Saturday, December 10, 2005

Northward Bound

In a week's time, I will be travelling north to Malacca, a historic town in Malaysia. I am not driving, as most people who travel north are wont to do. Instead, I managed to persuade my fellow travellers to take the Railway. This railway line, from Singapore right up to Thailand, has been around for more than 50 years. It is operated by the Malaysia firm, Keratapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTM). Surprisingly, this old company has kept pace with technology and the internet. It allows customers to purchase its train tickets over the internet. It's website also shows train schedules to help the customer make purchase decisions.

What is amazing is that it is still quite affordable. A first class ticket to Malacca costs S$50 if you buy it from Singapore, and RM50 if you buy it from Malaysia. As RM50 is about half the value of the equivalent in Singapore dollars, you get an effective 25% discount on a two way ticket! But you must buy your tickets in two separate transactions.

This is certainly not the first time I will be travelling by KTMB train, but my memories of the first time wasn't pleasant. I remember then that I was squeezed like sardine into the rail car and had to stand for the entire duration of the journey, which, thankfully, was a short one. Hopefully, this time, the journey will be more comfortable, although I found out that the first class rail car is fully booked. That means that the toilet will be fully used. Given that this service is not operated by Singapore Airlines, there is some trepidation that the 4 hour journey may not be entirely pleasant, toilet-wise. Better visit the toilet just before departure...