Shuttle Tebrau Turnstile System at JB Sentral

This post is about the travel experience onboard the Shuttle Tebrau.

This is NOT the actual information page you are looking for.

Click here to visit the dedicated Shuttle Tebrau information page.

The dedicated page features the route map, train interior, timetable, fares, travel advisories and a walkthrough of the procedures for crossing the border via the Shuttle Tebrau.

Effective 1 March 2017, the turnstiles at Gate A of JB Sentral for the Shuttle Tebrau are in operation. The turnstiles operate with scanning the barcode provided below the tickets. With the similar barcode provided on the KTM E-Tickets* from 12Go AsiaBusOnlineTicket or Easybook, this also eliminates the need to exchange the A4 printout for the actual ticket.

*Links to the KTM E-Ticket System are not provided here due to KTM’s own admission of the instability of their system here after Prime Minister Najib Razak personally posted on Facebook that there is such an issue here.

Using the turnstile is pretty simple – just queue at Gate A as per normal and scan the barcode at the reader. These turnstiles are similar to, if not the same as with the exception of the new barcode reader (ie. repurposed), the old KTM Komuter turnstiles in the Klang Valley.

Once the light on top of the turnstile lights up in green, push the turnstile bar forward to proceed and you’re in. Proceed for immigration and boarding as per normal from here.

This new system now differentiates the Shuttle Tebrau from all other KTM Intercity services, as positioned by KTM. This system also prevents ticket fraud as unlike Shuttle Timur trains which are also free seating but have no ticket limit per train, tickets on the Shuttle Tebrau are limited to 320 tickets per train. Should a passenger decide to use a fake ticket, the turnstile will not unlock since the barcode will be unable to be read properly or already used.

The turnstiles are not installed in Woodlands CIQ. There are no changes to the procedure of ticket checking at Woodlands CIQ.


What is the best ticket combination I can buy for the Shuttle Tebrau?

From Woodlands CIQ to JB Sentral (one way)
Easybook: S$5
12Go Asia: S$5
BusOnlineTicket: S$5
KTM E-Ticket System: RM16 + RM2 booking fee
KTM Intercity Counter: S$5

From Woodlands CIQ to JB Sentral (return/two ways)

Easybook: S$5 + RM5
12Go Asia: S$5 + RM5
BusOnlineTicket: S$5 + RM5
KTM E-Ticket System: Unavailable
KTM Intercity Counter: S$10

From JB Sentral to Woodlands CIQ (one way)

Easybook: RM5
12Go Asia: RM5
BusOnlineTicket: RM5
KTM E-Ticket System
: RM5 + RM2 booking fee
KTM Intercity Counter: RM5

From JB Sentral to Woodlands CIQ (return/two ways)

Easybook: RM5 + S$5
12Go Asia: RM5 + S$5
BusOnlineTicket: RM5 + S$5
KTM E-Ticket System: Unavailable
KTM Intercity Counter: RM10

Journey Experiences

KTM Train Ticket Booking Methods

Tickets are open for sale 180 days before departure except for the Shuttle Tebrau which opens 30 days before departure.

Hotel Booking

Attractions Booking

How do I book tickets online?

Links to the KTM E-Ticket System are strikethroughed due to KTM’s own admission of the instability of their system here after Prime Minister Najib Razak personally posted on Facebook that there is such an issue here. Proceed using the KTM E-Ticket System at your own risk.

This post is about the travel experience onboard the Shuttle Tebrau.

This is NOT the actual information page you are looking for.

Click here to visit the dedicated Shuttle Tebrau information page.

The dedicated page features the route map, train interior, timetable, fares, travel advisories and a walkthrough of the procedures for crossing the border via the Shuttle Tebrau.


ETS Gold: Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur by Train

This post is about the travel experience onboard the ETS Gold.

Click here to visit the dedicated ETS Gold information page.

The ETS Gold is the most common service among the 3 ETS service classes, but the ETS Gold service between KL Sentral and Ipoh has slightly more stops than the other services between KL Sentral and Butterworth or Padang Besar, and is also commonly served by the 91 Class with the exception of two services.

The waiting hall of Ipoh Railway Station now has more seats as the platform is now restricted for passengers only.

The gate to enter the platform.

