Thursday, June 29, 2017

Exploring the Luboks 2: The Train Journey, Bangi-KLS-Kluang-Ipoh-Pdg Besar-Arau-KLS-Bangi, Nov 7-9, 2015

Nov 8, 2015, Kluang (0044) - Ipoh (1052) - Padang Besar (1510)

Once boarded we went straight to bed. As usual, believe me of not, I was anticipating another good sleep. Which I did. My friends always look at me as if I am cray when I share with them this.

Right after suboh we approached KL. Outside it was just like going to work for me albeit very much early. I was already standing by the door stretching my legs and looking outside. With the dawn breaking at Salak Selatan and Sg Besi emerged the familiar KL skyline and I captured some

Approximately at 7.00am we rolled into KL Sentral. What I do not like with underground stations like KL Sentral is we do not see much activities. Unlike the old KL Station, Hua Lamphong, and other old stations. Quite a number of passengers ended their journey at KL Sentral and only a few boarded to start theirs going north to Ipoh. I guess most rather take the faster ETS to Ipoh.

No buffet car on Express Sutera only a chap two coaches away occupying two seats near the door selling packed food and simple drinks. We walked to him anyway for our breakfast. Just enough to last us until Ipoh which was about 4 hours away. Since there were a lot of empty seats there we sat close-by eating our breakfast. We chatted with guys selling the food and according to him the reason there was no ABC (Aircon Buffet Car) because there was none available. None that was in good working condition that is. After a while we started get bored and walked back to our coach. Sam decided to go ahead to our sleepers and I decided to lepak at the first class cabin to charge my handphone. Apart from charging my handphone I was busy looking life speeding away outside. The train moved at a constant speed and only stooped at major stations

One of the stations was Sungkai. It just stopped for awhile and departed again. While moving out I saw a lady cleaner engrossed with her handphone while taking a rest after making sure the platform was clean. I as not sure what other tasks she had for the day but I thought at least she got to see trains everyday.

For the rest of the journey I just stayed at the first class cabin. No one was bothering as there was no need to do so either ha ha ha. Just before we approached Batu Gajah I saw a group of cyclist on the road outside. Straight away I was jealous of them as I had not been cycling for awhile. I could guess they wee cycling all the way to Ipoh. Mind you there were not roadies but foldies. Oh, that’s  cyclist speak to mean they were not on road bikes but folding bikes. 

Shortly after 11am we approached Ipoh station. Slowly inching into Ipoh station as if to say to us passengers, ‘Hei this is my last stop so I am going to take it easy.’ I for once very eager to disembark immediately as I had another train to catch.

We stopped and disembarked at Ipoh at 11.15 am. 

Photos that I captured 

The ETS that we would be boarding was to arrive at Ipoh at 11.45 am thus we did not have to wait that long. At that point we already decided that we were going to have our lunch at the ETS cafe. 

Indeed the ETS arrived on time. We boarded immediately and the train departed Ipoh without much issue. When we were seated as usual the train stewardess will come to confirm our tickets and when I saw her coming into the coach I was glad to know that it was the same dedicated stewardess that had taken care of us in our last three ETS trips. From a far I smiled at her and she recognised us. We chatted a bit and mentioned to her it was nice to meet her again. I actually later took several shots of her at work.

Just before Taiping I chose the clearest glass to capture the scenery outside. It was the door next to the cafe. I just stood there shooting. The funny thing was I had been doing the same every time I was on board of the train going north. Never seems to bore me taking photo of the area. In fact I was eagerly waiting to capture Bukit Merah Lake under the blue sky. True as they say, you can never capture the same moment twice. No matter how many times times already it was never the same images. Everything is different from the previous one. Allah is great.

Bukit Merah was under a blue beautiful sky. Clouds formations created by Allah presented me another perspective that brought joy to my traveling soul. I was excited I captured the sky over the Bukit Merah Lake almost forgetting about it altogether. After Bukit Merah Lake I went back to my seat to enjoy the rest of our journey. 

We arrived at Butterworth Station at 1332 and we pulled out to continue our journey north after about 20 minutes waiting. 

