Traveling through Time, Traveling by Train

Trip Start Jan 28, 2013
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Trip End Mar 09, 2013


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Flag of Malaysia  , Pinang,
Monday, March 4, 2013

Up early this morning to pack, then down Jonker Street in search of coffee. Found some next to the bridge which was also down the street from the marvelous Cheng Ho Cultural Museum. Admiral Cheng Ho and his Chinese fleet of several hundred ships sailed west from China to SE Asia, India, and Africa seven times from 1405-1433. On his second voyage he set up a huge government depot in Melaka, establishing it as a center of trade with China and an area protected by his fleet. Eight shophouses on the site of Cheng Ho's depot have been renovated into a museum describing his life, his travels, and the relationship with Melaka. My visit started with an excellent video and then a Chinese puppet show telling Cheng Ho's story.

An early lunch of chicken and rice balls -- mentioned in tourist literature as Melaka's specialty but basically was just chicken cut into pieces and rice formed into balls the size of a large marble. Don't bother would be my advice. Back to the hotel to check out and take a half-hour taxi ride to the nearest train station -- 23 km away in Tampin. Taxi got me there at 11:30, early to supposedly avoid potential traffic jams. The 1:00 pm train arrived at 2:10 pm which wasn't too bad.

Relaxing train ride. First class compartment is air-conditioned, comfortable seats with lots of leg room, I have a single seat so my space is all my own. Train is fairly old with big windows. Toilet leaves much to be desired and black smoke billows out of the engine every time it starts off but everything else is just fine. Taxi ride (U.S. $22) cost almost as much as my eight-hour train ride (U.S. $29) from Tampin to Penang. It's a pretty long train so I guess they make their money on number of passengers, not the price per person.

Train ride was much more interesting than the bus ride to Melaka. Palm, rubber, coconut tree fields, houses, temples and mosques, cities and green wooded areas, hills/small mountains in the distance. I even saw Kuala Lumpur's Petronus Towers in the skyline as we passed through. Sunset was gorgeous with pink skies sinking behind the highlands. Unfortunately the train got further behind schedule so we arrived in Butterworth after midnight, almost 4hours late. The ferry to Georgetown stops at midnight, the two taxis wanted way too much money to drive over the bridge and into town. Finally got one for 70 ringgets (US $ 24) by sharing with 3 other people which worked out OK as they helped the taxi driver find the hotel.  Made it to the Yeng Keng Guesthouse by 1:00 a.m.
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Comments

Peg Kowalski on

Great sunset pictures especially from the train. I'll bet it felt like quite an adventure arriving so late in new surroundings and finding your way to the hotel. Glad you made it.

Diane on

Beautiful sunset photos!

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