During the hectic time of getting my motorcycle out of the port, I wondered if I would ever get out of Malaysia. Time flies and now my time in the country has come to an end. It has sort of become tradition to go out the night before I leave anywhere and have a farewell party. We found the cheap little shop down an alleyway, which was the hotspot for locals and travelers looking for some cheap drink. With a Malaysian hangover to take with me as a souvenir and a new best bud joining men back, I navigated out of Georgetown, made my way across the long bridge back to the mainland, and swung north towards the Pedang Besar border.
The border is in the northwest corner of Malaysia and is open 24 hours a day. There’s a lot of talk about the southern Thai borders being dangerous and should be avoided because of the ongoing conflict between the government and the muslim minority that wants to break away from Thailand. There have been some bombings and shootings, but has always targeted police or military. I’ve crossed two of the borders in the south a few times before and always felt perfectly safe. I wasn’t exactly sure how the border would go, but was fairly certain it should be straight forward and easy. I was pretty sure Thai insurance would have to be bought. About an hour from the border I stopped into a gas station to fill up and grab some grub. I met a really nice Malaysian guy and his wife who were taking a road trip up to Myanmar by motorcycle. We chatted for a while and we got on the topic of the border. He said that you could buy Thai insurance and get the white card (immigration form) in the little office at the station we were at. It’s possible to get insurance from shops near the border and that’s what I had been planning on. He said it’s easier to do it before and would save time, so I took his advice.
For about $13 I got a month of Thai motorcycle insurance and the white card filled out by printer, not bad. There’s a big gas station on the right a little before the border, which is worth filling up at because it’s goodbye to cheap Malaysian gas. First you come to the Malaysian side where it’s pretty easy and straight forward. You drive in the motorcycle lane up to the guy in his little booth and hand your passport over, and in under a minute he will stamp you out and send you on your way. Malaysia is one of the countries that I had to use my Carnet de Passage for. When coming into the country they fill out one of the sheets and then take half of it. When leaving the country they take the other half to show that you have taken the vehicle out. On the far right side is a building, I believe C, which is where you go to complete this. It took a little while for me to find the office because borders are a bit hectic and confusing. A friendly guy inside welcomed me to a nice comfy chair, and went about stamping and signing my Carnet out.
Five minutes later I was back on the bike for the brief ride up to the Thailand side. It’s a bit of a madhouse here with long lines and people everywhere. The security is very lax, and I was waved on through into Thailand without doing anything.
I could have just kept riding right into Thailand, but I needed to get my visa and bike papers stamped. Once parked, get in the line for vehicles and passengers. Once at the window, all the lady wanted to see was my registration. She looked over the registration and asked some basic questions that she couldn’t find on it, like the vin number and color.
She didn’t ask to see the insurance, and printed off a form that I had to take to the next window. The next guy wrote some things onto the form, stamped it, and handed it back ready to go. Next thing is to get into a passport control line to get your visa.
After a long wait, the guy quickly shuffled through my passport, typed away on a computer, and then stamped a thirty-day visa into my passport, which is free. Nobody at any point asked to see Thai insurance, so I’m not entirely sure if it’s compulsory, but I believe it is and that the police could hypothetically ask you to show it at some point. Whether or not it is isn’t a big deal because it was only $13 and I’m covered in case I injure someone. At the border were a few other big bikes on trips. My favorite was the huge Honda Goldwing that a guy and his wife were traveling on. It was like seeing a Cadillac parked next to a truck.
Those big comfy seats, cup holders, and stereo system look pretty sweet, but I’ll take my KLR every time. The only thing left to do is get on the motorcycle and head into Thailand, and explore a whole new world.
One major difference that you can’t miss are the beautiful Buddhist Wats (temples). Some are small and inconspicuous, where as others are large complexes full of massive statues and figures. Everything is covered in indicate work, and painted with bright colors and shiny objects that glitter in the sunlight. I stopped at one and they gave me a flower basket to take upstairs and pray with.