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Brian Cray - Hitchhikin', Trainhoppin', and Wanderin'

Wanderin' the world, at will, by any means

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Archives for February 2015

Exploring the Village of Thai in Koh Yao Noi

Satun, Thailand and My Princess

Satun Thailand

I laid in bed under one sheet, freezing, while the AC blasted.  I rolled over and slightly opened my eyes after hearing the rustling of Trevor’s luggage.  My chest tightened and I held back my feelings of sadness and loneliness.  After 15 solid days of island life, climbing in Koh Yao Noi, Tonsai and Railay with my best friend, the idea of solo traveling again left a lump in my throat.  That vacation within a vacation marked the best climbing trip of my life!  Now I reverted back to solo hitchhiking, my destination Satun Thailand!

Multi-pitch Koh Yao Noi

Multi-pitch climbing in Koh Yao Noi. This view is from 300+ ft in the air…!

Limestone rock rubbed up against the bottom of my feet while I dangled 300+ feet from the final anchor on a four pitch climb.  I looked out at the scenery surrounding me. Silhouettes of small islands looked off in the distance.  A cloudless, endless blue sky blended into the ocean like an artist painted a canvass of blues before my eyes.  Sweat filled every inch of my body.  All of that, the product of intense climbing.

Multi-pitch Rock Climbing Thailand

Rock Climbing Thailand with Trevor Stuart. My first experience doing multi-pitch.

Our days consisted of fear, and adrenaline both on the wall and off.  Holding onto the back of the motorbike with my fingertips as my abs tightened and huge backpack clanked over each bump I counted down the minutes to safety.  Thoughts of sliding out in the sand, hitting a ditch or spinning out in gravel raced through my mind every time we drove to Paradise Resort (every day we climbed).

The dirt paths you take to get to Paradise Resort before hiking to the climbing walls.

The dirt paths you take to get to Paradise Resort before hiking to the climbing walls.

Did we ever crash? Hell yes we did.  Quite a few times actually.  On a rest day we took out the bike to the other side of the island.  Just as Trevor reached the top of a hill past a slippery section of road the front tire swerved left.  We screeched to a sudden stop.  I saw my GoPro fly out of my hand in slow motion and hit the ground as I flipped off the back of the bike landing off the road in the woods.  I stood up. I brushed the dirt off my body.  Walked away with a few scrapes and bruises.  Nothing too serious, but two feet further over the cliff could have been deadly.  No hard feelings though. The next day I crashed on the way to the climbing wall.  Traffic on this small dirt road is chaotic in the morning.  You drive wherever you can, which means sometimes the path takes you in the opposing lane of traffic so you must stay alert.  I turned the corner, heard a motorbike headed straight towards me, freaked out and in a panic shifted the bike left to get in the proper lane.  Smack! The sound of my face hitting the sand.  The back tire slid out from under us. My elbow gushed with blood and I stood up to a Thai man laughing at us.  He motioned to see if we were ok, but I didn’t take him seriously from the laughing. In retrospect, I laugh at the incident.  But just picture yourself putting along a narrow dirt road full of ditches, leaves, loose sand and gravel and only a small path to navigate.  Now add in two backpacks of gear, two people and a motorbike meant for a paved road.  It’s like riding a road bike down a gravel road.  With every turn the bike could slide right out from under you.

Exploring the Village of Thai in Koh Yao Noi

Exploring the Village of Thai in Koh Yao Noi

Our nights, clouds of smoke to mellow out the day and lead way to what felt like an endless supply of Thai food.  This left for an empty wallet and full stomach.  I miss the sweet taste of jackfruit and mango sticky rice from the corner mart in Koh Yao Noi.  The little meat stand in the center of the island where we stuffed our faces every night, but most of all, I miss Mama’s Chicken in Tonsai.  I ate most of their menu and despite the filth and dirty feel of Tonsai their menu rocked.  From lassie’s, and shakes, to fried rice, curry and cashew dishes I recommend closing your eyes and pointing…whatever you choose is spectacular.

