Tomorrow morning I’m going to cross the border into Thailand. This involves catching a bus from Kota Bharu, where I am now, to the border town of Rantau Panjang and walking across the border to the town on the Thai side, Sungai Golok.
I’ve only just discovered that the southern regions of Thailand are a little dangerous due to some militant Muslim separatists who occasionally bomb places and the police who are responding heavy-handedly. Crossing the border where I intend to will take me into these areas. I thought about traveling over to the west coast of the peninsular and crossing there where it is not dangerous but I’ve decided to go ahead here. After doing some research, it sounds as though its safe enough. There are travel warnings but then there were about Bali as well and that was fine. I’m going to reduce the risk by getting on a train in Sungai Golok and going straight through the three riskiest provinces ofNarathiwat, Yala, and Pattani without stopping until I reach the safety of the city of Hat Yai in Songkhla. Any points of interest in those three areas will have to wait for another time I’m in the region.
My lonely planet guidebooks have served me pretty well up to this point, although sometimes with vague or inaccurate information, but this time they’ve been really annoying. I have the Malaysia book and it has the information about how to cross the border from Kota Bharu, but don’t mention anything about troubles in southern Thailand. It was only when I read the Thailand book that I discovered the dangers in the southern parts. Perhaps lonely planet should say this in their Malaysian guidebook when describing the border-crossing at Kota Bharu.