Trains maybe NOT so great
29.05.2010 - 01.06.2010 32 °C
After breakfasting with a view of Petronas Twin Towers and The Kuala Lumpur Tower, I found the monorail and headed all across town to KL Sentral in order to book tickets, check e-mails and have lunch. What would I do without internet cafes? I was planning on visiting the KL Tower and Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve (in the centre of the city) on the return trip but the heavens opened and the thought of being up this huge tower in a thunderstorm did not appeal. The storm didn't stop the call to prayers which could be heard over the thunder and lightening - very plaintive.
My train from KL to Ipoh was scheduled for 3:00pm but was delayed an hour. As with Singapore station, there was a VIP lounge available to escape the heat. After leaving the new station, we stopped at the OLD station with the Heritage Hotel opening on to the platform. It looked very folorn and unloved, a reminder of the olden days. I now have to report that the Rakyat Express is NOT. We stopped at Tanjung Malim and were informed that the engine had blown up. People got quite flustered and it was very humid without any electricity. At 6:30pm, the engine was uncoupled and disappeared! A new engine didn't arrive until 9:00pm and the engineers took another hour to connect us up correctly. We finally set off again at 9:45 and got to Ipoh just before midnight - 5 hours behind schedule.
No trains, no buses, no taxis! A guy found me a taxi and we agreed the price for the 120Km drive to Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands - RM180 (40 pounds). Had to drive around town looking for an ATM - all closed! I agreed with Jamil that, if he came and got me in two day's time, I would give him a total of RM400 - why was he pleased? We had a very hairy drive up into the mountains and finally got to the hotel at about 3:00am when I just crashed.
Spent a lovely day visiting the various intensive farming schemes in the Highlands - what a unique area this is. The Heritage Hotel was very comfortable and you could just imagine the old boys on their verandahs with a G and T as the sun goes down. The old Brits used to come up to the Highlands to escape the heat and it works!
True to his word, Jamil arrived at 8:00am and took me back to Ipoh for the train to Melaka. I'll slow down soon and draw breath but it's been a fantastic adventure so far with people being so helpful and friendly.