Aside from the amazing climbing at Koh Yao Noi I also enjoyed the culture and people.  I’m not much into the hostel life and spent my nights nestled in a bivy and hammock, but Namtok Bungalow changed my view towards hostels.  This place was filled with the friendliest people from all over the world.  Although at times I felt smooshed in between a Swedish ghetto. I did meet many faces I hope to see again on my future travels.  Shout outs to Marie, Ulrica, Hampus, Kenny, Karn, Sarah and Jason.  Maybe I’ll see you all someday when I’m in Sweden or the UK.  If you hit up a climbing destination I’d highly recommend staying at a climbing hostel.  Even if just for a few nights the people you meet might become friends for a lifetime.

Koh Yao Noi Sunrise

Sunrise in Koh Yao Noi near Namtok Bungalows

Trevor left in the early hours of the morning. After a handshake and a short goodbye he trekked on his way to Bangkok by Krabi Airport.  I slept in until 10:30 AM and then continued my hitch hiking adventure from where it left off in Krabi.

I stood at the Shell gas station for the better part of four hours.  Dressed in black and navy blue long pants the sun scorched my body. Sweat dripped down my arms and face and people looked at me and just smiled.  I just stood there, smiled, my hair blowing in the wind, flying a sign that said, “Trang” in Thai.  A few stopped to help me pointing out the bus station. I kindly thanked them, but declined their offer. An employee of the Shell drove me to the bus station.  I misunderstood him since many meanings come from the repeated phrase, “Trang, Trang..Trang” and ended up walking back to the same gas station where he worked.  After a few hours without any luck an older Thai gentleman walked by and tried helping me.  He spoke broken English, but understood I didn’t want his money, just a ride to Satun or Trang.  He kindly offered to take me to the bus station. At this point I gave in to the bus.  I stood outside in the same spot for hours flying a sign and didn’t eat at all.  So I thought it might be the only way out of here.  After sitting at the stop for a half hour and regaining my composure I thought of the time I spent hitch hiking in Fruita, Colorado.  A smile broke out on my face and I began to smirk.  Why do you ask?  Well, Marien and I spent two days clung to an on-ramp in Fruita trying to hitch through Utah.  We sat there patiently for a few days until getting a ride so four hours of waiting in Krabi, Thailand was nothing.

I asked the clerk the price to Satun Thailand from Krabi.  He typed 243 into the calculator and pointed at it.  I only have 700 baht left and 300 of that is for the ferry so I walked away and headed back towards the gas station holding back a slight smile.

After much patience a single mom of two, young kids pulled off and rolled down the window.  She motioned me into the vehicle as she was headed towards Trang.  I hopped in expecting to get dropped off in Trang, but after much chit chat she mentioned meeting up in Satun Thailand with her mother so I ended up staying along for the ride.

I almost regretted this ride.  Imagine five hours of driving with screaming, yelling, kicking, and crying in the back seat.  It wore me out, but after a few stops and playing with the kids I began to like them.  The little Thai girl would play the slap game where you try to hit the other person’s hands before they pull them away.  She also enjoyed putting clips in my hair and pulling on my curls.  The little Thai boy just sat there in the back seat with his eyes glued to a tablet playing video games. It reminded me of America.

Sirikorn, the mother of the two kids, invited me to dinner and offered a place for me to stay for the night.

We arrived in Satun Thailand right after the sunset in the mountains.  Much of the drive to Satun Thailand meandered through the mountains.  I cast my eyes upon many shades of green, jungle scenery as we cruised through the back roads.  Palm oil trees, deciduous trees, coconut trees and other tropical plants interlaced throughout the mountainous lands.  I enjoyed hitching through this region.  I felt like I finally got off the beaten path of Route 4 and into something new, flavorful and full of color.

I stretched my legs and sat down again to indulge in dinner.  Plates full of Chinese and Thai dishes covered the table.  I can’t recall what we ate, but the spices made my eyes water and nose drip and despite the pain I could not put my utensils down.  I just kept eating until my stomach hurt.

