Malaysia and Thailand are neighboring countries that can easily be reached by land transportation. I was in the island of Penang last May and I decided to spend a few days in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. We are staying in Palau, Penang at Hotel Equatorial and we asked the hotel staff to drop us off at Butterworth Station. From Butterworth we took Thailand’s International Express train to Bangkok’s Hualamphong Station.
The train left at 14:30 and scheduled to arrive the following day at 10:30. This train runs this direction only once a day, so make sure to secure your reservations. On the train, it was a smooth ride for us but overall, there were a lot of things needing improvement to make this ride a comfortable experience. When we entered the train, the first thing I noticed are the dirty seats. This is a second class sleeper train and no doubt offering only second-class services and amenities. The seats are dirty, and these same seats are transformed as beds at night. Dirty seats with blasting air conditioner – that no matter how meticulously I scrub off the dirt, they wouldn’t come off. When the attendant prepared the beds, it was a happy consolation that they have bed sheets that look like they were washed. If not, I can’t imagine how anyone can sleep here and actually pay for it.
It was nearing dusk when we reached the Malaysia and Thailand border where we all need to get off for immigration. After that, the whole ride took us to rural Thailand with views of rice paddies, industrial sites, and empty fields.
Riding this train for convenience sake is recommended but don’t expect comfort. For its price, you get to your destination as promised but don’t expect anything fancy. And for the record, you have been warned.
Georgetown, Penang is best known for its jetties and street art. Named after Britain’s King George III, the inner city of Georgetown has been inscribe as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unique architecture and cultural townscape.
Recently the town had a surge of excitement and interest with the emergence of mural paintings on the old walls in Georgetown. Started by Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic, the murals mostly depict children in playful and fun scenes. A trip to Georgetown can now be about finding each of these wall art.
Other artists followed Ernest’s footsteps and started creating their own work. Deaf-mute freelance artist, Louis Gan has a few of his works on various streets.
Because walking on 35 degrees Celcius temperature in Georgetown is not very ideal, we decided to rent a bicycle so it would be easy for us to move around. Bicycle rentals can easily be spotted near the jetties. We got our bikes for 10 RM.
Other mural projects include the “101 Lost Kittens” project, which aims to create awareness on animal care and adopting stray animals. Below are murals along Armenian street.
Although some of these murals have already faded, like the boy with pet dinosaur, I am positive that artists will continue to create these kinds of art work in public spaces.
I’ve been in Malaysia 5 times since 2009. I’ve always been in the city of Kuala Lumpur, while being lost in the city’s malls and famous attractions, I never get the chance to visit other interesting places. Well, that’s how business trips go, you spend more time inside buildings than under the sun. But even though I am in Malaysia most of the time for work, I can squeeze in some play in my schedule. So with a colleague, off we went to Batu Cave. It’s one of those places while remotely located is very accessible from the city.
Lord Marugan Temple or Batu Cave is a Hindu Temple in Gombok District, about 13 kilometers from KL. A train from KL Sentral will take you to Batu Cave in 30 minutes.
Entering the area from the station, you’ll find a huge Hanuman Statue. There are hungry macaques ready to snatch any plastic you’re holding, so be very careful.
The Batu caves is a limestone hill with cave temples. It is a place of worship for Hindus. It’s proximity to the city makes it a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus specially during Hindu holidays and festivals.