Travel

An easy walk on Perhentian Kecil, idyllic eastern Malaysia

the beach at the end of the walk

When we were last on the islands, earlier this year, we did a walk in an anti-clockwise direction from fisherman village on Perhentian Kecil – the small island. Here is another blog on the village from last year.

This time we did a walk clockwise from the fisherman village.

I took a small backpack with shoes;  camera, phone, money in  a waterproof bag and a small bottle of water.  And I wore a hat and flip-flops.

It was a RM5 ride each in a water taxi from Abduhls or Tuna Bay Resort to the village. We embarked on the beach, and disembarked on the beach. Thus shoes weren’t an option, and we wore flip-flops.  Curiously the return fare was RM6 each, and we embarked and disembarked from the jetties on either side.

In May the anti-clockwise walk path was is poor condition, so we decided this time just to do a short walk clockwise, and if it was also in poor condition, just turn around and abandon the walk.  However, the path was in good condition, and will probably be well maintained as it leads to Alunan resort, and it would be in their interests to keep the path maintained, I imagine.  It was only a 10 minute walk, it turned out.

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

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.

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.

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

Riding in Romania – Balkans trip anecdotes and photos

This blog mainly concentrates on providing information that will help in living or travelling in Malaysia.  However, I do blog a little about trips abroad.  On my recent trip to the Balkans I’ll do a series of short blogs providing one anecdote per country, and then a few assorted photos of the country unrelated to the anecdote.

Romania Buddy Bear

Romania Buddy Bear

I started my trip in Romania.  In late September there was a couchsurfing event in Timisoara, Romania.  On the last full day of the event one of the Romanian CS members organised bicycles for us, and we rode along the bike path by the river for about an hour to a cafe on the river bank for lunch.  And then later back.  This also fulfilled one of my aims of my trip, to do a little cycling.  It was really fun.

gathering at the riverside cafe before cycling

gathering at the riverside cafe before cycling

 

cycling out of town

cycling out of town

 

on the bridge where the bike path changes sides from one bank to the other

on the bridge where the bike path changes sides from one bank to the other

 

cafe by the river

cafe by the river

 

cafe by the river

cafe by the river

 

cafe by the river

cafe by the river

 

cafe by the river

cafe by the river

 

returning to the city

returning to the city

 

returning to the city

returning to the city

AND SOME ASSORTED PHOTOS FROM DIFFERENT PARTS OF ROMANIA

Constanta, Romania - a club for senior men. So typical of the image of older European men - dresses in suits or similar, perhaps wearing a cap, and sitting with one or two others happily chatting

Constanta, Romania – a club for senior men. So typical of the image of older European men – dressed in suits or similar, perhaps wearing a cap, and sitting with one or two others on a bench happily chatting – or here in their club

 

The hotel I stayed in on my first night in Romania - Constanta on the Black Sea

The hotel I stayed in on my first night in Romania – Constanta on the Black Sea

 

Varma Veche - a resort on the Black Sea

Varma Veche – a resort on the Black Sea

 

Varma Veche - a resort on the Black Sea

Varma Veche – a resort on the Black Sea

 

Varma Veche

Varma Veche

 

sunset at Varma Veche

sunset at Varma Veche

a local train back to Constanta

a local train back to Constanta

 

a typical station - the station employee (right side in shadow of photo) standing at attention as the train leaves. I felt kind of honoured

a typical station – the station employee (right side of photo) standing at attention as the train leaves. They always do this.  I felt kind of honoured.

 

a tram in Bucharest

a tram in Bucharest

 

Parliament House in Bucharest

Parliament House in Bucharest

 

a first class slepper compartment on the night train from Bucharest to Chisinau, Moldova

a first class sleeper compartment on the night train from Bucharest to Chisinau, Moldova

 

early morning train from Brasov to Sighisoara

early morning train from Brasov to Sighisoara

 

Sighisoara, Transylvania

Sighisoara, Transylvania

 

Sighisoara

Sighisoara

 

Sighisoara, Transylvania

Sighisoara, Transylvania

 

Sighisoara, Transylvania

Sighisoara, Transylvania

 

a delicious Romanian stew

a delicious Romanian stew

 

Sighisoara, Transylvania

Sighisoara, Transylvania

 

Sighisoara, Transylvania

Sighisoara, Transylvania

 

Sighisoara, Transylvania

Sighisoara, Transylvania

 

Sighisoara, Transylvania

Sighisoara, Transylvania

 

