Friday, November 7, 2014

Malay Journey - Part 2

"Straight Trans Malay Road Amidst the valleys of lustered oil palms" (Haiku by riodan)

Monday August 25, 2014, I took a transnational bus, with a spider mark on the front glass, from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. I avoided Sunday traffic to avoid Johorbaru, shoppers coming back from Singapore crossing the border, reminding me of the San Diego / Tijuana border crossings, which I knew well. I changed hotels from KLCC to Pudraya Sentral so that I could walk to the bus terminal early in the morning with the ticket I had purchased on Sunday.

The first bus was to depart at 7:30 AM. I was at the terminal at 7:00 AM. The huge oblong building was deserted, contrary to the weekend jostling crowds. Travelers go up to the second floor which has numbered gates with waiting chairs and shops and food stalls. It was one of those store ladies who asked her neighbor to watch her store and guided me to the upper floors to the bus ticket counter. She was pregnant and I felt guilty to force her to hurry upstairs. She was so kind to me, a stranger.

At around 7:20 AM a woman came and opened the descending stair gate. I immediately followed her. She simply said wait there on the deck. It's a dimly lit first level floor with islands of platforms. The sectional concrete walls block the view of the entire floor. I felt I was in a large empty warehouse. No one was there at 7:30 AM and I became a little nervous. A nondescript man approached me and ordered me to move to a different numbered deck. He was a dispatcher. Again, nobody appeared at the designated deck. Nothing happened at 7:45. About close to 8:00, one guy joined me and asked me some questions I didn't understand. About 8:10, the bus finally arrived at the deck. The bus, after idling for another 10 minutes, left Pudraya, made a big left turn, headed for KL Lake Garden, passing the Amphitheatre and National Musuem and getting onto the highway heading south.

KL-Malacca was my third journey on the bus. I had plenty of time to compose my Haiku, watching hillsides all covered with oil palms. The bus was traveling through the two states south of Malacca, Pahang and Johor, which use close to 20% of their land for oil palm farms. Yes, Malaysia is the top palm oil producer and exporter in the world. The palm oil industry overtook the rubber industry by modernizing its mills with higher efficiency and an ecology friendly approach - reducing the output of methane and holding wastes to a minimum.

The bus had one stop at a place called Yong Peng to change drivers. It is an interchange town, 100 km or 70 miles from Singapore. Most of the passengers got off before the border. Only two passengers and I went through customs. After crossing the Johor Strait through a kilometer long causeway bridge, the bus took the Changi Airport route and down Nichola Highway. Finally, we circled the low rise shopping centers reached the end destination. The entire trip took five hours plus.

I had no idea where I was but happened to find a Japanese restaurant and went in. Ordering lunch, I asked a woman manager for the nearest bank and hotel. She also agreed to keep my luggage awhile. I walked free of luggage to exchange currency and obtain sightseeing info. This walk really helped me 'get my feet wet' in Singapore I was at the area called Bugis. The Hotel I visited was V Hotel, at MRT Lavendar. I even had a chance to drop into the Singapore Visa Office where I saw many young people walking in after a security check.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Thanks. I felt like I was there! Loved the palm tree photo as a contrast to the city photo. Keep up the good work.