The 91 Class ETS 03 standing by for departure, which is actually the same train set as my previous ETS Silver journey.

Departing Ipoh.

If you need to know the typical platform gap for the ETS on typical high platform stations, it’s around 12-15cm wide.

I tried the new Nasi Briyani on this trip, which wasn’t on the menu. I’m not sure if this is a limited item though. RM9 for the combo with a bottle of mineral water.

It comes with a side of chicken, but it was too salty for me in general. It wasn’t the saltiness from the spices for the rice or the sauce of the chicken – it was more like the saltiness from salt.

Along the way near Serendah, the train passed by the Emrail yard where the former Japanese DD51, Indian YDM4 and Thai Krupp locomotives are stabled, along with Emrail’s other locomotives.

The train arrived at Platform 3 of KL Sentral, where passengers ascend up to the concourse via Gate D, which is actually shared with the KTM Komuter trains arriving from Pelabuhan Klang and Pulau Sebang (Tampin). A staff will be on hand to change the position of the gate. ETS passengers have priority on the escalators if both trains arrive at the same time.

Again, not the perfect solution, but considering that there are technically no tracks at the usual Platforms 1 and 2, this seem to be the most viable solution.

ETS passengers exit out of the Touch ‘n Go lane of the KTM Komuter gates.

Not the grandest welcome to KL Sentral but at least it sort of offers easier access to interchanging with other rail systems in the station.

This post is about the travel experience onboard the ETS Gold.

Click here to visit the dedicated ETS Gold information page.

ETS Silver: Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh by Train

This post is about the travel experience onboard the ETS Silver.

Click here to visit the dedicated ETS Silver information page.

The ETS Silver offers the lowest fares among the 3 ETS service classes, stopping at some stations between KL Sentral and Tanjung Malim and at all stations between Tanjung Malim and Ipoh – making it the service with the most stops among the 3 ETS service classes.

Since 20 February 2017, with the new platform assignments due to the progress of the infrastructure upgrading of the Klang Valley Double Track project, all ETS services to and from KL Sentral departs from Platform 3, with the waiting area at Gate C, which is pretty much the KTM Komuter gates.

Before my ETS Silver train departing at 12.20pm, there is an ETS Gold service to Gemas which is said to arrive. However, this is evidently wrong with the CCTV showing no trains currently at Platform 3, and all other platforms anyway.

After the ETS Gold service to Gemas departed, the passengers to Ipoh were allowed to enter the platform.

Platform 3 is now separated from the KTM Komuter platforms with a barricade.

After descending down to the platform, ETS passengers are ushered to the waiting area before the train arrives.

The former KTM Komuter waiting area is now for ETS passengers.

The ETS Silver is formed of a 91 Class EMU.

Although it’s a 91 Class, KTM seems to have just used the 93 Class safety stickers on the seat back of this train. Or maybe they’ve only printed one type of sticker.

The seat layout on the safety sticker does not correspond to the actual seat layout at all. Looks like KTM themselves can’t provide their own information. (For the actual seat layout, visit my 91 Class and 93 Class pages.)

The ETS also now uses Platform 2 of Kuala Lumpur Railway Station for northbound travel.

Food-wise, the meal options are the same across all ETS services.

I personally prefer the bistro of the 91 Class due to the bar counter-style seating arrangement facing the window as compared to the 93 Class.

Passing by the track rehabilitation area of the the infrastructure upgrading of the Klang Valley Double Track project.

The usual Nasi Lemak was available. RM9 for the combo with a hot drink.

Also available on this trip (finally) was the highly-raved about “dim sum” which was never available for all my ETS trips so far before this. I had to request from the bistro staff and he kindly helped me check his chiller box, and found the last box of dim sum siew mai available.

Either the dim sum is so popular that it got sold out 30 minutes after departure from KL Sentral or it’s not popular that they didn’t bother stocking up on it before departure – I think it’s the latter.

The dim sum is served with hoisin sauce which was kind of strange, but it tasted fine nonetheless. RM9 for the combo with a bottle of mineral water.

Back in my seat, clearly KTM tries hard to spice up their bistro offerings but kind of neglected vetting through their movies before screening them.

The typical scenery in Perak on the way to Ipoh.

The train somehow managed to hit 150km/h in Perak, allowing it to catch up some time lost while waiting to enter the single track sector of the track rehabilitation area as it was occupied by a KTM Komuter train.

