Leo Laksi’s Bangkok And Back

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Bangkok Airport closed, Singapore to Bangkok by car, part one

with 6 comments

Before the journey

Before the journey

Last Tuesday (25 November 2008), I flew from Bangkok to Singapore for some meetings, fully intending to fly back the next day.  By the next morning, the word was out that PAD demostrators had invaded Suvannabhumi Airport, causing all flights to be cancelled.  Don Muang Airport was still open for limited use however this second airport was soon closed.  I decided to remain in Singapore one additional day to see if the situation improved to the point that the airports reopened.

By the next morning, it was obvious that the airports would remain closed for a few more days with no date as to when they might reopen.

I checked for any flights to Phuket and other Thai destinations and soon found that most were fully booked that day and perhaps the next.  I also checked roundabout routing such as Singapore to Hanoi to Vientiane, Singapore to Phnom Penh and Singapore to Penang.  These alternate routes were available but would also require a road trip to Bangkok.  I didn’t want to wait any longer and decided to hit the road with a friend of mine, the Bluesman.  We estimated that we would have to spend about 24 hours spread over two days to reach Bangkok.

I soon checked out of the Marriott Hotel on Orchard and met him at the Avis Rental Car office on Havelock Road near the Grand Copthorne Hotel.

The rental car

The rental car

We selected a Mazda 3-series with a two liter engine.  This car turned out to be very comfortable, efficient and responsive.  No complaints at all.  It took us about an hour to traverse Singapore, cross into Malaysia and begin the Malaysia part of the journey.  The highways from Johor Bahru to the Thai border are world-class and we found ourselves speeding up the highway to Kuala Lumpur and beyond.

Once over the border, we stopped at the first highway rest stop for something to eat.  The Malaysian highway rest stops are really special.  They are on the whole, modern, clean, with a variety of food available.  At this rest stop I ate two dishes of Hainanese chicken rice while my friend had fried noodles with seafood.  What a way to start out trip!

Chicken with rice stop

Chicken with rice stop

After the short break, we hit the road.  We kept a comfortable pace of around 110-120 kph all the way into Kuala Lumpur.  Most traffic was moving at this speed although there were a few moving around 130-150 kph.  In general, the traffic was well-behaved although we did not see one police car during the four hour journey.

Passing at 150

Passing at 150

We finally reached the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and this is where our GPS came in handy.  Sometimes the road system in KL is a little confusing to me and we needed the GPS to find our way to the Avis Office.

Our plan was to drop off the car at Avis and arrange for a hire car to take us to the Thailand border at Padang Besar.  We could have driven to Penang and arranged for a car to take us to the border but figured another five hours of driving would have made for a long day.  I have a great limo contact in KL and I arranged for him to meet us.

In KL traffic jam

In KL traffic jam

The worst part of this first leg was the traffic in KL.  It took us 4 hours to travel from Singapore to KL and then 45 minutes to go the final 3 kilometers to Avis.

Rest stop north of Kuala Lumper

Rest stop north of Kuala Lumper

Just north of KL, we stopped again for a quick meal.  This rest stop was the best I’ve seen.

It was a mini-shopping center with everything from Burger King and KFC to local restaurants.  And retail shops to boot.  And it was built over the highway as the photos show.

Burger King view of highway

Burger King view of highway

We continued on our way north, stopping one more time before we hit the Malaysian-Thai border.

I’ll continue the rest of the story in tomorrow’s posting.  Stay tuned!

Tunnel vision on highway to Thailand

Tunnel vision on highway to Thailand

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Written by leolaksi

November 29, 2008 at 10:06 am

6 Responses

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  1. The Burger King you stopped at looks nicer than the ones in the United States..

    Ahmnodt Heare

    November 29, 2008 at 8:38 pm

  2. Glad to hear that you got home safe. Hope foofoo is ok too.

    DoReMe

    November 30, 2008 at 1:31 am

  3. I didn’t realize KL had a monorail. Looks like the one in SEA.

    grayman

    November 30, 2008 at 9:08 am

  4. I bet foofoo also has some good pics from her extended trip.

    grayman

    November 30, 2008 at 9:12 am

  5. The monorail has limited reach. However it connects to light rail and then the rest of the country.

    leolaksi

    November 30, 2008 at 9:44 am

  6. This Burger King over the highway was the biggest best-looking BK I’ve ever seen.

    leolaksi

    November 30, 2008 at 9:47 am


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