driving in malaysia

The fish are biting – unfortunately, it’s me they’re biting – a trip to the Perhentian Islands, May 2018 – (Countdown: 14 )

OK, this is my fifth annual trip to the Perhentian Islands.  I’ve got to say something different, or there’s no point.

So, what’s new?

heading east

Firstly, this time we drove.  If you have a car this is the easiest option. It’s good for the car to get a bit of a drive – usually I either catch Grab, or drive very short distances.  Leaving Saturday morning at 6.45AM from Pulau Tikus meant a lot of traffic once over the bridge.   Better to leave on a Sunday or say, 6AM.  It’ll be light once you reach the end of the motorway.  Thus it took an extra 30 minutes driving to get to Kuala Besut – the departure point for boats to Perhentian.  That is, this time it took six hours – with stop for coffee and a detour due to road blockage for an election parade at Machang.  Alternatively you could fly to Kota Baru and catch a taxi or bus, or catch a bus from Penang. All involve more baggage handling than simply driving, and take more or less the same amount of time.

360m kilometres – with diversion. 359 on the way back.

Before you enter the wharf you have to pay the marine park fee.  If you are over 55 you can pay the senior fee, which is half the regular fee. RM15.

speedboat to the island. RM35 one way – no set time for departures – just when there are enough people

For many resorts you catch a speedboat from the wharf.  Tuna Bay resort has its own larger boat – it’s much slower, but smoother.  This time it was the roughest I’ve ever experienced on the speedboat and the boat bounced so much I was injured.  We boarded last, which meant we were closest to the bow – where it was worst.  Try to stay near the stern if it’s rough, and find something soft to sit on – a backpack with clothes in it, a spare life jacket etc.

water taxi routes and prices from Mamas on the big island

While discussing transport, this time we used the water taxis a lot.  Walking through the jungle one way is OK, but by then you’re hot and sticky – it’s just easier – and far quicker – to catch a boat back.

boat to the village

We caught a water taxi over to the Malay village on the small island so we could walk around the island.

the village mosque in the distance, and to the left the wharf

the beach to the left of the village

We started off anti-clockwise, heading through the village and past the mosque and over the bridge – the same way we went last year.

the start of the walk

the start of the walk – so far the path is good

Then we continued on in the direction of Long Beach.

the path deteriorated

sometimes it was under water

mostly the path was overgrown

It was hot and sticky going.  A few mosquitoes. We kept moving to avoid bugs as much as possible.  As we approached Long Beach there was the option of continuing along the path, or scrambling over some rocks  – we tried the latter, but it was very tough and slow going, so we returned to the path.  Thus we wasted about 15 minutes.  It looked like the path would continue around the back of Long Beach so we took a shortcut through a resort.  Excluding our rock scrambling, the walk was about one hour.

Once near the beach we took a shortcut through a new resort

Long Beach

Long Beach

But by the time we’d reached Long Beach we abandoned our plans to walk around the island – we were hot, sticky, thirsty, and tired.  The paths were just not good enough or well maintained enough for our liking.  We drank, swam, and then caught a water taxi back to the big island.  Shoes were a better choice than flip-flops.  No need to take anything, as it’s only an hour.  But you do need flip-flops for boarding the water taxi, so you need a day pack to carry them when you’re walking.

Now, those biting fish –

lots of fish

some living coral

A couple of times I was bothered by fish nipping at my shoulder or ankles while snorkeling over the reef.  I just moved on.  I find it better to keep moving, too, rather than staying in one spot.

Still on the biting thing, we walked around to the Perhentian Island Resort. It’s got a beautiful beach and lovely soft sand.  But swimming there little biting things seemed to be annoying me in the water.  The same as last year. I have so many bites on my body after coming here – I counted at least 60 bites.  I don’t know what to do about that. UPDATE. Apparently these invisible biters are called jelly bugs. They are normally eaten by fish, but in this part there are few fish. And there are far more jelly bugs around the full moon – which was the day before.  If you have oil on your body you will be less affected.  But they also detox your body, so that is some consolation.

the beach at the Perhentian Island Resort

We caught a water taxi back to our resort after, rather than brave the jungle track.  It’s not hard, but, well…

Back at our resort

The boat back to the mainland.  8AM, 12 noon or 4PM departures, I think.