The lot of us fit in the car with the addition of Sirikorn’s mom.  She took us all for dessert and I ended up eating a bowl of soy milk with gelatin in it.  The kids finally settled down, but once they polished off dessert the bickering and rough housing came back quickly.  At this point I didn’t mind.  Kids are kids whether American, Thai, Malay, Chinese, etc. I just looked forward to sleep.

As we approached her mom’s house we continued on past it and I became confused.  She told me her mother wanted a better place for me to stay that her home wasn’t suitable for my needs.  I didn’t care at this point. Despite it being dark I found many places to sleep in the past and this night wasn’t any different.  She continued driving and stopped at a hotel.  Now, by no means did I ask her to pay for it, but she did, out of the kindness of her heart.  I guess she felt bad for saying I could sleep at her mom’s and then changing plans…I’m not sure.

Regardless I ended up in a comfy bed with a warm shower and read myself to a peaceful slumber (A Life in Metal)

She shut the door behind her as she left and told me to be ready at 7:30 AM for Hat Yai and after accompanying her she would drive me back to Satun Thailand to catch the ferry for Langkawi.

ChengDu, China

Travel to China

Travel to China

How should you prepare for travel to China? Check out my thread on obtaining a China Visa for your passport at – How to Apply for a Chinese Visa!

It goes over all the details on the visa forms and how to fill them out correctly. Your answers may be different than mine, but the most important details are filling out the forms in all CAPS and putting N/A or None in the blanks which do not apply to you. Make sure you have a detailed itinerary and if you are staying with someone in China they will need to write you an invitee letter. You’ll need copies of your local Driver’s ID along with their ID as well and the exact address at which you’ll be staying in China. This is just a brief overview of the visa process. Check out the thread above for more detailed instructions.

Great news, the Chinese Embassy approved your visa. It’s official you’re traveling to China any day now, but what do you bring on your journey? Whether backpacking through China, or staying in one place for a while to soak in the culture it’s important to travel lightly. It makes it easier to move around, less stressful on your back, and most of all, you want to look like a traveler and not a tourist. Tourists go on vacation for a few weeks and visit all the super-populated attractions, snapping pictures of people’s faces, chins, arms, legs, chests, when the real picture is that tiny monastery in the background.

I’m being facetious, well, maybe just a little. Not to get into fashion, but if people know you are traveling through China or any country for that matter, they are more willing to help you out in exchange for hearing your stories or helping them with English. Maybe they offer a couch to sleep on, a warm shower, a comfy bed or some food, anything helps on a tight budget. All of this can help you extend your stay in China or the surrounding countries of South East Asia. If you travel with a load of luggage, and items you don’t need, you can guarantee you’ll be spending most of your money on your hotel, and expensive foods. You won’t experience the culture of China. Sipping on tea, getting pummeled in Ma Jang or Dou Dizhu by Chinese men three times my age happened from building friendships through my travels. The people I met gave me a piece of Chinese culture. A piece that I can take with me back to America. A piece that made me happy to be a wanderer and experience such a different society from the one I adapted to in the states.

So what do you pack now? If your intention is backpacking or just roaming around to different cities inside China then look at my list below. If backpacking through China is not for you and you want to be more of a tourist then that is fine too. Still check out the items below as some of them might come in handy on your travels.

35 Liter GoLite JAM Backpack (I now recommend anything from the Army Navy Surplus store/ I.E. a 5.11 Tactical Pack)
-Clothing: (2) Underwear, (3) Pairs of Smart Wool Socks, (1) Waterproof Ski Pants, (1) Tight Thermals, (1) Base Layer, (2) T-Shirts and (1) Long Sleeve Under Armour Layer, (1) Waterproof Gloves, (1) Carhart Jacket, (1) Columbia Goretex Jacket (1) Waterproof Boots (1) Gold Bond
-GoPro Hero 3 or 4 (Edit cool video clips of your travels and post them to your YouTube channel
Mini Laptop: Lenovo Thinkpad X2011
-Mini Pot
Flint and Steel -lighter
-50′ – 100′ Paracord (Can be used for shoelaces, belts, hanging laundry to dry, makeshift backpacks)
Dry Bag (protect your electronics, make sure your laptop fits in here too to avoid buying an unnecessary case)-Trashbag
Water Cover for 35 Liter Backpack
-Tarp
-Bivy Sack (Get a waterproof one, NOT WATER RESISTANT, USMC BIVY)
Synthetic Lightweight 35 Degree Sleeping Bag (Go with a 0 Degree or 10 Degree)
-2 Liter Water Jug or just carry a 1 liter water bottle and strap another to your pack…
-Plastic Fork/Spoon/Knife
-Jungle Hammock

