The person didn't give me permission to take the photo so I gave him sunglasses.

FAQ Tips on taking train from Singapore to Malaysia

The original post Tips on taking train from Singapore to Malaysia brings the most search traffic to my post. It’s been more than a year since the post went up and thanks for your support.

Besides encouraging comments, I’ve also gotten A LOT of questions about this particular train route. Some questions were stuff I didn’t think about when I was writing the post while others were questions about stuff I’ve already mentioned in the post (this drives me nuts).

Instead of answering the repeated Qs, I’ve gathered the questions here.

1. Where can I book train tickets from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur?
2. My online booking didn’t go through. HELP!
3. I picked Kuala Lumpur as my destination, why isn’t there a night train?
4. Is it safe to travel on the Malaysian train?
5. How do I get to [location in Singapore]?
6. Where do I board the train at Johor?
7. Is there food at JB train station? (No one asked me this, actually.)
8. On the online booking, If I am coming to Singapore, which KTM train stop should I stop?
9. How do I get to JB’s train station from the rest of Singapore?
10. How much is the price of bed/seat/chamber/narnia’s closet?
11. How do I get to Bangkok on train?
12. Hey! Your post is about Singapore to Malaysia. But I’m in Malaysia, how do I get to Singapore by train?
13. Do they still give blankets for the common carriage?
14. I need to get to [location in Malaysia], can you help?

FAQ begins here! I hate the formatting too!

1. Where can I book train tickets from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur?
If you are booking online, the link is https://intranet.ktmb.com.my/e-ticket/Login.aspx Sign up for an account and you can check past reservations.
You can also visit the train stations to buy the tickets but I don’t recommend doing that for night trains.

2. My online booking didn’t go through. HELP!
Check your bookings in your account. I’m not sure what the phone number for KTMB is.

3. I picked Kuala Lumpur as my destination, why isn’t there a night train?
Pick Sentral Kuala Lumpur, not Kuala Lumpur (which is one stop after KL Sentral).

4. Is it safe to travel on the Malaysian train?
Have you watched too many wild wild west movies? I don’t think there are any robbers ambushing the trains. It’s safe.

5. How do I get to [location in Singapore]?
Check out http://gothere.sg/ or https://maps.google.com.sg/.

6. Where do I board the train at Johor?
Johor train station. Map here (click to enlarge):

7. Is there food at JB train station? (No one asked me this, actually.)
There is a 24-hour KFC. A Starbucks is open until 10pm (I think).

8. On the online booking, If I am coming to Singapore, which KTM train stop should I stop?
Pick Woodlands. This isn’t the Woodlands MRT, it’s a KTM train station near Woodlands MRT.

9. How do I get to JB’s train station from the rest of Singapore?
If you are at Bugis, you can head to the Queen Street terminal where there are buses to JB. There are also Causeway Link buses to JB from Kranji and Newton.

* Woodlands train station is at the checkpoint. It is different from Woodlands MRT.

10. How much is the price of bed/seat/chamber/narnia’s closet?
It’s best to check directly on the site. https://intranet.ktmb.com.my/e-ticket/Login.aspx

11.How do I get to Bangkok on train?
I’ve never taken the train from Singapore to Bangkok (but it’s on my wish list!) So check out the wonderful Seat61: http://www.seat61.com/Malaysia.htm#Singapore_-_Kuala_Lumpur_-_Penang_-_Bangkok

12. Hey! Your post is about Singapore to Malaysia. But I’m in Malaysia, how do I get to Singapore by train?

Just reverse engineer my tips for Singapore to KL. Pick Sentral Kuala Lumpur as your starting point and Woodlands as your destination.

13. Do they still give blankets for the common carriage?

They didn’t have the thin sheet the last time I was on the morning sleeper to Singapore.

14. I need to get to [location in Malaysia], can you help?

Unfortunately, I come from Sabah so I am clueless about travelling in Peninsula Malaysia (unless I did research on it for a trip). Please check out the rest of the internet.

Batu Caves

Too many stairs at Batu Caves

I finally crossed out Selangor on my Visit Malaysia list during February when I also visited Genting Highlands.

From Genting Highland’s cable car station, there is a bus to Gombak which is the nearest stop to Batu Caves. We caught a RM10 cab to Batu Caves. The driver was reluctant to drop us directly in front of the entrance so we had to cross the jammed streets.

