Friday, April 19, 2013

The night train out of KL

Day 18 - Sunday Sept 30.

Today was our last day in KL, so we spent the day not doing much in preparation for our night train travel to Alor Setar where we would catch a 15min taxi ride to the ferry terminal and then an hour's ferry over to Langkawi, a popular resort island off Malaysia.

Mum looked after Flynn and Jonty while we went back to Suria KLCC but I think we were all shopped out as all we ended up doing was getting Oliver a haircut. Our apartment owner Peter, organised his driver Jake, to take us to KL Sentral at about 7pm to catch the train.

I had researched this train ride which takes approximately 12 hours from 9pm to 9am and knew it was going to be an experience as all the reviews had said how lacking ti was in luxury and the food was horrible but that as a tourist you had to try it just once. We could have caught a plane which would have only taken an hour and we were going to do that on the way back but we wanted to get a better look around outside KL.

Well the train was very much an experience. It is so funny to look back on and I am so glad we did but it is definitely just a once-off experience for sure.

I think the photos say it all.

We only had 2 cabins so it was 4 to a cabin sleeping top and tail squished in amongst all our luggage. The little table on the right hand side of the photo, lifts up and underneath is a sink to clean your teeth but we soon realised when the smell hit us that many people before us had used the sink as a toilet.

 Speaking of the toilets,  Ollie wanted to go to the toilet before the train started. The doors were locked but there was no one in there. We asked the staff if Oliver could use the loo but they said not until the train started moving. We thought maybe they did that so no-one hopped on and hid in there for a free ride. Once the train started moving and the door was unlocked, Oliver went and did his business and went to flush but there was no flush mechanism. We then realised that when you go to the toilet it goes straight out onto the track.

Sure enough when we got off at Alor Setar, we looked back along the track and saw bit of toilet paper.

The other 'interesting' experience was in navigating your way to the toilet. TO do so, you had to jump over a hole in the middle of the floor. You could see down straight onto the track and Flynn or Jonty even could have easily slipped out onto the track and been killed. The train was mostly full of locals and they would all calmly jump the hole while we looked on in amused horror.

The train was so old and full of holes and it was so loud and kept making so many noises that I kept thinking we had derailed and were hurtling out of control somewhere. The locals slept in bunks 3 high and would take off their shoes and climb into bed and fall straight to sleep. I envied the way they did that and how they didn't mind the close sleeping quarters with each other. It made me think I was a bit soft and although I didn't get much sleep, I loved experiencing normal travel life like to locals, instead of in a quick comfortable plane.

The next morning (Monday October 1), it was great to see daylight and for the first time, we experienced some real rain, relentless downpour.

It was lovely to see how green and lush the scenery was away from the city.

I think the kids were happy to see something different after having been cramped in the cabin for the night.

I think we were all relieved to get off the train and go in hunt for some food, seeing as the train offered next to nothing except for a few biscuits with warm juice. As strange as it sounds, I would definitely recommend this to people, just to do once. Maybe not with as many kids but it was really an eye opener into normal travel life which for some of the locals they do every week as they work on Langkawi and return to the mainland for weekends.


Wheeler Team said...

Goodness- what an adventure! Definitely sounds like a once in a life time experience. Amazing how relaxed about safety they are, perhaps people dont sue each other over there....

Kaz said...

My goodness! I don't think I would cope very well on that train. It certainly looks like an experience though.