The last night of the trip I stayed within Changi Airport because if I had stayed in a hotel room I would’ve miss the returning plane departing at 7:10 in the morning. Fortunately, Changi Airport opens 24 hours a day and it doesn’t close at midnight. Because UA check in counters were closed until 4:30 am, I had to stay in a bench in the departure floor.
However, sleeping on the bench wasn’t successful. When I lay on the bench, security guards came to wake up and said, “There’s no oversleeping here, sir.” I moved to another bench and slept hiding from them, but I couldn’t sleep very well, just slept only for an hour, because every time I heard the sound of somebody’s footsteps I was afraid that the security officers came to wake me up. Later I saw guests in the coffee shop on the same floor sleeping very well. I should’ve do it!
At 4 am, I saw UA check-in counter open and began check-in. Although there was automated check-in machines, it became error while processing. I finally was led to a human-operated counter by UA staff and managed to have a boarding pass.
Soon I entered into a departure gate. I was surprised to see that there was just a screening machine for luggage, no security gates nor screening officers. Its security check was very simple. After luggage screening there were immigration counters, where a piece of the disembarkation card I had got at Woodlands Checkpoint was taken away and a departing stamp was stamped on my passport.
While in a restricted area, I went in front of the boarding gate for UA804 to Tokyo and opened my laptop to surf the net, because duty free shops were closed until 6 am so I had nothing else to do. I was disappointed that there was no free WiFi spots even in the boarding gate areas in Changi Airport, unlike other international airports. Priced WiFi operated by StarHub was all in that airport. Even if I tried to pay for the WiFi by my credit card, the authentication of the credit card failed. I found that if I sent an SMS by a Singaporean mobile phone I had an SMS by StarHub with user id and password. I tried to do it and once successful, but ten minutes later the connection became unavailable. That’s why I rate Changi Airport very bad in international airports in the world.
At 6 am, the duty free shops began operation, but we had not so much time to shop because the boarding on UA804 was to begin at 6:30 am.
More than that, there were strict security checks at the entry of the boarding gates while there were simpler screening at the departure entrance, so I had no time to take a rest in front of the gate.
Anyway the airplane arrived at Narita at 3:10 pm, just on time. I managed to return to Japan alive 🙂
I wanted to walk to MRT Tanjong Pagar station from KTM Singapore station, but I could not find anywhere any signs leading to Tanjong Pagar station. I followed the people walking, but all of them went into a car park because they parked their own car there. I, having no my own car, had completely lost my way. Even if I asked ticket counter staff of Singapore station how to get to the MRT station, all she answered embarassedly was “Over there, 15 minutes’ walk.”
I walked to the direction as she said “over there” but I lost my way walking for a while. The Lonely Planet I carried with me had no such maps. My iPhone didn’t show the map because M1 prepaid sim card stored in the iPhone didn’t have enough balance. I walked on dark streets managed to get to Tanjong Pagar station 50 minutes later, sometimes losing my way.
The Lonely Planet and any other travel guidebooks I know have no clear maps or instructions between KTM Singapore station and MRT Tanjong Pagar. There are no signs to guide you to the MRT station anywhere in the Singapore station building. Then I’m the first person to guide you the correct way from KTM Singapore to MRT Tanjong Pagar. I’VE BEATEN THE LONELY PLANET!!
- First get out the station building on Cantonment Link and you’ll see a road sign indicating the direction of “Tanjong Pagar.” Follow the sign and go ahead on Cantonment Link.
- Walk forward on Cantonment Link and then you’ll see an interchange of Cantonment Rd. and a road sign indicating that Tanjong Pagar is on right. DON’T FOLLOW IT! Just walk ahead.
- You’ll get to an intersection of Anson Rd. Turn left on Anson Rd.
- You’ll see an entrance of MRT Tanjong Pagar station.
- Get out of Singapore station building, walk along on a wide road under an elevated highway, to the direction opposite to the station building.
- You’ll see a FUJI XEROX building, and turn left on Anson Rd.
- You’ll see an entrance of MRT Tanjong Pagar station.
Even so, the Singapore station should distribute guide maps at ticket counters or information booths and should build a taxi stand to let taxi cabs gather there to pick up passengers to the MRT station. It’s one of Singapore’s disappointing points, even if Singapore is one of the cleanest and most sophisticated cities.