An interior shot of the 91 Class which I managed to get after the passengers has disembarked at Ipoh, the final station of this ETS Silver service. The ETS Silver service is only found on the KL Sentral – Ipoh route.

The 91 Class ETS03 at Ipoh’s Platform 1, which will form the next ETS Gold service back to KL Sentral.

It’s been a couple of years since I last stepped into Ipoh, and the passenger flow has changed since the last time I used it about 4 and a half years ago. The centre door is now used for arriving passengers only.

Also something new to me is the Taxi Coupon counter. This wasn’t available the last time I came here although I would assume it’s not the cheapest since the touts outside still had good business. But of course, if you have a smartphone, use an app or something.

It’s always nice to step out of Ipoh Railway Station and walk through the garden to the main road. It looked fresher than my last visit, either that or it’s been so long that it felt refreshing to be back.

This post is about the travel experience onboard the ETS Silver.

Click here to visit the dedicated ETS Silver information page.

Kelana Jaya Line Bombardier INNOVIA Metro 300

The Kelana Jaya Line Bombardier INNOVIA Metro 300, or more locally-known as the Kuala Lumpur Additional Vehicle (KLAV) trains, is the latest addition to the fleet of Kelana Jaya Line trains. The INNOVIA Metro 300 is the third-generation train for the Kelana Jaya Line, ordered for the sustainability of the system with the increase of passengers and the extension to Putra Heights. 14 such sets of 4-car trains are ordered, with a few running on revenue service already.

The interior of the train looks more or less similar to the refurbished 2-car trans, with the exception of the grabpoles, handgrips and the larger window on the doors.

Most notably, the INNOVIA Metro 300 features a dynamic route map above each door to show which station the train is currently at or travelling to.

The dynamic route map also tells you which side the door will open on. The red and orange doesn’t seem to differentiate itself well though, I would rather have the past stations be in red and the upcoming stations in green instead.

In addition to the dynamic route maps, the next station information can also be found on the information screens in the middle of each coach, which plays advertisements, videos and infographics of RapidKL services.

The handstrap design seems to blend the original design with the harder red STAR LRT material, which can be found on some unrefurbished 2-car trains. I would personally prefer the original material as it’s softer and feels nicer to hold.

The interior fittings are done by Bombardier and Hartasuma, as seen on the builder plate and the door plate.

The front driving console area is a little different from the previous Bombardier INNOVIA Metro designs, offering a much wider view from a passenger’s perspective.

I wouldn’t say that the INNOVIA Metro 300 is a new level of comfort for travelling on the Kelana Jaya line as the seats look and feel the same, and the motor sounds the same too, but it at least reduces the frequency on the line during peak hours. If you’re lucky enough, your next ride on the Kelana Jaya Line might be on the INNOVIA Metro 300!

Starmart Express: Kuala Lumpur to Singapore by Bus

Having tried the overnight journey from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur before, I decided to give Starmart a go for a daytime journey back to Singapore. Starmart departs from Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur and not Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) like most typical Super VIP buses do. More accurately, it departs from Imbi monorail station which makes access to the bus even easier.

You may also like to read: Starmart Express: Singapore to Kuala Lumpur by Bus

The kiosk is below the station’s escalators on the Berjaya Times Square side. I was about to “check-in” with my Easybook printout but the staff at the bus called for passengers who had printouts to just proceed to the bus.

Starmart Express offers one of the most frequent bus departures from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, with an average of one bus every 30 to 60 minutes from 6am to midnight at 00 and 30 of the hour, with additional departures at 15 and 45 of the hour or additional buses at existing departure times during peak periods. (I thought the schedule printed on the kiosk was stating the timings of weekdays and public holidays but it turned out to be the AM and PM schedule.)

In my journey’s case, however, they ran a combined service for the 12.30pm and 1.00pm departure using a double decker bus, and they reshuffled everyone’s seat numbers. So even with my seat carefully chosen, I still got a new seat since the seat numbers on the double decker run with both letter suffixes and standalones.

The interior of the double decker bus. This particular seat had a window column so it was hard to take scenery photos.

The bus departed a few minutes off schedule at around 1.05pm. Luckily I was booked on the 1.00pm and not 12.30pm, else I would have waited for 35 minutes on board.

