Thursday, May 1, 2014

Around Malaysia by Train. Again!!!!, Dec 23, 2012 - KB (0930) - Arau (1700) on the bus, Day 4 KB - Kangar, Transnasional Express, Skydeck Seta 2A, B, RM38.50

We are awake as usual. Our room being in the middle we do not have the window looking  outside but into the atrium of the hotel. So we keep our window with the curtain drawn down all the time.

I am first to use the bathroom and once we are ready with our morning ritual we start to pack.

At 7.51 am we are sitting at the dining table to have our breakfast. No one else in the restaurant except us and I assume the service going to be very fast. Yes, it is the standard buffet breakfast but we need to order our drinks. Then I realise it is a one-man breakfast operation. No brown bread so I settle for local food and a lot of eggs. We take our breakfast slowly anticipating the new experience of taking the bus to Kangar. 

It is 8.15am and we are walking out of the hotel to the bus station. We take the walk through the place where we had nasi ulam lunch yesterday. Passing the covered area in front of the Kraftangan’s entrance. It is drizzling and getting heavier but we press on. I make a good use of the rain jacket I bought yesterday. My dear Sam is walking slowly behind me and I worry about her. A strong and committed girl she is.

We arrive at the bus station at 8.30 am. I walk into the Transnasional ticket office and ask the gentleman at the counter where we suppose to wait for our bus. The man, his look and behaviour is not the least gentle at all - the fallacy of service industry in Malaysia, says to wait at the end of the block of the next building. When the bus come there will be an announcement made. We wait out side of the office where there are a lot of travellers waiting already. By the look of them I am pretty sure they are not our fellow travellers. After awhile no sign of our bus and I am getting bored waiting. The rain persists and I am not complaining just worry a bit about our journey. Looking out in front of me is the Suria Hotel and I wonder aloud to Sam we could have stayed there and we can wait for our bus siting in our room ha ha ha. Alas Suria Hotel is not with Agoda. 

After awhile and needing a new perspective we walk across the road to wait there. There is a bakery called Bread Home there and I walk towards it as I know we need few supplements for the long journey across Banjaran Titiwangsa to the west. 

The first perspective I have when I look at the bus station from where I stand is RED. Red color everywhere around us. Being a Red fan I am happy. I can see behind the station is the shopping complex where we were yesterday where Parkson is. It is another wait for us and I do not see the bus coming anytime soon either. 

It has been awhile waiting and thinking the bus will arrive soon we cross to the other side where the bus will stop. The crowd is building up expecting their buses will arrive for the journey where ever they are going. Buses for destinations like Kuantan, KT, Ipoh, and JB start to show up. Finally at 10.08 am our bus show up and we get onboard. Out seats are at the top deck and it is a big let down. The front part of the top deck is a mess even the seat numbers are not right. Knowing that there will not be many passengers we just pick our fancy. The bus is a let down. The front part of the top deck not only a mess but, as they say in Kelantan, tirih (leaking) as well. Water from the rain outside is seeping in and the floor is already wet. The first two rows are left vacant. This is Transnasional Express and going to traverse the mountainous East West Highway. I am worry a bit there. Luckily we are traveling from a wet region to a dry one in the west. 
Seven minutes later we are on our way. One hour off the schedule.

As usual the air-condition is switch on full blast. With heavy rain outside now the bus is a big industrial fridge. Mist and water particles are getting thicker on the window panes now and I am only protected by the rain jacket I bought yesterday. I have to pull up the hood to be a bit comfortable. Initially I thought the bus was going straight to Jeli but now it is moving towards Pasir Mas. Must be picking up few more passengers there. I suppose I have to expect the bus will be going to Tanah Merah and other towns to pick up passengers as well. Meaning we are going to be late even more. Now I know we are not going to reach Kangar at 5.30pm. 

The bus slowly move into Pasir Mas town at 10.49am. Nothing much has change in Pasir Mas. The town where I lepak for almost two years doing nothing. We circumambulate the town to enter the bus station. Surprisingly a lot of traffics. 

Moving out of Pasir Mas I doze off. 

We are entering Tanah Merah and somehow I am awake. The clock tells me it is 12.02pm. We pick up two more passengers at Tanah Merah. I am bored a bit so I move myself to the front to sit watching the road and whatever else happening in front of the bus as it move on. I feel like sitting on the top deck of an open tourist bus with my camera. The ride going through Kelantan inner road. It is scary sometimes as you would see that the road is too small for the bus he he he. In no time we turn into East West Highway and as I expected the driver, in order to make time, drives a bit too fast for a double decker. I have a first class front seat experiencing him maneuver the corners and passing long haul trucks. Interesting as well as a bit scary at times.

