The following is an excerpt from the U.S. State Department website regarding travel to Thailand:
Good thing we are not U.S. Embassy personnel. The Japanese Foreign Ministry has somewhat similar info, but not as severe. They also have a nice color-coded map. The questionable regions are marked from yellow (pretty safe but be careful) to red (don't go). We have to drive through orange to get to our hotel in yellow.
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We take an uncomfortable mini-van for three hours from the Malaysian border to Hat Yai, the largest city in Southern Thailand. From internet research I find out that until recently Hat Yai was pretty much just known for sleazy massage parlors. Sleazy Massage Parlor in Thai means brothel in English. Apparently they are trying to improve their image, and it is now a weekend destination for Malaysians who like to eat Thai food and shop (and visit sleazy massage parlors?). There are direct buses all the way to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
We do not do too much in Hat Yai really, and it feels like during the week there is really not too much to do. We walk around downtown, eat some great Thai seafood in a market and browse sidewalk shops selling souvenirs. We probably should visit the main temple and the world's third largest recling Buddha, but instead opt to go hurry to the bus station and catch a bus to Trang. Where we end up sitting for two hours - more than enough time to visit a recling Buddha even the third largest.
Trang is smaller than Hat Yai. The town seems to be a jumping point to visit the islands in the southwest. We also find out that it is low season now in Southwestern Thailand. This is the rainy season, so many resorts are closed and visibility will not be great. Boat trips are also more expensive now due to lack of customers. Luckily we speak with a very honest woman in a tour office. She explains that we should probably not do the island tour and go instead to Koh Lanta, an island farther north. Talking us out of a tour is probably not great for business, but I really do appreciate her honesty.
|A highlight of Trang is finding this vegetarian restaurant. A rarity in South East Asia.|
|Well maybe I should actually learn to read Thai considering that YOU ARE HERE is the only English on this tsunami evacuation map.|