Category Archives: Penang

The International Express Train from Butterworth to Bangkok

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.

My companions sleeping in the train.
My companions sleeping in the train.

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.

Inside the train curtains give privacy to passengers
Inside the train curtains give privacy to passengers
This picture was taken after we got off at Hualamphong Station in Bangkok. At least they get the used bedsheets.
This picture was taken after we got off at Hualamphong Station in Bangkok. At least they collect the used bedsheets.

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.

View from the train
View from the train
View from the moving train
View from the moving train

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.

Front of the Train, taken after we got off
Front of the Train, taken after we got off

The Street Art of Georgetown, Penang

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.

A newly painted colonial building in Georgetown
A newly painted colonial building in Georgetown
Old Town, Georgetown
Old Town, Georgetown

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.

"Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur" Ah Quee Street, by Ernest Zacharevic
Weather beaten “Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur” Ah Quee Street, by Ernest Zacharevic
“Boy on a Bike” Ah Quee Street, George Town by Ernest Zacharevic
“Boy on a Bike” Ah Quee Street by Ernest Zacharevic
"Little Children on a Bicycle" Armenian Street by Ernest Zacharevic
“Little Children on a Bicycle” Armenian Street by Ernest Zacharevic

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.

"Brother and Sister on a Swing' at Gat Lebuh Chulia by Louis Gan
“Brother and Sister on a Swing’ at Gat Lebuh Chulia
paumural
“I Want Pau!” Mural at Armenian Street

_DSC6373Because 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.

Cat
Giant Cat Mural
"Giant Rat" Mural
Giant Rat Mural
Cat and Mouse
Cat and Rat

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.