Sunday, January 24, 2010

Malaysia: Bus ride from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore

Airport Anxiety
I remember the very first time I set my foot on Malaysia. It was via the budget airline Cebu Pacific. I landed at close to daybreak at the Kuala Lumpur Low Cost Carrier airport. The plan, touchdown Malaysia, and quickly hop a bus to Singapore since I was booked at  the Inn Crowd hostel in Dunlop road in the Lion City.
And because I arrived during the wee hours of the morning and there are no buses yet to take me to Kuala Lumpur (where the KL to SG bus terminal is), I was debating whether to book a hostel to spend the night or just to wait at the airport until 6 am.


But of course frugality won. So off I went for a quick fix at a Malaysian McDonald at the airport and stayed there for about two hours, alternating light naps and reading a book. At 6 am, buses were already available so I  took the bus to Kuala Lumpur for only 9 RM. The one hour ride was uneventful and as I alighted from the bus, I quickly scanned the surroundings only to find out that I am yet in another terminal. Confused and clueless, I then found out that I have to take another bus from where I was located, to the Puduraya Terminal where buses to Singapore are found.

 Panic at Puduraya Terminal
At the Puduraya terminal, I was aiming to ride the trusted bus line that carries passengers from Malaysia to Singapore called Transnational. But since the Transnational counter at the terminal is not yet open and will have its first scheduled ride at about 8 am, I had to wait. But fine by me, as long as I'm safe. According to a Lonely Planet book or some online article, some buses from Malaysia to Singapore being robbed or something potentially dangerous. So I had to choose and wait it out with the established busline. But, suddenly an Indian haggler/ agent from another bus line came to be and aggressively offered me to take his bus. Okay so I admit, the ticket he's offering is much cheaper than the 80 RM ticket for the Transnational bus. The haggler is aggressive. I was all nerves of course. The last time I had this feeling was during my trip to Puerto Galera, where after arriving in Batangas terminal, I was virtually attacked by panucha vendors aggressively offering their products.

But I was insisting on waiting for Transnational counter to open, nevermind waiting, and nevermind that I had to pay more, as long as I believe myself to be safe with an established and trusted establishment. Maybe I'm being chicken or really just trying to be safe. It's similar as waiting for an MGE or R and E taxi rather than just riding any other cab, get the drift? But the Indian haggler kept on questioning me and convincing me that his busline is safe, convenient etcetera.

In my annoyance I told him that the ticket people from this Transnational was my relative and will give me discount. Ok so very dumb. A very hopeless lame excuse. But I had no choice! I had to get rid of the Indian!
Thought I was already free from his pushiness since he went on the bug the other tourists.But when the person manning the Transnational counter arrived and opened the booth, I stood up eagerly to get tickets but the Indian haggler whispered something  to the person manning the counter. They talked. And by the way the Indian haggler stared at me with contempt I knew he confirmed that I was no way a relative of the person manning the counter. I panicked and became paranoid when the haggler found out that I was lying to him! Seriously, I went outside for a quick smoke and drink... and found the haggler following me!

I was so scared, I thought he will confront me or worse do something really bad. So I quickly went to a KFC just across the Puduraraya bus terminal and literally hid. Well, ordered something and pretended to eat while keeping eye at the scorned Indian haggler.

It was scary but when I went out, the Indian haggler was gone. And nothing bad happened to me.
It was all my paranoia I know, but I have a lesson learned. At that is to never lie. Just don't lie, and as much as possible decline the hagglers politely, firmly, civilly, but never lie.

Buses, Buses and More Buses
So I was inside the bus to Singapore.
I will not say that the bus ride was uncomfortable, but I wouldn't say it's a dream either. The bus stopped over at someplace I forgot. I thought that it wasn't just a stop over so I went down. And immediately hagglers were all over me. I felt traumatized but immediately I found my way around and realized I alighted at a wrong spot. So I rode the bus again, patiently waiting until I reach Johar Bahru, a district that is supposedly the last frontier of Malaysia before the causeway to Singapore.

Finally reached Johar Bahru and alighted at the immigration where my passport is hastily stamped. Carrying my big bag, I rode to another bus again until finally reaching the Singapore terminal.


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  2. I have enjoyed my travel to Malaysia two times with my family total of 21 days. The most horrible place I visited is Puduraya bus terminal. I liked every place in Malaysia such as KL, Genting, penang, Langkawi, Alo setar etc and specially the friendly and charming ever helpful Malaysians except group of rowdies at Puduruya bus terminal. We went there to book tickets to Penang. At the doorstep a guy caught us with a a walki talki in hand and demanded where are we intended to travel. I didn’t want to answer. Then he walked with us forcefully asking questions. Being in an unknown country I had to say Penang. Then he directed us to a certain counter. But I booked ticket with a another. It was ‘Nice’ bus company counter. A lady there issued me a some writing on a paper and demanded money. I insisted on tickets finally they gave tickets but altered by pen. We were asked to be at the office counter at 7 a.m as we booked the 7.30 bus.
    Horror occurred when we came the other day morning. There were very few at the terminal at 7 am. When we entered a chubby dark coloured guy appeared and asked where we want to go. According to previous day experience I decided to directly walk to the counter. Then he blocked the way without allowing us to go. I managed to walked to the counter but others ( including two children ) were blocked by that man. Then a lean dark coloured man appeared and tried to talk. When I didn’t respond he tried to man handled me by touching and grabbing my hand. Then both of them came to me and blamed in utter filth
    To add more, the counter man said 7.30 bus has broken and we have to wait till 8.30. Once in a while they came to us and shouted at us but we could not do anything but wait for one hour.
    Later I leaned that though I booked tickets at “Nice Company”. Tickets have been issued by bus service called ‘ Allison’. Being there for 1.30 hours I understood all the thugs work for “Allison” company.
    If you are expected to travel by bus in Malaysia, don’t go to Puduruya bus terminal. It is a hell. Totally different to rest of the country. Though you buy online ticket when you go there they will harass you. A fat lady there asked me where am going. To avoid problems I said I have bought tickets. Then she demanded ” show me the tickets” and came after me. Finally we were asked to go to platform 15. A man came and shouted like herding animals. We didn’t understand any. At the last moment we found the Penang bus was parked elsewhere not at platform 15 and fortunately we could board the bus
    I felt deadly afraid with my family at PUduruya and therefore don’t go there. And the government should appoint a police personnel there and avoid this harassing of tourists