December 2014 – it’s the time of the year again! We will always be attending an annual business event each year during this period and we thought, “Why not let us do something fun and adventurous this time?” The location was identical to that of 2013’s – Pattaya, Thailand. By now, if you have been following us closely on this website and our various social media, you would have known that we had been travelling to Thailand more than just a couple of times over the span of past 2 years. Mode of transport? Air flight, of course! Booked from our trusty Rovia search engine! This time, the both of us had a little more time freed up so we explored the option of taking land transportation from Singapore to Thailand. Coach? Car? Train? You might possibly be doing this:
Yes bro! What’s life without an adventure and you bet, it turned out way more fun than we could imagine. After doing our due diligence, we decided on taking the railway option. In summary, we planned to enter JB from SG by bus then board the train to Butterworth and lastly to Bangkok. For the detailed railway guide, click here.
Anyway, we woke up pretty early as compared to our daily routine – 5.30AM. We had to make sure we catch that train. While there are multiple trains from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, there is only ONE direct train to Butterworth each day. So in order to keep up with our schedule, it was important for us to get on the train. We were lucky in the sense it was a weekday morning when we cross the Causeway into Malaysia. Traffic is not as bad as during the weekends and although this wasn’t the first time we enter Malaysia over the Causeway, it was our first time exploring another train system of Malaysia. There are a couple of train systems within Malaysia as mentioned in our previous post to KL, Malaysia. Thankfully, there were signs at the Malaysia Custom and JB Sentral to direct and help in our navigation efforts.
Fast-forward, we touched base at JB at around 7AM odd which was slightly more than an hour half in advance prior to the departure time. With the help of the customer service officers and sign boards, we managed to locate the ticket counter easily. Then we saw some people sitting at the waiting area, some going to and fro the ticket counter where there was no sight of anybody at the counters. Feeling confused, we approached some people, who were in the wait, to find out if they were there to purchase train tickets. They said yes but have no idea what is going on. Being our virgin experience in purchasing the railway tickets, we started to grow anxious about the increasing number of people gathering at the counters. We were worried we could not get any train tickets! It was about 7.30AM then. There was a sign board which stated advance booking starts at 7AM but there was just no one at the ticket counter. Just then we heard some Chinese saying they see staff sleeping at their cubicle work desk. Whoa, I got really annoyed. I got to the counter and said with a voice loud enough for them to hear, “Excuse meeee, I would like to buy 2 tickets to Butterworth.” Then sure enough, they heard me and a sleepy voice greeted me, “Ticket sales start 8AM.” My response… “Okayyyyyyyy. Lol. Let’s go for breakfast.” Learning point here is definitely, when in doubt, don’t sit around to wait for answers to fall from the sky. Go look for it. Haha.
So, thanks to that, we had sufficient time to experience their local breakfast style. Kenneth ordered lime juice and it simply came with a lime thrown into a cup of water. Hm, definitely zero points for its appearance. We were not even sure if it was edible. However, being people who are grateful for the things we have, we decided to still drink it anyway. Another lesson learnt: Looks can be deceiving. The drink was very refreshing and we did not leave a single sip behind 😀 After filling our stomach, we headed back to get our tickets. It was about 8.15AM. Everything went well – navigating our way, communication etc. The large panel displaying the destinations, departure time and boarding gate is pretty straightforward despite being written in Melayu. The only hiccup we met was figuring out the boarding time. While wondering why the boarding officers refused to let us in, we saw this elderly Chinese man, whom we assumed was a Malaysian Chinese, communicating to an officer in Melayu. We had no idea he was asking about the boarding time. Looking at our puzzled faces, this elderly must have guessed we were lost. So he was kind enough to approach us to explain more to us in Mandarin. For boarding information, you can check out the link above (detailed railway guide). Fortunately, we had a moment to chat more with him and found out that he is actually Singaporean Chinese. We also learnt a couple of money-saving cheats from him which we are more than happy to share with you!
1. Buy the train tickets in Malaysia. The tickets bought in Malaysia are cheaper compared to those bought in Singapore.
2. Elderly get to enjoy certain privileges or discounts if they produce proof that they are senior citizens during the point of purchase (applicable in Malaysia, not in Singapore).
He continued to watch out for us by telling us to join the queue when the boarding gate is opened. Thinking back, making new friends and having such display of kindness towards strangers that makes our travelling experience rewarding. The amount of gratitude we have for a stranger helping us navigate our way in these foreign lands might very well be impossible to fully express. It was a huge pity that we did not exchange numbers to remain in contact but all we hope is that we have left some footprints in his journey too (: Now, embarking on our adventure!