My original intention was to get the ferry from Georgetown across the water to Butterworth where we would catch the 8.00 express train to KL. Had a train left a little later, I would have continued with this plan but getting there by eight by ferry could be a struggle, so I enquired at the concierge desk about a taxi. I was only asking but he took it upon himself to arrange it. I let him go ahead. I told him we wanted to be at the station by 7.30. 'It is a one hour trip in the taxi Sir. He will be here at 6.30. The fare will be MR90.' Wow, that is a bit steep, we thought. Our six hour train trip is less that MR50 each. What to do? Take our chances on getting our own cab? No, the foreigners will pay.
We were packed, showered and downstairs a bit after six, hoping the breakfast room would at least have something out to eat, even though it didn't open until 6.30. 'Your taxi is here Sir'. So we left early and had quite a bit of time to kill at the station, especially as the trip took thirty minutes, about what I thought, rather than the hour suggested. Then, in spite of the driver knowing we were catching a train, he dropped us at a the bus terminal and told us how to get to the station. There may have been a reason we had to walk so far, lug our cases upstairs and down when there was space, private cars and a taxi at what is the temporary Butterworth Station, but I could not see one. We were really feeling quite cheated. A thirty dollar cab fare is really getting up there. We subsequently learnt that taxi drivers are very reluctant to go from Penang to Butterworth, so perhaps the steep fare was an 'encouragement'. The quicker they enforce the meter only rule in Penang, the better.
The train, Ekspress Rakyat, did make a few stops, especially early in the trip and a few locals as well as a group of school kids used the train. Obviously not in first class though. The car journey between Penang and KL takes about three hours, slightly longer by express road coach, but the train takes six hours and that is the fastest. Trains leaving at other times take even longer. We already knew this, but I do enjoy a distance train trip. Even R has found trains to be a very pleasant way to travel.
Jane Clifton lived there for part of her childhood.
After Ipoh the train really sped up. The tracks were new and the line had been electrified, but of course we were still on diesel. We slowed to a crawl as we approached KL. Obviously there was another train in front of us. We arrived about fifteen minutes late.
We were already quite familiar with KL Sentral. We went to the taxi counter and bought vouchers to get to our hotel. I think it would have been quicker to use the monorail but there were too many stairs for us with suitcases along with decent walks at both ends.
We checked into our hotel, same floor but a different room and Manny collected us later and took us to a Thai seafood barbeque outdoor restaurant for dinner. More shell fish to crack and noodles to eat.
Next morning Manny picked us up at 10.00 and drove us to the airport and joined us for a last cup of coffee. Check in was pleasurable, something I can't say about Australian airports, especially Melbourne's. We departed on time and arrived back to Melbourne on time at 11.30 pm and the airport was quiet and we were fairly quickly through.
So that is pretty well a wrap for our Malaysian holiday. I will write a bit of a summary or something later.