Jungle Railway – Gemas, Malaysia

January 17
We woke up early as hell, setting our alarms at 5:00 am. We packed up and went to check out. Our hostel owner was passed out on the floor because all the beds were rented out. I tried to wake him but he wouldn’t get up. We then decided to just leave the key on his table and bounce out. We had a taxi waiting outside for us that we took to a rain station 20 minutes away. Once we got to the station, it was still dark out but there were people there so it was safe. Our train was scheduled to come 40 minutes after we got there. We just sat and waited. As the train pulled in, the ticket counter opened. We didn’t know what to do because if we missed this train, the next one to where we needed to go didn’t leave until the same time the next day. We decided to just get on the train. A conductor asked us for our tickets and we asked if we could just pay him. He said to just go buy one at the counter because we had time. We were pretty nervous then waiting in line to get our tickets because the train could have left at any moment. We got the tickets and rushed onto the train. We made it with a minute or so to spare but it was a quick departure without much warning. A guy blew a whistle and then the train left. There was no warning so I don’t know how nobody was freaking out like us. We got assigned seats but they weren’t together so I just sat in the seat next to Matt anyway. We didn’t have a problem until later on our journey when a guy came up to me and asked me to move. I scrambled with my stuff all over my lap to find my ticket to show him my seat to ask if we could switch. He was probably really confused because I ended up just pointing to my seat and asked him to sit there. He didn’t mind. The train was a local train. All express were sold out and only ran at night. This train took 12 hours to reach Gemas, which is the train station that connects the different lines in the country. We had to get off there and see if there was an available train that went to Kuala Lumpur tonight or tomorrow morning once we arrived. Our train ride was long and had many stops. It also had a baby that cried for the entire 12 hours. He didn’t just cry, then sleep, then cry. He cried the entire time. I have no idea how he didn’t get tired of it. I also don’t know who made the rule that parents can’t hit their kids. I thought it was a reasonable law but after this journey, there should be exceptions. This kid was so annoying. He was too old to be crying and screaming. He could talk and walk and do real people things. And his parents couldn’t control him. A nice smack would have trained him well and taught him a lesson. I’m surprised no one else hit the damn kid. Everyone was so pissed at the kid. It was way too long of a ride to deal with that the entire time. Anyway, the ride itself was cool. The Jungle Railway is almost 100 years old and was a track built by the British, I think. It took 8 years to build and they used it to transport raw materials from north to south. It goes directly through the dense jungle the entire time, hence its name. It was later converted into a commuter train track and the trains that were used then are still in use today. They are old and use traditional locomotive engines. We passed some cool rocks and mountains, but mainly just green dense forest filled with Palm trees and normal trees. It was a cool experience, but very long and repetitive. I don’t regret doing it but I wouldn’t do it again. It was cool though because it was definitely off the beaten path. The entire journey was not popular. We were the only tourists on our bus to Kota Bharu, the only USA citizens to stay at our hostel for as far back as the log book said, and the youngest people to stay at the hostel. Also, we were the only tourists on the entire train, at least that we noticed. That part was cool because this is the first time with did something unique that wasn’t traditional. That part makes it an adventure and I’m happy for that. Once we got to Gemas, we went to the ticket counter to get tickets to Kuala Lumpur. Luckily, there was a train leaving in a half hour that had availability. We bought tickets and waited at the platform. We them got on the train and began our final three hour leg of our long two-day commute to Kuala Lumpur. We had 5 peanut butter sandwiches each, some cookies and one bottle of water. Once we arrived on Kuala Lumpur, we took a monorail one stop to our hotel for the night. We had three different places booked for this city because we weren’t sure when we would be arriving. We also wanted to stay at a place called the Reggae Mansion but it was only available the last two night. Because of that, we booked another good hostel for the night before. And since we didn’t know if we were going to make it to Kuala Lumpur, so we didn’t book our hotel room for tonight until the final leg of our train ride. Our hotel was on Petaling Street, which is the Chinatown market street kind of like Canal Street in NYC. We walked passed a bunch of people trying to sell us tattoos. We were like wtf, why would someone be pressured into buying a tattoo from some guy on the street. It stayed with you forever and you need more than 20 seconds to think about it. We got to our room, showered and passed out. We finally could sleep in a little bit. It was so nice.

mikepsilve'sJungle Railway album on Photobucket