Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia OD580: Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh by Boeing 737-800

With a fare difference of almost 4 times more if I had flown non-stop from Changi Airport, I decided to get a bus to KL the night before instead to catch the Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia flight OD580 to get to Phnom Penh. Malindo OD580 is the only flight to Phnom Penh by Malindo, once a day.

Malindo’s check-in row for all destinations is at Row E at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

However, I’ve already completed my check-in at the KL City Air Terminal at KL Sentral earlier.

There are also new self-service check-in kiosks around the center part of the terminal.

However, a reprint of the boarding pass is not possible here after check-in.

With less than 1 and a half hours to my flight departure, I headed straight for immigration…

… only to be greeted by this “world-class” immigration queue.

However, upon closer look, the crowd was for Malaysian passport holders and the foreigner queue to the left was rather empty. Hmm.

Anyway, immigration was done in less than 10 minutes and it’s off to the customs queue.

My flight to Phnom Penh will depart from Gate C21, which is at the Satellite Building. So, it’s off to board the Aerotrain to get across.

The Aerotrain platform, with new boarding door signs.

My Aerotrain approaching.

From the Main Terminal Building and Contact Pier, it’s a straight dive down under the taxiway.

Passing under the taxiway.

Crossing with the opposing Aerotrain somewhere in the middle of the line at the curve to the Satellite Building.

Arriving at the Satellite Building.

The Aerotrain car without any external advertisements on it.

I heard about the new renovated toilets at KLIA, so since I have a little bit of time before the flight, I decided to check it out.

Yup, the toilets are stylish and modern alright, however, there are no more paper towels provided (replaced by the air washer) and it’s kind of a misfit with the other parts of the terminal which aren’t renovated.

Bye Jibby.

My “opened” gate at Gate C21. However, the security queue was at Gate C23, combining both flights departing from Gates C21 and C23.

After security, passengers were then split according to the actual departure gate.

At the departure gate during the boarding pass check, the immigration and customs declaration forms for Cambodia were given out.

Inside the gate hold room of Gate C21.

My plane was towed into the gate shortly after.

Connecting the aerobridge and loading up the food from Brahim’s SATS Food Services.

Hmm, final call for boarding when the boarding time is at 9.47am and it’s now 9.53am?

Hmm, gate closed at 9.56am when everyone is still sitting in the gate hold room? Is this TV screen operated by the same people handling the KTM Komuter departures?

Thankfully, the gate opened shortly after and the plane did not fly off without all the passengers waiting inside.

Heading down the aerobridge.

Passing through the Business Class cabin. Hmm, do you see what I see?

That’s right – no IFE on board.

Entering the Economy Class cabin.

Blacklisted seats on Malindo’s Boeing 737-800: 8A, 8F, 9A and 9F

My 16A seat with a nicely-aligned window.

The comfortable legroom on board Malindo Economy Class.

Except this.

Malindo promotes their in-flight entertainment as “an Adventure of True Onboard Cinematic Experience”. Unfortunately, I had none of that on this flight.

The cabin crew making a safety announcement for those seated at the emergency exit row.

Hmm, not sure why the lights were dimmed so much for a late morning departure.

Bye Malaysia Airlines A380s.

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800 in Negaraku livery.

A Malaysia Airlines Airbus A350-900 taking off.

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800 in MAS retro livery.

The queue for take-off took almost half an hour, with planes behind waiting even longer. Maybe it’d have hurt less if I had IFE.

I’ll be pretty pissed off if I were on this plane to Singapore with a half-hour queue for take-off.

Finally getting to the runway.

Goodbye KLIA.

Flying northeast from KL instead of the typical south that I usually go to.

I think it’s my first time flying over KL with clear skies, and a good view of the Petronas Twin Towers from above.

KLCC looks pretty small from up here.

Further up from the city, the cloud cover started.

Cabin lights were slightly brighter after the seat belt signs were switched off.

Oh yay, food’s here! I wonder what that could be.

There were two trolleys for the meal service – one for meal boxes only, and the other for drinks only.

Can’t wait to see what’s in the meal box!

Oh look, it’s the Chicken Pizza and Muffin again.

Not that I’m against it – it’s pretty good for airplane pizzas, but so far I’ve had this pizza and muffin combination for 100% of my Malindo flights.

You can read more about the pizza here, here, here, here and here.

After I finished my pizza, the drinks trolley came around.

I think the drinks trolley should be manned by 2 crew and the meal box trolley by only 1 since it’s quite a straightforward task to hand out the only meal choice but each passenger would have a different beverage order. This would also have both trolleys move at a hopefully equal speed.

My drinks order for the morning – coffee and apple juice. Okay, so I might have been a culprit for the slow beverage service with my two orders.

Flying out of Malaysia.

The interior of the washroom on board Malindo’s Boeing 737-800.

Flying above Cambodia.

Flying over the Mekong River with the view of Phnom Penh below.

Phnom Penh Railway Station and its surroundings from above.

Flying over the railway line, looking towards Phnom Penh.