The bus made a 15-minute stop at Kampung Bemban rest area in Melaka for a toilet break. Food trucks are available at this rest area for some snacks, which I bought some on the bus for the second leg of the journey. I “smuggled” them in without the driver looking, but before departure, he came round with a bin for us to throw our rubbish away – great service without banning passengers from eating and drinking in the bus and yet maintaining the overall cleanliness.

If there was a complain that I have, it would be that the bus travelled at an average speed of around 80 to 90km/h only – the journey from Berjaya Times Square to Tanjung Kupang took slightly more than 5 hours. Almost all other buses and even lorries were overtaking us.

The bus waited at Tuas Checkpoint for two passengers who didn’t show up for half an hour, which added to the delay. In the end, the bus had to depart without them since it had been already half an hour and everyone was getting impatient.

The bus arrived at Golden Mile Tower at around 8.00pm – 7 hours after departing Berjaya Times Square. It was painfully slow, especially sitting on the right side of the bus where you can see all the vehicles overtaking you, but it seems that most buses that I’ve taken to and from Singapore now drive at this speed especially after the major bus crashes last year.

Will I take Starmart Express again?

Yes, they’ve never failed me on comfort and cleanliness, even with the negative news last year, and with departures to Singapore which are more frequent than the KTM Komuter nowdays, there’s always a good timing to travel with them.

You may also like to read: Starmart Express: Singapore to Kuala Lumpur by Bus

Some possible booking methods for Starmart Express are:

  • Starmart Express ticket counters
  • Online from Easybook

Hotel Booking

Attractions Booking

How do I book tickets online?

Pacific Express: Another Bus Ride from Hell

Pacific Express is one of the newer companies to operate independently to Singapore, but brings its bad habits overseas nonetheless. The only reason I took it was because it was around half the price as all other bus company tickets on Easybook on my day of departure, and I learnt that paying the usual standard price is actually a better idea.

I walked to the end of Golden Mile Complex trying to find the office to “check-in”, but couldn’t find Pacific Express. Only when I actually read the address did I realise…

… I had missed the office because it was CLOSED.

On it was a handwritten sign stating the bus number. I guess this was my wireless instant check-in.

Luckily, the bus was already waiting along the road near the office, so I hopped on and tried to get comfy for the ride up. The key word here is tried.

The interior of the bus, with the new Orient seats. Comfortable enough except that since the bus was slightly shorter than the usual ones but still maintaining 10 rows, the legroom was a little crammed.

Compared to my previous experience with Pacific from Larkin to TBS with free seating and which took a whopping 7 hours even after a 2 hour delay from departure due to the bus making a stop at every single main town along Route 1 to KL – yeah you read that right, we didn’t go on a highway – this seems pretty bearable.

I could even forgive the little goodie the previous passenger left on board and which the driver forgot to clear. I cleared it myself before departure so that I can store my things without having it bread-flavoured by the time I reached KL.

After coming back from the rubbish bin, I felt a drop of water on my wrist, which probably came from the aircon. With it carried a baby cockroach, which I promptly killed by slapping my wrist. This was going to be a long ride. I saw two more baby cockroaches on the window on the seat in front of me, but it was too far for me to kill it without attracting any attention.

I felt something was really amiss when the passengers in the double seats decided to self-declare the single seats as theirs. Not only did the staff didn’t care about it, there were some who were double booked on the same seat as well. Only upon departure and some commotion was coming from the double seats did I realise that the aircon wasn’t working on the right side of the bus. Although mine wasn’t exactly cold air, at least I had air. This problem persisted throughout the journey.

However, the bus surprisingly departed on time at 11.45pm and used the Second Link to cross into Malaysia. I actually expected my bus to form the departure from Larkin to KL, but I guess we were full already. Since it was the start of the school holidays, we took a whopping 3 hours to clear both Tuas and Tanjung Kupang immigration and customs. Luckily Pacific didn’t pull a Pacific to leave some of us behind. The bus departed Tanjung Kupang at 3.30am.

I tried to get some sleep, but the bumpier-than-usual ride combined with the minimal legroom made it quite difficult, but I managed to drift in and out of sleep anyway.

Till we reached Seremban.