Sighisoara, Transylvania

Sighisoara, Transylvania

 

Sighisoara, Transylvania

Sighisoara, Transylvania

 

Sighisoara, Transylvania

Sighisoara, Transylvania

 

Sibiu, Transylvania

Sibiu, Transylvania

 

Sibiu, Transylvania

Sibiu, Transylvania

 

Sibiu, Transylvania

Sibiu, Transylvania

 

Sibiu, Transylvania

Sibiu, Transylvania

 

Sibiu, Transylvania

Sibiu, Transylvania

 

Sibiu, Transylvania

Sibiu, Transylvania

 

western Romania countryside

western Romania countryside

 

Timisoara

Timisoara

 

Timisoara

Timisoara

 

Timisoara

Timisoara

 

Timisoara

Timisoara

 

Timisoara

Timisoara

 

Timisoara

Timisoara

 

In the very west, at the border with Serbia. Romanian border officials were very friendly.

In the very west, at the border with Serbia. Romanian border officials were very friendly.

unfinished blogs – no. 5 – Reflections on a three week trip through Australia

I’ve been writing this blog for three years this month, and have accumulated many partially written blogs that remain unpublished. I may as well just publish them as is, and if I ever feel inspired to finish any, do so later.

June 12, 2012

——————

It was a great trip.

First the negative things…

You will be radiated

I wasn’t planning to go to Australia at all, but around March the Australian government announced they would be introducing full body scanners in all International terminals, and everybody, with no exceptions, would be forced to be scanned (except presumably politicians who voted them in), if they wanted to fly.  This was to start from July.

Having previously avoided London Heathrow for the same reason, I thought now was my last chance to visit Australia, until such time as the scanners are scrapped – however long that will take.

From the reading I had previously done, these scanners either rip apart your DNA, or give you cancer.  And all radiation is cumulative, so all the CAT scans I have had, dental X-rays, now Fukushima radiation which has spread around the world, mean I do not want any more that I cannot avoid.  In the US, which is infested with these scanners, the attendents are coming down with cancer.  Here are a few articles I read when I was looking into this.

DNA Breathing Dynamics in the Presence of a Terahertz Field
Radiation from airport scanners may increase cancer risk
How the New British Body Scanners Tear Apart DNA and Increase Cancer Risk
TSA Scanners Shred Human DNA
The Body Scanner Scam

The government, of course, says they are safe.  But The US Homeland Security ex-chief, Cheney’s company makes money from the sales of these machines. What more do I need to say?

The people I talked to in Australia seemed appalled  by the Prime Minister and the way she lies and broke promises.  State election results recently show her party decimated, so no one expects her to be PM after the next election.

Australia – Penalties Apply

Because everywhere you went there were signs telling you not to do something, or alternatively, to do something, and if you did not comply, penalties apply.  I think it also makes it easy for them to increase the fines exponentially every time they feel like it, as they do not need to change the signs. Before the signs used to read, “$10 fine” – now it’s probably “$300 fine”. I saw these signs in every part of Australia I went.

Penalties Apply

Cost of living

Travelling you find the costs different from those expressed in surveys on expat living costs in major cities.  In these surveys, Australian cities’ costs are high on the lists, but as a traveller, I found Australia more expensive than anywhere I’ve been in recent years, excepting Finland.

Travelling

Big – KL-Perth cf syd

Without exception, the tourist offices I visited were great. The staff were friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. Usually I would just quickly read some tourist literature on my next destination while on the plane, and note what sounds interesting. Then I’d visit the tourist office with my list, and they’d sort out accommodation, the route I should take, where I should visit, any tours I was interested in, where to get anything I wanted, and give me maps and brochures.

Domestically I flew on Qantas, and found the staff helpful and polite.

 

Malaysia’s Jungle Line – (Malacca to) Gemas to Kota Baru by train – AKA Circling Malaysia by rail (mostly) 3/4 – mid-2014 update

 
Find a newer version here: http://tropicalexpat.com/malaysias-jungle-line-gemas-kota-baru-train/

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:

East coast line to undergo repairs

KUALA LIPIS: Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) is expected to close down its 321km Gemas-Gua Musang stretch along the east coast railway to conduct major track repair works soon.

Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said that despite its earlier notice to KTMB ordering its closure on Thursday, he expected KTMB to appeal the decision.

“We have noticed that KTMB has continued to operate despite such risky conditions,” he said.