After disembarking the boat we had brunch at the April Cafe, and left Kuala Besut around 9.45AM.

April Cafe in Kuala Besut – a nice place to eat

April Cafe in Kuala Besut – a nice place to eat

The return trip on a weekday took five and a half hours, with a stop for petrol and another for lunch included. So, driving time, around five hours.  The traffic was much lighter than the trip out.

So, the infrastructure on Perhentian hasn’t changed much, but staffs’ service level has improved, and some resorts have been refurbished, and some new ones built.

Penang to Kuala Lumpur by plane, train, bus and car – March 2017

You have a few choices travelling between Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

Read the latest version:

http://tropicalexpat.com/index.php/2018/09/19/cleaning-my-air-con/

Plane

The main carriers from Penang to Kuala Lumpur are Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia.  Kuala Lumpur has two main terminals at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).  KLIA, which is where the full service airlines fly to and from, and KLIA2, which the low cost airlines use.  (There is another airport, Subang, which Firefly and Berjaya Air operate from, which is likely to be useful only if you wish to go to that area.)  Prices vary, but can be very cheap – as cheap as bus or train fares.

Air Asia web site

Malaysian Airlines web site

Air Asia

A flight takes only about 45 minutes, and in that time on Malaysian Airlines they serve a drink in a plastic container and a packet of peanuts, and then come around to collect the rubbish.  Those two activities take up the cabin crews’ time while at crusing height.

the cabin in economy

peanuts and juice

the seat back – screen not activated for use on this short flight

On Air Asia you would not normally be served anything, but of course the flight time is similar.

Train

KTM – train company web site – note that for purposes of the web site your point of origin is Butterworth, and destination is Sentral Kuala Lumpur.

For more information and links please see http://www.travel-penang-malaysia.com/ktmb-ets-schedule.html

Penang now has the ETS – Electric Train Service – meaning that the journey to KL from Penang-Butterworth can take as little as just over four hours. This  provides more comfort and safety than buses, in a similar travel time, and for a similar price as the better bus companies.

For my blog about a recent train ride from Penang to KL see here

Bus

Penang to KL by bus

KL to Penang by bus

Aeroline bus company

Transnasional bus company

Nice bus company

Konsortium bus company

There are many more bus companies.

Car

Driving from Penang to Kuala Lumpur

Heading south – typical landscape

And which is best?  Of course, this is hard to say.  Let’s compare them in terms of travelling time, cost, scenery and enjoyment.

Plane:

If your destination is KL, then let’s look at the time it will take.  You should be at the airport perhaps 1.5 hours before departure. Flight time is about 45 minutes, and then once you have landed it will take at least 45 minutes to collect your luggage if you have any, and to get into central KL, and more likely one hour or more. Thus total time from Penang airport to KL hotel is at least 3.5 hours.  That is faster than any other mode.  It can also be quite cheap if you catch one of the Air Asia specials. Catching a taxi to and from Penang airport, or parking charges there can add considerably to the cost, however.  There is no airport bus in Penang, just a local bus, which is not very frequent or reliable.  Using the Grabcar app from Gurney Plaza to the airport is about RM26. Uber may be similar. Apart from shortly after take off, the scenery you will see from the plane is not very interesting. It is more stressful flying, but if you are also flying out of KL, it can often be the easiest mode of transport.

If you are flying out of KLIA then flying is probably the best option.  The airline you choose usually depends on which terminal in KL you fly out from. In Penang, there is only one terminal, so there is no issue with convenience for any airline.  But in Kuala Lumpur there is KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) and KLIA2.  Air Asia flies to KLIA2, so if you are flying from KL on Air Asia, it makes sense to fly from Penang also on Air Asia. And if you are flying from KLIA, then you will probably want to choose a full service airline to fly on from Penang, as it will fly into KLIA.  Of course, you can transfer between KLIA and KLIA2, but it takes some time, and is less fun if you have luggage.

Train:

The train takes a similar time to the bus. It takes about four hours, or up to four and a half, depending on the schedule.  Occasionally incidents on the E1 motorway block or slow traffic,   which obviously won’t affect the train, but will the bus. You will also have the travelling time to the station at Butterworth, so add on at least an hour for the trip to the ferry terminal, and ferry to Butterworth.  It is very relaxing, though, and the scenery is better than travelling by air or road.