No one told me there would be stops, but compared with my previous experience from Larkin with stops such as at Ayer Hitam, Batu Pahat, Muar and who-knows-where-else, this was probably “non-stop”.

The bus arrived at Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) at 7.30am, a whopping 7 hour and 45 minute journey from Singapore, but probably due to the huge jam at immigration on both sides. Even though my ticket was to Berjaya Times Square, I just got off here instead since the sun had already rose and there’s readily available transport from TBS.

No jams to enter the alighting bay due to the off-peak timing of arrivals.

Seasons Express is under a consortium known as “Pacific Group”, which can be seen on some buses that ply within Malaysia. When going up, I realised that the Seasons Express bus behind us at Golden Mile was actually using an actual Pacific Express bus, so I guess since the departure and arrival times were the same, it also made a stop at Seremban and has the same level of service as Pacific Express.

Will I take Seasons or Pacific Express ever again?

No way, they are part of my blacklist together with Qistna. The cheap fares aren’t worth it unless you plan to kill cockroaches with your bare hands . And I guess I already slapped myself on the wrist for trying to travel with cheap companies.

Transtar First Class Solitaire: Kuala Lumpur to Singapore by Luxury Bus

Transtar is one of the pioneers in luxury coach travel between Singapore and Malaysia, and they claim that the Transtar First Class Solitaire is “the ultimate 18 individual seater double decker coach in hospitality and luxurious comfort”. After I have tried it for myself, and comparing with other coach companies that I have tried so far,  it’s hard to dispute that claim.

After my onward journey with Qistna, I got my return journey with Transtar First Class Solitaire, which was a total world of difference.

Transtar’s KL office is located at 135 Jalan Imbi 55100 Kuala Lumpur and their KL-origin buses depart from there. It’s about a 5-minute walk from Imbi or Bukit Bintang Monorail stations.

Route Map

After a “check-in” with my Easybook printout at the counter, I was invited to use the lounge just behind.

A simple lounge with just sofas, a TV showing some music videos and hot drinks, but comfortable enough to wait for the bus instead of standing outside their office.

Once the bus was ready for boarding, the stewardess called for passengers to board the bus.

The Transtar First Class Solitaire bus waiting by the road ahead of their office.

The bus departed at 6.15pm, 15 minutes delayed from original schedule due to the late arrival of the bus from Singapore.

Announcements were made by the stewardess upon departure, welcoming all passengers on board and introducing herself and the bus captain. She also pointed out the safety features around the bus such as the seat belts on my seat and the closest emergency exits. Seriously, the only safety feature lacking are oxygen masks dropping down from above in case of a cabin depressurization, and perhaps a slide which will deploy from the upper deck in case of an emergency evacuation on the runway highway.

When compared with Qistna, this is probably heaven.

Inside the 1+1 seater Transtar First Class Solitaire bus. Despite being a double-decker bus, there are only 18* seats inside.
(*There is a slimmer middle seat on the lower deck between two normal-sized seats which is not sold, which makes the actual total number of seats 19 if it is ever sold.)

The amount of space one person gets in a Solitaire cocoon seat. The electrical seat controls, personal TV screen, storage and power socket are also conveniently placed around.

The Solitaire seat also reclines reasonably flat at 140 degrees, with a footrest designed to blend in as part of the reclined seat when fully extended. And because this is a cocoon seat, I didn’t have to worry about reclining into the person behind me.

The entertainment was available since the start of the journey, so I used that first.

After departure, the stewardess came around with mineral water for each passenger, which I placed at the side slot of the seat.

Passing through the new IKEA at Cheras on the way to the North-South Highway. Blankets were handed out at around this point.

Once the bus passed the Sungai Besi toll, dinner was served. The meal as stated on the sticker was “Silver Anchovies Fried Rice with Kung Poh Chicken”. It also came with stewed potato wedges and a spring roll. Hot drinks were also available to be served with the meal.

The frills available on this trip.

When the bus got dimmer due to the sunset and the rain outside, the interior lights were switched on for us to enjoy our meal.

The bus made a 10-minute stop at Kampung Bemban rest area in Melaka for a short toilet break. Food trucks are available at this rest area for some snacks, but that wasn’t really necessary considering the full meal I just had. Plus my favourite Putu Bambu truck was sold out when my bus arrived.

