Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Train trip 2 - Singapore to KL (Sleeper)

If you have read my Train trip 1 post then you have been forewarned about how inconvenient to travel overnight by train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur on second class seater. Of course, the experience would be different if you travel by day.

However, a straight forward overnight train trip by sleeper class is another story. I know it won't be as comfortable as sleeping on hotel's bed but I believe it is worth the experience.

Last time, I tried to reserve a sleeper class ticket one day before my departure. Unfortunately, only seater class was available. All sleepers have been reserved already. It was a mistake on my part and I told myself that next time I'd be prepared.

Thus, as early as 16 Nov, I reserved a sleeper slot for an overnight train from Woodlands (Singapore) to KL Sentral (Malaysia). Even at this date, all lower berths were fully booked so I had no choice but to reserve an upper berth slot.

You need to register first on KTMB website before you can reserve or purchase a ticket. My trip was at 11:30 pm on 10 Dec. You may use the ticket generated by KTMB website for the actual trip. I learned it the hard way. Upon arrival at Singapore, I immediately went to KTM Woodlands office only to be told that I can use their web generated ticket; they won't issue another one.

I went to Woodlands Train Checkpoint by bus 911  from Woodlands MTR station. It was fast. It took me around 15 minutes to reach the place.

Unlike on my first train trip where the KTM staff provided the arrival card for Malaysian immigration, this time nothing was distributed.

At exactly 11:00 pm, the Singaporeans were really punctual, the gate on second floor opened for the passengers. Singaporean immigration formalities followed. Upon reaching the Malaysian side, due to unknown reasons, arrival cards were not available at queuing area. The Malaysian immigration provided us with a stamped empty arrival card and asked us to fill it up before exiting Malaysia. In addition, if you are a first timer in Malaysia, they would scan your finger print for their database.

After the immigration, you may now board the train. Picture taking is not allowed within this area.

My ticket showed M7 place 25. So I searched for coach M7 and looked for upper berth number 25. I was super excited.

Many passengers were still undergoing Malaysian immigration procedures while others would board at Johor Bahru train station. If I have less luggage, I would travel to Johor Bahru by bus and take the train to KL from there because it was cheaper and priced in Ringgit.

Upon reaching JB train station, some sleeper class passengers boarded the train. Shortly after leaving JB station I noticed that all sleeper berths were full which mean that those passengers waiting at remaining stations on our way to Kuala Lumpur were all seaters class passengers.

The temperature was not as cold when I traveled last time. Hence, I have no use of my hoody anymore. It was better to be prepared though.

Upper berth is less than a meter in width. I had several bags and two laptops with me thus my sleeping space was a little bit tight. The lower berth is a bit wider. For bulkier guys, they would feel cramped at upper berth. My height is 5' 7", I think the maximum height of a person that can use this upper berth comfortably is 6 feet. Anyway, that's not my problem.

The pillow was firm and thick. It was comfortable when you are in fetus position but when lying flat, my head was bit bend forward so I didn't use it. I chose to sleep on my back.

All the lights remained switched on during the trip. You can have your privacy when you close the curtains but better do it after passing Johor Bahru since the ticket inspector will do his round after the train has passed JB. He would open your curtain and demand your ticket. After that, he won't bother you anymore.

After the inspection, you can now enjoy the trip. In my case, I listened to Bon Jovi on my noise canceling SONY Walkman. There was also a switchable head lamp on the coach wall in case you need some lighting. It was nice that the curtains were thick enough to block the hallway lighting.

The trip was generally smooth aside from few railway bumps. I fell asleep for a few hours only. However, it was enough for my body to recharge.

I arrived the following morning at KL Sentral platform 1-2 at around 6:40 am . Last time, our train arrived at 7:00 am.

I emerged at KL Sentral level 2 and ordered brewed coffee at Dunkin Donuts. The cashier returned my Singaporean coins; my mistake. Luckily, I found some RM in my money bag. After my caffeine shot, I changed some USD to MYR and rented steel locker. Since I wasn't able to do my laundry while staying at newly opened Beary Best Hostel in Singapore, I brought my dirty laundry to Wash & Save shop, a self-service coin-operated laundry and drying shop located at the back of KL Sentral near 7-eleven. Just a mere 10 minutes walk.

I took my lunch at Old Town White Coffee at the ground floor of my Hotel KL Sentral. Prior to my check-in at Chinatown Boutique hotel (Petaling Street) I bought train tickets at KTM counters inside KL Sentral for KL Sentral - Butterworth - Bangkok sleeper class, both were lower berth. Train trip to Bangkok has returned to normal according to KTM staff; flood has receded.

If you would ask me whether I enjoy the trip, my answer is yes and I have decided to travel to Bangkok by train as well in a couple of days, sleeping for 2 nights on the road. I am glad I haven't booked yet an AirAsia flight to Bangkok which was my original plan.

Stay put for my next train trip 3 - KL to Butterworth to Bangkok.


Train trip 1 - Singapore to KL (2nd class seater)
Train trip 3 - KL to Butterworth (2nd class sleeper)
Train trip 4 - Butterworth to Bangkok (2nd class sleeper) 

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