Landed at Phnom Penh International Airport in Pochentong.

Cambodia’s Bassaka Air at Phnom Penh International Airport.

There are also a bunch of other international airlines, but are all mainly from China.

Turning into the gate at Phnom Penh International Airport.

A Cathay Dragon Airbus A320-200 in Dragonair livery heading for Hong Kong.

Arrived at the terminal building.

Disembarking from the plane.

Hmm, not too fun to be at the bulkhead seat on this plane.

Goodbye, confused premium airline branding of Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia.

Heading to the terminal building by thankfully the aerobridge.

Heading down for immigration and baggage reclaim.

Immigration was pretty quick, thanks to the bulk of arriving passengers needing to getting their visa-on-arrival. As such, it was a breeze to get through the immigration counters with no queues, and a wait of about 10 minutes for my bag at the carousel was necessary.

Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Seychelles, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam passport holders do not require a visa to enter Cambodia.

Seems like my flight was delayed for 15 minutes. Oh well, not that I was rushing to anywhere important in Phnom Penh anyway.

Heading out after customs clearance to the arrival hall.

Immediately upon exiting the baggage reclaim area, you will see the counters for onward transport. You can get a train, bus, taxi or remork (tuk tuk) from these counters.

SIM cards are available on the counters on the right side.

I suggest getting the Cellcard Tourist SIM for US$2 for 1.4GB of data valid for 7 days. More details here. (The other SIM cards available at Cellcard as well as the other operators around offer a lot more data for US$5 and above, but I don’t think you’ll need that much for a short stay.)

From here, I got on the new Airport Shuttle Train to the city.

Overall, Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia was a pretty good choice for this ~2 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh. As I travel light, meals and check-in allowances are secondary to me for a short flight, but the reasonable fares and these frills already included are an added bonus which definitely made the whole airport and flying process more comfortable.

Looks like I’ve found my flight alternative after 1 July 2018.


KLIA Ekspres Wave & Save Promotion with Visa payWave: KL Sentral to KLIA by Train

I chose to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh by Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia as even without factoring meals and baggage allowance, the total fare was already cheaper than other airlines flying on the same route. And since I’m flying with Malindo, I decided to check-in at the KL City Air Terminal (CAT) after breakfast for my flight, this time, with the KLIA Ekspres Wave & Save Promotion with Visa payWave.

Remember the hiccup the last time I wanted to try getting on the KLIA Ekspres with this promotion and failed miserably?

Well, ERL now has a solution to this – flash your Visa payWave card to the staff member at the counter by the gates to the KL CAT and he or she will open the manual gate for you to enter.

The manual gates are to the left of the counter.

Once in, remember to head to the x-ray machines first to get your bags checked.

Once done, proceed for check-in as usual.

To exit the KL CAT, inform the staff again who will open the manual gate for you.

Once out, proceed straight ahead to the departure platform.

Find the fare gate with a Visa payWave reader to access the departure platform.

Tap into the system with your Visa payWave.

You will see this message as the fare gates open for you to enter.

Proceed down to the platform as per normal.

My boarding pass for my Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia OD580 flight to Phnom Penh.

There was an immediate departure on the older Siemens Desiro train set, but I decided to wait for the next train in hopes of getting the new CRRC Changchun train set.

Unfortunately, the next train was also the Siemens Desiro train set, but I opted to get on board anyway because making my flight was more important. Also, with this older train, I know that my bag will also make it to the airport as the new CRRC Changchun train set does not have a luggage compartment for checked-in bags from KL CAT (XKL).

I opted to sit in my favourite area as usual.

The typical interior of the other parts of the train.

The new CRRC Changchun train set for the KLIA Transit service pulling in at the KLIA Transit platform.

Bye KL – one of my fastest visits to the city yet.

Passing by Terminal Bersepadu Selatan where I got into KL from about just 2 hours ago.

Passing by Putrajaya & Cyberjaya ERL Station.

The KLIA Ekspres Wave & Save Promotion with Visa payWave advertisement flashed on the TV screens on board. This is currently the cheapest possible KLIA Ekspres single trip option if you are travelling alone.

A KLIA Ekspres Siemens Desiro train set stabling outside the depot.

The new CRRC Changchun KLIA Ekspres train set resting at the depot. Looks like both KLIA Ekspres train sets were not operating this morning – luckily I didn’t wait for the third or fourth train set at KL Sentral.

Approaching KLIA.

The baggage compartment with the ramp in place to offload the checked-in bags at KLIA.

Once at the fare gates, tap out with the same Visa payWave card.

The final fare of RM46.75 after the 15% discount will be charged here at the exit gate.

Overall, the KLIA Ekspres Wave & Save Promotion with Visa payWave is a fair deal and an actual discount without shortchanging on the terms and conditions (unlike other promotions offering additional promo codes but stinging on the fare discounts). If you are a solo traveler or traveling in a pair while the Group Saver or Family Package is on sale and making use of the KL CAT facilities at KL Sentral, the KLIA Ekspres Wave & Save Promotion with Visa payWave is the best choice for you.