On the last day of my stay in Malaysia I wanted to try to visit a small town of Malaysia accessible by train. I thought that Gemas, Negeri Sembilan was the most appropriate town to visit for a one-day trip.
I checked out the hotel one hour before the train departure time (9:02 am) and asked the taxi cab parked in front of the hotel to send me to KTM JB station.
The waiting room of JB station was a bit dirty, and only a few people were waiting for the train. While sitting on a bench to wait for the train, a priest-looking man with ocher robe walked up to me and talked in Chinese or Malaysian language to me, trying to force a charm and a prayer beads upon me. I told him that I couldn't understand what he said because I didn't speak Malaysian. He then switched the language into English and said, "Doe-neh-sen, doe-neh-sen." I understood that he was saying "donation," so I refused it. He moved out of the waiting room and went somewhere else.
Half an hour later, quite a few passengers gathered in the waiting room. Then the priest came back, and asked a donation to each of them and was refused one after another. I guessed he should be a fake priest. It was only morning and my feelings were hurt by him.
About fifteen minutes before the departure time the boarding gate was open. We had my ticket punched and was allowed to get out to the platform. The rail had a 1000mm gauge, a little narrower than that of Japan Railway. As far as I could see, it had almost the same width as JR's rails, though. All the operation section is single-track, and non-electrified except certain sections in Kuala Lunpur.
No sooner had I get out to the platform than a train came in.
It was Express Rakyat, which had departed Singapore early in the morning and was to Butterworth late at night via Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh. A diesel locomotive was pulling coaches.
Inside view of a coach. Seats were hard like a bench and windows were dirty, just like a Japanese old train. Oops! It's not a coach, it's a dining car.
A coach was like this. It was much cleaner with soft seats and a LCD TV equipped on a wall, which displayed a movie while driving non-stop sections.
Continue reading “Rail travel in Malaysia”
離陸後すぐ機内食が出ました。「Chicken or omelette?」と訊かれたので、条件反射的に「Chicken!」と答えたところ、出て来たのは鶏肉のビーフンのようなもの。隣の人のオムレットの中身を見て、そっちにしとけばよかったとちょっと後悔。食後は、睡眠不足を補うべくただひたすら寝てました。
マレー鉄道でシンガポールに降り立ち、そこから歩いてタンジョン・パガー駅でＭＲＴに乗ろうとしたんですが、シンガポール駅のどこにもタンジョン・パガー駅への案内がありません。みんなの歩いていく方向に従って歩くと、駐車場に出ました。みんな車でこの駅に来ていたようです。では車のない私はどうすればいいのか。駅のカウンターの係員に聞いても、「あっちのほう。15 minutes’ walk」とおおざっぱに言われるだけ。乗換駅なんだし、同じこと訊く人いっぱいいるんだろうから、道案内の地図でも用意してくれればいいのに。。。。
仕方なく「あっちのほう」に向かって歩いていても、そのうち方向感覚がわからなくなってすっかり道に迷ってしまいました。ロンリープラネットを見てもそれらしき地図はなく、ｉＰｈｏｎｅに入っているＭ１のプリペイドは残高切れでＧＰＳの地図も見れず・・・。せめてシンガポール駅の売店でバウチャーカードでも売っててくれればよかったのに、と悔やんでも始まらず、適当にあっちこっち歩き回っているとようやくタンジョン・パガー駅にたどり着きましたが、15 minutes’ walkならぬfifty minutes’ walkで、５０分ほど暗い道をさまよい歩いていました。
- まず、シンガポール駅舎を出て、すぐ目の前の通り（Cantonment Link）に出ると、「Tanjong Pagar」と書いた矢印の道案内があるので、それに従ってCantonment Linkを進む。
- しばらくすると、Cantonment Rd.との交差点に出る。そこにTanjong Pagar・右という標識があるが、無視してそのまままっすぐ進む（私はここで右折してえらいことになった）。
- しばらく歩くと、Anson Rd.との交差点に出るので、左折してAnson Rd.を進む。
- ＦＵＪＩ ＸＥＲＯＸのビルのところを左折し、Anson Rd.を進む。
On the third day of this trip I went to Malaysia.
I exchanged my own 100USD bill into Malaysian Ringgit at a money changer in Orchard. The 100USD became 299 Ringgits.