After Gurun I positioned myself at the same glass window where I was before. The sawah padi scene between Gurun and Alor Setar never seem to bore me. And it was paddy replanting season where the fields were either filled with water or paddy seedling just being planted. 

Photos captured along the tracks from the train. Scene 1, Scene 2 and Scene 3.

It was the same after Alor Setar and knowing we would be arriving in half an hour or so I went back to my seat to relax.

At 1510 we were disembarking at Padang Besar. Our plan was to walked to the bazaar complex for our TomYam late lunch, grab few packets of cashew nuts and almond as stocks for chewing at home and walk to the taxi stand to take a taxi to Kangar to check in. Ha ha ha as always a straight forward plan became an adventure of sort.

As we walked across the station on the overhead walking bridge the sky started to show it was going to explode. Much as I wish we could not quicken our pace than it already was. Patiently we walked and came down at the other side of the station to cross the roundabout to the Padang Besar Bazaar Shopping Complex. It started to rain thus we skirted the building to avoid the rain. Once we were at the bazar complex we went straight away towards the food stall at the end of the old complex as we had eaten there a few times and find the food meet our taste buds standards and specification. We ordered siakap steamed limau and kailan ikan masin. To save time and while waiting for our food I walked into the old bazaar to buy cashew and almond nuts. As usual 2 kilograms each. I also bought few bottles of Tom Yam paste for my family. 

When I got back to the stall the food were already served and I started to eat.

Satisfied and full we left the warung to walk towards the new bazaar complex in search for nothing ha ha ha. Well in the end from my favourite outlet I bought triple A imitation All Blacks jersey. 

It was still drizzling as we walked towards the taxi stand. While walking we were already on a look out for any taxi passing or parked nearby. Because of the rain the atmosphere was a bit dark like night was setting in. AS we approached the taxi stand there was only one taxi and it was pulling out. The driver upon seeing us approaching asked us where we were heading. I told him Kangar and he told us to wait there as he was sending anther passenger nearby. He said he would come back and if another taxi arrive just go ahead. He also informed us he will let his colleagues know that we were there waiting. 

We waited anxiously for few minutes as the day was getting darker. A taxi did come and to our relief the taxi would take us to Kangar. As usual we chatted the driver and he told us he was going to take us through an alternative route as the main route was flooded in some parts. According to him it was beginning of the rainy season in Perlis already and the usual places would get flooded soon. We told him we came from down south by train just neglecting to mention we were train nuts ha ha ha. I lamented the fact that there was no hotel in Padang Besar that we could stay. He told us there used to be one and there are two homestay near town. But I told him they were too big for just the two of us. Thus the reason I booked a room in Kangar. We told also we were going hoe the next day by train form Arau. He confessed that he actually work for KTMB and driving taxi on his spare time. Luckily I did not go on KTMB bashing too much ha ha ha. Nevertheless he actually agreed with me with what I had said about KTMB and its services. We agreed firstly that the Padang Besar Station was not built customer friendly. Facilities were dire and, knowing that the ETS service would even make Padang Besar as local tourist shopping heaven, did not work out something with the local authority to make visiting Padang Besar more enjoyable with budget hotels and chalets. It is a fact that now commuters are travelling all the way from KL to shop i Padang Besar and some of the wish to stay overnight rather than just returning home the same day. I am not a business man but I do not think the fare is where the money is for KTMB. It is the means or vehicle to where the real money is.

We arrived at the Hotel Sri Garden, Kangar at almost maghrib prayer time and paid the fare of RM25 to the driver. As the hotel staff knew I would be checking in the process was quick and easy for us. Once in our room I sent a message to Slair informing him that we were in Kangar. A few minutes later he replied to say that he will come over to pick us up and take us out for dinner.

Photos at the eating place 

Slair took us to his wife’s x-students eating place BBQ Kangar style. I do not remember where it is now but the BBQ style was different from what we used to. It was charcoal based and we BBQ the meat and fish by sticking it on the side of a dome like plate. We had a good dinner and enjoyed each other company’s. We were actually full from our late lunch still we could not stop eating. 

It was late when we were back at the hotel and we straight went to bed.

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