It leaves the Tanjoon Pagar train station at 8:00 a.m. I was excited to experience a new country and I hadn’t been to a Muslim country in years. As soon as you stepped into the train station you felt like you were already in that different country even though you were still technically in Singapore. But that orderliness, cleanliness, and efficiency (that was driving me crazy) was certainly gone. We had already entered Malaysia in downtown Singapore.
When we got to the channel that separates Singapore from Malaysia (in about 15 minutes) where we had to stop the train, get off, and go through the process of exiting Singapore. Then back on the train we went for about 5 minutes across the causeway and we were in Malaysia where we immediately stopped. I think this is where I messed up (along with all the other foreigners in my car). I’m assuming I was supposed to get back off the train there and go through Malaysian immigration at this first stop but since the only announcement made was done in Malay, I didn’t quite get all the nuances (frankly, I guess I didn’t get any of the major points either now that I reflect back). So, here I am in a foreign country without a valid stamp in my passport. This was a little unnerving to me.
Really, there is not much more to tell. The train looks to be from the 40’s era although I think it might have been cleaned sometime in the early 60’s. The website leads you to believe there is a dining and bar car where you sit, chat, eat, and make new friends. There was no dining car. I didn’t have breakfast anticipating having a rousing time on the train. We don’t get to Penang until 10:00. I’m pretty screwed.
It continues to go for mile after mile, hour after hour through palm groves and tropical looking forest. We stop occasionally at little wayside villages (Kuala Lumpur is not really a wayside village), and we eventually make it to Butterworth station, an hour late. Oh, and finally around 5:30 pm they come around with a cart to sell food items. The lady who sold me mine must have thought I was crazy when I asked how much she wanted for everything on the cart. I was almost serious.