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Old 3rd December 2011, 08:54   #1
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Thumbs up "Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"

It all started with a Phone call...



One of my college friend working here at Singapore called me sometime in October to convey some good news - "My wife is in India. I am a bachelor for a month" A long weekend was coming up in the first week of November and both of us were missing driving here at Singapore.

So, we decided to plan for a driving holiday in Malaysia!

I had to apply for Visa and following typical Indian suggestions(big mistake), landed up at Mustafa Travels at Farrer Park in Singapore. I saw the pathetic customer service and crowd there and immediately left from there without applying for a Visa! Then found another authorized travel agent near my place and applied for the same.
45 SGD for multiple entry visa to Malaysia.


Next step, try to get more guys to join for the trip so that we don't go bankrupt! Initially, the group count was 6 which finally got reduced to 3.

TSK had started his Europe Trip log and I got to know about booking.com. (I did not know about this site until then!). We started hunting for good deals in Malaysia's main tourist places even before we decided on the location to visit! After a lot of brain storming, we decided to visit Penang, Cameron Highlands and Genting.

Our initial plan was to rent a car from Johor Bahru and drive but sanity prevailed and we decided to rent from Kuala Lampur instead of Johar Bahru so that we get more time for the vacation and don't end up spending 4 days just on the road!

And we came across this deal from Avis:
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-avis.jpg

And we booked Medium-Compact Plus (Honda City 1.5 (A) or equivalent) for RM388. We did not want to drive the Proton Boxes anyway!

The only problem with this deal is Avis is very particular about the timings as per the first line in terms & conditions.

Hotel Booking for Penang was done through booking.com @Hydro Hotel, Batu Ferringhi, Penang at 450 MYR for two nights.
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-booking.jpg

So, we had to reach Kuala Lampur on Friday morning to pick up the car and then drive to Penang. This created another problem. None of us had applied for a leave on Friday. We finally agreed on calling in sick on Friday morning from Kuala Lampur! lol

Note: IDP is not required for driving in Malaysia. I had to provide a photocopy of my India Driving Licence & Passport number at the time of booking.

Spending some quality time at work had me stumble upon a real nice website - Seat 61. And we decided to try the train from Singapore to KL instead of traveling by the buses/coaches.
Tickets bought in Singapore are more than double the price of MYR and hence we decided to cross over the causeway to Johor Bahru and then take the train from JB Sentral.

Booking tickets on irctc is much easier than booking on KTMB! The website does not allow us to buy tickets within 2 days of departure! We have to get the tickets at the counter only.
We somehow tested our patience and booked our return tickets from KL to Singapore but we did not have tickets for our onward journey!

Crossing over to Malaysia from Singapore is fairly simple process and we rushed to JB Sentral's counter to check if there are tickets! Good news, we were hoping to get seats at least but we were able to get hold of the last 3 vacant second class berths on the train @128 MYR.
We were happy that we will be well rested by time we reach KL so that we will be fresh for the drive to Penang and boy, were we wrong!

The tickets were for second class sleeper. The berths were comfortable, etc etc BUT we were tossed around like we were hitching a ride across the village roads in a bullock cart! (Do trains have suspension? Our second class compartment did not have any!)

Some pics of the train at JB Sentral Station (EKSPRES RAKYAT):

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-img23.48.16_03112011.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-img23.48.23_03112011.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9523.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_1586.jpg

Interior of the second class sleeper coaches:
Malaysian Railway KTMB

The train left at 11:55 PM on Thursday night (03/11/2011) and reached Kuala Lampur Sentral at exactly 6:30 AM on Friday morning.
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-img06.33.28_04112011.jpg

We dumped our bags in the 'paid' lockers at the station and decided to roam around KL for some time since we had to pick up the car from Avis after 10:00 AM.
The lockers gobbled up 20 MYR to lock!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9530.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9531.jpg

Getting out of KL Sentral into KL City was a mild shock for me as I was expecting the city to be similar to Singapore!