It was important to stop as the Government had approved RM400mil to im­­prove the current railway track, he said after conducting a joint inspection with KTMB president Datuk Elias Kadir and KTMB chairman Datuk Nawawi Ahmad, senior SPAD officials and KTMB staff along the stretch yesterday.

The major track repair works involving 11 affected areas are expected to take up to two years to complete.

Among the affected parts along the stretch are railway bridges along Kuala Krai and Gua Musang in Kelantan, which face the problem of rotten wooden slippers, as well as soil subsidence and erosion affecting the tracks along Kuala Lipis and Jerantut in Pahang.

It is learnt that 13 minor derailments have occurred on the railway line since 2012.

Syed Hamid said while the notice issued was made in the interest of public safety, a final decision would not be made until KTMB had formally made their appeal.

“We understand KTMB’s situation and their services are a real need. Therefore, their position must be improved from time to time,” he said.

When asked whether the changes in the notice could affect those travelling during the upcoming Hari Raya season, he said the safety of the public remained the biggest priority.

“We have suggested KTMB to provide alternatives as we do not want to risk a big tragedy during the balik kampung rush,” he said.

Admitting their financial shortcomings, Nawawi thanked the Government for approving the allocation, but hoped that SPAD would delay the closure notice.

“We will discuss our appeal during the KTMB board of directors meeting on Thursday and will hand it over to SPAD soon.

“While we are very concerned about the safety aspects of our passengers, we would also need time to adjust to the possible closure,” he said.

—————

Malaysian rail network

Planning:

The plan was to catch a taxi from Malacca to Gemas, have breakfast if time, and then board the train for Wakaf Baru, the station near Kota Baru, where we would spend the night.  There is only one day time train a day, and so if you wish to see the scenery you have no choice but to take it. It only has second class carriages. They are in worse condition than the west coast trains.

Malacca to Gemas.

As there is no train line to Malacca, the branch line having been destroyed during World War 2, and having had no desire to spend the night in Gemas, we found ourselves having to catch a taxi early in the morning to Gemas Station.  There may be a bus, but I wouldn’t reply on being able to get to Gemas on time for the train. And as the train comes from Singapore there is no good train connection from Kuala Lumpur to meet this train.

Google Maps showed the following about the route by road from Malacca to Gemas:

  • Route 1 91.4 km, 1 hour 32 mins
  • Lebuh Amj and Route 1 89.2 km, 1 hour 36 mins N15

The taxi stand in Melaka Sentral quoted us RM140 to Gemas, and a driving time of up to two hours.

The Jungle Line – Gemas to Kota Baru:

Train 14 to Kota Baru [Wakaf Baru] (EKSPRES SINARAN TIMUR  17-Sep-2012 09:38 17-Sep-2012 18:52) is scheduled to depart at 9.38 from Gemas.

The other question is where to alight the train. There is no actual station at Kota Baru. This is what The man in Seat 61 says:

“Which station for Khota Bharu?  The closest station to Khota Bahru is Wakaf Bharu, about 5 km (3 miles) away.  A taxi from Wakaf Bharu to Khota Bharu costs around 12 Ringgits.  However, if you want to travel more cheaply by bus, there’s a better and more frequent bus service from Pasir Mas, 19km from Khota Bharu.  Buses run from Pasir Mas to Khota Bahru every 15-20 minutes from 06:45 to 19:00 from a bus station just 100 metres from Pasir Mas railway station.  If you want to complete the whole train journey to Tumpat, no problem, buses also link Tumpat with Khota Bharu every 45 minutes 06:45-19:30.  Bus information for all these routes is at www.cityliner.com.my, select ‘Kelantan’ then ‘Khota Bharu’ as your location.
Heading into Thailand?  Bus 29 runs every half hour from Khota Bahru bus station near the central market via Pasir Mas to the Thai/Malay border point at Rantau Panjang, fare 5 ringgits (£1), distance 45 km, journey time about 1 hour.  A taxi will cost about 17 ringgits.  Walk across the border from Rantau Panjang (Malay side) to Sungai Kolok (Thai side) and keep walking straight on for 800m to Sungai Kolok Railway station for trains to Hat Yai, Surat Thani & Bangkok. “
As most Malaysian trains do not have a dining car or even trolley service, we brought some food and water which we’d bought in Malacca the night before.
We booked a hotel in Kota Baru in advance as the train was scheduled to arrive around 7PM, which was a little late to be hunting around for a hotel.

The Trip:

We had  a taxi booked for 7AM, as we were told it could take up to two hours.  We were told the going rate was RM140, but were charged RM120 as the hotel managed a discount for us. As the traffic was light, it being a holiday, it took only one hour 20 minutes.

