26 Jan 2010

by train to Singapore

Since it had been some time we hadn't seen Sophie, Repin and I decided to go over to Singapore to spend the weekend with Rizal and Poh Ling. To save time we decided to take the night train - we journey late in the evening and arrive early in the morning of the next day - Friday. So at least we'd have two whole days with them before going back to KL on Sunday.

I hadn't taken the train for ages - the last time was somewhere in the mid 90s when Sarah was just 5 years old. The compartment we were in was L5 and Repin had taken two sleeping berths, opposite each other. Surprisingly it was fairly comfortable. There was a narrow bed with a pillow and a blanket even! The coach was air conditioned so it was a very comfortable ride for only half the amount we normally paid for the bus fare - RM133 for two people, return. Is that cheap or what!

By the time the train moved out of the station I was already lulled by the slow undulating movements. Since this was the night train there was no buffet car and both Repin and I had stocked ourselves with drinks and snacks as well as books if we could not sleep. It was a long and slow journey, but if you have plenty of time it's a good one. The movement of the train and the sound of the engines had a kind of soporific effect and Repin said by the time we arrived in Seremban, I was already snoring away in dreamland!

Early the next day we arrived at the causeway and the Immigration checkpoint in Singapore. Before that the Malaysian Immigration officers had boarded the train in Johore and had checked our passports, so we only had to get our passports stamped by the Singapore Immigration. By 8 am we were already at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. I went to the toilets there to have a quick wash and comb my hair, then we had breakfast at the mamak stall inside the station. The food was quite delicious - capati with kheema and a mug of hot milk tea - teh tarik! Replenished and fresh we then walked out through the main hall and was pleasantly surprised to see that the main hall is really great. A high roof with large murals decorating the walls, it reminded me of the big station at Paddington. Indeed it was built during Queen Victoria's reign so the architecture is rather Victorian. What was even more surprising is the large sign on the front entrance - FMSR - Federated Malay States Railway - one of the few signs of British occupancy that had not been obliterated by our Malaysian government. This is a bit of history that should be preserved I think.

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