What: Holiday in Singapore.
When: 24th – 26th December 2005.
Where: Err… Singapore lah…
How: KTM Senandung Malam train from KL to Singapore (dep: 10.30 pm, arr: 7.45 am), KTM Sinaran Petang train from Sg to KL (dep: 1.30 pm, arr: 8.30 pm).
Who: Me and two friends.
Official camera: Canon Powershot A400.
Official shaving cream: Gillette Foamy.
Official toothpaste: Colgate.
Official toothbrush: Oral-B.
Official shampoo: Head & Shoulders.
Official currency: Singapore and Brunei dollar bills.
Official hotel: Penang Hotel, Jalan Besar.
Official phone: Nokia.
Official blog: This one.
*Note on the text: Most of it is bullshit. Concentrate on the pictures.
So there we were, 3 tired-looking and sleepy hunks congregating among the weary KL urbanites and regular 2-cent touristas at KL Sentral waiting for the train to come in. We passed the time making inane conversation and trying to catch the eye of that hot looking chick nearby, who ignored us so completely she must have been a lesbian.
Eventually the train crawled in, we got down to the platform and clambered on to our coach and quickly found our sleeping berths. Friend #1, who shall be referred to as RS from this point onwards to protect his identity from being discovered and abused by Bollywood-hungry stalkers, almost immediately went to sleep. I envy these kind of guys – they could be in the middle of an earthquake and they still wouldn’t…. on second thought, I don’t envy them.
Friend #2 (who will be referred to as SC) and I then decided to roam around the train looking for babes to pick-up. We didn’t find any, but discovered the train pantry instead. We purchased some peanuts, buns, water and chips. Wait, we didn’t get chips. No, we did… actually, no, we didn’t. Did we? Why are you still reading this? Move on to the next paragraph, why doncha?
Then SC went to sleep. Then I tried to sleep. I couldn’t. The damn train was rocking too much. I mean rocking as in moving in every other direction in a manner not consistent with soothing actions. I’m a light sleeper. I like to think that it helps me stay alert if a parang-wielding madman breaks into my house asking me where his wife is. Then again, it’s probably because I was a cat in a previous life. Possibly a tiger. With stripes and all, too. Yeah, baby, wait till ya hear me roar…
Anyway, I probably ended up sleeping a total of about 2 hours of the entire 9 hours or so of travelling. Not a good preparation for the trip ahead, let me tell ya.
This is when we were at the Johor Baru station. Immigration officials coming in and checking passports and disembarkation forms (known as ‘white forms’) randomly. They didn’t check us, which is a good thing ‘cos we hadn’t collected the white forms from the guy who had gone through the train in the middle of the night shouting “White form! White form!” No big deal anyway, the forms were available at the Singapore end.
Finally, the train began moving again and headed across the causeway. I was hoping to see some pirates and navy vessels from both countries duking it out on the open seas, but sadly, there were none. No more Chuck Norris action movies for me, then….
And then a series of unfortunate incidents occurred. We disembarked at the Woodlands checkpoint (man, I love those chip-enabled passports – I just zoomed right through) at about 8-ish in the morning and tried to get our bearings. We had no idea where Jalan Besar was (that’s where our hotel is), and although we were initially tempted to get a taxi, we decided to check out the buses instead. Besides, our check-in time was only at noon, so we figued we had plenty of time to look around anwyay. Unfortunately, the notice on the bus stop regarding routes was not very helpful, and while an amiable Singaporean elder tried to help us, we couldn’t understand a word he said. In between all this, we went grocery shopping and got ourselves breakfast (orange juice and some delicious cheese cake).
At about this time, SC discovered that he wasn’t wearing his watch. Uh-oh. Apparently, he took it off before he went to sleep on the train and forgot all about it after he woke up. So we trudged back to the Woodlands checkpoint only to discover there was no way back in. Then a helpful person told us we should go to the Tanjung Pagar station and check with lost-and-found over there. So this time, in order not to delay our adventure further, we hopped on a cab and said, “Yo homes, to Tanjung Pagar!”
Man, Tanjung Pagar is a long long way away. We probably crossed the whole of Singapore to get there. At Tanjung Pagar, RS and I sat down to enjoy our cheese cake while SC went to lodge a missing something report. We also got ourselves a map to figure out what to do next. After much thinking and eating, we decided to head for the hotel first, since it was approaching noon, and we were tired and covered with city grime. Aren’t we smart? Please vote for us at the next US Presidential elections – we promise to do better.
Eventually, SC came to grips with the fact that his watch was gone. Having already spent a considerable sum on the taxi fare earlier (as it always happens, when you’re in a foreign country for the first day, you tend to convert everything into ringgit – not a good idea), we decided to take public transportation instead. Somehow or other we ended up taking a bus headed to Little India, which is supposedly where our hotel is situated. I say supposedly, cos, dammit, maps don’t always tell you everything.
We got off the bus somewhere at Serangoon Road, and guided by the map and the constellations (which is hard to do in daylight, let me tell ya) we walked a total of 67.8 gajillion miles until we stumbled on to Jalan Besar. Delighted at our good fortune, we quickened our pace, only to discover that our hotel was at one end of the road while we were on the other end. And Jalan Besar is as good as it’s name, yo. It’s one freaking long road.
And just to make things interesting, it started to drizzle.
So we half-walked, half-jogged, fully-stressed our way to the end of the road where we were greeted with the signboard proudly proclaiming the existence of The Penang Hotel (formerly Cactus Hotel).
We quickly checked-in (coincidentally, we got there at EXACTLY 12.00 pm). The room was ok, the little light next to the bed wasn’t working, and the TV channels all looked blurry and poorly tuned. But the hot water was suitably hot and the bed was quite comfy. The air-con was a bit problematic, and the controls were a bit confusing, but all-in-all a comfortable and clean room.
Long story short, we showered, got dressed, looked out the window, and noticed the downpour.