This video tutorial goes over more detail on what to bring on your trip and how to pack it effectively. You want quick and easy access to water, food, and the items you use to make shelter. Everything else is secondary and can go towards the bottom of your backpack.

Your passport, visa, and bags packed, are you ready! Not quite yet, load your smartphone with some applications to make life easier and set a budget. If you saved up a few grand that’s great, but you want it to last as long as possible, right? Well, I know I do so here are some tips I learned along the way.

Travel Applications for Android

  • Grab Mint for android or any other budgeting software. It organizes your expenses into different subcategories and you can set budgets for transportation, food, alcohol, and other expenses. There is an issue though. Being overseas means using “cash” as much as possible. So add the expenses manually or grab the program “ColorNote” and record them manually on a sticky note and add a widget to your phone dashboard.
  • Why keep a budget? Well, it’s very simple. Maintaining a budget allows you to extend your travel time in whatever country you travel through. I did not keep a budget the first month I stayed in China and spent a ton of money on food that I did not need to spend. The second month I became more frivolous with my expenditures and cut my budget down to about 50 Kwai per day for my travel expenses, which is still high, but better than 100+ per day.
  • Other great applications for traveling in China include Strava, which I use daily to find my way back to wherever I am staying. Strava allowed me to go on my 15 mile walks and make it back to my couch or bed while mapping a GPS route of my location so I could venture back there at a later date.
  • Next, grab XE Currency this is not only great for travel in China, but any country for that matter. It updates the currency conversion rates to USD. Hit your local free WiFi hotspot and see the rate changes. Most of the time it doesn’t change much, however, I use this more for comparing prices of products to USD so I know if it is a cheap deal or not.
  • Pleco – Great for learning basic Chinese. If hitch hiking you can write simple phrases like “north” or “south” etc. I used this to learn some basic Chinese to buy “beef noodle” and other cheap, filling, dishes while I stayed in ChengDu, Xindu and Kunming.
  • Talkatone – You may have international service on your cell phone provider. I know I turned off my phone when I went abroad to China and paid the $12.00 a month to keep my phone number. Talkatone came in handy on multiple occasions. I used it to talk to my parents and close friends over WiFi. It’s great if your service is off and you want to keep in touch with friends and family back in the states.
  • City Maps 2Go – I used this briefly for the cities in which I spent most of my time. They don’t have every city, but they provide many cities in many countries. I liked this app for the English and Chinese translation of places. I was able to show the taxi driver’s the Chinese to get to places that were too far to walk.
  • Map of China – This is by far the most helpful app for China. Even without service I could download the maps for offline use and use my phone’s GPS to figure out where I was to get back to my camping site.
  • Money for Travel

Many people ask what to do for their money situation when going abroad. The best advice my foreign friend gave me when coming over from the USA involved contacting my bank and credit card company prior to departure and notifying them of my travel destinations. I notified Wells Fargo and my Visa credit card (backup card just in case). As soon as I landed in China I went straight to a Chinese ATM and found the rates were far better in China than at the airport in the USA. I avoided traveler’s checks because

  • They require going to the bank, which takes time locating a bank, finding someone who speaks English and waiting in line
  • Do you really want to walk around with hundreds of dollars in your pocket? I’d rather hit an ATM and take out 500 or 1000 Kwai (RMB) at a time and make it last than cash a $500 USD traveler check and walk around with that much cash in my wallet. You’re just asking to get mugged.
  • As for banks, try to get an account with Charles Schwab and avoid paying ATM fees anywhere in the world. It makes a huge difference. I have Wells Fargo and get charged $5.00 every time I take money out of an ATM overseas. It adds up and I’ve spent over $100 dollars on ATM fees, which is about a half month to a month of travel money in Malaysia.

