With a seat behind the driver, my bus finally pulled out of Melaka Sentral.
You may remember that I was wondering why the bus I had a seat booked on was so empty. You may also remember that Pessimist Woman swung into action.
I lost count of the different companies ploughing the route between Melaka and Kuala Lumpur. All were running buses 10-15 minutes apart.
First up, was there anything wrong with the bus?
Nope. Comfortable seats, plenty of legroom and a seat behind the driver with a great view of everything.
Why was it so empty? 148 empty seats was obviously a misprint. It didn’t have 148 seats in total. It certainly wasn’t a double decker.
It was probably one third full.
It didn’t get cancelled, unlike the one ten minutes earlier.
However, it was delayed by around 30 minutes.
What’s brilliant about the boarding gates at Melaka Bus Station is this…
You scan your ticket and if your bus hasn’t arrived, the digital readout tells you and adds: “Please try again later.”
It’s very polite.
If your boarding gate changes because the bus has pulled up at a different gate to the one you printed on your ticket, the readout tells you.
The staff didn’t know why the bus was delayed but weren’t expecting it to be cancelled, which was something.
It finally arrived and a large group of people hurried to board. Most appeared to be continuing to its final destination, Ipoh.
The bus quickly reached the outskirts of Melaka and heading along the dual carriageway before joining the three lane toll road to Kuala Lumpur.
We passed more palm plantations, again extending as far as the eye could see.
Every now few minutes, for about ten minutes after we passed the tolls high pitched beeping would go off on the panel on front of the driver.
I found myself hoping it was an alert for speed cameras rather than anything related to engine failure.
The driver didn’t seem to too concerned.
The scenery around became more diverse rainforest, though the land use between forest and plantation was clearly contested.
Mountains rose up in the distance and, closer to the road, the domes of one or two blue mosques curved above the trees.
The road passed several small towns and new housing developments, all surrounded by forest and framed by the distant mountains.
Around twenty miles from the centre of Kuala Lumpur, it was clear that the city is expanding rapidly. We were arriving in the outskirts. New apartment buildings were going up – rather lovely white concrete and glass designs.
The houses were caramel or white rendered with white tiled rooves and all surrounded by green space. This looked like an affluent suburb to put some space between those who could afford to do so and the rest of the city.
At around fifteen miles from the centre, the apartments and houses were more modest. A large golden domed mosque reflected the afternoon sunshine.
The bus passed expansive industrial estates.
At ten miles from the centre, apartment block housing was denser with businesses – around four storeys high and painted different colours – ‘nestled’ at their feet. The green landscape continued.
Astonishly, the bus barely had to slow as we drew closer to my destination. Normally, on entering a city, I’ve found that we grind to almost a halt.
I did wonder whether we were ever going to arrive as the approach road snaked around the building.
The bus station (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan) was around five miles from the centre and I was going beyond it. This meant catching a metro.
Straightforward though only one train every fifteen minutes out of the bus station and I had just missed one. Plus, I couldn’t buy a ticket to my destination. I’d have to change at the main railway station and buy another ticket.
It is possible if you buy a metro card, though apparently this wasn’t sold at this counter. I’m assuming this as I was not offered when I asked if the system wasn’t integrated.
There were two small stations at Bandar Tasik Selatan – the rail connector for the bus station and I think I’d managed to get myself onto a rail connection rather than a metro connection though I then couldn’t work out why the lady at the ticket office hadn’t redirected me, though there were no trains passing through there while I waited.
The train climbed a raised rail and skirted around the city giving me some great views of the Kuala Lumpur.
Within five minutes, the train arrived at Sentral and I hurried through to buy another ticket for my next stop.
I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security with cities that have metros. I assume there will be one running every three minutes. Not in Kuala Lumpur ans not on my route.
The next train was in ten minutes and it was running late.
I had to chuckle. I’ve really been spoiled in cities elsewhere.
This metro station had an open platform – no screens keeping passengers from the rails. The floor was marked to show where the doors would open.
The platform wasn’t crowded.
The train was also incredibly slow with announcements for the next station before we had left the station we were in.
However, I made it and check out the view!