I went to Woodlands by MRT to catch an SMRT950 bus, which would cross Causeway and go to Johor Bahru. Crossing Causeway on foot was possible so far, but now it's forbidden.
People waiting in line at the dusky bus stop were, in comparison with other places of Singapore, in a weird mood.
After waiting dozens of minutes a bus for Johor Bahru came. You can pay the fare by tapping your EZ-Link card. There were very crowded people in the bus. I'm afraid that, because I had so large luggage, it maybe disturbed other people.
The bus passed MRT Marsiling station and then it was about to cross Causeway, but I couldn't see outside very well because other people were packed in that bus.
Before crossing Causeway, the bus stopped and every passenger including me was forced to get out of it to pass the immigration. After going upstairs of the building, there were immigration counters in charge of departing Singapore. The disembarkation card I had kept since Changi Airport was taken away, and a departing stamp was stamped on a visas page of my passport.
After clearing the immigration, I was caught by a woman with a hood on her head and asked me to fill out a survey for me. I accepted her request because I had enough time and I saw she had a validly authorised ID card. I was asked some questions, like airline name coming to Singapore, nights of stay, amount spent per day, impression for Singapore. After the survey, a little strap was given to me.
I went downstairs and saw a bus stop. The SMRT950 bus was already gone, but the next bus came soon and I got into it. That bus had less people than the previous one. While onboard I tapped my EZ-Link card here as well.
I took a picture of the view from the bus crossing Causeway. I couldn't find where the national border was. All I saw was the sign saying "Welcome to Malaysia" in the middle of the bridge. After crossing Causeway the bus stopped again and every passenger had to get off to have Malaysian immigration. Going upstairs as I did at Woodlands, I saw there were immigration counters of Malaysia. I filled out an immigration card behind the booths, handed it in to an immigration officer along with my passport, and had my passport stamped a Malaysian immigration stamp. At last my immigration process was complete.
I made up my mind to keep going by bus, though taking a taxi to KTM Johor Bahru station was also available. SMRT950 bus would've taken me to Kotaraya bus terminus, but I decided to take another bus coming earliest because I had to wait for a long time to catch SMRT950. Most of them would go to Larkin bus terminus instead of Kotaraya, but buses going to Larking was more popular.
The bus came first was Singapore-Johor Express from Bugis and was air-conditioned and enough vacant seats. However, EZ-Link card was no longer available, and I paid one Ringgit cash instead.
The bus ran on a wide road like an expressway for a while, and arrived at Larkin bus terminus.
When the bus arrived, dirty-looking pimps-like people came around the bus and they started asking us to take their taxis. I was frightened from the very beginning of the travel to Johor Bahru. Although they did nothing as long as I ignored, I felt I've come to the very place I least wanted to come, seeing many pimps around the bus stop and fierce-looking men walking boringly around there. Nevertheless, I got used to that mysterious situation after being there for an hour. The pimps didn't follow me any longer once I said no to them. There was a police station in the terminus so I could rush into it if I was attacked by them.
Once I got used to it I walked in the terminal building. Dirty-looking newsstands, markets and mobile phone shops were crammed into the building with a stinky smell. I wanted to buy some pictured postcards if there was a souvenir shop, but no such shop was in that building.
Of course I first dropped in on a mobile phone shop. I got a DiGi Prepaid SIM card for 10 Ringgit and had it activated there.
The building was a two-storey high. Mobile phone shops and newsstands were on the ground floor and a Seven-Eleven convenience store and clothing shops were above.
I completely lost my way in Johor Bahru, so I was afraid that if I took a taxi to the hotel I was gonna stay the taxi driver would charge me an unreasonable price. But I had no other way. I went to a taxi stand where red taxi cabs were, because the red cabs seemed to be authorised. I asked a driver out of the taxis how much it costed to Thistle Hotel, where I was going to stay that night, and the driver answered he didn't know where the hotel was. Then I caught the next taxi driver as well. He understood it so I got into it. The cab arrived at Thistle Hotel for ten minutes or so, for about 6.1 Ringgit. I didn't know if it was reasonable because I didn't know how much it should be. Probably it was acceptable because the taximeter seemed to work well and 6.1 Ringgit was equivalent to just 200 JPY or so.
Thistle Hotel is a British-capitalised hotel located in various places worldwide.
It's the view from the hotel room. You'll see typical Malaysian houses.
Continue reading “Johor Bahru”