BKK: The 1450km Train Ride To Bangkok

It has been a while since my last update on this blog. I was so busy for the last couple of weeks since I was backed from UK with both work and life. So I decided to give myself a break after such a long period of work. For this time, my destination was set to be Bangkok. Yea right, it is Bangkok again. This would be my second visit to the city as I went for the Songkran Festival earlier in April. The reason for this revisit is because that Bangkok is closer to Malaysia, It is a very happening city with never die at night like 7-11. It is also the best place to do year end shopping as lots of sales going on. And last but not least, let's not forget about the wonderful food available in Bangkok. You can eat yourself around the world at Bangkok with lot's of good and reasonable restaurants serving international cuisine, let alone the yummy street food at Bangkok! There are just too many reasons to visit Bangkok really!

For this round, apart from the few points that I highlighted above, I am in real excitement that I will be going on a train to Bangkok from Butterworth. I will be traveling up from Kuala Lumpur to Georgetown, Penang for overnight stay before heading to Butterworth Train station to catch my train to Bangkok. I opted to go by train instead of flight as I rarely travel by train before. So I thought this could be a very good experience for me to go by train as it will definitely helps a lot in my coming China trips which will involve train travel a lot.

A big thank you to my sister and brother in law for spending a wonderful weekend at Georgetown, Penang with me and Elaine. I was really sorry to'em as I was not able to attend their wedding last month as I was on a business trip to UK. So I thought this is a good chance for us to have a time together to travel around Georgetown, a place that both of them wanted to visit for so much but did not get a real chance to do so as not familiar with the roads there. With them, they made our travel to Butterworth a lot easier as they drove us to the station. Thank you!

Upon arrival at the station, we found that there were only 2 or 3 people waiting there for the afternoon train. As train travel in Malaysia is not particularly popular especially for international train travel, I can truly understand that. We waived good bye to Mimi and Anson and seated quietly waiting for the train.

Slowly, people started to gather at the station and to my surprise that there were nearly 30 of them! Not a small group then :). After 2 hours of waiting time, train arrived around 2:10pm. We boarded the coach 3 and managed to find ourselves the seats. We settled down, putting down our big luggage and seated quietly in excitement awaiting for the train to depart.

*Some small tips/information about train ticket between Butterworth and Bangkok:
1. You may get your ticket from Butterworth to Bangkok from KTMB offices. (The one which is easiest to find would be at Kuala Lumpur Sentral station)
2. As for return ticket from Bangkok to Butterworth, you will not be able to get it from KTMB office but will have to go through travel agency at Bangkok to secure a ticket for you. The service that I got my ticket from was offered by Traveller2000 Pte. Ltd. Ticket purchased through them will be delivered for free to your staying hotel in Bangkok.
3. There were 2 different types of seats for this international train. Lower and upper berth. the difference of prices would be RM125 for lower berth whereas RM115 for upper berth. The lower berth is much spacious than the upper one. So be wise not to be stingy with the RM10 which will give yourself a hard night sleep!

Too~~too~~, our train departed from the station at 2:30pm slowly moving northwardly leaving Butterworth behind. My heart was pumping fast in excitement just like a school kid going on a year end vacation trip! As the train moved slowly on the rail track, I can see the changes on terrains becoming flatter and were all covered by rice fields. Yea, the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia where the states of rice of west Malaysia there it is, Kedah and Perlis. Houses were getting lesser and lesser as we moving north, leaving behind with all the paddy fields. Soon, we were speeding between distant hills after Sungai Petani. We was passing by beds of oil palm plantation field and forest after forest of splender trees, in between many the forest there were areas which were clear out for rubber tree plantations (which used to contribute most of the export's revenue for the country).

Soon after 6pm, we arrived at the Malaysia - Thailand border town, Padang Besar. We were told to get off the train to clear the Thai immigration custom. As soon as we get our entry visa granted, we moved back to the train and continue our journey to Bangkok. Sky was getting dark so fast. We bought ourselves dinner boxes right at the exit of the Thai immigration building and took our dinner on board the train.

After dinner, here comes the sleep time =_=". Coach staff was busy setting up beds for passengers. So to make his job easier, we agreed to go to bed early at 8:30pm - Bed Time!

It was a tiring day for me. I quickly fall asleep as the train continue running northward to Bangkok.It was a good night sleep for me although I was woke up a couple of times through the night as the train made a few stops at some of the stations along our way. I woke up 6am in the morning and quickly get myself brush up awaiting for my first sun rise shooting on a train :p.

Soon after we arrived at the station Hua Hin, they were locals coming on board selling breakfast. I got myself a cup of coffee and another box of noodles for 20 Bath for my breakfast. Train continues surging towards Bangkok, I was thinking to myself that it would be best if I can go for a hot water shower as I felt kinda unpleasant after more than 24 hours without bathing.