Bus:

Travelling time by bus can be from four and a half hours to more, depending on traffic. But you will probably leave home an hour before the bus departs, so this must be added to the total travelling time. Bus fares vary quite a bit depending on which company you choose to travel with. But the more expensive bus companies tend to be safer, and more comfortable. Aeroline, the most expensive company,   quotes on its web site a price of RM60 one way in March 2017. Of course, by bus or car the scenery will be the same, as either way you will be travelling on the E1 north-south motorway. Mostly, the scenery is not very exciting. However, around Ipoh, which is about half way, the scenery improves for a while. The bus can also be quite relaxing, depending on the skills of the driver – the cheaper the bus company, the worse the drivers, generally. Many people find the bus the most enjoyable way to travel this route. I would avoid any very late night / overnight bus journeys if at all possible, as bus drivers and other vehicle drivers have been known to fall asleep at the wheel.

Car:

When I drive, with three very short stops on the way, it takes about 4.5 hours in light traffic. By car you will presumably be driving directly from home to your destination, so it takes only about an hour more than flying. The road charges are about RM45, and I suppose you will use about RM70 for petrol, although this will vary quite a bit according to your car and driving style. Of course, there are other costs, but for me, as I don’t drive much anyway, it is really only these costs that count. RM115. Double the bus fare for one person, but if two or more people,competitive. Naturally you will be able to carry much more luggage, be able to visit other places en-route if you wish, and have use of the car in KL. You will have to pay for parking, however, which at many hotels is RM10 per day.

Is it fun to drive? Not particularly. It’s frustrating as the speed limit is pathetically low, and for the section of the road which is three lanes each way, the left lane is mostly empty, while most drivers drive in the middle lane, making overtaking in the left lane necessary when the right lane is also blocked by a slower vehicle. This is hardly ideal.

My conclusion:

The disadvantage of the train is that Butterworth station is a bit far from George Town, and you need to catch the ferry.  But the bus station has the same disadvantage, being next to the train station.  The other terminals for the bus are from Sungai Nibong or Queensbay Mall – also a bit far.  Then, you find the same disadvantages for the bus and train in KL, where the terminals are not central.  But the airport in Penang is further away, and the airport in KL is even further out, so really, unless you are flying out of KLIA, I find the train offers the best combination of safety, comfort and convenience to central Kuala Lumpur.

For historical interest you can see a much older blog on this topic

AES – killer cameras cash collection compromised – 2014 update

OCTOBER 2014 UPDATE

I noticed this article in the paper last week:

https://my.news.yahoo.com/rm700-million-spent-automated-traffic-enforcement-system-now-225928686.html

The gist of the article is:
-RM700million was spent for 831 AES cameras
-To date, only 14 AES cameras were fixed at 14 locations
-1,492,084 AES summonses issued since 23.9.2012
-1,298,015 summonses have not been paid so far

—————————————————————————————————————–

I don’t blog about politics in Malaysia.

But now the federal government is introducing speed and traffic light cameras. This affects me directly, as it makes driving more dangerous for me. As I result I am kind of following the news on it, but rather than commenting, I will just give links after the headlines or brief extracts on online articles. It’s quite an interesting saga, so far.

  • Firstly, the cameras were bought by the government at about ten times the market price:

“831 AES Cameras: RM200k More For Each Camera Due To Training, Says Govt”
http://www.malaysiandigest.com/news/36-local2/175431-831-aes-cameras-rm200000-more-for-each-camera-because-of-training-says-government.html

“Explain why speed cameras cost more than in the US, minister told”   http://www.freemalaysiakini2.com/?p=56434

  • Secondly, people don’t want them, but have had no say in the matter. Is vandalising the cameras the only way they can get their say?

“Third AES camera vandalised” – http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216390

“Four AES cameras vandalised in Perak” – http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216514

  • Thirdly, perhaps they want to expand the court system by involving more of the population in court cases.

“The Kuala Lumpur magistrate’s court was crowded yesterday with more than 1,400 motorists who were issued AES summonses ordered to be present in court…” http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216093

  • Fourth: perhaps the Road Transport Department is acting illegally issuing summonses for AES “offenders”, anyway.

