Mullumbimby is an ideal town to live, however sometimes it is good to get out of town and join the jet-set.
Here are my instructions for getting out of Mullumbimby.
For this blog, lets imagine you are on a low-income – the sickness benefits or pension.
- Here are the basics:-
- a plan
- a Visa card (bank card)
- airline ticket
- a (small) bag
- a note-book
Note:- the following information may not be correct in every detail however any errors should not effect your plan.
You must tell Centrelink you are going overseas and get there OK, before you buy airline tickets, then notify them again a few days before you leave, immigration and Centrelink do exchange information.
On most pensions you can leave the country for 3 months. On an old age pension you can stay overseas for more than 3 months if you have been an Australian citizen for a long time.
Different rules for different situations but 3 months is a safe bet.
The Plan Fly from Coolangatta to Kuala Lumpur with AirAsia, change planes at KL and fly to Bangkok, Thailand.
Look around Asia for up to 3 months, make your way back to Kuala Lumpur and fly back to Coolangatta.
— why this way? — any other way is much more expensive.
With an Australian passport you can get your visa when you enter Thailand, (a visa is a stamp in your passport to say you can enter a country for a certain time between certain dates)
If you wish to go on to Cambodia, Laos or Burma you will get these visas at the border. For Vietnam you must have a visa before attempting to enter.
If you enter Thailand via the airport you will get about 3 weeks visa on arrival no cost.
If your visa is running out and you wish to stay in Thailand you will need to go into another country (for at least 10 minutes) and return through a border crossing thus getting a new visa. This can be fun and may cost about $25 to go into the other country.
If you overstay your visa you pay 500 baht a day ($16 better not to overstay)
Enter Thailand by train you get a 2 week visa which can be extended for another 7 days.
Don’t plan too far ahead, the whole visa thing is ever-changing but it is not a problem, you simply move on when your time is up, go across the border and back.
By going to Vientiane in Laos for a few days you can get a free Thai visa for 3 months – (a great trip on the sleeper train at little over the price of one nights accomodation).
The easy way to get a Thai. visa:- Go on-line – The Royal Thai-Consulate Brisbane http://www.thaiconsulate.org.au/ find the visa form, follow the instructions, apply for a 2 month tourist visa, double entry (or whatever is the going offer), post your passport to them and they will post your passport back with a stamp in it. cost? – most Thai entry visas are free – this could change but the cost will not be a problem.
Bank Visa card – check with your bank that you have the right card
ATM machines are everywhere. The surcharge is about $5 – so you do not withdraw small amounts when in Asia, the money comes out in the currency of that country.
There is always a daily limit on how much you can withdraw. (about $600)
Always use cash.
You will need a visa card to buy airline tickets.
Add to your note-book your bank’s phone number and the numbers of your bank card including the 3 numbers on the back, you might wish to write these in code. Tell your bank you are going overseas.
Note:- some countries except dollars, that is US$s not AU$s.
Your bank might give you a new card and number when you return for security reasons. (the only time you need Australian money is a couple of $10 notes to exchange while at KL airport so you can eat)
Getting a passport is like registering a car – you have to do everything right.
Mullumbimby post office handle passports. You need to book a time with them to finalize the documents.
Basically you need ID (plenty of it), photos (special photos) and money – about $220
Keep about 4 or 6 extra copies of the passport photos with you for border crossings.
If you wear a shirt with a pocket, a good idea is to sow a pocket inside your shirt, behind the existing pocket and keep your passport there while traveling.
Have 2 good quality, black and white photo copies of the passport profile page and current visa pages. Keep one set in your wallet and one set in your bag at all times
1 – Gold Coast to KL (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
2 – KL to Bangkok (Thailand)
(Or 1 ticket – Gold Coast to Bangkok changes at KL)
For tickets you need to go online. https://www.airasia.com
Note:- Coolangatta and Gold Coast are the same place (same airport)
If you do not know how to use the internet, go to Cyberlink in Stuart St. and ask Michele to put you onto the AirAsia site.
Learn to use the AirAsia website, you can make dummy bookings every day if you wish.
First decide when you wish leave (pick a date a day or so before a Pension check is due).
The exact dates can not be decided until you find the cheapest flights, and the variation in prices might be as much as $1000, so it is worth looking for a bargain.
Sometimes you can fly to KL for $130 so keep your eye out for a bargain.
Use the ‘next day’ buttons to search up and down the dates.
Start searching 2 to 3 months ahead of today. (that’s where the bargains usually are)
You can book one-way or return.
It might take 6 or more searches over a period of weeks to get what you want but it becomes easy when you get used to logging in and searching.
You may wish to book the return flight later.
You can use internet cafe in any country to search for a flight home.