Where to Sleep

This all depends on luxury and comfort level. For me I can sleep under a bridge, on rooftops, dumpsters, etc. It doesn’t matter as long as I am out of the cold and wet weather and no one is around to bother me, hurt me or steal my gear. I did much wild camping in the USA and because it’s so spread out there are a ton of spots to set up camp in the woods or off the highway without being bothered. China, well it’s a different story here. It’s very densely populated, which is why they don’t have parking lots and why they build “up” utilizing skyscrapers. With that being said I’ll go over some of the best places I found to sleep while on the road in China. Note: proceed with caution…I do not know the laws for sleeping outside or “being homeless” as per our society’s terminology.

I do know all the buildings that are fully constructed have CCTV installed, this means, the elevators and hallways have security cameras that can see who goes in and out of the building. That is “ALL” it means though. Depending on the building and security there you may go unnoticed. My advice is the following: go into an open apartment complex before midnight. Walk in there around 6 or 6 PM before it gets really dark out. Pick a random apartment and take the elevator up to the roof. If you’re up there during daylight and you just happen to stay out there on the rooftop I doubt security will come up and bother you. Find a nice spot to sleep 30 stories above the city. A lot of skyscrapers have a maintenance shaft in the center of the skyscraper where you can climb a ladder and gain access to a separate tiny roof that is about 10’x10′. You won’t look suspicious to anyone on the roof because most people won’t go up there. I’ll post a picture so you see what I mean. So there are rooftops as an option.

Xindu Urbex

I feel on top of the world!

Other options include going to very dark corners of apartment complexes where there aren’t infrared cameras installed and sleeping off to the side on the ground. Security normally does not check these paths as they man the gates. As long as you are in most complexes before midnight you don’t have to sign in and they are terrified of confronting you because most of them do not speak English. So you can hide in the shadows and sleep right on the grass, under bushes, etc. Be creative, not every complex is designed the same, but you made it this far, and if you want to save money and live on the cheap, this is one way to do it.

Another option, which is far more illegal than the last two would be sleeping inside a construction site. Why would you ever do this? Well, for one, you don’t have to worry about being spotted by police, or innocent bystanders, etc. Once you’re in the site and on a random story of a skyscraper you have a roof over your head, and your own personal guard at the front gate making sure no one gets in or out. You could stumble upon the occasional urban explorer, but chances are, even if you do they won’t bother you. They’re just there for the view and the rush.

When I traveled to Kunming I spent much of my time traveling through the city, but always found spots to camp on the outskirts of town in the mountains. You can set up camp deep in the mountains and build a fire without any problems. It’s very safe, quiet and perfect for stealth camping on a low budget.

How to Travel in China!

Camping in the mountains in Kunming!

Other less illegal options of sleeping include CouchSurfing, which despite being very clickish, has worked out for me before in the past. Not in the USA so much, but I’ve had several CS requests in Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia when I go abroad to SEA in a week. Normally people provide you with a place to stay and a night’s worth of food and even show you around town if you’re lucky.

Hostels are the last option I might resort to using and hotels are out of the question. Hostels are cheap, but normally you share rooms with other travelers and tourists, which means your belongings are at risk for getting stolen. I’m not saying travelers are thieves, but when you live out of a backpack and you spend a lot of time traveling the world, like myself, getting it stolen would be a huge burden. So just be weary of that little tidbit. They are cheap and a great way to meet interesting people. As for hotels, avoid them at all costs. Unless you are on vacation for a week or two and enjoy living very comfortably they cost too much money and put a huge dent in your travel budget.

Getting Around…

You can try hitchhiking. It didn’t work too well for me in cities and even on the outskirts of town it was rather hard for rides. The thumb doesn’t work. I never tried any signs, but I know in Kunming people kept trying to make me pay them for rides despite me expressing “no money” gestures.

The train is probably one of the cheaper ways to see China. You can buy a cheap sleeper on the train for around 500 RMB and go from Beijing to Chengdu over a 30+ hour train ride. The scenery is beautiful, but many people cough and sneeze so your chances of getting sick increase after being cooped up in there for a few days.

