10:15 (Malay time)
There’s another rolling blog from me today as I’m on the move again. It’s time to say goodbye to KL and begin the trek back towards Singapore ready for my flight back to the UK on Saturday. Shortly, I’ll begin my journey from Pasir Seni to KL Sentral to catch train EG9321, the 12:10 to Gemas, which is the junction for the ‘jungle railway’ up the East Coast to Tumpat. It’s also the present limit of electrification so it’s where I change to a diesel-hauled service which will take me down to Johor Baru.
I’ll blog throughout the day, so feel free to keep popping back and see how the trip goes. I won’t get to JB until late this evening which means there’ll be plenty to write about…
The journey to KL Sentral was easy. The MRT station at Pasir Seni was only a couple of hundred yards away from my hotel.
From there it’s one stop to Sentral which despite it’s size, is hardly a busy station as there’s so few trains at the moment due to the Klang valley double tracking project having such an impact on capacity. There’s also acres of wasted space.
Sadly, KTM have gone down the airline route of corralling passengers in waiting areas, only letting them down onto the platform a few minutes before the train’s due.
When my train turned up it was stopped short on the long platform to allow departing passengers off first. I then crawled forward to pick up the next load. Us! I can sort of see the logic in this but when you consider how most railway work this does seem a time-consuming faff.
Now I’m on-board ETS 204. One of the earlier CRRC sets built in 2014.
A few minutes ago we left Seremban. It’s the furthest point on the KL commuter network and home depot for the SCS trainsets. It also retains one of the old station buildings, which makes it a rather attractive place.
Despite our late departure from KL our train had no trouble making up time and delivered us to Gemas spot on 14:50. It’s a cross-platform Interchange here so I went from this…
We’ve just stopped in the middle of nowhere to let a Northbound service pass. Whilst the track has been doubled at the MP 642.75 (just North of Paloh) it hasn’t been fully commissioned and only works as a passing loop. It was a great location to stop as the rather nice house on a hill was nearby, surrounded by new palm oil plantations.
23:30 (Malay time).
Apologies for the blogging gap. It’s been for several reasons One was because I was too busy watching the world go by, and the second was that my Singaporean friend Nicholas Lim had travelled up to Kluang to join me on the trip down to Johor Baru! What I’d missed whilst I was in KL was that the state of Johor had been hit by torrential rain this week which has led to extreme flooding. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve never known it as wet this time of year, but Johor really has copped for it. When we left Gemas I saw sights around the railway like this. Low-lying land totally under water. Thankfully the railway has been rebuilt and raised otherwise there’s no way I’d have got back to Singapore by land.
Fortunately, the floods were subsiding and the weather was picking up, so I could snatch the occasional picture from an open train door, although this crew were rather strict about me doing so.
Nick joined me at Kluang. As we’d seats reserved in different coaches we adjourned to the buffet car where we could sit together. Now, I know Mark (the man in seat 61) recommends independent ticketing companies where you pay a fee, but I’d heartily recommend the KITS app from KTM. Not only is it so easy to use but you get to choose your seat (the others don’t let you) you also get to see just how many seats are available on the train you’re looking at. Plus, you get instant confirmation that you have a ticket and you can download it straight away, or just save it in the app.
We had a great journey, with Nick giving me some very interesting historical andbackground info on Malaysian railways operations. At JB we parted company until tomorrow. I’m back in the hotel I stayed in when I first arrived but I have to say it’s not what I first experienced. I’ve now got a crap room on the 5th floor which is lacking so many things – a flushing toilet being one of them! If I was staying for more than one night I’d be kicking up merry hell, but it’s literally just a place to crash for the night. Johor Baru’s an odd place. You’d think it would be trying to mirror Singapore on the other side of the causeway – and in some (foreign investment) ways it does, but it also feels really seedy. Looking at my hotel I’m surprised they don’t rent rooms by the hour. There’s a few very unattractive ‘ladies of the night’ hanging around the main drag, although I suspect ladies may be too gender specific. There’s a backstreet off the main drag called Jalan Meldrum (no, really!) which seems to have the most life as one side of the street’s lined with restaurants. I did escape my hotel for an hour and had a rare (and bloody expensive) beer so that I could watch the world go by. Like everywhere in Malaysia all the different communities mixed freely, but it’s not a patch on Georgetown.
Anyways. I’m off to nice, clean and even more expensive Singapore tomorrow. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the place – far from it. When I’ve been travelling the backwaters of Asia it was always a great place to dip into for a few days. I christened it ‘the land where everything works’ (even in the cheap seats). It’s just all a little more safe and sanitised.
Time to bring this blog to a close. I’m going to be up early as there’s a lot of pictures I want to get before catching the 11:30 shuttle train across the border to Woodlands.
I’ve a small favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course – although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab! – but the revenue from them helps me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website – https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/
Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312