Quickly finished our Breakfast at a restaurant in one of the by-lanes opposite KL Sentral and we decided to visit Batu caves instead of just hanging around!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_95411.jpg

True Story: We did not feel tired or exhausted after climbing all those stairs! :-P
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9550.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9554.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9571.jpg

KTM Komuter Train:
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9595.jpg

Things you cannot do on the train:
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9597.jpg

Having done with the tourist attraction(!)- Batu Caves, we now headed back to KL Sentral to pick up our bags and took a cab to Avis's office at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Mutiara. It was 11:00 AM by the time we reached there! We also picked up a local Malaysia SIM and made "Sick Leave" calls to our respective managers!

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9602.jpg

Finished the formalities of signing the documents, etc at Avis and the car arrived at the hotel lobby.

As expected, it turned out to be the equivalent and not the Honda City!
Our car till Monday evening - Toyota Vios 1.5 G
It was a relatively new car with 60k on the odo.
1496 cc, 109 BHP, 4 speed automatic, ABS, EBD, Front Airbags.

We did a quick inspection of the car, checked all the existing dents/scratches etc and signed the document!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9604.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9607.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9609.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9611.jpg

And the road trip begins:
Being used to my E-Zen, I pressed the clutch with my left foot in heavy traffic while getting out of KL. Luckily, no one was behind us! Phew! Safe!

Destination Penang!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9613.jpg

I used Sygic maps for Malaysia on my HTC Desire for the whole trip.

Route Map:
Singapore to Johar Bahru - By Bus
Johar Bahru to KL - Train
KL - Penang - Cameron Highlands - Genting Highlands - KL - By Car
KL - Singapore - Train
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-map.jpg

Last edited by pulsar56 : 3rd December 2011 at 18:23.
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Old 3rd December 2011, 19:17   #2
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Default Re: Malaysia - Rail & Road Trip

Driving on Malaysia's Highways - A petrol-head's dream come true!
Wish we had hired a Beemer!

Some pics of KL City & the highway! Being a long weekend, it looked like the more than 50% of the population was heading out on a Holiday!

Leaving KL city behind us:
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9624.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9630.jpg

The minimalistic center console of the Toyota Vios. No USB or Aux-In for the music system.
We were not carrying any CDs either. The Malaysian FM stations have awesome coverage and kept us entertained throughout the journey!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9632.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9637.jpg

Toll Charges - as long as you can read numbers, you are good to go!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9639.jpg

What to do when you are driving a boring Automatic? Sit back, relax and cruise!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9648.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9665.jpg

Stopped for Lunch at a R&R. Also known as RSA (Rest & Service Areas) are located every 60 KMs on the expressway. Not all of them have food courts though.
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9667.jpg

As soon as we start after lunch, it starts to drizzle and then pours cats and dogs!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9673.jpg

The steering has audio controls and I was busy tuning to various FM Stations every few minutes!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9681.jpg

Now a dry spell for a short stretch!
Speed Camera zones are clearly marked. Rule of thumb, follow the local drivers, if you see them slowing down, time to step on that seldom used brake pedal!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9689.jpg

Pouring again!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9697.jpg

Taking advantage!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9703.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9719.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9736.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9741.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9755.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9757.jpg

Ipoh city from the highway!
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9760.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9763.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9766.jpg

Almost all the Toll Plazas had traffic due to the long weekend
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9771.jpg

TUNAI(Cash?) - is the lane for paying tolls with Cash. Rest of the lanes are unmanned and one needs to use the 'Tough & Go' cards.
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9772.jpg

The Malaysian Highways use Open Toll & Closed Toll system. We crossed both kind of tolls. The open toll system is just like what we have on the National Highways in India.

In the closed system, we just collect a toll receipt (transit ticket) and get on to the highway. You return the ticket at the point you are exiting from the Expressway and are charged based on Distance traveled.