“Summonses issued under the Automated Enforcement System (AES) are invalid and Road Transport Department (RTD) officers do not have the power to issue summonses, or even charge the alleged offenders in court, PAS says.” – http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216368

  • Fifth: Penang is controlled by an oppostion coalition, and its Chief Minister, Mr Lim, says Penang won’t be installing AES cameras here.

Lim: No AES in Penang yet – http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?sec=nation&file=/2012/10/17/nation/12182240

  • Sixth: It appears you can put any number plates on your car anyway, so even if a camera catches you for something, it doesn’t matter, if you have done this.

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216097

Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show – November 2013 (KLIMS)

If you are considering visiting the motor show – http://www.klims.com.my/– as I write this it is the last day, so it might be difficult.  But after my experience there a few days ago, I am definitely thinking of going again next year. This year it ran from November 15th – 24th, with weekday tickets costing RM15.

KLIMS November 2013

KLIMS November 2013

In September I visited the Frankfurt Motor Show, apparently the world’s biggest show, and I enjoyed it, but it was so crowded – much more so than my visit in 2009 – and so big that it took from opening around 9AM until 5PM to visit every hall.  For the last hall I visited, Audi, I had to queue for over 10 minutes. KLIMS is relatively small, with four halls, so my friend and I saw everything in about two and a half hours. And, perhaps because we started at opening time on a weekday, there were not hordes of people, and it was easy to see the cars.

There appears to be no canteen or cafe – very different from Frankfurt, where there are plenty of bars selling beer and sausages, food stalls selling all sorts of things, and cafes.

KLIMS lacked many exhibitors – Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Renault etc. – but these are way beyond the possibility of most purchasers here, including me, so it didn’t particularly worry me.  The makers who were represented tended to be the more affordable ones.

Most exhibitors followed the traditional concept of adorning their cars with sexily dressed girls, and it was often hard to photograph a car without the girl  – who then poses for you.  In Frankfurt this appears no longer acceptable, and most girls are dressed like office workers.  Compare this photo from the IAA in Frankfurt in September with this one at KLIMS.

IAA - Frankfurt 2013 - showgirl is in blue

IAA – Frankfurt 2013 – showgirl is in blue with VW

Showgirl and Ford at KLIMS

Showgirl and Ford at KLIMS

There is not so much else to say, so here are some photos.

They didn't actually do anything - just went up onto the stage

They didn’t actually do anything – just went up onto the stage

NS4

NS4

the mirror is an electronic camera, so you see the display on a screen in the cabin

NS4 – the mirror is an electronic camera, so you see the display on a screen in the cabin

concept car

concept car

Isuzu were very keen to explain their vehicles

Isuzu were very keen to explain their vehicles

There were a few lorries too - with an 11 litre engine!

There were a few lorries too – with an 11 litre engine!

and only a couple of Chinese manufacturers

and only a couple of Chinese manufacturers

and some colourful cars

and some colourful cars

including Hello Kitty cars

including Hello Kitty cars

Honda had a contest, and I thought once I reached 11,300 I'd beat my friend, so stopped - but he got 11,500!

Honda had a contest, and I thought once I reached 11,300 I’d beat my friend, so stopped – but he got 11,500!

I found this car interesting

I found this Honda interesting

the Honda's steering

the Honda’s steering

an electric shuttle bus

an electric shuttle bus

b

another Honda

between ssome halls you cross the river - it's quite nice

between some halls you cross the river – it’s quite nice

Proton were there

Perodua were there

and the escalator led up to the classic cars

and the escalator led up to the classic cars

many of these were for sale, but the price was not displayed

many of these were for sale, but the price was not displayed

nice!

nice!

not sure how you open the doors in a crowded car park

not sure how you open the doors in a crowded car park

Looks a bit like an Aston Martin - but is a Ford

Looks a bit like an Aston Martin – but is a Ford

20131119 (74)s

another Ford

yet another Ford

yet another Ford

and a somewhat earlier model Ford

and a somewhat earlier model Ford

A few of the exhibitors handed out show bags, and almost all had brochures, so a show bag was handy for carrying them.

Frankfurt is supposed to showcase new technologies, and this year there weren’t any major new ideas – it just seemed to show an evolution of previous ideas.  Before were petrol – hybrid vehicles, and now plug-in electric vehicles.

