Travel

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

Malaysian Airlines service declines

Malaysian Airlines service declines as it has eliminated the checked baggage allowance from its lowest fare tier. Details here.

Living in Malaysia I have, of course, flown on them many times. Sadly there has been obvious cost cutting over the years. And yet the airline continues to lose money. They also reduced their long haul routes. So I, and presumably many others needed to fly on other airlines.

Many full service airlines have adopted practices of the low-cost airlines. I recently flew on Singapore Airlines. To Japan. And was surprised that, like Malaysian Airlines now, if I wanted to choose a seat I had to pay extra.

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

 

9 tips to save money visiting Japan

It’s quite expensive compared to many countries, but there are ways to save money visiting Japan. Consider the following tips.

  • Train passes. Transport in Japan is expensive. Trains can be very fast and take you to almost everywhere you might like to visit. Or at least very near. This is one site which offers several passes for the Kansai region, in western Japan. Here is another very different pass. And here is yet another pass for the Kansai region. There are many passes – depending on where you would like to visit.
  • Use bicycles for local transport where that is safe and convenient – and these are provided free with some train passes. You can pick them up at the station.

save money visiting Japan

Full body scanner in Japanese airport

Full body scanner technology is suspect, to me. From the reading I’ve done over the years I have come across reports writing that it’s harmless. Others that say that all radiation exposure is cumulative, and thus one should avoid it as much as possible. And others reporting that this exposure rips apart your DNA and damages your immune system, among other dangers.

I found this report on this topic. It has references and comments at the end that may be of interest. It’s easy to find advertisements from earlier decades claiming such things as, “75% of doctors recommend Camels”(cigarettes). Just because they claim it is safe now doesn’t mean this will not be revealed to be dangerous later.

full body scanner

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.

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