January 14, 2013

Stolen Kiss on the Train

I was sitting on my bunk, bend over sorting through my luggages when I heard a slight swish followed by a head poking through the curtain. He gave me a shy smile and scrambled up my bed after I gave him an encouraging smile. He thrust an iPad and gestured to it. I lean closer and with a happy sigh, he smile and gestured for me to play with him. Mindless, nonsensical, colourful. Time passed, a bond was build. No conversation was needed. The face that we both come from different places and didn't speak each other language didn't form a barrier. When it was time for him to leave, he sat there reluctantly. Not wanting the time to end. He look at me expectantly, waiting for me to say something. When I responded with a smile, he leaned over and gave a loud, wet, warm smack on my cheek. Feeling sheepish and without another look, he scrambled down and ran off.

Yes, I was kissed by an adorable 4-year old Thai boy. 

Lok & Lek, twin Thai boys en route to Kuala Lumpur with their mum was my one of many fellow sleeper bunks companions. Active, full of life, they scrambled up and down, charming everyone with their smiles. Of cos they were a handful and I have to admit that everyone (or at least me) gave a sigh of relieve when they settled down for the night. 

Kak Ida, a friendly mak cik from Melacca was travelling with her husband and daughter on business. During the 1 1/2 hour wait for the train, we shared interesting antidotes and views on business and life. 

Another Korean couple, was our neighbours. Quiet at first but was excited when they found out we are Christians. They spend quite some time talking with my dad on train and in Hat Yai. 

Those were just a few we meet on our trip up Hat Yai. There were so many others who each, I'm sure, carried interesting stories - like the Swedish family who walked around half-naked (the guys of cos), or the Malay guy who climb up his bunk and disappear behind the curtain for the entire trip, or even the 2 German girls who smiled from a distance. 

My first long-distance train ride was interesting, full of life. That's what I love so much about travelling. The memories and experience gained is irreplaceable.

Here's to many more train trips to come :)
* updated 27th January 2013

KTMB trains runs daily from KL Sentral to Hatyai. Train leaves KL Sentral at 9.20pm and arrives in Hat Yai at approximately 9.27am. We boarded the train from Sg. Buloh station which arrived almost an hour later. 

There is a stop over in Padang Besar for the Immigration where you have to go through both the Malaysian and Thailand customs. On the way there, we left our luggages in the carriage but on our return trip, we were asked to take all our luggages with us. On the way up north, we waited for about an hour before the train left the station, but on the way back, the wait was almost 2 hours due to some engine problem (yup, its very old). So be prepared to stand or sit, if you don't mind the dirty floors, for quite a long time. There is a small canteen with about 2 stalls if you are hungry, but we didn't try them as nobody (not even the immigration officers) seem to know what time the train is leaving and we didn't want to risk missing it.

If possible, pay extra for the bunk beds as the price is just a few ringgit more then the seats. There will be less people, its quieter and most of them foreigners. The seats carriages have more locals. And between stations from Perlis to Perak, the seating carriages will be packed with students standing as the standing tickets cost only RM7. 

Buy your tickets in Kuala Lumpur or online in advance. We tried to buy our return tickets when we arrived in Hat Yai but we managed to only get 3 bunk beds and 2 seats as there wasn't any left. Oh so we were told. Later we found out that they didn't want to sell to us as there are lots of tourists foreigners who uses the train to travel. Pisshhh... However its cheaper to buy tickets in Thailand.

BRING food on board. Cost of food from the cafeteria carriage is pricy. A cup of milo costs about RM4. Noodles and rice about RM8 - 10. 

Bunk beds have clean white and clean sheets. I see cleaners moving around to clean the place up. But toilets are horrible. Really really small, even for me and I am only 5 feet. Basin is just the size of a medium size bowl. Toilets are wet, smelly and dangerous. Especially the squat toilet. 

Cost of tickets for journey up north (Sg. Buloh - Hat Yai) : RM53 for upper bunk beds, RM58 for lower bunk beds
Cost of tickets for journey down south (Hat Yai - KL Sentral) : RM50 for bunk beds, RM48 for seats (approximately as we paid in Thai Baht)

Train table 

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