AirAsia AK721: Kuala Lumpur (klia2) to Singapore (Changi Airport Terminal 4) by Airbus A320-200

AirAsia has one of the most frequent flight departures between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, with AK721 being the last AirAsia flight to Singapore for the day departing at 8.10pm. Since I had only planned to be in KL for just one day, coming up by an overnight bus, this flight timing was just nice for me.

I got on the AeroSky Ventures bus from KL Sentral which I pre-booked for RM8.90 when purchased together with my AirAsia plane ticket.

If you haven’t printed your boarding pass after checking-in online, you can print it from one of these self check-in kiosks.

You should head into the departure area once ready as the queues for immigration and security can be unpredictable.

Do also note that AirAsia is pretty strict with their hand luggage policy of one piece of cabin bag which must not exceed 56cm x 36cm x 23cm and has a maximum weight of 7kg. You will be pulled aside to get your bag “tested” in the frame or on the weighing scale if you might have a bag that’s borderlining or hitting the limit.

However, as I was just travelling with a day backpack, I wasn’t stopped by the AirAsia guy at all.

My flight was departing from Gate P9, so it was a mandatory long walk to the gate at the Satellite Building via the Skybridge.

First, a mandatory walk-through of the be Duty Free shops.

Getting on the first set of travellators. This is an addition to the initial design which only had 1 short stretch (as compared with the length of the entire Skybridge). The pair of travellators here (one on each side of the Skybridge) head in a single direction towards the Satellite Building only.

Getting on the second, middle set of travellators. This is the original single travellator set that klia2 had initially. Thankfully, common sense prevailed that such a long bridge wouldn’t work with just this single set. This middle set of travellators head in both directions.

You can catch a plane taxiing below the Skybridge if you’re lucky.

Getting on the last set of travellators. This is also an addition to the initial design. The pair of travellators here (one on each side of the Skybridge) also head in a single direction towards the Satellite Building only.

That also means that, if you have a flight departing from Pier L, you should factor in additional walking time back to the Main Terminal Building if you want to take a look at the shops over at the Satellite Building.

Another mandatory walk through shops, this time through the Eraman Duty Free.

Once done, you can immediately head down to the gates, or you could walk around this area for dining or lounge options.

Since I have a bit of time before my flight, let’s look at the lounges available here.

The Sama-Sama Express Hotel and The Airport Lounge klia2 is located on the left of the escalators heading down to the gates, and is the most prominent among the three lounges available in this area. However, despite klia2 having more low-cost carriers using the terminal, the lounge here costs RM108 nett per entry, nearly twice that of KLIA’s lounge at just RM55 nett.

The Plaza Premium Lounge is strangely tucked away behind the Wellness Spa, so do keep a lookout for the Wellness Spa sign if you wish to visit the lounge as the Plaza Premium Lounge logo is just on a small sign on the left of the door. A 2-hour lounge use costs RM168.

And last but not least, the AirAsia Premium Red Lounge, tucked away in a little corner on the left near the toilets (maybe MAHB still hates AirAsia idk). If you’re on AirAsia’s Premium Flatbed, this is the lounge you’ll be using. Otherwise, it retails at RM69 if pre-booked or RM79 for walk-ins. However, no matter where I clicked on Manage My Booking, I couldn’t find the link to purchase this lounge visit. Oh well, I bought on-board food for dinner anyway.

Heading down to the gates.

Turn left for Pier P.

Pier P’s shopping area looks like a slightly spacious Low Yat from this angle.

Finally, reaching the security screening for Pier P.

And this is why you should turn up for security screening early.

The queue took me a whopping half an hour to clear thanks to some PRC passengers shouting to cut the queue because their flight is leaving and some other PRC passengers at the front of the queue wouldn’t let them through.

No fault of the passengers at the front of the queue, seriously. Show up early for security screening guys.

After a trek from Gate P1 to P7, I finally got to the first travellator just before Gate P9.

I almost missed the entrance to the gate as all I saw was this board when walking straight along the pier.

The entrance to the gate is just a hole in the wall.

After getting my boarding pass checked, it’s surprisingly straight for boarding as the plane was ready for passengers more than half an hour before departure.

No further boarding pass checks here just before boarding.

That’s a pretty early last call.

Heading onto the plane with no queues in front of me.

Surprisingly being greeted by an AirAsia stewardess over here.

The view of the rather empty plane (for now) from my seat.

The average legroom of 28 inches for standard seats.

Alas, an empty plane was not meant to be for this short yet busy route.

Shortly after the seatbelt signs were switched off, the crew began the meal service. I pre-booked the Chicken Lasagne for dinner as it costed me only RM10 – definitely cheaper than eating before my flight at klia2. And it came with a cup of mineral water, so I didn’t bother filling up an empty water bottle like how I’d usually do for budget flights.

The meal was served piping hot…

… and the Chicken Lasagne definitely looked way more appetizing and also tasted a lot better than Scoot’s tomato soup Beef Lasagne. It was cheesy enough and you could actually see and taste the lasagna sheets. And free side vegetables too (not that I appreciated those though).

