Special Express 25 Isan Mankha: Bangkok Hua Lamphong to Nong Khai by Train

The Special Express 25 Isan Mankha is a popular train running from Bangkok Hua Lamphong to Nong Khai, close to the Thai-Lao border. While there are 4 pairs of trains running on this route daily, the Special Express 25 Isan Mankha is the only sleeper train available on this route, so tickets do sell out at times.

I got my ticket through the SRT E-Ticket System with an additional 30 Baht surcharge, but allowed me to print my ticket at home.

If you buy your ticket through this method, ensure that you have a printed copy of the E-Ticket when you board the train. Flashing the .pdf on your phone is not allowed for travel.

The Special Express 25 Isan Mankha departs at 8.00pm daily.

The Special Express 25 Isan Mankha, ready at Platform 3.

The Special Express 25 Isan Mankha is operated with new CRRC-manufactured coaches.

My train was headed by Hitachi 4514 in the old livery.

Car 10 will be my Second Class (ANSCN) “hostel” for the night.

The door steps are ready for both low and high platforms in preparation for the move to Bang Sue Central.

The interior of the Air-conditioned Second Class Day & Night Coach (ANSCN).

For some entertainment during boarding, a documentary about the people who care for the Steam Locomotives in Thailand was played.

My place for the night at Seat/Berth 16.

The seat on the new CRRC-manufactured coaches are slimmer than the Daewoo coaches as they seat only 1 person per seat (40 passengers per coach), as compared with the Daewoo coach which allows for a daytime configuration of 80 seated passengers per coach.

A power socket and reading light is available for each berth.

Beside it, a smartly-placed netting is available to put your phone in while it charges and you sleep.

As this is a night departure, the bedding is ready to be changed the moment the train departs from Bangkok.

The buffet coach was ready for food sales about 30 minutes before departure.

However, it seems that the caterer on this train is back to NP Rity Company Limited, so the menu items were quite limited. There was a menu book, but I wasn’t in the mood for a full dinner, and the only boxed item available was rice soup.

Some snacks available on board.

The coffee machine seems to be switched off, replaced by a hot water flask to make instant drinks.

My Rice Soup with Chicken as an early light supper. This costs 50 Baht (~$2.07).

Sufficiently tasty, but was quite disappointed with this limited, or rather, singular choice as compared with the Thaksinarath.

Here’s a peek of the washroom section of the ANSCN coach.

An open sink area is provided, similar to the Daewoo coaches, and the design of this area is reminiscent of coaches back in China.

One urinal cubicle is available for male passengers.

Two more normal toilet cubicles are available for all passengers.

Departing from Bangkok right on time.

My clipped ticket printout after getting it checked by the conductor.

A short while after departure, the attendant came around to make the beds.

The entire process by the skilful attendant took just about a minute.

Yup, that’s where I’m headed.

My bed for the night.

The bottom berth of this ANSCN coach was very comfortable. While slimmer than the very generous lower berth on Daewoo coaches, it still felt rather spacious when lying down. This might be due to not getting berths that work in a railway network closer to home where the seat backs almost never work or are totally removed and cannot flip up to form a shelf to store my things and an indirect eye shade from the little light that manages to peer through the curtain for the night’s rest.

And then I remembered – this is Thailand.

I was woken up approximately 90 minutes before arrival at Nong Khai by the buffet coach attendant with my breakfast order.

I had the familiar “Eggs” breakfast of NP Rity for 180 Baht (~$7.44).

Not sure if the buffet coach attendant forgot this, but I had to ask him again while he was passing by again if there was still the small orange juice that came along with the set, and he passed this to me later on.

Hello Northeastern Thailand.

Before arrival into Nong Khai, the attendant came around to reset the berths into seats once again.

Back to the daytime configuration of this ANSCN coach.

Some errors on the screen here, but the train arrived at Nong Khai right on time at 6.45am.

Disembarking from the Special Express 25 Isan Mankha.

Disembarking at Platform 1 of Nong Khai Railway Station.

From here, I headed off to purchase my ticket for the Nong Khai – Thanaleng Shuttle Train.