Phew, our train finally arrived at Bangkok Hua Lomphong station at 11:30am. It was the longest train ride for me! We quickly get off the train and rush ourselves to the nearest LRT station to catch a light rail transit to our hostel at Sukhumvit - Suk 11 Backpacker's hostel. Yes, I can finally go for a hot water bath!

*To think that this could be my longest train travel experience so far, it was totally wrong. It went worse for our return journey, There was a derailment happened some where after Phetchaburi station. Our train was forced to stop for 4 hours at the station waiting for the rescue team to clear the accident scene and reconnect the track. It was not until midnight 11:30pm that we can continue from Phetchaburi southwardly towards Hat Yai. Our train was delayed for a total of 3:30 hours.

We arrived late to Padang Besar at 12:55pm which was 3 hours behind the scheduled 10am. We were forced to transfer to Bus transport to Butterworth then from Padang Besar. The bus was not arrived until 2:15pm and we finally arrived at Butterworth 4:30 pm. which was 3:30 hours behind the scheduled arrival time!

To think that we are safe, the worse is to come. We caught a bus from Butterworth Bus station to Kuala Lumpur at 5:30pm. The normal bus travel time would take 4 hours to KL the longest. But I don't know what is wrong with our driver that night, it took us 5 hours to KL at Pudu station! Thinking back as we boarded the train at Hua Lomphong station at 2:30pm yesterday, we only arrived at KL the next day 10:30pm! It was the longest ride of my life so far! Be it on time or on distance. It was a 3000 km round trips for both of us :p!

UK: Roman Bath

Our second destination after the Stonehenge was Roman Bath, a Georgian city some 1 hour drive from Avebury. As our tour bus was climbing uphill on a small and winding road towards the Georgian city, the landscape changes from vast farmland to a valley between small hills. The view was so mesmerizing and I will not be bored enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way.


View Larger Map

After roughly an hour drive, we finally arrived at the well known beautiful Georgian city!

As our tour manager was briefing us about the places of interests around the town, here is just a short history about the Roman Bath to share with you guys too. The elegant Georgian city of Bath was originally a Roman settlement built around some hot springs. These springs, which can still be seen today forming a surreal mist over the ancient stones, probably first reached the earth's surface over a million years ago. When the Romans discovered the therapeutic value of the water, they built their famous baths - now one of Britain's finest remaining Roman monuments. Once the Romans left, it was not until the t8th Century that the value of the springs was rediscovered and Bath became not only a healing centre, but also the centre of 18th Century style, etiquette and fashion.

The Roman Baths:

In 1880, sewer diggers unearthed the remains of the original Roman Baths. Victorian architects added to what was there - making the whole complex a fascinating vision of Roman life - from a Victorian's point of view. You will also find an interesting display of genuine Roman articles.

Miniature model of the original Bath's building structure.

Ancient Roman Sun god sculpture unearthed from the ruin.

Ancient drainage system in the bath flowing out to the river.

The cold water bath pool.

Bath Abbey:

The Bath Abbey was built in 1499 on the site of a 7th Century cathedral - some of which was incorporated into the new building. The abbey was built by Bishop Oliver, who was inspired to build by a vision of angels climbing up to heaven - these can be seen as sculptures on the front of the building. The Heritage Vaults (in the Abbey basement) provides a fascinating history of the abbey.

It was a really rushing tour to Bath, we were only given 2 hours to explore around the town. We left with no choice but to cut short of the places of interest that we planned to visit. Straight after the Roman Bath, we headed straight to the Circus to snap a picture of it. As we walked towards the Circus, we lost our way as the buildings inside the town was built so closed to each other thus making it extremely disorientating. Navigation in the town was a nightmare.

So to not wasting any time more as the sky was turning dark covered with dark clouds, I quickly seek help from a local madam who was walking home too. We were so lucky that the lady was going back somewhere near to the Circus too, so she invited us to walk together with her and she will point us to the Circus when we get close to it.

Through a short conversation with the old lady, she was very friendly and helpful. I was really lucky throughout my travel in UK as most of the people I asked for help were extremely helpful and friendly, excellent British other than the bad experience I had when clearing the immigration custom :).

After waiving good bye to the kind old lady, my first glance of the Circus:

Freemason's secret signs can be found all around the Georgian city as seen in picture below - the Key sign. Other signs like the moon, triangle and many more!

As it started to rain short after we arrived at the Circus, we quickly rush back to the nearby restaurant to hide from the rain. As my stomach was complaining, we took a quick lunch in the restaurant while waiting for the rain to stop. We boarded our return bus back to London around 4:30pm. As it was almost the end of autumn season, the sky turned so dark after 5pm. As it was all dark outside, I slept all my way back to London :p. We arrived at London downtown around 7:30pm and quickly went for a quick dinner at Subway before catching our return bus to Nottingham which is another 3 hours of nightmare bus ride. I was finally home at 12am that night =_="