Here’s a comparison of Scoot’s soup Lasagne for reference.

SATS, the parent, really needs to learn from their subsidiary Brahim’s SATS Food Services. Tsk tsk.

Arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 4, with the petals trail starting from the aerobridge leading me towards arrival immigration.

Look up and let the petals guide you through.

Descend down the escalators for arrival immigration, or if any, to transfer to another flight.

Hmm, seems that business is bad for DFS?

Buy your wines if you must, but since I’m just on a commute from KL back to Singapore and tired out from the lack of sleep on Transnasional last night, I headed straight on home.

With no bags to collect, I headed straight out.

I decided to get the bus to connect to the Downtown Line instead of backtracking to Terminal 2 on the Free Shuttle Bus to get on the East West Line there, since it might take an equal amount of time to get to Upper Changi MRT Station or to Terminal 2 from here.

Take the lifts up instead of walking the long ramp – it’s nearer to the bus stop and requires significantly less effort too.

Once here, I waited for SBSTransit Service 24 to get me to Upper Changi MRT Station to continue my journey on the Downtown Line. The journey time from Changi Airport Terminal 4 to Upper Changi MRT Station on SBSTransit Service 24 takes 11 minutes.

Overall, AirAsia is a fairly good option to choose for a short hop from KL to Singapore, with a high frequency of 11 pairs of flights daily, affordable meal offerings that are cheaper than klia2 and with the ability to add-on frills and re-choose your seat after check-in should the one automatically assigned not be to your liking. (Though I have to say, their fares can be on the high side at times.)

However, back to MAHB for klia2, I would really hope that I’m departing from Pier L should I be rushing for my flight because the walking time to Pier P including immigration and security screening time is almost the same, if not longer, than the flight time from KL to Singapore.

Scoot TR427: Penang to Singapore by Airbus A320-200

With an airfare cheaper than the train ticket and a travel time which gets me back to Singapore in one-tenth the time needed by train, I opted for the logical choice. Scoot TR427 is a scheduled daily morning flight from Penang to Singapore departing at 10.05am, getting into Singapore at 11.35am. However, due to the closure of a part of Singapore’s airspace during the Combined Rehearsal for the Singapore Airshow 2018, my flight was rescheduled to depart almost 2 hours later instead.

The email from Scoot regarding my rescheduled flight.

The new one-off re-timed flight of TR427 departing Penang at 12.00pm, which was even better for me since I can have a proper breakfast in Penang before heading off to the airport by the rapidPenang bus. And with other airlines selling tickets at this timing for about 5 times the price I paid for Scoot, this turned out to be one of the best deals ever.

I made it to the check-in desk at Penang International Airport just in time – about 10 minutes before they close. Check-in for Scoot flights close 60 minutes before departure.

3 counters were opened for Scoot. Since I had no bags and was one of the last passengers to check-in, the process was pretty quick, and I was done in less than a minute.

My boarding pass for TR427 back to Singapore.

Heading for immigration. To my surprise, the queues for immigration were quite long. Didn’t know Penang had this many international flights departing at the same time. The queue for immigration took about half an hour.

The moment I cleared security screening, boarding calls for TR427 were made. So it’s a brisk walk to Gate A5 for me.

In case you’re not tired of cafe-hopping in Penang yet, here’s a last one for you within the transit area of Penang International Airport.

9V-TRD “Felix”, ready for passengers back to Singapore. It’s strange how when Scoot usually gives punny names to their planes such as Inspiring Spirit, Flying Banana and for the latest Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, Getting Lei’d (for 9V-OFK‘s long-haul flight to Honolulu), they somehow gave a regular name to this adopted #A320bae.

Boarding my flight at Gate A5. Since I only had a rather flat bag to store in the overhead compartment, I didn’t bother rushing to board the plane when they first called for my row despite me sitting at the second-last row of the plane.

Boarding the very full flight back to Singapore.

The view from my seat.

At 12.00pm, the pilot announced that the Singapore airspace was still closed and we can’t fly back to Singapore yet because Singapore hasn’t given the okay. The plane waited for about 15 minutes just sitting at the gate (with the aerobridge detached) before finally taking off.




And because I got an aisle seat, no window views are available for this blog post.

Despite departing Penang 15 minutes behind the rescheduled time, the flight still arrived on-time just before 1.30pm. Guess Scoot was smart to factor in additional flying time in the itinerary in order to get you an “on-time arrival”. Since I had no bags to pick-up, it was a quick process from getting off the plane to clearing immigration and customs and finally getting on the MRT back home – all in the span of 10 minutes.

Rapid Ferry: Butterworth to Penang Island (Georgetown) by Bus + Ferry (Butterworth Linkway Closure)

The Rapid Ferry is a roll-on/roll-off car and passenger ferry linking the multimodal transport hub of Penang Sentral at Butterworth on the mainland to the island of Penang at Georgetown. As the walkway from Butterworth Railway Station to the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal is currently closed to facilitate the construction of the link to the upcoming Penang Sentral building, all passengers must use the free Penang Ferry Shuttle Bus to travel between Butterworth Railway Station and Sultan Abdul Halim Jetty in both directions.