Taking the train from Chengdu to Kunming!

Taking the train from Chengdu to Kunming!

Taxis are cheap if you split the bill between a few ppl. It’s like 8 RMB no matter where you go + a minimal amount added per kilometer traveled. I think we took a 30-minute ride to the Global Center for about 24 RMB.

The metro is cheap too. The stations are listed in English below the Chinese so it’s really easy to get around. Most destinations are between 2 – 15 RMB depending on how far you are traveling.

Travel to China

Loitering in the metro station charging my electronics in Kunming, China!

Travel by plane becomes expensive and AirAsia only does flights into or out of China so you have to use another service.

With all of that said, if you can find someone to write you a note in Chinese explaining you are hitch hiking because you are traveling on little money then I am sure flying a sign in Chinese by on-ramps or near highways will get you around from city to city. I have heard of people successfully doing this in the past I just have yet to try it as China was the first country I visited and I did not get into hitch hiking until Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand (the latter portion of my trip in Southeast Asia). Train, taxi, metro and plane all add up and really put a hindrance on your budget. So if you can, try to hitch as much as possible, the Chinese are nice, the language barrier is just the issue.

What to Eat?

Eat as much food as you can, but I’d do the following:

  • Stick to street vendors, they are by far the cheapest out of any other place to eat food.
  • I recommend trying hot pot at least once on your trip to China. It’s spicy, especially in Sichuan Province, but worth a try!
Travel to China

Eating a hot pot dish with Sara and Christoph Beck in Chengdu, China!

  • I mainly stick to beef noodle soup, or any of the noodle soups, which cost between 6 – 10 RMB depending on the part of China you are traveling through. The center of the city will always be more expensive than the outskirts of town.
  • Avoid 711’s and any fast food restaurants, you’re just spending more money for food of less quality and quantity, when you can easily find a food vendor with better food and a cheaper price.
Krabi Hitch Hiking Flying Signs

Hitchhiking Southeast Asia Tips

Hitchhiking Southeast Asia Tips

I bought my plane ticket to Malaysia and winged it from there. The best way to travel is with no plan.  I spent most of the month of January holding a thumb out at gas stations, on-ramps or just tramping down the highway hitching rides from city to city.  From that a story created itself and a new page turned with each day as I hitchhiked Malaysia.

Do I have stories? Yes, but I experienced far too much to write in a mere blog post. Instead I will save my journal entries for a book.  However, I will give tips about hitchhiking Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.

Why do I like to hitchhike? Well, you see the country for free and meet great people not to mention making lifelong friends and experiencing the culture and food.

Hitchhiking Southeast Asia: Malaysia
The best places to hitchhike in Malaysia are at busy gas stations on the highway. Just throw a thumb out by the exit on highway E2 and within a few minutes people will pick you up.

Buy a map of Malaysia at a local gas station so you know the names of cities and you’ll be able to get around pretty easily. Most people in Malaysia speak a little English and are very friendly so they’ll hook you up with a ride, maybe some food and on occasion a place to crash for the night.

If on back roads you can stop at local street vendors and hang out with the locals. Chat with them, smile and be personable and you might be able to hitch with locals heading to the next city or village.  Back road tramping and hitchhiking I find to be the most fun for traveling through Malaysia and other foreign countries. The scenery is more beautiful. The cultural experience is more pronounced and the people are much more friendly in villages and small towns than in bigger cities.

Tramping down back roads can be tough.  You might go a day or two without rides through certain areas close to tourist attractions.

For example, I walked about 30 km before getting picked up outside Muar because being so close to Melaka locals see many foreigners and don’t care to help you out.  The views are great on principal road 1, but if you’re tramping and expecting to get picked up it will be hard due to a lack of pulloffs and small shoulders. Expect to walk a while near tourist areas and make sure you have at least two liters of water on you at all times.

