Posts Tagged ‘Malaysia’
From its opening in 1998, KLIA has garnered many awards that place it in the top ten of airports worldwide for design, efficiency and passenger service. Japanese designer Kisho Kurasawa was commisioned in the early 1990’s to create a design that was both elegant yet understated, open yet intimate. One visit to this airport would convince you that he was very successful. I have post other photos of this airport. I would recommend a visit to the earlier posting.
After a restful night, we woke up around 700am for the final “push” to Bangkok. I had arranged for my driver to meet us in Hat Yai. He had driven from Bangkok the previous day and was well rested for the return to Bangkok. If you don’t have a pre-arranged driver, don’t worry about it. In downtown Hat Yai there are many transportation businesses to take you north to Bangkok (or south to Malaysia) via car, van, bus or even rail. There is no difficulty arranging this.
After I had the breakfast buffet at the hotel I went out for a short walk before the long journey to Bangkok. We estimated that it might take about 12 hours to Bangkok which turned out to be accurate.
Within a couple of blocks of the hotel were lots of little restaurants for breakfast, mainly Thai or Chinese-style, whereas the hotel cafe had a buffet that was mostly Western with some limited Thai or Chinese food. Either way, the food was good.
We started out about 830am for the long drive to Bangkok. The highway were very good although not of the limited access type like in Malaysia. Therefore, you had to be alert for all types of vehicles. In a couple of stretches of highway, there was a cow or two in the median.
We only saw one accident scene during the entire trip from Singapore to Bangkok and this was just north of Hat Yai.
The highway to Bangkok has lots of petrol stations, restaurants and large superstores like Tesco-Lotus. In fact, we stopped several times for petrol and a couple times just to stretch our legs. The best stop was at the Tesco just south of Nakhon Si Thammarat. In addition to many Thai restaurants in the food court, there were several Western so it was easy to find something to eat.
By 500pm, we were considering a stop in Hua Hin, a great beachfront resort three hours south of Bangkok. Hua Hin is replete with five star hotels, seafood restaurants, and things to do but by this time we wanted to finish the day in Bangkok.
We finally made it to Bangkok around 900pm and still felt pretty good given the 12+ hours it took to complete the day’s trip.
The two day trip was efficient and quick using five different vehicles. A rental car from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, a hired limo from KL to the Malaysian-Thai border, two taxis over the border and a private van to Bangkok. This trip could have happened with one fewer vehicle or with different segments using other means of transportation like buses, trains and planes but how often can you take a road trip through three countries in two days. Although the approximately 2000 km trip would have been easier in three days, two days were not insufferable. To emphasize, there was not one problem that occurred during the trip and I would recommend this journey to anyone. If there is any one lasting memory, it’s how friendly people were during the entire route.
As we drove up the road between KL and Hat Yai, we became accustomed to stopping at the highway roadside rest areas with their foodstalls, restrooms and shops. Some of the rest areas had themes, like the one pictured here. Mostly fruits and vegetables with a small food area and drink vendors.
This was the last stop before the border and we spent some time here resting. It had been 9 hours since we left Singapore we were just a little tired. This was a nice stop, what with fresh fruit and very friendly people.
After this stop, we began our last two hour run to the border. The traffic became a little heavy on the highway near the exit for Georgetown, but after about ten km, this disappeared and it was an easy run to the border.
A few kilometers from the border, we stopped at a taxi service that would take us across the border and then drive us the rest of the way into Hat Yai. The first taxi was Malaysia-plated while the second was Thai. This leg went very efficient with no problems whatsoever. And the cost was 80 Malaysian ringit from the taxi stand, through the Padang Besar checkpoint to the hotel in Hat Yai, a distance of 80 or 90 km.
We waited at this taxi stand for about 30 minutes while they arranged for our trip to Hat Yai. Although we were a little tired, we were feeling pretty good as we were getting close to the end of the journey for the day.
After our cup of tea we began our push to the border. We departed Malaysia while sitting in the taxi. Once past Malaysian Immigration, we were met by a Thai-plated car that took us to Thai Immigration where we walked across the border. The car waited for us on the other side. The immigration process on both sides of the border took about 15 minutes or so even though there was a line of cars and people being processed. Very very efficient.
We finally began our last leg to Hat Yai and this 45 minute trip came off without any problems. We finally arrived at our hotel about 13 hours after we left Singapore. A long day indeed but we were happy to be halfway home. Good night. Part 3 to follow tomorrow.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Juan of Juan’s Not So Mundane Life blog crafted a great do-it-yourself (DIY) light box that is terrific for photographing smaller objects in a highly professional manner. It got me to thinking about other photo accessories that could be built. And yield very interesting results. Today I found DIYphotography.net. This site has lots of great projects and ideas. Take a look at their use of a heart-shaped cutout to create unique blurring of light sources in your photographs.
Between the great airport in Kuala Lumpur and the “Airport Express” train to Kl Sentral Train Station, there are plenty of opportunities to take photographs.
There are a number of airports that would lay claim to the title of world’s most beautiful. In any group KLIA would be in the running. The exterior does nothing for me. But the interior is magnificent. The keys to KLIA are the use of shadow and light and the attention to detail.