Some overseas travel agents work on a very low mark-up and are ‘good guys’.
When you see a flight listed as PROMO, grab it.
Or if PROMO does not come up, buy the flight you think is a fair price.
Before you pay for your flight to KL, make shure you have a same day flight out of KL to Bangkok.
The KL to Bangkok flights are not expensive so take the cheapest available about 3 hours after your Coolangatta flight lands.
You must have 3 hours between flights , 2 hours is not enough.
You will not be able to board the plane at Coolangatta if you do not have a ticket of some type, out of Malaysia. (or a Malaysian visa)
(There is an alternative and that is catch the train out of KL to Bangkok – next time ah!)
Tips:- Before buying your tickets online, open notepad and put all your information there so you can copy and paste it into the boxes, (passport number, bank card number, your name, name on bank card, name of bank, your email address, your address, your home phone number, your mobile phone number, etc.) when you go into the final payment for the ticket you get 9 minutes before a security shutdown might occur.
Read the instructions carefully when it asks you if you want to – pic a seat – have insurance – book a room – have extra baggage – catch the airport bus – these can be TRICK QUESTIONS and pressing cancel or ok can mean the opposite to what you think.
An in-flight meal is a good deal.
If you look at your final price you will see you may have been charged for 25kilo of baggage, (delete it) you do not need baggage, just one bag that you carry onto the plane, no more than 15kilo. (nothing worse than dragging a big backpack around)
When all is done your itinerary (ticket) will be emailed to you for printout.
What to bring
Asia can be hot and humid all year round, day and night.
Bring one bag that you can sling over your shoulder.
Passport, air tickets, bank visa card, extra photos, copy of passport, note-book, pen
2 shirts, 1 tee-shirt, 2 trousers, tooth-brush, sandals, toilet paper.
Extras can include:- medications (in there labeled box), undies, coat, shorts, camera, laptop, mobile phone, hat, sun glasses, make-up, sandwiches, dried fruit, biscuits. (no liquids or tooth past)
Sometimes it gets cold while in-flight, therefore a pair of sox can be handy and you can put all the cloths on or purchase a comfort kit which has a blanket.
Cloths are cheap in asia, bring only what you need, you will have to carry them everywhere.
Don’t wear smelly joggers. Try to do without sox. Laundries are everywhere.
This is what happens at Coolangatta International Airport.
be at the airport 2 hours before take-off, do not rest till you reach 5
1 – Check in and get a piece of paper with your seat number – this is your boarding pass.
2 – Security – empty your pockets into tray, put your bag and the tray through the machine(friends can come through to see you off)
3 – Security – same as 2 (only passengers can pass here)
4 – Customs – have your passport checked and they sus you out.
5 – Wait for gate to open – you can not leave this area
6 – board the aircraft.
At Kuala Lumpur Airport.
Be prepared to be confused.
Basically this is the drill.
Go through immigration
Go through customs
Go out of the building
Go into the adjoining building
Go to the AirAsia counter and get your new boarding pass
Hang around for a few hours or go straight to your flight.
You will usually be given a Malaysian Immigration form (card) while in flight. If not there are plenty around later. Fill the card out. Do not tear the card along the dotted line.
You are passing through, some of the answers will be – ‘ln-transit’
ok:- We have landed get off the plane and follow the crowd across the tarmac.
You will enter a building and go up stairs to a large immigration hall.
Join a ‘foreign passport’ queue. Your passport will be stamped they might ask a question or two. Show your AirAsia ticket out of KL if you need to.
Follow the crowd to customs. At customs go through the – ‘nothing to declare’ path. They will check you out.
You are now in Malaysia
Wander around if you have time.
It is not uncommon to wait 9 hours between flights, which can be fun if you are a people watcher.
Don’t bother going away from the airport, the city is 30 kilometers away.
If you wish to eat at KL airport, they have many international fast food outlets.
They only accept Malaysian money, so have, say $10 AU to exchange.
Make shure your notes are in good condition.
They do not exchange AU coins.
There are ATM machines but you do not need a pocket full of Malaysian money.
(have 2 – AU$10 notes just in case you need to buy extra, but $10 should be plenty for a feed)
AU$1 = about 3 Malaysian Ringgets. (you will always need to think about this before you buy)
You are now in the International Departures building
Go to the AirAsia check-in desk (not the ticket sales office) and get your boarding pass for the flight to Bangkok.
They will tell you a ‘gate’ number.
Go through AirAsia check point then directly through Malaysian immigration, here is where they take your departure card (the other half of your arrival card) and stamp your passport again.
Follow the crowd and look for a room with your ‘gate’ number.
When you enter the room then check the flight particulars are the same as on your boarding pass.
AirAsia staff will arrive check your passport and boarding pass and you then get on the plane.