Follow the signs from the shelter opposite Butterworth Railway Station to get to the Penang Sentral Temporary Transport Terminal.

The free Penang Ferry Shuttle Bus will be at the first berth on the right at the Penang Sentral Temporary Transport Terminal. Look out for the big red sign for directions to the ferry.

The bus’ electronic destination signage may or may not reflect the service as the free Penang Ferry Shuttle Bus. However, there will be a piece of paper in front stating “Shuttle Ferry”. If in doubt, ask the Rapid Penang driver standing in front of the bus.

The interior of the typical rapidPenang bus.

The journey to the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal takes a new shorter route which passes by the upcoming Penang Sentral building.

The upcoming Penang Sentral building facade.

Turning into the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal.

The bus stops at the foot of the ramp up towards the ticketing booth and waiting hall.

If you are travelling in the reverse direction towards Penang Sentral, this is the same waiting point for the free shuttle bus there.

Walk straight ahead to the ticket counter.

Purchase your ticket at the counter.

The Pedestrian Fares for the Rapid Ferry are as follows:

Single Trip
Adult RM1.20
Child RM0.60
Season Ticket (unlimited trips for 2 months) 
Adult RM30
Students (below 21 years old) RM6

My RM1.20 ticket for the Rapid Ferry journey to Penang Island.

Unlike its namesake, the waiting time for the Rapid Ferry is approximately 30 minutes (“3 ferry”) with the journey taking approximately 30 minutes. During off peak periods, the waiting time will be approximately once per hour (“1 ferry”).

Scan the QR code on the ticket at the ticket gates.

Wait at the waiting hall for the ferry, as usual.

There is a new display screen in the waiting area under maintenance. Hopefully this will provide more accurate arrival or departure times of the next ferry instead of just telling you that there are currently x number of ferries serving the route.

Boarding the Rapid Ferry.

An approaching Rapid Ferry backlit by the sunset over Penang Island. This ferry will go off service from here, thus reducing the frequency to “2 ferry”.

Departing from the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal together, with the Pulau Pinang heading back to rest.

The repainted ferries with the new Rapid Ferry colour scheme.

The sunset over Penang Island.

Approaching the Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal on Penang Island.

Disembarking from the Rapid Ferry.

From here, you can connect to rapidPenang island bus services from Jetty.

Overall, the Rapid Ferry offers a good connection between Butterworth and Georgetown, but with the reduced frequency of “3 ferry” during the day and “1 ferry” during the night, the waiting time should you miss one can be up to 30 minutes during the day or one hour during the night, which is longer than the time taken to get across the harbour. With the upcoming opening of Penang Sentral, there will be an even higher demand for connections to the island via the Rapid Ferry since it’s located just beside the building, so hopefully Rapid Ferry will increase their services soon after the takeover by Prasarana is finalized as the current situation is nowhere near “rapid”.

KTM Komuter Northern Sector Weekend Service: Padang Besar to Butterworth by 92 Class Six-Car Set (SCS)

Effective 18 November 2017, the KTM Komuter Northern Sector operates with 2 sets of 92 Class EMUs on Saturdays and Sundays to cope with the increasing passenger demand and load. The 92 Class EMUs are transferred from the KTM Komuter Klang Valley Sector overnight to the Northern Sector after the end of revenue services in the Klang Valley on Fridays, and serves mainly on the high-demand Butterworth – Padang Besar Line.

The queue to purchase tickets for the KTM Komuter Northern Sector is now as long as those in the Klang Valley. Be sure to turn up early to purchase your tickets.

Do also take note of the frequent cancellations of trains on the KTM Komuter Northern Sector, though these are usually services operating with 83 Class EMUs. Visit the KTM Komuter Northern Sector page to find out which services are using which type of trains on weekends, and to view the predicted reduced service timetables.

The crowd at Padang Besar waiting for the 4.25pm 2969dn KTM Komuter Northern Sector service to Butterworth. The significantly big crowd is due to both the weekend travellers as well as the previous 2967dn train at 3.25pm being cancelled, combining two train loads into one. Thankfully, it’s a weekend with the 92 Class Six-Car Sets in operation.

If not for the announcements and station signs, I would have mistakenly thought I was back in KL at Midvalley or Bandar Tasik Selatan or something.

The 92 Class EMU pulling into Padang Besar. This train is the 2964up from Butterworth, which will return back to Butterworth as 2969dn after a scheduled layover of 9 minutes and a crew change.

The passengers at Padang Besar at the platform, waiting to board the train. Due to the previous train being cancelled, some of these people have waited up to 2 hours for this train.

Please allow passengers to alight before boarding.

The crowd situation on board the 92 Class SCS at Padang Besar, with standing room only as I was one of the last persons to board the train.