KLIMS didn’t really show anything major either, but it did show some fun concepts, cars within many people’s price range, it was a nice size, and not crowded so you could easily see the cars. I enjoyed it a lot.  Luckily I had two coffees just before I went in, so I survived the lack of cafes.

A Penang solution to errant biscuit purchasers

JULY UPDATE

I haven’t noticed a police presence for a few weeks.  But so far I haven’t seen people blocking the road with their cars, or been caught in a jam there.

——————–

On Burma Road there is a shop selling traditional Chinese biscuits which is very popular, and the customers park their cars inconsiderately, thus blocking traffic so badly there is sometimes a traffic jam back to George Town.

2013-04-07 09.31.49

the shop when closed

Of course, it is far more important to the customers not to have to walk far from their cars than the massive traffic jams they cause, and the waste of 15 minutes to half an hour of each driver’s time to get through the jam. Not to mention the problems they cause the local churches and residents.

But others did not think so. Initially the police made this section of the road a tow-away zone.

2013-04-04 14.24.44

And then they set up a semi-permanent police presence on location, where three policemen/women sit under an umbrella to deter errant parkers. It seems to work.

2013-04-04 14.24.49

I have heard that a car park will be built nearby for the shop’s customers – but this will mean they will still have to walk a little, so we’ll see how effective this is.

Oh, here are the cause of all the problems:

biscuits

biscuits

Langkawi – December 2012. Holidaying here. Retiring here?

One Malay word you should know if you are in Langkawi – “Pantai” = “Beach”.

20121221 (27)s

Tanjong Rhu beach – in the north of Langkawi

I wrote a blog about Langkawi after my visit in April 2012, and I have just returned from my third holiday in Langkawi in about four years. I will combine my previous blog with this, adding more information. The smaller photos are from April 2012, the larger from December 2012 – so you can tell

GETTING THERE

  • In August 2008 we drove up to Kuala Perlis and caught the ferry over to the main ferry terminal in Langkawi.  All we had to do was phone a contact who ran a parking lot, give an approximate arrival time, and he bought the ferry tickets.  When we arrived we could park undercover and he gave us the tickets, and pointed out where to catch the ferry.
  • In April we flew on Air Asia from Penang to Langkawi, which is about 25 minutes in the air, but from when we left home by taxi to when we were in our hotel room about four hours had elapsed.  Which was about the same amount of time as driving and catching the ferry, although the flight was less strenuous.

http://tropicalexpat.com/retire-in-langkawi/

AES – killer cameras cash collection compromised

I don’t blog about politics in Malaysia.

But now the federal government is introducing speed and traffic light cameras. This affects me directly, as it makes driving more dangerous for me. As I result I am kind of following the news on it, but rather than commenting, I will just give links after the headlines or brief extracts on online articles. It’s quite an interesting saga, so far.

  • Firstly, the cameras were bought by the government at about ten times the market price:

“831 AES Cameras: RM200k More For Each Camera Due To Training, Says Govt”
http://www.malaysiandigest.com/news/36-local2/175431-831-aes-cameras-rm200000-more-for-each-camera-because-of-training-says-government.html

“Explain why speed cameras cost more than in the US, minister told”   http://www.freemalaysiakini2.com/?p=56434

  • Secondly, people don’t want them, but have had no say in the matter. Is vandalising the cameras the only way they can get their say?

“Third AES camera vandalised” – http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216390

“Four AES cameras vandalised in Perak” – http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216514

  • Thirdly, perhaps they want to expand the court system by involving more of the population in court cases.

“The Kuala Lumpur magistrate’s court was crowded yesterday with more than 1,400 motorists who were issued AES summonses ordered to be present in court…” http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216093

  • Fourth: perhaps the Road Transport Department is acting illegally issuing summonses for AES “offenders”, anyway.

“Summonses issued under the Automated Enforcement System (AES) are invalid and Road Transport Department (RTD) officers do not have the power to issue summonses, or even charge the alleged offenders in court, PAS says.” – http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216368

  • Fifth: Penang is controlled by an oppostion coalition, and its Chief Minister, Mr Lim, says Penang won’t be installing AES cameras here.

Lim: No AES in Penang yet – http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?sec=nation&file=/2012/10/17/nation/12182240

  • Sixth: It appears you can put any number plates on your car anyway, so even if a camera catches you for something, it doesn’t matter, if you have done this.

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216097