The sun was blazing hot when we got to the entrance. The steep stairs to the main caves looked daunting. But since we were there, we had to trek up.

Before climbing the stairs, Lilian said her colleagues teased her for not visiting Batu Caves during Thaipusam. I gave her a look of horror. I do not want to be caught with the Thaipusam crowd of (an estimated) 1.3 million people.

Path to Batu Caves

Path to Batu Caves

I had wanted to count the 272 steps while I climbed. However, at halfway of the journey, my mind gave up and concentrated on breathing instead.

While we paused for breath, we saw many devotees with freshly shaved heads (is that the right description?). There were also those with tins of chilled milk carried on the top of their heads.

As soon as we reached the top, I requested that we stay on the spot and catch our breath. We were still carrying our backpacks from Genting Highland, so my felt like it was going to snap in half

TOO MANY STEPS! Batu Caves

TOO MANY STEPS! Batu Caves


After catching our breath, we checked out the Dark Caves. We were too stingy to pay for the 3-hour tour so we sat at the benches watching monkeys.

The monkeys at Batu Caves were not afraid of humans. One even slapped the water bottle out of a tourist’s hand and drank it like a human. Another monkey lapped up spilled water.

We also saw monkeys ignoring offerings of bananas and choosing cakes instead. I’m not sure how that would affect its diet. Are monkeys (or even humans) supposed to eat sugared cakes?

Monkeys at Batu Caves

Monkeys at Batu Caves


After all that resting, it was time to leave. Getting down 272 steps is easier than going up but we still had to wave through a sea of tourists. Help!
Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Nitty Gritty

Nearest station: Batu Caves Komuter station

Have you been to Batu Caves?

River seen from door of Jungle train

Heading to Malaysia’s East Coast

It’s been more than a year since I made the promise to visit all 13 Malaysian states. Now, I have only two states to conquer.

Can you believe it? I didn’t really think it was possible when I made the goals but here we are with only Pahang and Terengganu left on the list.

Good news is, I’ll be crossing out these two states very soon. D and I have made plans to head to the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia and visit the towns in the two states.

Next Friday night, I’ll be taking a night bus to Kuantan. The rest of the plans have not been confirmed but our general plan is to head to Kuala Terrenganu and back to Kota Bahru.

From Kota Bahru, we will take a morning train back to Singapore. The train route is known as the Jungle Line and has a great view. I’m looking forward to the magnificent view but not the 14 hour train ride on a seat.

I haven’t discussed the itinerary with D but I’ll list a few interesting places which I hope to check out.

Pahang

Kuantan

When I was in primary school, I did a project on Kuantan but I still get it mixed up with Kelantan because the name sounds so similar.

Kuantan is famous for its nature stuff like beaches and waterfalls. I’m not sure how much nature we would be seeing but it’s a good-to-know.

State Mosque, Kuantan

State Mosque, Kuantan

Image credit: Phalinn Ooi

Pekan

When I first found out about Pekan, I was very amused by its name. In Malay, “pekan” means town. And this town’s name is Pekan. Imagine a town called town. Haha!

After I calmed down, I read a little more about Pekan (on Wikipedia). Turns out, it’s the royal town of Pahang and the hometown of our current prime minister (which means this place gets a lot of perks!)

Masjid Sultan Abdullah, Pekan, Pahang

Masjid Sultan Abdullah, Pekan, Pahang

Image credit: Shamsul Liza

Terengganu

Poor Terengganu, despite having so much land, it is most famous for its islands and beaches (which isn’t too bad, I guess).

Kuala Terengganu

The state museum is said to be really good. (I’m still hurting from the not-that-awesome museum in Alor Setar.)

Terengganu State Museum

Terengganu State Museum

Image credit: macloo

I am interested in the Chinatown. Terengganu is one of the muslim dominant states, I’m curious how the Chinese community lives. (This brings back memories of the kopitiam in Perlis where the shopowner was Chinese and the stalls owner was muslim. I couldn’t figure out their living arrangements.)

Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

Image credit: kayb_82

Jungle Rail

The train ride to end all train rides in Malaysia. (Is that how you use the phrase?)

River seen from door of Jungle train

River seen from door of Jungle train

You know what long train rides mean? PICNIC!!

Image credit: Albert Freeman

Have you been to Pahang and Terengganu? What do you recommend doing there?

