Train – rail journeys

Arriving at Butterworth by bus

Arriving at Butterworth by bus you’ll end your journey at Penang Sentral. Penang Sentral is a hub from which you can catch the train, bus or ferry.

From Penang Sentral there is a train service north to Padang Besar on the Thai border. You can cross the border to Thailand at the station. From there you can transfer to trains travelling north through Thailand. Or you can cross the border at the road crossing and catch buses to other parts of Thailand.

Alternatively, arriving at Butterworth by bus, you can catch other buses to various parts of Malaysia from Penang Sentral. Finally, there is a ferry service four times an hour, across to Penang Island, a 15 minute journey.

arriving at Butterworth by bus

21 Japan Highlights in the Kansai region

21 Japan Highlights

This covers 21 Japan highlights for me. I haven’t included the most famous tourists spots in Kyoto because I’ve been there before. Otherwise, everywhere else was new for me. I spent two weeks travelling around Kansai with train passes. I spent quite a lot of time preparing for the trip. And Japan can be costly, so here area few tips to save.

You’ll see there is some overlap between the 21 Japan Highlights. For example, both 1. and 2. involve food. And they are not in order of priority. Rather, they are in order of relevance to the previous highlight.

Places visited

Given the restrictions of Google Maps, here is a rough idea of where I visited and the routes I took. These restrictions also require that I use two maps.

route map 1


7 steps for preparing for a trip to Japan

  • Read a guidebook and decide where to go – at least six months before.
  • Decide when to go – try to avoid Japanese holiday periods for your trip – and the rainy season. Autumn is my favourite season – followed by spring.
  • Book flights
  • Book Hotels. Hotels are much cheaper when booked way in advance – so book many and cancel any you don’t want later. You can usually cancel free. Use different booking sites so can you double up hotels for any dates.

Preparing for a trip to Japan - Osaka Castle in cherry blossom season


Bangkok to Hua Hin by train

Bangkok to Hua Hin by train:

Hua Hin Station

Bangkok to Hua Hin by train is around a four hour trip. But this depends on which train service you take, and whether the train is delayed.  You can go by bus, or by taxi in a little less time. For more details on trains see, as always, The Man in Seat 61.  This blog is more about the actual experience.  For a longer trip I just took, see The Train from Malaysia to Chiang Mai.


The train from Malaysia to Chiang Mai

Bangkok Station

Bangkok Station

The train from Malaysia to Chiang Mai

The train from Malaysia to Chiang Mai is interesting and fun if you like trains. And a useful and safer way to travel if you want to make stops along the way.  And you’ll see some of the countryside, and have the experience. But if you don’t want that,  fly – if you’re flexible you can find cheap flights.

So you could make one or more stops or travel all the way to Bangkok in one go, and then take another train on to Chiang Mai. The latter is what I will describe here as in the past I have visited the below-mentioned.

Previously you could catch the train from Singapore to Bangkok on the one train. More recently it was Butterworth, Penang to Bangkok, but Malaysia has electrified the lines, while Thailand hasn’t.  So now one must change trains at the border of Thailand.

So the the train from KL and Penang to Chiang Mai is actually three trains. Train one to the border, train two to Bangkok and train three to Chiang Mai. For more photos and videos related to this trip, please see Part 2.

Malaysia’s Jungle Line – (Malacca to) Gemas to Kota Baru by train – AKA Circling Malaysia by rail (mostly) 3/4 – late 2017 update

13/10/2017 UPDATE

Talking to a KTMB representative today she told me that this line is open again and has been since repairs finished last year.

24/06/2014 UPDATE

Yesterday I noted an interesting article in the Star newspaper concerning this line. If you are planning a trip, you should check to see if this service is running before committing to travel plans.

However, in case the link disappears, here is the text copied from the Star site above:

Continue reading here.

What about Armenia? Final of the series.

I am just back from a trip around Morocco and some of the countries which used to be part of the Persian Empire at some stage in the past – Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Georgia, Armenia.

For information I used Lonely Planet: Morocco; Middle East; Georgia, Armenia, & Azerbaijan. These three books. The latter also covered Abkhazia. I uploaded the electronic version to Google Play Books and saved the weight of real books. They served their purpose pretty well. I bought them when on special, which LP does quite often.

For each country I’ll be writing of one good and one bad thing. And then include some hints and a few photos of the country.

Armenia was the first Christian country. I didn’t know that. Different people will have different opinions about this.  Nevertheless, seeing where Noah landed made a big impression.  What was harder was taxi drivers who didn’t speak English – which was every one I came across.

Some photos:

Us arriving at Yerevan Railway Station – three trains arrive a week. From Tbilisi, Georgia. And three trains depart weekly to Tbilisi.

Yerevan Railway Station

Yerevan Railway Station

one of many beautiful churches – this on the outskirts of Yerevan

one of many beautiful churches – this on the outskirts of Yerevan

another of many beautiful churches – this on the outskirts of Yerevan

one of many beautiful churches – this on the outskirts of Yerevan


lunch here

heading out into the country towards Mt. Ararat

If it’s not cloudy you can see Mt. Ararat from here

a home cooked meal

tour of the brandy factory

Mr. Yeltsin was there before us

Yerevan Tavern

Eating at the Yerevan Tavern – delicious, inexpensive, good service, friendly

Eating at the Yerevan Tavern – delicious, inexpensive, good service, friendly

and with entertainment


the top of Mt. Ararat as seen from the cathedral

central Yerevan

Mother Armenia statue

snow on the hills surrounding Yerevan

sculptures around the city

Parliament Building

the Cascades – leading up to the Mother Armenia statue – further to the right out of the photo, though

Central Mosque

cathedral at night

History Museum

the Metro

Yerevan station at night

Yerevan station at night

compartment on the night train to Tbilisi, Georgia

the bar / cafe on the night train

the bar / cafe on the night train

available at the bar