At the Senai toll, the stewardess came around to collect back the blankets issued.

The bus made a short 5-minute stop at GP Sentral in Gelang Patah to drop off some passengers and the stewardess before continuing on to the Sultan Abu Bakar CIQ Complex in Tanjung Kupang and thereafter Tuas Checkpoint. A minor inconvenience, but at least I was comfortably detoured in a Solitaire seat.

The bus arrived at Golden Mile Complex at 12.30am, 6 hours and 15 minutes point-to-point from Imbi.

Will I take Transtar First Class Solitaire ever again?

Definitely, if the prices on Easybook remains affordable. I paid the lowest fare based on the timing at $22 for the 6pm trip from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore which is cheaper than booking direct with Transtar, but it costs $59 from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.

Qistna Express: Truly the Bus Ride from Hell

Qistna Express is the estranged sister company of Starmart, which can possibly stay afloat in the long-run only due to the success of the said parent company. Even with all the negative comments online and bad press, I tried it for myself anyway – and learnt that online reviews are pretty accurate.

Qistna departs from Little India Arcade at 48 Serangoon Road, facing Tekka Market.

After showing my Easybook printout to the counter, the staff ticked off my name on his booking list and shuttered down the counter. Great start. There’s also no sitting area to wait for the bus, only a small hole-in-the-wall counter as you can see.

I searched online on Easybook and Redbus before my trip, and found that the timing on Easybook states 11.45pm while Redbus shows 11.59pm, both with different seat selections.

True enough, the bus arrived at 11.50pm, but surprisingly left on the dot at 11.59pm. At least there wasn’t any double-booking on my seat.

The first thing that hit me when I boarded the bus was the extremely strong cigarette smell. I thought the online reviews were exaggerating when the driver started smoking but I was so wrong. The smell was probably embedded into the seat or something.

The staff counting off the number of people in the bus.

The rear of the bus with some empty seats, which I thought was for people boarding from Larkin.

If the interior looks a little similar, it’s because it’s the seat cloth design is the exact same one as the Starmart bus I took a few months ago. I wonder if the branding of “Star Qistna” on the exterior of my bus was because it was transferred from Starmart.

The bus went via Woodlands Checkpoint instead of Tuas Second Link as advertised on their website, but I kind of expected it already since they always have a transit stop in Larkin, and it would be kind of ridiculous to enter Malaysia via the Second Link only to return to Larkin.

The bus stopped at a Petron near Larkin to fill up on petrol but that was it – it didn’t enter the bus terminal nor pick up more passengers. I fell deep asleep at the Petron…

… only to wake up groggily at Pagoh R&R when the bus stopped for a toilet break at around 3.30am. I didn’t alight for a break since it was in the middle of the night and I didn’t drink much water to begin with, and continued my sleep with the bus engine off…

… only to be awoken by a staff telling me to change buses because “bus breakdown”.

This can’t be serious. I thought the online reviews of Qistna buses breaking down were just one-off instances. I thought to myself if this was a ploy to consolidate passengers halfway through the journey for economies of scale, and I checked the time on my phone – 6.33am.

I found that I was the last one to be transferred to the new bus, which belonged to Starmart, the parent company. And I wondered if they had actually forgotten that I was sleeping in the bus only to find me in the Qistna bus when the headcount was off.

Here’s me in my new seat because the Qistna driver said “mana-mana duduk” or sit anywhere, pulling away from the broken down Qistna bus at Pagoh R&R. The good news is that since I can sit anywhere, I found a double seat to myself for the rest of the journey. There’s no new passengers which means this was an actual replacement bus. I couldn’t fall asleep from here on since I slept pretty well for the past 3 hours. The delay was probably because they pulled the replacement bus from Larkin.

Goodbye broken down Qistna bus.

Not long after, the sun shone brightly on the highway.

I couldn’t believe it, a bus ride was actually going to take as long as the train.

On the bright side, for my future Starmart trips, is that since I was sitting on the double seat, I finally found the button for the massage for the single seat, tucked away along the aisle-side of the seat, not visible when you actually sit down.

The massage function was working on this Starmart replacement bus, which I used throughout the journey. It was more of just vibrations in the seat and not an actual trigger point massage like the Ogawa seats on Nice Imperial.

