|Selamat Datang - Welcome to Malaysia
Another early start at 6:45am for our minivan to Kota Bharu in Malaysia where we were told we would be going all the way to Kota Bharu (for an extra fee) but as usual the lost in translation excuse was played (scam) and after 8 hours (with an hours stop in Hat Yai) in a tiny minivan rammed with locals we were told to get out at Sungai Kolok which is the border town in Thailand just across a bridge from Malaysia.
We made our way to Thailand's passport control hut to officialy depart the country and then walked over the bridge and through to Malaysia's passport control and into Rantau Panjang, the border town in Malaysia. As we crossed into Malaysia so the clouds came over and we were told that time had gone forward an hour, strange how time and weather changed by just walking over a bridge but it was a painless exercise and we had arrived in Malaysia!
We managed to find our way to Kota Bharu by a local bus, full of many Malay Muslims, who make up most of the local population and as westerners are still a novelty here they all stared at us either in amazement or sheer bemusement. But they were all very helpful and warm to us.
Having travelled for an entire day we were hungry and shattered so we decided to go to a guest house recommended by Lonely Planet and shown to the most expensive room for $8.50 which turned out to be very basic but we were too tired to hit the streets again to find somewhere better so checked in.
This is where our travel plans came a little unstuck. We had planned to head to Pulau Kecil, part of the Perhentian Islands the next day as we heard the diving was excellent here and the islands untouch by heavy tourism. But were informed by the guesthouse manager that it was monsoon season in Malaysia so boats to the island and hotels there were closed until February 2007! As ever we were a little sceptical but who are we to argue so had to take him at his word and by george thank goodness we did as it turned out he was in fact correct.
So what next? There was nothing in Kota Bharu so we decided to head down to the jungle of Taman Negara.