So we had over an hour to explore Gemas and the station, and to breakfast.  Most of Gemas was still closed at 8.20, and there did not appear to be so much to see anyway, but The Curry Point was open, and busy.

a great place for breakfast

We asked for Dosa,and a cup of coffee each, and the dosa was delicious. Cost for both of us, RM5.80.

dosa

Gemas station also has a cafe, but we were too full to even properly look in. It was open by 9AM, though.

Gemas station has a new platform, but all prospective passengers waited on the old platform until the train was shunted in to the new one, and then the way was opened for us to enter the new platform and board the train.

old platform

The main rail line is electrified, but the Jungle line uses diesel locomotives, so changing locomotives took time.  The train was only three carriages long, and they were all second class. Not long after boarding the train it departed, at about 9.45AM.

new platform and train

The point of this trip is to see the wonderful scenery. There is a report by a traveller on the The man in Seat 61 web page, which is what enticed me to make the trip in the first place. But as we continued to travel along the line, what we saw was mainly palm oil plantations, or land that was cleared, presumably for more palm oil plantations.

By 15.00 this had not changed, and we were still passing by the palm oil plantations or the devastated cleared land. This was disappointing.

There was a trolley on the train with snacks and sweet drinks, but no actual food.  It was wheeled through the train a couple of times, but was kept in the last carriage. We were happy we’d brought our own supplies.

At around 15.15 we arrived at Chegar Perah, little suspecting that we would spend the next 2 1/2 hours there. Of course, it was not announced, and even if you ask the conductor you don’t get much of an answer.  Apparently there was some breakdown somewhere up the line, and we were kept in a siding until other trains had passed. It is only a single line, with some sidings along the way for passing.

We amused ourselves watching the cows, goats and hens with their chicks wander past the train. The goats could actually walk on the rails without falling off.

goats walking along the rails at Chegar Perah

We walked around the train. Looked at the cows.

cows crossing the lines to where the grass is greener

There was a shop we found, by watching other people go there, but it wasn’t selling any food or drinks we were interested in.

the siding on the left, and the main line on the right

We got too hot outside and sat in our seats, as the air conditioning was still on.  A couple of trains went past in the opposite direction. We tried to sleep. Eventually around 17.40 the train moved off.

we finally move off

And from now the scenery improved.

At 18.45 we arrived in Gua Musang, and the train shunted into a siding again, and we waited for perhaps 30 minutes while trains passed by going  in the other direction.

It seemed to us that the train controllers had decided our train’s punctuality was a total lost cause, so they might as well make us even later, and keep the trains going south on time. Of course, there was still absolutely no information from the conductor, the driver, or the train company as to what was happening. By now it was almost dark, so we knew we were not going to see the scenery we had ridden the train to see.

Once we finally moved off it was dark and we couldn’t see anything. We stopped at Bukit Abu around 21.04 for about 10 minutes, and then at Kuala Krai at about 22.00, where we shunted again and went backwards and waited for a while. At last, around 23.50 we pulled into Wakaf Baru, five hours late, and with no apology or explanation from any of the train staff.

The locals get picked up by their friends, but there were quite a lot of foreigners, who no doubt wanted taxis, and not many taxis, so we had to hurriedly agree to a fare of RM35 (which probably should have been RM20), for the 10 minute ride to our hotel, or wait perhaps half an hour until the taxis returned and try for a cheaper fare. It was the only time we were cheated on our trip.

Hotels:

Malacca: River Song Residence, 100 Lorong Hang Jebat, Jonkers Street. This hotel/residence is inexpensive, new, clean, and has terraces right on the river, but the best thing is how friendly and helpful the management/staff are. We made a couple of requests, and they were 100% reliable.  In the past I have usually stayed in the Equatorial, which is exponentially more expensive, and a totally different atmosphere, but nice.

view from rear terrace of Melaka River

Kota Baru: Tune Hotel. I wanted to stay in one to see how it was. The staff were very friendly and helpful, and the rooms were surprisingly large for the image of the hotel.

Tune Hotel room is quite spacey

Conclusion:

It appears the best scenery is probably from Chegar Perah to about Kuala Krai.  As I missed seeing this due to it being dark I am thinking of taking the day train from Kota Baru next time, and then turning around and catching the train back to Kota Baru once I have seen the best part, or perhaps catching the 17.16 evening Intercity train and seeing most of it before it gets dark. There are other possibilities, too.