The replacement bus arriving at Terminal Bersepadu Selatan, which will not continue on to My Hotel @ Bukit Bintang which was my booked destination. But considering the travel time, I would have gladly truncated my journey at TBS to stretch my legs and use the toilet anyway.

Alighting from the replacement bus.

The replacement bus finally arrived at Terminal Bersepadu Selatan at 9.02am, making this journey’s total time of 9 hours and 3 minutes. And believe it or not, I still arrived before the arrival of the new night train combination from Woodlands CIQ, which the ETS will depart at 7.30am from Gemas and only arrive in Bandar Tasik Selatan at 9.27am and KL Sentral at 9.44am.

At least with the late arrival, there wasn’t a jam to the alighting berths and it’s a quick transfer to the LRT to continue my journey to the city.

Qistna is in such a sad state of affairs despite being owned by a reputable parent company. But it’s not the only such poor subsidiary in Malaysia, you might be surprised if you know about more affiliations, which difference can be compared almost between heaven and hell. I wonder why Starmart just doesnt shut Qistna down and concentrate fully on one business.

Will I take Qistna again or recommend it to others?

NEVER. Take it at your own risk.

Project Shinkansen at ISETAN The Japan Store Kuala Lumpur (Lot 10)

ISETAN The Japan Store Kuala Lumpur at Lot 10 has recently been refurbished with a modern look on par with Japan, and is currently home to the Project Shinkansen exhibition, offering visitors some impressive background information on the Shinkansen in Japan with image walls, video installations and a huge Plarail diorama.

The main draw of the event for most visitors though will be the free Ekiben (bento lunch box sold at railway stations) given away when the store first opens.

ISETAN The Japan Store Kuala Lumpur at Lot 10 opens from 11am to 9pm and the exhibition has the same opening hours. Since the doors open at 11am, I was there a few minutes earlier to be one of the first to enter.

Once the doors open, I had a few seconds of calm before the storm of people from the other entrance ran towards the queue for filling up the survey to redeem the coupon for the Ekiben.

First at the monorail entrance doesn’t mean first to the queue if you don’t run. Oh well.

The queue behind me for those who entered from the mall entrance.

You will need to fill out a survey about the exhibition to redeem the Ekiben coupon. The goodie bags beside, however, are for an activity about liking their Facebook page and uploading a picture of the event to your Facebook.

My prized Ekiben coupon finally in hand, which I will exchange it for my Ekiben in a few seconds. There are only 40 Ekibens given away, overheard from one of the staff’s conversations.

The Ekiben came in an Isetan bag, redeemable at Time Out Tokyo Cafe.

Let’s see what’s in the bag…

In true Japanese fashion, a pair of chopsticks and tissue was provided along with the E5 Hayabusa lunch box, which had a strap around it to prevent spillage in case the box’s locks weren’t enough. A spoon is also provided in consideration for those who may not wish to eat rice with chopsticks.

Inside the E5 lunch box is this delicious kids Ekiben but tasty enough for all to enjoy.

It’s actually a hearty Japanese meal with tomato rice with pickles and an Ebi Fry (fried prawn) on top…

… with sides of a Saba Shioyaki (grilled mackerel with salt), Chikuwa (fish paste), Tamagoyaki (grilled egg) and a carrot wedge…

… and 2 slices of oranges to complete the Ekiben.

My iced mocha also came along shortly. To dine in with the free Ekiben, you are encouraged by the staff to buy a drink.

It tasted amazing for a free meal, with Japanese short-grain rice used. I felt like I was back in Shin-Aomori. If I were a Japanese kid, I would happily eat this everyday.

Once I was done with my meal, I went around the exhibition.

One of the walls with TV screens for videos on the Shinkansen.

The E5 Series Hayabusa, potentially providing fast and reliable services between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…

… and Singapore. Not sure where they for the Singapore crescent, one big star and two smaller stars though.

Another wall in the exhibition providing some information on the Shinkansen.

The Shinkansen has an impressive zero (0) passenger fatalities throughout it’s operations for 51 years and has a total of less than one (1) minute of accumulated delays per year. That averages to a daily delay of 0.164 seconds only, or around the time it takes for you to blink once.

The alignment of the Singapore – Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail.

And of course the main attraction of them all, the Plarail diorama with features of Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Japan.

