Sunday, January 11, 2004

Journeys to Nowhere

Journeys to Nowhere

I haven't stop working since I came back from my trip. My holiday to Central Java was a rejuvenating one but the amount of work that I had put off now comes back to haunt me. Now I'm not sure if I can embark on a similar trip again this coming week.

Sometimes just making a trip to nowhere is great fun. I remember once taking the Express Timuran train from Singapore all the way to the last stop: Tumpat in Kelantan, near the Thai border. I wanted to see both ends of the line.

The Malaysian railway line originating from Tanjung Pagar in Singapore splits into two at Gemas to avoid the Main Range. Senandung Malam takes you to the busy towns on the West Coast of Peninsula Malaysia all the way to KL while Express Timuran, also known as the "jungle train" takes up to the less accesible small towns on the east side.

The Timuran Express starts its daily journey from Singapore at 10.20pm and arrives in Tumpat at around 10am. I took it on a Friday night after work. I slept well on the train and woke up early to have a good mee goreng breakfast in the buffet coach at 5.00am. For some reason, my appetite is usually good whenever I go on train journeys.

It was an enjoyable night ride--the train snaked its way through dense rain forests; at certain points the foliage crept so close to the tracks that one could even stretch out a hand and touch them.

There is no train station at Kota Bahru; passengers going there normally alight at the Wakaf Baru station. But I went all the way to Tumpat and from there I took a bus to Kota Bahru. I liked Kota Bahru--it is a quiet and charming town with good hawker food. The air was so fresh and the sea at Pantai Cahaya Bulan (formerly Pantai Cinta Berahi) strikingly blue. Spent a happy weekend there. I took the return journey back to Singapore from Tumpat on Sunday night, arriving in time on Monday morning for my weekly conference call with my Australian boss.

It was a weekend well-spent. I wish I could make more trips like that. I've been checking PT Kereta Api's timetables a lot lately...

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