Continued from Pre Thailand – Laos Travel.
For the Malay Language, click here.
Travel Date: December 28, 2016
Location: Kuala Lumpur and Padang Besar (Perlis, Malaysia)
On the night of December 27, we did not get enough sleep. There are two reasons. Firstly, this is the first time we have traveled abroad as a family and secondly because worried if we missed the train.
The ETS train is too fast. The stop time at each station is only between 15-30 seconds except for a popular stations like KL Sentral, Ipoh and Alor Setar.
Our backpack is packed with all the necessary items that we had already inserted a week ago. Each of our items is weighted on a micro scaler. The reason because all the bags we are carrying are in the form of a backpack. If it is getting heavy, then it will be hard to carry if it’s overloaded. Even the travel iron we had is just a palm-size!
We got up at 3.00 am. After a shower, it was Aqif’s turn to get up and take a shower. He was so stunned to get up early. “Where are we going?” he asked. If it’s all about travel thing, Aqif likes it. He follows a hobby of adventure like his parents.
The ETS train departs at 6.29 am and we need to be at the Southern Integrated Terminal (TBS – or Terminal Bersepadu Selatan in the Malay language) by 5.30 am. To go to the TBS station, we will take Uber at 5.00 am from Bandar Sri Permaisuri. The terminal is not far and the fare is only MYR7.64. If our ETS is scheduled at 7 am and above, we will walk to the South Salak LRT station and continue to the TBS station. Unfortunately, the LRT service is only open at 6.00 am.
When we arrived at TBS, we got confused. What’s more, when we asked the security guard for help and showing him the ETS tickets, he suggested we go to the ticket counter. So, we went to the counter, but all were reserved for the bus. Hmm, he gave me the wrong information. Ok, I then asked the information counter. We need to go to the specific terminal for the train (which combines Commuter, ERL, LRT, and ETS). Wow, it’s hard to walk to the terminal, especially with a heavy backpack, almost 300 meters (328 yards), including a few staircases! We were again confused at the terminal because there was no direct signpost showing specifically for the ETS, LRT, Commuter or ERL route. We asked another security guard for help and he told us to enter a specific platform that I’ve already forgotten when writing this blog. We are allowed to enter the automatic door only after 6.00 am. So, we waited a little while in about 20 minutes out there.
After descending to the bottom platform, I looked for people who could point out the actual direction, either southbound or northbound. I looked for those who carried big bags because the rails are mixed with other types of trains. A Chinese man was going north as well and he verified the route. It’s our first time on the ETS train, plus a security guard on the platform told us that, “when the train arrived, you need to move fast, many passengers have been abandoned by the ETS train just because they late only for a few seconds.” Oh my god, it will be a significant loss if anyone missed the train, especially to us who travels with families with a total of MYR200 worth of tickets if it happens!
The train arrives, quite late in 5-6 minutes. We boarded the train and looked for a seat. Because one row has only two seats, Tatie and Aqif sat in one row, and I then sat in another row with a new acquaintance who boarded the train from Johor Bahru and then transited at Gemas (Negeri Sembilan) to take the ETS train.
Here is the interior of the ETS train. Kids, as usual, would not sit still. The same goes for Aqif, that’s what I’m worried about and both Tatie and I are sleepless. We are lucky because Aqif is not a whine-type kid.
I can’t sleep very well. So you might be asking me, what are the pillow that I’ve used? It’s a Muji’s pillow. It can be rolled into a U shape and also have a plastic buckle to lock.
The sun is rising, and we are presented with an exciting outdoor scene.
We’re very excited about this scenery. If I’m not mistaken, this is the Lake Raban area of Perak. The train seems to cut in the middle of the lake. However, it may be more interesting if viewed from above because the train will be seen as in the middle of an ocean.
Here’s how we put the backpack. We use Deuter Aircontact 55+10L (me) and Osprey Aura 50 AG (wife). We carry a light bicycle locks but did not use them here. On the ETS train, do not worry if you leave the bag (non-valuable items like clothes) and go to the cafeteria or toilets as each of the carriages has a CCTV camera installed in two places or directions. As long as you are holding your passport, money, phones and other valuable items with you securely in your possession, all will be good. About the bicycle lock, it’s also essential. We use to lock backpack when using the sleeper berth (Thailand old train) when traveling from Hat Yai to Prachuap Khiri Khan, which takes around 12 hours. Indeed the thief can cut the backpack harness, but at least it will give them more time to be identified as a thief by the crowd hehe.
The situation in the cafeteria. Through a chat with my new friend that sat beside me, he said that the waiting periods are almost half an hour! Maybe because only one ETS staff is on duty. The food price is nearly similar to the flight menus. The price for sandwiches and coffee is around MYR7.00. We did not buy any because we already brought food from home and for the sake of saving our pocket money. It is essential to save money as there are 11 more cities we need to visit. Therefore, the available balance of cash in hand is more important.
The video I captured inside the ETS train.
The view of Mount Keriang. That means the train has passed Alor Setar. Almost near to Padang Besar station, yeehaa !!
Because the passenger beside me stopped at Taiping station, I lay down for a while. He did not stop at Taiping station but Bukit Gantang station. Want to know why? Because the ETS train was too fast and stopped for less than 15 seconds in Taiping station and he missed. So, you should not be late. Except for the last station, such as Padang Besar, that for sure will stop more longer.
For your information, the air-conditioners in the ETS train are very cold. We can’t stand the coolness of it. A few older men walked from carriage to carriage because they couldn’t sit long, too cool. We almost open our Naturehike LW180 Sleeping Bag but canceled our intention because we needed to fold and roll it back into its bag when the train arrives at Padang Besar station in less than 30 minutes. Therefore, it’s easier to wear long stockings, shoes, and thick clothes if you plan to travel by ETS train.
We have arrived at Padang Besar station in Perlis! We were so excited that this was the first time we came here, although I am from the north (Penang) and quite close to Perlis. Before this, we often did carpacking. And now, we have covered the entire state in Peninsular Malaysia. Only Sabah and Sarawak have not been visited yet, maybe next time.
Beginning with this paragraph, I will guide you about crossing the border “manually” between Padang Besar (PB) and Thailand borders. Usually, when traveling from PB to Thailand, Malaysians (or travelers from Malaysia to Thailand) will take a shuttle train from PB to Hat Yai. However, the ETS train schedule is sometimes not in line with the shuttle train schedule. As a result, we have to wait up to 3 hours for the following schedule of shuttle train to arrive. Often, some travelers missed boarding the shuttle train.
Schedule for shuttle train from PB to Hat Yai only available two times a day (Malaysian time) at 9.55 am and 3.40 pm. Although there is a schedule in the morning, you should note that the ETS train, mainly from southern states, KL and central peninsular Malaysia, will take ETS early at 6.30 am from KL (for example). So, when arriving at 12.10 noon at the PB, for sure will miss the shuttle train in the morning. And have to wait for the following schedule at 3.40 pm.
Can’t wait for the shuttle train to arrive? Are you feeling diligent? Still full of energy? Wants more? Let us cross the border “manually” and abandon the shuttle train. After all, the fare per person for a shuttle train is THB80/person and the fare of “manual crossing” is only THB50 by public bus to Hat Yai. Best of all, children do not have to pay for the bus fares.
In contrast to the shuttle train, the children were charged. Can save time from having to wait 3 hours and 30 minutes. Follow the description in each of the pictures below and ideally suited for the first time.
After exiting the ETS train, follow the crowd and go upstairs (above picture).
After climbing the stairs, you will pass through this small gate. Here is also a shuttle train waiting area that will go directly to Hat Yai. There is also Malaysian immigration over there.
Then look for a pedestrian bridge shaped like a tunnel. It’s not complicated. You’ll see it as soon as you passed the little fence.
And keep walking on the long pedestrian bridge. Seriously, the distance is too far!
Did you spot the downstairs with the blue roof? Just ignore it and move on to the other stairs.
In the meantime, enjoy the scenery around the pedestrian bridge.
After stepping down from the pedestrian bridge stairs, ignore all middlemen that offered transportation services. Some of them are scammers and they offered up to MYR300 for a taxi ride to Hat Yai!! In short, all prices are ridiculous. Continue walking to the pedestrian lane on the left.
Go to the immigration checkpoint booth in front of you. For your information, this is Malaysian immigration.
It’s the same immigration checkpoint booth. There are a few people here as most of them travel by car.
Once out of the immigration booth, keep moving forward. Just follow the road to the right to go to Thailand’s immigration. Not far, just within 650 meters (710 yards). What? 650 meters with a heavy backpack?????
At first, we felt tired. But given that there is a Chinese family and a strong older woman walking, our spirits are constantly burning to continue walking. They carried a wheeled suitcase while we carried a backpack. Of course, it would help if you had a strong foot.
Arrived! Picture first.
We photoshoot again. Ok, this is important. Do not be like us. We went to the wrong side of the lane that is for “Thailand to Malaysia.” Supposedly, we need to enter the queue lane for “Malaysia to Thailand” on the right side, referring to my right shoulder as in the picture above.
Fill in all the arrival cards. Not booking any hotel and want to challenge yourself like us? Don’t worry, use Agoda or Booking app , choose any hotel name and address. Thailand immigration will not call the hotel and check your booking with them.
Then queue up here. Ignore the middleman who offers MYR15/person and is allegedly able to speed up the immigration process with the insider. We line up for less than 10 minutes. Do not forget to insert MYR1.00 into the passport. It’s not appropriate to ask why. Thailand’s immigration is excellent and nothing is trivial.
Taking a photo in front of the Thailand Immigration building. When we arrived here, as usual for a married couple, we would shake hands, congratulate each other, and raise our hands to “high five” together. Just like a friend, right? Yeah, she’s my wife and also my best friend.
Outside of Thailand Immigration, turn to the right and walk slightly will see a bus stop with a blue roof. So, wait there for a public bus to Hat Yai. Fares of THB50/person. It’s delightful to take a public bus as it is more challenging, closer to local people, can sightseeing around Padang Besar, Sadao town and then to Hat Yai city. The trip takes around 1.5 hours, including the heavy traffic to be passed in Hat Yai.
Continue to the next entry….. Thailand – Laos Travel: Day 1 – Part 2 – Journey By Bus to Hat Yai, around Hat Yai and Lee Garden Plaza.