The diorama’s Tomica Town.

Japan’s Mount Fuji and Tokyo Tower.

The Shinkansen train yard.

Malaysia’s Petronas Twin Tower, the centre piece of the diorama.

The Class 923 Dr. Yellow and E235 Series Yamanote Line passing through KLCC station.

Singapore’s Merlion in the diorama.

The E5 Series Hayabusa passing through the Airport diorama.

The Twin Tower station, featuring the monorail systems and the Shinkalion.

Plarail and Tomica are also available for purchase at the exhibition. Special discounts and event models are available here.

If you purchase any Plarail or Tomica item at the fair, you are also entitled to play the Plarail Maze Game to win some prizes.

For souvenir pictures, a backdrop and props are available for use.

It was an interactive exhibition with impressive statistics presented by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Embassy of Japan in Malaysia.

The Project Shinkansen exhibition is located at ISETAN The Japan Store Kuala Lumpur (1st Floor THE STUDIO/Studio.I) and is open from 17 February to 9 March 2017, 11am to 9pm daily. Admission is free.

Sri Maju: Kuala Lumpur to Johor Bahru and Singapore by Bus

Another long-time player in the bus market in Malaysia, Sri Maju has daily services between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore via Johor Bahru (Larkin) and Woodlands Checkpoint.

The journey starts from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) where almost all buses to all destinations from KL depart from. Many screens around the terminal inform you of your bus information just like an airport.

TBS operates with a centralised ticketing system so you can buy any ticket at any counter, removing all touting problems. If you have booked your ticket online such as through 12Go AsiaBusOnlineTicket or Easybook, you need to exchange your A4 printout at these counters.

However, there are special counters near the entrance from the linkbridge from the trains to only exchange your printout for the boarding pass, an express option if the other queues are crowded.

These special counters are marked with a letter rather than a number and are in green.

If the counters in front are crowded, there are actually more counters further behind near the TBS Bazaar. It’s worth to walk the additional 30 seconds to these row of counters should the front counters have people queuing in them as this row is relatively new (formerly used by companies not in the centralised ticketing system) and thus relatively unknown too. This row is also away from the main boarding gates.

Once you’ve got your boarding pass, proceed to the boarding gate 1 floor down. Note the entrances to the gates – there is 1 main departure lobby and 2 smaller ones.

The entrance to my departure lobby for Gate 2.

Scan the QR code on the boarding pass to enter the departure lobby.

Once downstairs, find an available seat (which isn’t hard to do) or shop for last minute expensive drinks and snacks at the push carts around. Toilets are available here too.

Around 5 minutes to 3pm, my bus pulled up to Gate 2 for departure. “Announcements” were made for boarding, albeit manually by the security guard shouting the bus’s destinations.

My 3pm bus back to Singapore, with the driver opening the luggage compartment and another staff for counting off passengers from her list.

I didn’t get a clear interior shot of the bus as I wasn’t the first to board, but I have to say that Sri Maju has one of the largest legroom offered on Singapore – Kuala Lumpur express buses.

This is my feet when sitting in a slightly slouching position – the footrest is almost useless unless you recline your seat and try to lie down.

The bus departed 3 minutes off schedule, which by regular standards it’s considered punctual.

After around 3 hours, we made a rest stop at Yong Peng. Not my favourite rest stop because it isn’t an R&R on the highway and the food here are at Singapore prices.

There’s a minimart at the left side if you wish to do last-minute expensive snack shopping.

Do remember your bus number or at least look out for your destination signs or remember your driver’s or neighbour’s face as both northbound and southbound buses can use this rest stop. Here’s my bus parked beside another Sri Maju bus.

The bus arrived at JB Larkin bus terminal at around 7.30pm to alight some passengers before continuing on to Singapore.

The bus arrived at Woodlands Checkpoint at 8.10pm and thereafter, waiting for slower passengers and consolidating other Sri Maju passengers from other destinations into one bus, continued on to Golden Mile Complex and arrived at 9.20pm.

Sri Maju is one of the cheaper companies on Easybook to travel with between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore although it uses Woodlands Checkpoint instead. Taking Woodlands into account, it may not be my first choice to travel with next time but I won’t rule it out as an option in any case, and is still a recommended company to travel with in my opinion.