19 January 2011

48 Hours of Trains

After being in Singapore for two weeks it was time to get out and see some of Southeast Asia. What is the best way to see the most? A 48 hour train ride from Singapore to Bangkok with stops at Kuala Lumpur and Penang along the way.

Early Sunday morning we took off from Singapore's train station (which is due to close in July 2011) in our worn yet "luxurious" first class cars. After clearing Malaysian customs we were treated with six hours of jungles, construction and countless children waving at us.

Once we arrived at KL Sentral Station we collected the tickets for the rest of our journey. We had to get them in KL because of a strange system glitch in the Malay Rail System. Despite the fact the Singaporean train station is in the middle of Singapore, it is considered Malay property. When you buy the tickets there you get charged in the numeric amount of a ticket in Ringgit but in Singapore Dollars. So a ticket that would normally be 60 Ringgits in KL ($20) would cost S$60 ($40) in Singapore. Strange but true.

From there we took some time to see KL. The first stop was the Petronas Towers. It lived up to its expectations for the magnitude of its size. Additionally, the shops below met the expectation of making me feel poor. Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton,etc... Way too much cash for me. For there we walked to the KL Tower, and then to Lot 10. Lot 10 is a fairly fancy mall, however, the aspect that drew us there was the food court. When Lot 10 was created they invited 20 of the best street food vendors to open their shop within the food court. It was good for sure and we ended up with some very tasty beef noodles and green tea shaved ice.

After dinner we made our way back to KL Sentral and got in our private compartment for our trip to Penang and George Town.

At 4:45am we were awoken to find ourselves in Butterworth. At 5:30am we were then heading to George Town in Penang. Once we arrived we took the first bus to Kek Lok Si Temple on the other side of Penang. This temple is situated within an enormous complex with a giant statue of the Goddess of Mercy. Next, we strolled through the local market and then the unique streets of George Town. For lunch we stopped and got a dish of fish curry, banana cake and tea tarik for 60 cents per person.

It was then time for our last train from Butterworth to Bangkok. Unfortunately, since we were riding a on a Thai train, we were not able to upgrade to a private car. Rather, we ended up in a second class car which wasn't too bad (aside from the lights being on all night with people talking constantly). After 20 hours of seeing Malaysian and Thai countryside we arrived in Bangkok and got our favorite meal, Khao Soi!

It's been surprisingly cool here and I'll follow with more updates soon!

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