Last edited by pulsar56 : 3rd December 2011 at 19:20.
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Old 4th December 2011, 09:17   #3
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Default Re: Malaysia - Rail & Road Trip

Penang Bridge:
13.5 Kms long, with 8.5 KMs over the sea and constructed in less than 5 years! Just awesome!

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9775.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9777.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9781.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9790.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9792.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9795.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9799.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9806.jpg

Georgetown:
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9808.jpg

Our Room at Hydro Hotel:
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9811.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9814.jpg

View from the room's balcony
"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9812.jpg

"Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"-dsc_9813.jpg



The location of the hotel is not convenient if you do not have your own transport. The hotel is located between Batu Ferringhi beach and Georgetown. One has to rely on the public buses or use a cab for getting around, which can get little frustrating sometimes.


Friday night was spent in exploring the island, driving around and basic shopping. Finding a parking spot in the happening places was a pain though!

Last edited by pulsar56 : 4th December 2011 at 09:28.
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Old 4th December 2011, 09:48   #4
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Default Re: "Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"

Mods note: Thread moved to Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 4th December 2011, 10:55   #5
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Default Re: "Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"

Nice travelogue and some good photographs.
Made me nostalgic of my trip to Malaysia and Singapore.
Good that you have planned the trip well and made use of the time to venture out and see the places.
Thanks for sharing
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Old 4th December 2011, 11:14   #6
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Default Re: "Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"

Thanks, Pulsar. Revives memories of my own trip during Ramzan to that part of the world. Awaiting more uploads of photos. I like the way the story unfolds through the photos.
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Old 4th December 2011, 11:34   #7
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Default Re: "Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"

Excellent travelogue Nazim. I liked the opening story of the entire plan of holiday and especially the "sick leave" part

Having visited Malaysia a few times, I have a slight affinity towards that place and feels just like India ( albeit a cleaner and better one)

I agree the roads are fantastic to drive especially since you dont get to drive in Singapore besides it being such a small city

Is that a Toyota Etios of India? For a 60K kms car, interior looks like showroom condition.

Some pictures on the bridge have come out superb. Keep unloading all the pictures along with detailed write-up

Edit : Rating the thread 5*

Btw, hope some foodie pics coming along too...No TL is complete with them
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Old 4th December 2011, 11:40   #8
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Default Re: "Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"

Nice detailed write up pulsar56. I did part 1 of your journey yesterday Singapore to JB.
And at JB Sentral I saw a train and was wondering how it might look from inside and lo here's your excellent travelogue with the train interiors photographed!

Malaysian roads are awesome, I did SG - KL in May this year.
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Old 4th December 2011, 12:29   #9
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Default Re: "Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"

Wow!!!
nice pics and write up.
Made me nostalgic of rajababu trip to Malaysia and Singapore last year.
Would love to visit Malaysia again.
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Old 4th December 2011, 23:51   #10
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Pulsar,

Great thread with lots of details, loved the little details maps, interiors of trains, car details, usage of HTC for navigation, this is what's really useful to somebody who might track that path, would shorten the search curve. What kind of insurance did you take for the car?

Reminds me of my own trip to Malaysia, S'pore few years back, have a T-Log here somewhere. Have been thinking of a self drive trip for some time, Langkawi is on the radar and then cross over to Kota Baru, Kuantan, the other coast.

Good photos to capture the moods and little things, keep it going, waiting for more. Thanks for starting and sharing.