Malaysia is probably the easiest hitchhiking I have ever done in my life and much easier than Thailand and Singapore.  Since there are no laws against tramping down highways or principal highways I mainly just tramped down the road and eventually got picked up.  I’ve never been here so everything my eyes see are a new experience.  Tramping down highway E2 is far easier to get rides than 1 or other backroads due to more traffic and pull-offs.

If I needed to get somewhere quickly, since most of Malaysia either speaks some English or understands English it makes it much easier to get around than Thailand, I would have people drop me off at busy petrol stations on E2.  E2 is a highway that goes through the whole country of Malaysia.  I hitched most of it through the whole western side of Malaysia.  Some days I hitched over 500 kilometers.

The best scenery though is on the back roads, where you can still hitch rides, but if you tramp it’s a little harder since there aren’t many pull-offs and shoulders are non-existent.  I got many rides from stopping at local marts or restaurants talking with locals.  Some of them understand hitchhiking, others don’t, but are still willing to help you out.  Dump truck drivers, semi’s, etc. are great rides for long distance travel.  Pretty much any vehicle on E2 is going long distance so if they aren’t and you need to get somewhere fast simply decline rides.  I never felt unsafe in Malaysia so I rarely turned down rides, but I did a few times depending on where they were going.

I didn’t fly any signs in Malaysia at all.  Throwing a thumb is good enough to get rides.  Loitering and hanging outside of petrol stations or pretty much any business is fine.  If anything, workers come up to you, and try to help you out.

Hardest areas to hitch from for me were near the real touristy areas:  I had a really hard time getting out of Melaka due to all the tourists so I ended up walking 30 kilometers towards Muar.  I also had a hard time hitching in and around Ao Nang so I just ended up walking.  It is possible in these areas, just harder.  You might need a sign.

Hitchhiking Southeast Asia: Thailand
Thailand is very different from Malaysia.  I don’t think most Thai understand what hitchhiking is so for the most part throwing a thumb won’t work.  However, towards the cities near the border a thumb will do just fine.  Hat Yai and cities south of it a thumb will work.  Otherwise, you will need to use signs in Thai.  You can either ask someone who speaks Thai/English to write one for you out on cardboard or buy a map from the local mall like Odean.  They normally have sections in the grocery store where you can buy a map for like 100 baht and the cities are written in both Thai and English.

Note:  Just because you have a sign with a city written on it does not mean people will know to drive you there.  A lot of times I found that people will try to help me out no matter what the circumstance.  Most of the time this meant giving me a ride, but even after using sign language and explaining “No Bus” they still would take me to the bus station, which is not what I wanted.

Pointing to them, then signaling driving and pointing to yourself and the sign worked for me a few times.  However, sometimes even after doing this I would get taken to the bus station or the tourist police.  It’s part of the experience, but sometimes it’s a pain in the ass if you just walked from that direction and have to retrace your steps.

More helpful information from StP user @Molotovmocktail pointed out a good method for hitching rides in Thailand.
“I just had my first Thai hitchhiking experience yesterday getting from Chiang Dao to Chiang Mai. It took me three rides to get there but it wasn’t too hard to get rides. I didn’t have a note but a British guy I met who had hitched Thailand before told me to try using the motion Thais use to hail taxis. It’s kind of hard to describe but you hold your hand flat with your palm facing the ground and sort of curl and uncurl your fingers downwards. I alternated between that, sticking out my thumb, and waving and got rides pretty quick. It probably helped that it was really hot out and I looked helpless and tired.”

Hitchhiking Southeast Asia: Singapore
The laws here are ridiculous.  You can’t bring chewing gum into the country and you can’t cross the street without using the crosswalk.  I did it a few times, but it’s really not worth it because I’ve heard the police will stop you and hassle you due to the signage on the roads showing not to do this.  You also can’t walk on the highways so it makes hitchhiking impossible.  I didn’t throw a thumb or fly a sign because I didn’t want to get hassled by police, however, walking near the border I did hitch a ride out of Singapore…so I guess hitching is possible if you get lucky.  I wouldn’t really even recommend visiting this country, but that’s just my opinion.  I was here for a few days, it’s expensive and too much like America.  You can still find many places to sleep outside though.

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