Genting First World Hotel

Tips to maximize your trip to Genting

First World Hotel, Genting

Genting Highlands is a hill resort located about an hour away from KL Sentral. It’s popular among gamblers who visit the casino and families who visit the theme park.

[Note to Singaporeans, Genting is not pronounced “jen-ting” like “generation”. It’s more like “guh-n-ting”. Here’s an audio clip here.]

Purchase Genting Go pass at major bus terminals

Go Genting Pass

If you are heading to Genting for a day trip or for even for an overnight stay, do consider getting the Go Genting Golden package.

The package is sold at various important locations: KL Sentral, Pudu Sentral, 1Utama, Terminal Gombak and Hentian Kajang. (The package is RM58 for the first four departure locations and RM63 for the last.)

The package gives you same-day return bus transfer, same-day return cable car and either an Outdoor Theme Park ride pass or buffet lunch.

Considering that the 1-Day Unlimited Ride Pass for Outdoor Theme Park is RM54 for adults, the package is really bang for your buck (or ringgit, in this part of the world).

Plus the cable ride is amazing.

Cable ride to Genting Highlands

Be flexible with Go Genting pass

Even though there are various time slots, the Go Genting packages can be sold out for certain timings. (Most likely the early morning slots from popular departure points such as KL Sentral.)

This happened to us. We were at KL Sentral before 8am and there was a sign saying that the next bus will leave at 12.30pm because earlier tickets were sold out.

Instead of heeding the taxi drivers’ advice to take his car, I called up the Pudu Sentral ticket counter and checked that they have tickets for 8.30am. We bought a taxi coupon from the official point and zipped to Pudu, with plenty of time to spare for our ride.

Go early and get back before last bus

Queues at the theme park can get long on weekends. To be sure that you can test out all the rides before sundown, go as early as possible.

Similarly, you don’t want to be stranded up on the mountain with no bus back to KL. Check the bus timing!

Book a room on Saturday

If you are staying at the hotel for a night, choose Saturday because the park closes at 10pm then.

I didn’t know of this when I booked the room and found out only when we were there. It was a very pleasant surprise. We ended up leaving only after 9.30pm.

Check in early

First World Hotel check in kiosk

IF you do book a room, you don’t have to wait until 3pm to check in for First World Hotel.

The self-check in kiosks allow you to check in rooms that are available. They even have a sign with the number of available rooms.

Bring your own food or instant noodles

Hot water for instant noodles

Food at Genting is expensive. If you want to save money, bring your own food.

Consider bringing instant noodles. You can get hot water when you go up the hotel room floors.

Eat at food court

Kopitiam Foodcourt

At First World Hotel, head to to 2B where there is a Kopitiam food court.

The claypot stall sells fairly reasonably-priced food that is quite tasty.

Do you have other tips for Genting? Share in the comments.

Yee Shang, yusheng

Glutton at Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year! Yes, CNY does not end until the 15th day.

This week’s FoodFriday features a special Chinese New Year edition of the Glutton Series.

For this banquet, we’ll have home cooked meals prepared for reunion dinners and a special “lou sang” dish that involved violent chopstick movements.

First course is the CNY eve reunion dinner at my aunt’s place. Every year on Chinese New Year eve, the extended family gathers for a meal.

This year, the table was overflowing with food (as usual) because many brought multiple dishes. I think my family brought the least as we only had my mom’s famous salted duck and a plate of salted vegetable.

Chinese New Year eve reunion dinner

Not included in the photo is two types of soups (one without chicken as my dad is allergic to chicken) and steamed fish.

Because the main dining table had limited space, I was assigned to the children’s table. The “youngest” person at the children’s table will be 19 years old this year.

Auntie’s place for lunch

  The next day, we were invited to a friend of mom’s place for a lunch gathering. The auntie (a title we use to call an elder woman) is a great cook and she made an amazing lunch.

Chinese New Year food

We had dumplings (a traditional Chinese New Year food). There was roast duck and roast pork which can be found in many Malaysian Chinese outlets.

The fish eggs dish is interesting. The auntie mixed fish eggs with chicken eggs and pan fried it in a rectangular skillet. The tiny fish eggs are snugly wrapped in a coat of eggs. Yummy.

Soup was winter melon soup with meatballs.

We ate all this accompanied with rice. My stomach was stretched almost to the maximum.

