Thursday, November 27, 2003

Night Trains

Night Trains

For many years, I used to take the shuttle flights to commute at least once a month between Singapore and KL. But during my last year working in Singapore, I switched to taking the KTM train service between the Lion City and KL. It was great fun.

I particularly enjoyed taking the night train, Senandung Malam from Singapore to KL and vice-versa. From Singapore, the journey starts at 10pm and the train lumbers through the night, arriving at Sentral, KL at 6.30 early in the morning. If you get a sleeping berth, you get to go to bed at ten and wake up in KL when the city is just stirring and people are just going to work. No time is wasted, even though it is an eight-hour long journey.

I would normally take the lower berth, and with my portable reading light, I'd sink into a good read. Of course, Theroux is the best companion. At certain stretches of the journey, the train would rumble on pretty swiftly and the compartment would become too shaky for reading to be comfortable; it would then be time for me to switch on my Walkman and listen to an audiobook--usually poetry. I would fall asleep with the soothing verses of Yeats, Hardy and Rupert Brooke murmuring in my ears.

Every now and then I'd be awaken by the clank of the train stopping at strange places with names like Mengkibol or Batang Benar, shrouded in the eerie glow of lights from the station and engulfed in the cacophony of nocturnal insects. Arriving at KL Sentral is always a very pleasant experience--one is enlivened by the cool spanking newness of the place and from there it is so convenient and easy to hop on to the KTM Komuter or Putra LRT to your final stop in the Klang Valley.

On my return journey back to Singapore, I used to enjoy taking trains all the way from my home in Subang Jaya to my place then in Bishan, Singapore. I'd take the KTM Komuter from Subang to Sentral at Brickfields and then jump into bed on the night train and allow myself to be teleported to the KTM station at Tanjung Pagar, Singapore. From there I would take a ten minute walk to the Tanjung Pagar MRT station and ride the subway to the Bishan station.

How I miss those KTM rail journeys to and from Singapore: the blur of nightscape whizzing past my window, the bare cozy comforts of my sleeping berth and the slow chug-chug lullaby of the locomotive--ah, I could sleep forever on those night trains.

No comments: