A Travellerspoint blog

The longest train ride in the world!

sunny 33 °C

Now some people think commuting is a pain. Getting up at 5 or 6 and spending maybe 2 hours on a train. They may have a point, but if they want a real challenge they should try the Jungle line from Singapore to Tanah Merah in Northern Malaysia (practically in Thailand).... Due to our ticketing cock up we were forced to take the day train rather than the rather more appealing sleeper (which leaves at 6pm and gets in at 7am). The day train on the other hand leaves at 330AM and arrives at 6PM....a very long day indeed! The process was also made all the more stressful because, due to political complications, the station in Singapore is still owned by Malaysia. You therefore enter Malaysia BEFORE you've left Singapore! You then go through Singaporean immigration before finally crossing the border. Part of the complication is that the Malaysian border police do not stamp your passport, or provide you with a visa, you get that when you leave the country (ridiculously). So of course noone explained this to us, which made for a very stressed Susie for the entire journey, half expecting us to get thrown into a jail somewhere and be deported! Fortunately this is not the case....

The train itself was pretty fun. You get amazing views of the countryside and how "real" Malaysians live. It does go on FOREVER though but fortunately (and unsurprisingly) John managed to sleep pretty much the whole way. Susie didn't.

We finally arrived in Tanah Merah to be greeted by a rather pushy taxi tout and a suitably inept driver (more on this later) who assured us they'd take us to Khota Bharu where we would spend the night before going to take the boat in the morning for the Perhentian Islands. Upon arriving in Kota Bharu, after a drive of about an hour (much more than we had been expecting), we showed the driver the address and he semi-told us he didn't know where it was. Hurrah! NOT. He then proceeded to ask a random passer by who didn't know either, followed by a phone call to his friend, presumably the pushy one from earlier. He sent him in....well it was the wrong way to put it simply. We ended up on some country road in the dark on the way to an airport. God knows where we'd have ended up if it wasn't for us thrusting the phone number of our hostel in his hand and telling him to call it. As if we were in a monty python sketch, the hostel was completely the other direction and actually just a few roads from where we had turned onto the road to nowhere earlier! Eventually he found the way (after another call to the hostel, and his mate), practically threw our bags at us and was off into the night 80 ringgits richer but more than pissed off!

Fortunately the lady at the hostel, which was called Pad D (PADI?) was friendly and greeted us kindly (however she did tell us we'd got off at the wrong train station, a mix up by both of us, but not the end of the world). She told us we could get something to eat at the nearby night market so we headed there to fill our, now growling, stomachs.

The night market was down a dark alley (her reassuring words) and was a collection of stalls selling traditional Malay food, with not a drop of English in sight! A rather Taxi-stressed out Susie did not appreciated this forced cultural experience and sent John out to acquire something to eat. The busiest stall was inevitably the one without any signs, menus and, of all things BLUE rice! Of course John had to go there and "explore". He waited for a good 10 minutes until a rather burly woman said something along the lines of "go get that white boy some food2 in Malay. Soon I had blue rice and curry in hand (literally, because there was no cutlery anywhere). The food itself was amazing though! We even went back from seconds! (Irresistible at 5MYR (£1) a time!).

Finally we headed back to the hostel to get some kip, and to prepare ourselves for another day of travelling tomorrow! These islands better be worth it!

Posted by Susiep539 04:06 Archived in Malaysia Tagged taxi train malaysia jungle rice blue d line pad malaysian khota bharu

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