Last course: Yusheng

It’s quite alright for adults to have food war during Chinese New Year. The photo below shows Yusheng.

It’s a medley of food, put into a large plate while the server reads incantations (not really, just “auspicious wishes” ). The eaters then violently toss the ingredients with chopsticks.

Yusheng

I’ve never had this dish when I was in Sabah. It was until I began work that I am invited to Chinese New Year luncheons and I participate in the violent act.

After mixing, the dish is sourish with shred of turnip being the main taste.

What’s your favorite Chinese New Year dish? Share it in the comment section below.

Related Chinese New Year links :

How Malaysians celebrate Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year lantern

Today is Chinese New Year eve, the second most important day of Chinese New Year (CNY).

CNY eve dinner is an important time for family to gather together, eat good food and be nagged by elders. [Note to YQ: Do not be a patronizing aunt when you grow up.]

Enough bitterness, I want to share a two-part series of collaborative posts to mark CNY.

Early this week, I asked on Facebook for information on how different people celebrate Chinese New Year in different countries. For the feature, I was planning to have many Chinese folks in different countries to talk about their traditions.

Unfortunately, not many random strangers on the internet took up the challenge. I guess this might also be a good thing since it makes the post more cosy.

How Malaysians overseas celebrate CNY

First up is Max Yam from maxayam.blogspot.sg. Max is a fellow Sabahan who lives just a 5 minute car ride away from my house.

On Facebook, he commented

To wanderers like us, Chinese New Year is about travelling, travelling home, and leaving home again… again and again… we seem to appreciate ‘home’ when we are away, but we are getting blur about the meaning of ‘home’ eventually…

His note struck a chord with me since I felt homeless for a period of time even though I had a permanent place to lay my head both in Malaysia and Singapore.

How my family celebrates CNY

Since CNY is about the family, I will share what my parents, my sister and I do during CNY.

On CNY eve, it’s the obligatory CNY reunion dinner. I am thankfully seated at the children table where there is less drama.

After our meals, my uncle will give his words of wisdom to anyone who’s listening, interjecting his sentences with, “You understand what I’m saying?”.

Other relatives will politely ask me what my job is even though we’ve been through this for many years. At the end, everyone gathers for a group photo.

On CNY proper, my family heads to the Buddhist temple to pray. Based on the traffic jam and the madness of looking for parking, I think it’s really auspicious to visit the temple on the first day.

Next stop is the KK branch of Tzu Chi. My other uncle and his family are devoted members of the charity/group. My family hangs around, eating some noodles and peeling oranges.

There is usually a lion dance as well.

I then spend the rest of the CNY period visiting other family friends or relatives. Oh, we also receive angpow (red packets) from married people. Hurray for the singles!

Chinese New Year is supposed to last until the 15th day. However, in the modern world, we only get two days of public holiday.

How do you celebrate Chinese New Year?

Genting Theme Park at night

Fun at Genting Theme Park at night

Carousel at night

Carousel at night

Do you know that Genting Theme Park’s outdoor facilities close at 10pm on certain days? (Saturday, Malaysia School Holiday* & Eve of Public Holiday to be precise.)

I was staying at the First World Hotel next to the Outdoor Theme Park and took advantage of the late closing hour.

At around 7.30pm, my sister, L and I went back to the theme park after eating our instant noodles.

Genting that night was cold and foggy. Not all of the facilities were open.

L wanted to have a go on the Go Kart but the queue was closed off. It might have been a good thing because by the time the queue ended, it was too foggy to drive on the little motor-powered vehicle.

Instead, my sister and I went on the Corkscrew ride twice in a row. With the sky gray and foggy, it was less scary.

We tumbled around the tracks in the safety of our harness. Throughout the ride, I was shouting incomprehensible things such as “Maaaaaa! Maaaaaaaaa!”

Our next stop of the pirate ship.  When we were queuing, a boy was in front of us. We plotted to sit at the very end, even if the boy was going to sit there.

However, when the time came, the boy stood his ground and said: “This row is for family.”

Fine! You assertive little boy!

We sat at the second last row. When the ride ended, we waited for them to leave before going to the last row.

Bumper boats go bump!

Bumper boats go bump!

We also went on the bumper boats. I couldn’t steer my ship and ended up floating around.

