Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bangkok to Butterworth

It seemed like weeks since I had got off the train at Saigon. In fact it was nine days without a train and way too many buses.

Seat61 mentions that here is occasional unrest on the border of Thailand and Malaysia but it occurs on the eastern side of the peninsula and not on the western side where I would be traveling.

The staff lined up beside the train. Believe it or not, they all had decorations and saluted the bloke in khaki when he had finished his pep talk. Then they broke into laughter.

I noticed that the rear carriage was a first class carriage but was not aware that it was available when I booked. The second class sleeper has an open plan with seats facing each other. At night, the upper berth drops down and curtains are put into place to give you privacy. I had asked for and received a lower berth,

The gang cleaning another train. My window was pretty clean so I was hopeful of some decent photos.

We started off on time but it took a long time to leave Bangkok. There were numerous stops and starts.

It is not all prosperity and high rise in Bangkok.

Now that is a cute engine.

It looked like Bangkok was about to open an extension to its public transport system.

The new stations. Some even had bunting put up.

The lout was back again with his feet up. The carriage was relatively empty but that soon changed as people boarded the train. In the background you can see the orange robe of a monk. He just seemed to roam around and sit anywhere.

After about an hour we finally got out into the countryside.

Some hills in the distance.

Dusk. A few minutes later, it was quite dark. The train was now quite full. A group of French speaking member of a kick boxing team from Mauritius were talking all the time and one of them was quite loud. When you are a compartment by yourself, it is usually much quieter. I pot on my headphones and listened music.

I had noticed on the Bangkok underground that Thai people are usually very quiet on public transport.

About 7 pm, the bloke opposite me asked to have his bed made up and shortly after, I did the same. I crawled in, shut the curtain and the outside world. Since this was not 'Some like it hot', Marilyn Monroe did not pop her head inside asking if she could join me.

I actually slept quite well, though I was somewhat tired. The heat and humidity really drain your energy so I was quite tired. At least the air-conditioning on the train worked well. The next morning was a different landscape. Southern Thailand is much more densely treed.

I think these are rubber trees. There were miles and miles of them.

The telephone and power wires were on my side of the train.

Notice how the houses are built on top of swampy water.

About 7 am, the train stopped and a vendor came through the carriage selling chicken. The bloke opposite me bought some so I tried one. It was still quite warm and was quite tasty. You always wonder what you are letting yourself in for when you eat street food.

Flat out.

Where Thailand sends its old engines to die. I wondered why they did not sell the metal for scrap.

I overheard my bnb host in BK talking to another guest about trash collection. A woman comes around and pays him to take away his trash. Apparently the trash has value and so people compete for your business.

The border between Thailand and Malaysia.

We all had to get off the train with our luggage. First we were checked by Thai immigration. Then it was the Malaysian's turn. They wanted both index fingers to be printed. Finally, a young Customs lady asked me to open my bags. She poked around a little and that was it. We then re-boarded the train that was reduced to two carriages.

More passengers got on as well, including about twenty young Moslem girls. Whereas in Thailand my seat and the one opposite were for one person per seat, now it was two people.

It was very obvious that Malaysia is a much richer country than Thailand. Most of the houses would not be out of place in Australia. 

It was now a dual track and the line had been electrified. I think they were still working on the electrification project because we were pulled by a diesel. It had a horn that sounded like a bad tempered elevator buzzer.

Beautiful countryside.

Palm tree plantations for the production of palm oil.


The whole route from the border to Butterworth had been upgraded. Even the station buildings were new.

The train pulled into Butterworth about 1 pm. Malaysian clocks are one hour ahead of Thai clocks. I found the ferry and got a ticket for about 50 cents.

Tourists don't stop at Butterworth but go across to the island of Penang

Bridge over the strait.

I found my bnb in Georgetown without too much difficulty after a short bus ride. My host gave me a good welcome and I downed a nice cold beer (Carlsberg). The air-conditioner works well and my nap lasted longer than usual. There is only one other guest who I just met as I went for a glass of cold water. She is from Switzerland and has already spent five months travelling around SE Asia. She got bitten by a mosquito and got dengue fever.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ray
    was nice to meet you! I wish you having nice train rides further south and a wonderful time in Australia!
    Small correction: it will be 5 month in total, only 2 left now ;)