My wife was having two night stop in Penang and so happen I am free over the weekend, so I’ve decided to spend the weekend with her in Penang. Just like my previous trip to Penang, I must bring my bicycle there!
I can fly to Penang, but that’s going to be too easy and stuck with walking around in Penang during the time I am alone. I managed to buy the very last ETS ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth. Same process as in 2015, I bought the ticket online, this time it cost RM79 one way. The KTM website hasn’t really change this two years, still very crap.
This time, instead of using a car to KL Sentral, I took the newly opened MRT. Basically I rode on my bike to station, took the shiny new train to KL Sentral. At KL Sentral, I went to the KTM ETS counter to print out my ticket even though I don’t really need to. Instead of descending down to the platform nearby the ticketing counter, I had to go to Kommuter Platform C to board the ETS due to renovation work.
I was there pretty late this time, close to 10 minutes before departure, so luckily the baggage area of my carriage is empty! I have all the space I need to secure my bike there. I’m seat next to the aisle and besides me that day was an Indian guy. I later found out he’s a Catholic too and heading to Bukit Mertajam to attend the special event at St. Anne Church.
The train departed on time, and I spent the next four hours in quite a comfortable seat with spacious legroom. Noise cancelling headphones is a Godsend during long ride like this, especially when you have kids making lots of noise and their parent failed to discipline them. My U Mobile line was spotty at best along the ride, I kept myself busy with iPad games and a bit of reading. The data connection got better once getting nearer to Ipoh and onwards.
The ETS ride was pretty comfortable, just like the first time. The seats are clean, and the air-cond only gets really chilly at the last hour of the ride after most of the people disembarked at Bukit Mertajam. The legroom is really spacious, and if that’s not enough, I am free to walk around the train when it is moving. This is very much different from flying or taking the bus which you have very limited space to move around, and potentially dangerous.
Almost an hour into the ride, I was served some snacks which included a bottle of soy milk and two packets of biscuits. That was enough for me since it was lunch time, so I made my way to the bar to order some hot meals. The people serving the snacks were also the same working at the bar, so I do need to wait a bit for them to prepare everything. Queue also quickly built up there due to the small bar with only two microwave ovens and one guy working there.
After arrival in Butterworth, I still need to carry my bike and stuff up the pedestrian bridge, crossing the railways to reach the ferry terminal. There is a free shuttle bus which run between the ferry terminal and bus terminal for the people who have difficulties climbing stairs. However they still have to climb the ramp heading to the ferry terminal, because pedestrian are seated on the top floor of the ferry.
After my shot getaway in Penang, I took the bus back from Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal because the tickets for ETS has been sold out. Yes I do same some time and trouble not needing to cross the Straits with ferry, but the supposedly 5 hours journey turned 7 hours! The bus was stuck in traffic jam three times along the way returning back to Kuala Lumpur. So I’ll take the ETS anytime if I got a choice.