--Ramky
======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 4th December 2011 at 23:53.
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Old 5th December 2011, 09:55   #11
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Default Re: "Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by gajadonga View Post
Good that you have planned the trip well and made use of the time to venture out and see the places.
Thank you Dr. saab.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hyd_traveller View Post
I like the way the story unfolds through the photos.
Thank you Bajaj sir, will continue the rest of the travelogue soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
Excellent travelogue Nazim. I liked the opening story of the entire plan of holiday and especially the "sick leave" part
Is that a Toyota Etios of India? For a 60K kms car, interior looks like showroom condition.
Thanks Avi. Not many food pics as we were more interested in eating the food than clicking pics!
Vios is definitely not the Etios.
Link to wiki page about the car - Toyota Vios - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meer View Post
And at JB Sentral I saw a train and was wondering how it might look from inside and lo here's your excellent travelogue with the train interiors photographed!
Thank you Meer, Seat61 inspired me to take the train and the first class is totally worth if planning for an overnight comfortable journey to KL.
One of the main reason we decided to take the train was we did not want to reach KL at 4:00 AM in the morning!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ASHISHPALLOD View Post
Made me nostalgic of rajababu trip to Malaysia and Singapore last year.
Would love to visit Malaysia again.
Thank you Ashish bhau, I went through the Raja Babu travelogue again before going on this trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramkya1 View Post
Pulsar,
Great thread with lots of details, loved the little details maps, interiors of trains, car details, usage of HTC for navigation, this is what's really useful to somebody who might track that path, would shorten the search curve. What kind of insurance did you take for the car?

Good photos to capture the moods and little things, keep it going, waiting for more. Thanks for starting and sharing.

--Ramky
======
Thanks Ramky.

As for the car insurance, it was part of the package.
Quote:
Rates include unlimited mileage, maintenance, passenger liability protection and insurance cover of third party property damage up to RM3,000,000.00 and unlimited for third party bodily injuries.

EXCESS CLAUSE
In the event the RENTER sustains damage to Avis vehicle and the RENTER is found to be not at fault by the authorities, they are only liable to pay the reduced excess clause which was 800 MYR for our vehicle.
Our total cost of car - (in MYR)
388 (for 3 days) + 100 (for one extra day) + 22 (fuel and tax) = 510
In case if we had an accident, our total liability was 800 MYR.

When we took delivery of the car, the tank was 3/4th full and we returned it with 1/4 tank and hence the extra 22 Ringgits added to the bill.

The normal rental per day for the Vios is 240 MYR and we negotiated it to 100 MYR for one additional day on Monday!

BTW, Avis took 3 weeks to charge us for the rental. At the time of taking delivery, they took an imprint of the credit card and a blank charge slip.
The 3 weeks waiting time was to check with Malaysian Authorities/Police for any violations or fines that might have been incurred when the car was with us.
We got lucky and did not have any violations recorded against us!

Avis Receipt:
Name:  avis.png
Views: 3953
Size:  31.4 KB

We drove just 1131 KMs during the trip!

Last edited by pulsar56 : 5th December 2011 at 10:03. Reason: Adding Rental Recipt
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Old 5th December 2011, 10:32   #12
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Default Re: "Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"

Thanks Nazim for a wonderful TL. It is nice to see that it is easy to explore these countries - which are small in size - in self drive cars which makes these trips enjoyable. Same thing applies to Sri Lanka where you can hire Self drive cars and go around the island at your own pace.
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Old 5th December 2011, 11:43   #13
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Default Re: "Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"

Lovely TL. We need more of these - I have done a few trips a few years back in Australia with similar structure - long weekends, rental cars, beautiful roads, and awesome trips. You have certainly given me the push to put them up, maybe over the weekend or later.

Oh, yea, btw - 5 stars for the TL. Now get the rest of the posts up asap!
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Old 5th December 2011, 12:56   #14
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Default Re: "Malaysia - Truly Asia, By Rail & Road!"

Good trip. It is indeed a pleasure to drive on Malaysian roads (provided you don't get caught up on traffic snarls). KL is notoriously famous for it. My 6 trips to Malaysia within 9 months would stand testimony as to how life transforms once you cross woodlands and enter Johor Bahru! Malaysia is a country with a lot of hidden treasures. Good log and pics as well. Next time you go there, do drop in at Kota Tinggi. small but attractive waterfalls.
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Old 5th December 2011, 13:11   #15
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Nice details, did i see a Zen in one of the pics. Its raining SEA travelogs here in tbhp now
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