It’s very unlike me to say this, but if you are travelling for a long distance on the KTM Komuter Northern Sector, please rush into the train to find a seat, or else you will end up standing for 2 hours to Butterworth. Or even better, bring your own stool so that you have your own guaranteed seat every time.

The views of Perlis and Kedah along the way from Padang Besar to Butterworth.

Crossing over the Prai River to Butterworth.

Arrived at Butterworth Railway Station.

The 92 Class EMUs on the Butterworth – Padang Besar Line on Saturdays and Sundays provide a much needed capacity boost for the ever-growing popularity of the KTM Komuter Northern Sector, especially with the frequent service cancellations forcing passengers to wait for the next train.

However, forward planning still needs to be in place to cater for further passenger number growth, and the 92 Class EMUs which were originally ordered for the KTM Komuter Klang Valley Sector will be definitely insufficient to cater for both sectors in the long run. The 92 Class EMUs serving the line currently get almost no rest as they are sent overnight as empty stock on Fridays after services in the Klang Valley has ended, and then sent back as empty stock again on Sunday nights after services in the Northern Sector has ended to operate in the Klang Valley again immediately in the morning, making them pretty much two sets of over-worked “borrowed” trains.

KTM, MOT, MOF and perhaps SPAD needs to decide if the KTM Komuter Northern Sector needs the additional capacity, treating it with equal importance as the KTM Komuter Klang Valley Sector, or leave it as the status quo with bi-hourly cancelled trains, no dedicated one-stop maintenance facility, and crammed long-distance rides without air-conditioning on the 22-year-old 83 Class EMUs, where the decision makers are currently satisfied and promoting this service as a positive first-world transformation to the Northern Corridor Economic Region.

Express 949: Hat Yai Junction to Padang Besar by Shuttle Train

The Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train is a twice-daily return service running between Hat Yai, the largest town in the Songkhla Province of Southern Thailand and Padang Besar, the eastern Malaysia-Thailand border town. The Express 949 operates on a time-effective afternoon schedule departing Hat Yai at 1.05pm Thai Time (GMT+7), just after checking-out of your hotel and allowing a last Thai lunch before heading back to Malaysia.

This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

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

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.

Tickets for the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train are only sold on the day of departure. Get your tickets at the counters for immediate travel.

The dedicated 4-car BREL Class 158/T Sprinter DMU, ready for an on-time departure from Hat Yai Junction to Padang Besar.

As this journey was significantly more crowded than the Express 947 in the morning, there wasn’t any available seats left in the entire train.

Hence, even though I had to stand for the journey, I decided to stand where I would have gotten the best view of the journey.

As the Sprinter has a connecting door at the ends of the train should the need arise to add more cars to the train, that was where I stood for the journey with the best view* possible.

*Of course the best view at the front of the train, but that wouldn’t be possible with the driver driving it.

The Special Express DRC 41 bound for Yala.

Exiting Hat Yai Junction Railway Station with the view of disused Krupp locomotives in a siding.

Heading off towards Khlong Ngae.

Making a short stop at Khlong Ngae.

Departing Khlong Ngae, on the way to Padang Besar (Thai).

Making a short stop at Padang Besar (Thai).

Entering the electrified sector of Thailand.

Wait, what?

A short section of approximately 280 meters just after the Malaysia-Thailand border of Padang Besar lies the State Railway of Thailand’s only electrified sector in the whole of Thailand.

This line is part of the Ipoh – Padang Besar Electrified Double Track Project undertaken in Malaysia. Even before this project came about, as the last northern point of Padang Besar station is just at the national border itself, locomotives running around will have to enter this main line “headshunt” in Thailand and take another track in Malaysia to to loop back to the other end of the train. This “overrun” into Thailand is possibly planned to allow electric trains to enter this short section of track to change lines at Padang Besar station, just as the locomotives have done. This also allows the overhead lines to taper into a single file before ending the line.

However, as the ETS or Komuter trains have driving cabs on each end, they have never entered Thailand before. While I’m not sure about the EL Class locomotives, if an electric train ever uses this section of track, it can technically be said that there are electrified trains running on the meter-gauge State Railway of Thailand tracks.

Passing by the old Padang Besar (Thailand) platforms, which was never on train schedules till the Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station was completed.

Passing through the border of Thailand and Malaysia.

Entering Platform 2 of Padang Besar Railway Station.

Arrived at Padang Besar Railway Station.

Padang Besar Railway Station’s platforms are all at train level (ie. high platforms). If you are disembarking from the front-most or rear-most doors, you can hop over to the platform easily with a platform gap of just about 30cm.

Disembark easily from the Sprinter at Padang Besar.

If you are disembarking from all other doors, there is a big platform gap of about 75cm.

If you aren’t confident to hop over the 75cm-wide platform gap, take one step down first and then take another step up the platform.

Still disembarking somewhat easily from the Sprinter at Padang Besar.

Most importantly, keep in mind the ever-popular British announcement when you are on board the Sprinter.

“Mind the gap.”

Once off the train, queue up to clear Thailand and Malaysia immigration and customs.

