Bangkok to Butterworth or not...!

Trip Start Nov 09, 2008
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Trip End Apr 02, 2009


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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Having acquired tickets for the train to Butterworth in Malaysia, the great day came at last!  We said our goodbyes to the quaint Atlanta Hotel in Bangkok and took a taxi to Bangkok Station.  To make sure we caught the train, we arrived three hours early and spent time waiting in the main waiting area, beautifully air-conditioned, and some time on the platform.  The platforms are really low and people amble across the tracks and every now and then a diesel engine starts up and carriages get shunted around, but not a lot of trains leave!
Yvonne was getting excited at the prospect of the journey (too much time spent watching Great Train Journeys of the World!) but we both found the prospect of a 22 hour journey with a lively Steven somewhat daunting.  Travel days are never good.
We had two lower bunks on either side of the train which wasn't an easy set up for the waking part of the journey, but when the people who had the upper bunks got on board they suggested swapping and we had an upper and lower bunk on the same side.  The train was viciously air conditioned for the early evening but the staff were persuaded to turn it down later for warmth!  The bunks were spacious but each time the train pulled up, the occupants slid down the bunk and were stopped only by their head hitting the end wall!  Opinion is divided about the comfort of the bunks - the top bunk person - D thought less highly of the bunks than the lower bunk occupants - Steven and Yvonne (who had a thoroughly good night's sleep).
One of the favourite bits of the journey, not for Steven of course, was standing on the gap between the carriages where the doors were open and you could just fall off.  We didn't though - fall off that is!
We also had a sufficient three course meal for next to nothing at a time specified by us and breakfast was ordered for 7am.  This was the first indication that all was not going to plan.  At 6am everyone was delivered with their breakfasts and shortly afterwards an official looking man came round and told us that the train was going no further as the track was flooded.  We had heard rumours of the monsoons coming early to southern Thailand and indeed it was true! 
Having got off the train at Hat Yai, just north of the Thai/Malaysian border, we were then allowed a partial refund on our train ticket and were shepherded to a tuk tuk and told that we would have to make the rest of the journey by minibus.  The said tuk tuk took us to a company who booked us tickets on a minibus to Penang itself, which was the only positive part of this episode as we were going to have to find transport to Penang from Butterworth. 
We then spent several hours in the minibus with many other travellers to Penang, with Steven on our laps, driving in very hot weather to Penang where we eventually safely delivered to the Holiday Inn at Batu Ferringhi.
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