When you arrive at Bangkok Airport you are over whelmed by the size of the structure. It is like a space age city under one roof.
You will follow the other passengers through customs and immigration, which is usually a few smiles and a few stamps into your passport. Your photograph will be taken as you stand at the immigration counter.
You are now in Thailand.
You are free to wander in and out of the building. (no need to go outside here). find an ATM machine, press the button for English and withdraw 5,000, 10,000 or 20,000 Baht. You will receive it in 1,000 Baht notes (approx. AU$1 = 30 Thai Baht therefore 1000Baht = $33 AU). Then ask a bank teller to make 2,000 Baht ‘small’ – they will give you 100 Baht notes in exchange. Be careful when paying for anything – 100 Baht and 1,000 Baht notes can look the same. 50 Baht and 500 Baht also can look the same. (1,000 Baht might be 1 weeks wages to some Thais).
Stroll around for a while, ride the moving footpaths, go downstairs and have a meal. (in most large Thai food halls the custom is to buy a token card for 100 baht, then select your dish. The cook will register his sale on the card and you present the card on your way out to collect any change). It is fair to say the food in Thailand is safe to eat, Cambodia and Vietnam, not so safe.
Head to the lower level of the airport and catch the train to the city. By this time you should have worked out the ATM machine and have some coins in your pocket. Buy a token and catch the train.
You are heading for MBK (a huge shopping centre). Once you find MBK then find National Stadium Station.
If you walk from MBK towards National Stadium Station you will see a 7/11 store at ground level and almost under National Stadium Station. WHITE LODGE is 100 meters up the lane near the 7/11 store. That is your accommodation. 450 baht a night right in the middle of everything. Tel. 02-216-8867, 02-215-3041
36/8, Soi Kasemsan 1, Rama 1 Rd. (easy to find on the internet). Relax for a few days.
You are now out of Mullumbimby
The people of Thailand are Buddist and you can do as you wish without fear of being arrested for jay-walking or catching the wrong train etc, you must respect there culture and stay ‘cool’. Don’t touch people when talking to them, especially on the head or shoulders. Take your shoes off when entering any house and some shops. (you will see the shoes outside). Dress well if entering a temple – no shorts for men etc. Don’t point at items on a shop floor with your toes. Give coins to beggers.
What next ?
Thailand is an amazing place. The people are respectful, happy, clean and mostly Buddhist.
There are about 84 million people in Thailand.
You will see fine statues of animals in out-of-the-way places, untouched by vandals.
You are safe as long as you stay ‘cool’.
Don’t get drunk, don’t argue about prices (barter yes, argue no)
In Asia there are prices for rich and poor, a bowl of pork and noodle soup can cost 20Baht in a one shop and 80Baht or more in another.
Generally you do not get hustled or ripped-off, but do check your change.
Check out some of the biggest shopping centers in the world.
Be amazed at the expressways over expressways over expressways
Eat your favorite Thai food for AU$1 or $2,or a 7/11 burger for 26Baht.
Go to Pattaya Beach and meet a real sweetheart (or Ladyboy)
Catch a local bus around and back to where you started.
Buy an overhead rail ticket and ride around all day.
Visit the landmarks, gallery and temples
Walk endlessly through the lanes and see the lifestyle.
Wander through the engineering warehouses.
Wander through the endless wholesale markets
Visit the bars in the red light district (not for poorpers)
Catch a bus or sleeper train to Chiang Mai and visit me.
Go to a border country for a week or so :- Cambodia – Laos – Burma
Where to Sleep
If you approach a group of Thias and ask ‘guesthouse’ they will all point in different directions.- there is accommodation everywhere.
Without luggage to drag around, you can check out as many as you wish.
99% have clean conventional toilets and shower.
Price. from 250Baht up – usually 500Baht or 1000Baht – per room per night.
About $8 – $15 or $30 (you are lucky to find a 250Baht room in the city and if you did there might be a problem – like noise)
Most rooms have double or 2 beds.
It is your private room and quests are allowed.
Security. If you are worried about leaving things in your room then you ask the desk to hold them.
In some places lockers can be hired and you supply your own padlock. – $1 or $2 a day. Keep your passport or copy of passport with you.
Ask the tuk-tuk driver how-much before getting in.
Cabs with a ‘meter’ are OK but make shure the meter is on.
If you use the taxi or tuk-tuk that is always parked in the same place near your room, that is wise, he will not rip you off and maybe lose his special parking spot.
Don’t try to change a 1000Baht note in a soup shop or taxi.
100Baht notes are most useful or 10Baht coins.
Keep your 1000Baht notes separate as they look like 100Baht notes – same with 500Baht and 50Baht notes.
If you have a question or have found this page interesting, please comment