Crossing New Frontiers

Just as soon as we seem to get used to the country we are in and become good friends with people we have met, it is time to pack up and leave. I guess leading a nomadic life is one of the things you have to deal with when it comes to a trip like this. Moving on, we left our comfortable Malaysian mountain retreat in the Cameron Highlands and after a few wrong turns and four hours in the car, we arrived at the Thai border. Fortunately, we had some company along the way. We were joined by Callie and, wait for it… Steve… a couple of kids from the U.K. who heard that we were headed to Thailand and asked if they could catch a ride. How could we turn down someone named Steve?

After doing some research and based on the advice of several people, we decided to cross a little bit further west than originally planned due to a little "conflict" that has been bringing violence and bloodshed to three provinces in southeastern Thailand. At the border crossing, we did not encounter any problems and overall, it was probably one of the most lax border environments we have ever encountered. Maybe it is because we are farang (westerners). In fact, we probably could have driven the trucks right through without even getting our passports stamped but obviously that would present some problems down the road. The customs officials were friendly but as usual, we had to guide them through how to fill in the Carnets for the trucks leading us to re-examine the value of the Carnets and if it was even worth the hassle of getting them in the first place.

After crossing over into Thailand, we drove another 350km north to Ao Nang which was also a bit of an adventure considering we are now in a country with a completely foreign alphabet and character set. The few road signs that do have the names of towns spelled out in English characters have it printed so small that you can barely read it from a moving vehicle so obviously we added a few more wrong turns to the day’s tally.