At 12.51 pm we approach Bukit Bunga. Bukit Bunga is of course famous for its road-side Thailand’s products shopping area. A lot of cars park by the road side where barang-barang Siam on sale on both sides of the road. Familiar sight for me as I passed this way at least four times already. Really, nothing new to see. Since this is the first time I am doing it by bus I force myself to stay awake a bit ha ha ha. Soon we will be in Jeli.

I always thought Jeli was a one main road town until the bus turn left into a small town at 1.20pm. We stop at the bus station at Jeli town to pick-up more passengers... no, no one actually ha ha ha. Seeing no one board the bus I quickly ask the driver if I can go out to relieve myself. Cannot tahan woo.. All the while I thought there was a restroom onboard. Suddenly few of the passengers are also running behind me for the loo ha ha ha. 
As I walk back to the bus I see the driver smoking beside the bus. 

‘Kita berenti tak mana-mana nanti untuk solat dan makan?’ (Are we stopping anywhere later for prayers and food?)

‘Grik.’ the reply from the driver

It is two hours away from Jeli. I continue to sit at the front seat of the top deck until we start to climb. I feel I have enough of observing the road ahead and getting worried for nothing I walk back to my original seat to sleep. 

At 2.28pm I am nicely awake as we are crossing Tasek Banding bridge. I stay awake from there taking in the picturesque mountain and green around me. I am not that hungry but really looking forward to the rest stop at Grik. Initially I was imagining that the stop would be a Medan Selera type place but when we approach the Grik Baling junction at 3.07pm I know it is not going to be. Police roadblock greets us beyond the junction and few meters after that the bus turn to the left where what it seems a new RnR restaurant. Several Transnasional buses already parked there. For what it worth by the look of the place a new dedicated RnR for them. I do  not expect much. As long as we can say our jamak prayers we are ok. That is the first thing we do while the rest busy eating.

All the food look good and tasty. I pick up few dishes in small portion to start with and I am glad I do that as all of them are too sweet for my taste buds. They are really sweet even by Kelantan standard. 

At 4.00pm we depart Grik moving steadily high above the ground in between hills and terrains towards Sg Petani. The lunch beginning to take an effect on me and slowly close my eyes to sleep.

I am awake again as the bus entering Sungai Petani at 5.45pm. I cannot really figure up where exactly the bus stop but the station is almost deserted and the bus only stop for awhile to let a passenger to disembark. 

I move to the front seat when we are on the highway after Sg Petani for the rest of the journey. The view is quite breathtaking with the evening sun setting across the plain yellowish even more by the paddy fields. The double tracking of the train line is in progress parallel to the highway. Soon I would be able to take a fast or commuter train to Padang Besar. I just wish it is sooner.

At Changlun the driver takes off out of the highway into the inner road, a shortcut to the Changlun - Kuala Perlis highway. The effort is commendable to me but not enough to make time as I am sure we will arrive of schedule. As we enter Kangar the driver stop at the Petronas gas station to fill up for the next day trip back to KB. We can hear the azan from the nearby mosque or surau indicating it is Maghrib. 

The bus pull into Kangar bus station at around 1943. I look around to see what is the best way to Putra Palace Hotel. Of course I would prefer to walk so I ask a lady at one of the express bus counter if I could walk to the hotel. She strongly advises me to take a cab there. Thinking about Sam and our luggage, although not that big, I ask her where I can get a taxi and she points the direction which actually just behind her counter. 

The taxi driver is chatty as any taxi driver in town like Kangar. He shares with us that we are his last fare and he is going home after sending us. He lives with his family somewhere in Padang Besar. Everyday he would leave the house after suboh to start his daily routine. He is getting by with what he makes everyday which I do not ask him to elaborate. 

Once at the hotel we check in and up into our room. Not that really tired but in need of proper food we decide just to pray first and go down for our dinner. We do not want to go any further so we walk into the hotel’s restaurant. Once we are in I like it straight away, primely, because the music duo at one corner of the restaurant is playing old songs especially the Bee Gees. We choose a table nearest to the musicians. Not many people in the house which is fine for us. I order mi goreng and Sam something that I could not remember we enjoy both the food and the music. In fact I start to sing along to the delight of the lady singer. By the look of them and the way they converse they are locals. We chat about our adventure so far and what to expect tomorrow. Our plan is to just lepak at the hotel, check out at noon and go to town for lunch before going to the station. 

After a while Sam feel the need to recover from the long bus trip from the east. We walk up, take our hot bath and kiss each other good night. 

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