If you are at the end of the line, expect to queue for an hour when on a fully-loaded train. Once done, you can head upstairs to get tickets for ETS and Komuter trains for your onward journey within Malaysia.

This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

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

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.

Express 948: Padang Besar to Hat Yai Junction by Shuttle Train

The Express 948 Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train is a very popular mode of transport between the Malaysia border town of Padang Besar to Hat Yai, the largest city of Songkhla Province, Thailand, departing in the morning at 9.55am Malaysia Time (GMT+8), connecting from ETS and Komuter services with morning arrivals at Padang Besar.

This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

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

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.

If you are travelling from Padang Besar, Malaysia…

Padang Besar Railway Station serves the Malaysian Town of Padang Besar on the border of Thailand and Malaysia, the neighbour of the Thai town of the same namesake. This new station is the gateway to Thailand with the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train connecting passengers from train services in Malaysia to Hat Yai, the biggest town in Songkhla province in Thailand.

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) office opens at 9.00am for ticket sales on the Express 948 to Hat Yai. The office is located at Padang Besar station’s Platform 2, on the side which is closer to the north (ie. Thailand).

The counter to purchase tickets is located within the SRT office, on a dedicated side desk.

Tickets for the air-conditioned Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train cost 70 Baht.

The counter will provide you with the Thai immigration form as well. Fill this up and then head for Malaysian and Thai immigration.

Once cleared on both sides, board the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train waiting at the platform.

If you are travelling from Padang Besar, Thailand…

Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station serves the Thai Town of Padang Besar on the border of Thailand and Malaysia, the neighbour of the Malaysian town of the same namesake. Despite the railway running through the town ever since it was built, the Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station was only built 2 years ago. This new station opens up a new travel option for those living here to get to Hat Yai via the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train, with the previous option being only buses and vans, or getting the train to the Malaysian Padang Besar town and then walking back into Thailand.

You can get your tickets for the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train at the ticket counter here. Tickets for the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train are only sold on the day of departure, and for journeys originating at Padang Besar (Thai) only.

The timetable for trains serving Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station. Two pairs of Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Trains ply the line daily, with the long distance International Express running between Padang Besar in Malaysia and Bangkok once daily.

My ticket from Padang Besar (Thai) to Hat Yai Junction. Tickets for this air-conditioned Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train cost 70 Baht.

The 4-car BREL Class 158/T Sprinter DMU serving the Express 948 entering back into Thailand from Malaysia.

The Sprinter at Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station, bound for Hat Yai Junction.

The typical scenery on the way to Khlong Ngae and Hat Yai Junction.

Along the way, the in-train salesman, Jai (or Ah Chai), will come along with dtac Happy Tourist SIM Cards for purchase. While they typically cost 299 Baht when purchased directly from dtac or other resellers, Jai sells these dtac Happy Tourist SIM Cards at a special price of only 260 Baht. Jai will also happily configure your phone settings for you and makes sure you have your internet before moving on to the next customer. HINT: Further discounts may be given if you are purchasing these SIM cards in a group when you speak politely to Jai and flash him your biggest smile.

The dtac Happy Tourist SIM Card entitles you to 8 days of unlimited 3G/4G Internet (speed will be throttled after 2.5 GB of usage), free 100 Baht worth of call credit and a special international call rate via 00400. The 100 Baht credit can also be used to buy more 3G/4G Internet when you download the dtac app.

This is a hassle-free at-seat SIM card purchasing service which I think offers the most convenient way to buy a SIM card in Thailand. In my opinion, the dtac Happy Tourist SIM Card is especially useful and offers one of the best value when you are spending 3 to 8 days in Thailand. It is also, in my opinion, the most reliable telco along the railway lines in Thailand. RailTravel Station does not receive any form of commission from this recommendation.

Approaching Hat Yai Junction Railway Station.

Disembarking from the Express 948 at Hat Yai Junction.

The Express 948 offers a time-effective connection from ETS and Komuter services with morning arrivals at Padang Besar, getting you into Hat Yai just in time for lunch and thereafter check-in in your hotel.

As the sole train departure from Padang Besar in the morning, it is undoubtedly a very popular train service, and thus can get crowded as well. But fret not as the train will wait for all passengers to purchase tickets and clear immigration before departing from Padang Besar, even if it means being delayed.

Try out the Express 948 the next time you visit Hat Yai from Malaysia!

This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

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

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.


Express 947: Hat Yai Junction to Padang Besar (Thai) by Shuttle Train

The Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train is a twice-daily return service running between Hat Yai, the largest town in the Songkhla Province of Southern Thailand and Padang Besar, the eastern Malaysia-Thailand border town. While trains used to run with a dedicated 2-car Daewoo DMU and thereafter swapped for a Bogie Third Class rake on peak days to keep up with growing demand, in late January 2018, a dedicated 4-car BREL Class 158/T Sprinter DMU was assigned to ply this route daily, doubling the capacity of the 2-car Daewoo DMU.

This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

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

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.

The entrance to Hat Yai Junction Railway Station is on the right side of the facade of the station, at the zebra crossing.