It was very foggy when we were paddling around. I could only see hazy lights coming from the spotlight. Even the final alarm ring sounded far away.

We ended up on more kiddie rides. At the swing ride that spins, the operator made the ride longer and faster. We sat on it twice until we felt dizzy and slightly nauseous.

The children spaceship rides were mild and quite good for photo opportunities.

Travelling on a spaceship at Genting Theme Park

Travelling on a spaceship at Genting Theme Park


This photo reminds me of Flight of the Conchord’s David Bowie.

Advantages of visiting Genting Theme Park at night

  • There is no queue at all the rides.
  • The weather is less sunny (duh!) which is good if you don’t like sunblock.
  • There is not much people with you on rides. It means you can scream and shout.
  • You can go for second rounds right after your first.

Disdvantages of visiting Genting Theme Park at night

  • Most rides are closed when it gets too foggy.
  • It’s very very cold.
  • Closing hour is near.

As you can see, the advantages of being at Genting Theme Park at night outweighs the disadvantages. What are you waiting for? Go!

Have you been at an amusement park at night? How was it?

temples

5 places of worship I visited while travelling

I’m not a very religious person although I do visit a Buddhist temple from time-to-time.

Since I am not bounded by a strict religion, I like to visit churches and temples when I travel.

The places of worship are usually peaceful and beautiful. Usually…

Sagrada Familia @ Barcelona

Sagrada Familia @ Barcelona

Sagrada Familia @ Barcelona

Work in progress. The inside is actually prettier than the outside.

Tokyo Daijingu @ Tokyo

Tokyo Daijingu @ Tokyo

Tokyo Daijingu @ Tokyo

This place is supposedly great for praying for romance. Has it worked for me?

Church of Scientology @ San Francisco

Church of Scientology @ San Francisco

Church of Scientology @ San Francisco

Pretty on the outside…

Candi Sewu @ Prambanan

Candi Sewu @ Prambanan

Candi Sewu @ Prambanan

Candi Sewu is actually nicer than its more famous neighbor.

Masjid Kampung Kling @ Melaka

Masjid Kampung Kling @ Melaka

Masjid Kampung Kling @ Melaka

A mosque with the most unique roof I’ve seen since I was familiar with the onion domes. (Apparently, I’ve not visited enough mosques.)

Journey to the TIp of Borneo

Journey to the Tip of Borneo

When I was back home for my 10-day holiday in Sabah, the only tourist attraction I visited was the Tip of Borneo. It is publicized as the most Northern point of the Borneo island.

Getting there was no easy even with our own car. The road signs were very lacking.

3G connection was bad and we had to rely on our inner GPS to guess which road to take when at a junction.

Road to Tip of Borneo

Along the way, we saw a lot of oil palm tree plantations. The plantations were thick with oil palm trees with their evil-looking pointy leaves.

There were also coconut trees which looked like they were beheaded and left with pointy tree stumps.

On our way, we passed by several homestay houses that didn’t look as comfortable as a city person wants. But if you want to be able to see the beautiful sea during evey waking moment (only that and not much else), I suppose staying at the Tip of Borneo area is good.

After several turns and windy roads, we reached the seaside. The weather that day was great. The sun was bright but not too hot and the sky was clear with only some clouds.

The Tip was at the very end of the road and we had to park our car. There was an uphill slope that we needed to climb before we were at the edge.

Coastline of Tip of Borneo

Visitors of the Tip of Borneo

We reached the Tip of Borneo at around 10am. I was surprised to see that many people were already there and some just about to go back. What time did they leave their house/hotel to come here so early?

We also saw a TV production team with a TV host in a red T-shirt, a couple taking wedding photos (stunning view) and a few lovebirds.

Visitors of the Tip of Borneo

As usual, there was a large globe-thing with words like “YOU ARE AT THE TIP OF BORNEO. NOW GET A COOKIE” so people can remember where they actually were when they look back at the photos. “Hmmm…this stone looks like the one in Sandakan, or was it Kudat?”

Postcard from the Tip of Borneo

The actual Tip of Borneo is a protruding rock surface which is half-heartedly fenced off with a small wooden road block that said: “DANGER” in Malay.

Mom and I played it safe and didn’t walk down, although I would have if I were with friends.

We listened to the waves crash and the cicada sing as we stared at the very end (or beginning) of the Borneo island.

Have you been to the Tip of Borneo?