Category Archives: Malaysia

The Rich-Mike HitchHike Insight: Hitchhiking in Malasia, Thailand & Laos

We raced through Malaysia in only two days, in half the time we’d planned for. Apart from a two hour wait near Pinang, it was rare to have to linger around anywhere. The fact that many people spoke great English also added to the richness of our journeys in terms of conversation.

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Thailand was even easier. We never had to wait very long for a ride here and sometimes people would even turn off the highway, circle back around, then re-join the highway so they could pick us up having missed us the first time. Not only was it trouble-free, but the people who picked us up were keen to engage with us, often by taking us back to their home for some food.

If anyone is thinking of recreating a portion of our adventure, I would definitely recommend from Singapore to Bangkok. The route has everything a traveller could ask for. The verdant jungle scenery of South East Asia, bordered by pristine beaches, is connected by three distinctive mega-cities: Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Although I’ve said that the treasures of Thailand lie outside of Bangkok, it’s still well worth a visit. Moreover, the combination of fantastic food, accommodating people and a constant feeling of safety gives the peninsula an atmosphere that’s impossible to forget.

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Laos, however, proved more problematic. With considerable difficulty we eventually managed to hitchhike through the northern part of the country to the border in three rides, two of which we were expected to pay for. It only served to emphasise how spoilt we’d been in Malaysia and Thailand.

Malaysia Hitchhiking Rating: af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15

(9/10)

Thailand Hitchhiking Rating: af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15

(10/10)

Laos Hitchhiking Rating:        af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15af2e834c1e23ab30f1d672579d61c25a_15

(4/10)

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Day 18: “Ketamin, Opium cocaine…” – Ipoh, Malaysia

Biggie and Kel drove us 140 km and then dropped us off at a petrol station, near Pinang, about 150 km from the Thailand border. We waited there for nearly two hours until someone finally picked us up. The vehicle that stopped, though, was certainly worth the wait.

A shabby white bus pulled up with three men inside: two older men, Hasni and ‘The Chief’, in the front, and a younger man, Daud, in the back with us. The men were part of Malaysia’s anti-narcotics squad.

Drug law in Malaysia is one of the strictest in the world. Long jail sentences and heavy fines are mandatory for suspects caught with controlled substances and the death penalty is prescribed for drug traffickers.

After some brief chit-chat, Hasni turned around from the passenger seat, looked me straight in the eye and asked, “ketamine, opium, cocaine? You want to try?”

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“You what?” I asked, eyebrow raised.

“Would you like to try some ketamine, opium, cocaine, or ice maybe some ice?”

A silence hung in the air for a few seconds, before the three policemen all erupted into howls of laughter.

“Your face”, wept Hasni, as Daud slapped me on the back. “If you had said yes”, continued Hasni, wiping a tear from his eye. “We would have had to kill you”.

As he said these words the minibus went deathly silence once more. No more laughing, no more smiles.

I looked at each man. Daud and Hasni seemed to be staring into my soul and even The Chief, who was driving, shot me a glare from the rear-view mirror.

The whole bus then exploded into howling laughter once more.

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Day 17: “Do you like hiking?…” – to Ipoh

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“So, anyway, do you like hiking?” Michael asked the driver, Andy, for the second time in ten minutes.

“No, not really,” replied Andy. He seemed a rather deadpan, serious kind of guy.

“What’s the name of the tallest mountain in Malaysia?”

“Errm, I am not sure”

“Have you ever hiked up there?”

“No”

“How long would it take to hike up there?”

“I don’t know”

About nine seconds passed before Michael asked, “Are there many mountains near Ipoh?”

“Yes, there are a few,” said Andy, checking his watch.

“Have you ever hiked up any of them?”

Erm, no. But I think I may have driven up one before with my family a few years ago”.

“Oh wow!” said Michael, with wide-eyed sincerity, “how long do you think it would take to hike up there?”

“I do not know, I drove up there”, he sighed, “I do not go hiking”

“How tall was the mountain?”

“I don’t know”

“Can you recommend anywhere to go hiking in Ipoh?”

Andy turned his head and through squinted eyes studied his interrogator, Michael, for a few seconds.

His moustache twitched slightly on his upturned lip and he visibly shuddered. He then turned his head forward again, took a deep breath and turned the radio on. I was nearly crying in the back, chewing my seatbelt, with repressed laughter.

Despite Michael’s bizarre hiking integration, Andy kindly dropped us off right outside our hotel, the Sun Golden Inn, in Ipoh.

“Thank you very much, Andy,” I said as we got out of the car.

“I really admire what you are doing” he replied. “Every day must be a real struggle for you. Your powers of patience and determination are truly commendable”

“Yeah, hitchhiking can be tough sometimes,” I replied.

“I wasn’t talking about the hitchhiking,” Andy said, as he eyed Michael trying to untangle his backpack from the gear stick.

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