Before entering the station, you have to pass your bags through the x-ray machine.

Tickets for the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train are only sold on the day of departure. Get your tickets at the counters for immediate travel.

Tickets for this air-conditioned journey from Hat Yai to Padang Besar cost 70 Baht (~S$2.94/~RM8.75).

With the early arrival of my flight from Singapore, I had ample time to spot the Sprinter at its new home. Here’s the train leaving the depot, shunting itself to the platform.

The Sprinter pulling into Hat Yai Junction Railway Station. Feels really British with the engine and horn sounds, and approaching a station with the word “Junction” in its name. Feels like I was back on the train lines around Sheffield for a moment.

Passengers heading to board the Sprinter to Padang Besar.

The Sprinter, fresh from the depot, ready for its first morning duty to Padang Besar.

The steps up the Sprinter.

Even the door to the main cabin feels distinctively British.

The interior of each of the cars on this 4-car DMU set.

The car number plate above the doors also has the original British font and layout.

There are no vestibules at the gangway, so be careful when crossing over to the next coach when the train is moving.

Getting ready to depart Hat Yai Junction.

The very typically British WC sign on board. The lights for the word “engaged” lights up when the doors to the toilet are locked.

Departing Hat Yai Junction.

The typical scenery from the train on the way to Khlong Ngae.

Approaching Khlong Ngae Railway Station.

The train makes a brief stop of about one minute before continuing on to Padang Besar (Thai).

Arrived at Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station.

A vent cover still in the original livery.

Once the line is clear on the Malaysian Padang Besar side, the train departs.

British train entering the Malaysian sector of (sort of) British signalling.

The BREL Class 158/T Sprinter DMU is now a permanent fixture on the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train, offering a more comfortable and consistent ride between Malaysia and Thailand. It is also a rare opportunity to board one as the only other service with regular runs with the Sprinter is on the Special Express 3 and 4, plying the Bangkok – Sawan Khalok – Sila At – Bangkok route. Look out for it the next time you are heading to Hat Yai!

This post is about the travel experience onboard the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.

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

Click here to visit the dedicated Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train information page.

Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia OD805: Last Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore by Business Class

As quickly as the sale season started, I was down to my last Malindo Business Class ticket for my trip back to Singapore. Having enjoyed the premiums, I’m probably going to miss the convenience and experience of high-flying. Hopefully I don’t get used to this though, or else my wallet will cry.

Having checked-in at KL Sentral already before boarding the KLIA Ekspres, I headed straight for immigration and thereafter to my lounge visit.

I’m going to miss this VIP immigration queue the most too, especially when the queues at KLIA are sometimes on par with JB’s Bangunan Sultan Iskandar when there are many flights arriving together.

After clearing immigration in less than a minute, I hopped onto the Aerotrain to get to the Satellite Terminal where the Sama-Sama Express Lounge KLIA is.

The route map of the Aerotrain in case you get confused by the only stop it serves from here.

The Aerotrain arriving at the Main Terminal Building station.

In case of train breakdown, please call the number as attached beside the door or give Malaysia Airports a shout out on Twitter or Facebook.

The interior of the Aerotrain.

A Vietnam Airlines Airbus A321 taxiing above the Aerotrain’s tracks.

Passing under the tarmac.

Passing by the opposing Aerotrain.

Arriving at the Satellite Terminal station.

From here, it’s a short walk to the Sama-Sama Express Lounge KLIA.

Click here to read about my Sama-Sama Express Lounge KLIA visit.

After my dinner and shower, I headed back to the Main Terminal Building almost just in time for my flight.

I think I’m one of the last few passengers to arrive at the gate. Whoops.

Yup, everyone seems to be on board already.

Boarding Malindo on Business Class for the last time.

9M-LCM is on duty today for my flight.

When I first sat down, the Boeing Sky Interior was turned to a blue shade.

Shortly after, it turned purple. Hmm, a mini light show going on for my last Business Class ride?

Moments before the doors are armed.

A short while after, it turned green.

And thereafter a peach colour. Looks like Malindo is giving me a colourful send-off.

Bye aerobridge.

Before the cabin lights were dimmed, it turned to blue and slowly darkened from there.

The last light to be on before the cabin was in darkness.


The sky Boeing Sky Interior returned to peach after the seat belt signs were switched off.

My last pizza meal on board Malindo Business Class. Even the plating when taken out of the box had some thought into it by the stewardess.

More light variants after my meal, this time an off-white colour.

Followed by an orangey-purple mix. Representing Malindo’s or Batik Air’s colours perhaps?

Singapore from above.

Dimming the cabin lights again for arrival.

Landed at Changi Airport.

Last views from my Business Class seat.

Goodbye my favourite Seat 3A.

Goodbye Malindo, and thank you.

Heading back out for arrival immigration and to collect my bags with the priority tag for the last time.

Thank you Malindo Air for giving commoners a once in a lifetime chance to spam buy your Business Class tickets. Till I can actually afford to pay RM599 for your real fares. (But then I might use that money to Scoot to Athens or Berlin instead, sorry.)