat Yai, the last city before you hit Malaysia. There was a choice of getting the 1230 bus or the 1500 bus. I opted for the 1500, as it got me into Singapore at the (kinda!) sensible hour of 6am, whereas the 1230 bus would see me dropped off at the Golden Mile at the zany hour of 3am, which didn’t sound much fun.

It was another minibus that came to take me and some fellow backpackers over the border and down to Phuket in Malaysia. One thing that drives me nuts about everywhere in the world except Europe is that you have to complete a daffy form every time you cross an international border – a form that says all the things that are already on your bleedin’ passport. Name, Date of Birth, Passport Number, all that bollocks. Since they’ve had electronic readers for donkey’s years and now most new passports have a chip in them, what gives? Malaysia, to its eternal credit, have done away with these stupid slips of paper and now you just hand over your passport, have your index fingers electronically scanned and in you go. Nice one, Malaysia! THIS I LIKE.

Back on the minibus, I got chatting to two girls from the USA – Jen And Kate. Between us we knew pretty much all of the state capitals, except for Michigan and Illinois – God that killed us. On arrival in Phuket, I raced over to somewhere with free wi-fi just to stop my brain having a meltdown. Lancing and Springfield (d’oh!) are the droids you’re looking for.

It was a big coach that took me down to Singapore (I was the only one of the original Khao San ’packers to go that far) and I almost had the run of the bus to myself. HUGE reclining seats, of the type to put Joey and Chandler’s to shame, made me feel like this was forty quid well spent. An ancient German called Wolfgang across the aisle babbled on in a way that made me think he might be an old Nazi. Then I felt guilty about thinking the worst of all old Germans, I mean who knows, maybe he was part of the plot to kill Hitler. Then he said he liked Iran’s news because they were the only ones who were truthful about the Jews. Well, think what you like about old Germans… sometimes you’ll be right.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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