Overall, the Special Express 25 Isan Mankha was comfortable to travel on this overnight journey. However, it did fall a little short of my expectations of this new train mainly due to the caterer reverting back to NP Rity, offering a somewhat limited variety of food served compared with the Thaksinarath and at higher prices too. That being said, the journey does not really clash with main meal times, so I guess I can eliminate that from future trips. With the Special Express 25 Isan Mankha being the only sleeper train running between Bangkok and Nong Khai, it definitely would be my choice if I’m travelling on this route again.

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Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station Shower Room

Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station is a convenient rail hub with sufficient amenities for the comfort of all travellers. That includes operating a very important Shower Room for passengers who wish to freshen up before or after a train journey, or if you’d just like to take a shower in Bangkok.

The Hua Lamphong Railway Station Shower Room is located in the main terminal building just before Platform 3.

A shower here costs only 10 Baht (~$0.41/~RM1.23). Additional amenities such as towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and powder can be purchased from the attendant as well.

Like a normal toilet, urinals are provided in the Shower Room.

Two regular toilet cubicles are also available.

There are 4 shower cubicles in the Shower Room.

The shower cubicle is rather spacious.

While you have to hold the shower head all the way throughout the shower, the fantastic water pressure makes up for it. It’s a simple cold water shower, but it’s great with Bangkok’s afternoon weather.

A proper clothes bar is also fixed in the shower cubicle rather than just a simple hook.

Overall, the shower was great after a full day walking around Bangkok before boarding the overnight train. The cubicles were big enough so that despite having to put my bag on the floor at the door end, it never did get wet since the “splash zone” didn’t reach that far within the cubicle. It was a lot easier to hang my clothes on the clothes bar too, rather than balancing it all on just one hook in many other station shower rooms.

At just 10 Baht (~$0.41/~RM1.23), this might be the best shower deal in the world.


BONUS: Where to buy cheap towels and toiletries in Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station

On the other side of the waiting hall near the entrance, there’s a convenience store called Tiffy Mart which sells everything you need and more for a train journey.

As I had extra soap which I took from my hotel room, that problem was settled easily. However, the Shower Room sold towels for 50 Baht (~$2.07/~RM6.16).

In Tiffy Mart, a small square towel costs just 20 Baht (~$0.83/~RM2.47).

If you need a bigger towel, it costs 50 Baht (~$2.07/~RM6.16). This would be the same size as the ones sold at the Shower Room.

If you require any other products for your shower, I’m pretty sure they have it in stock here too.

Express 72: Don Mueang Airport to Bangkok Hua Lamphong by Train for 20 Baht

From Don Mueang, the cheapest and potentially fastest way to get to Hua Lamphong Railway Station is probably by a direct train should the timetable match up with your travel needs. This time, the next departing train was an Express service, however, special fares apply for this short-distance journey, and instead of the official rate of 155 Baht (~$6.36), SRT provides a Third Class special fare for this Express Diesel Railcar service from Don Mueang to Bangkok at only 20 Baht (~$0.82).

Tickets can be purchased from the ticket counter as usual. No need to mention anything about the Third Class special fare for Express Diesel Railcar services, it will automatically be given to you.

The northbound timetable from Bangkok to Don Mueang.
Click on the image to view the full size.

The southbound timetable from Don Mueang to Bangkok.
Click on the image to view the full size.

The approaching Express 72 operating with a nice mix of NKF, THN and ATC Diesel Railcars.

The interior of the NKF Diesel Railcar with hard plastic chairs.

The view from my seat.

Approaching Bang Sue Junction and the junction to the Southern Line.

Approaching Bang Sue Junction Railway Station. You may change to the MRT Blue Line at this station.

The new Bang Sue Central Railway Station taking shape with 26 platforms.

Making a brief stop at Sam Sen.

Making a brief stop at Chitralada Royal Railway Station while waiting for the level crossing to close.

Passing through the level crossing after Chitralada Royal Railway Station.

Making another stop for the next level crossing to close.

The Special Express 31 Thaksinarath passing through the level crossing together with my train.

Approaching Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station.

The train arrived at the front end of Platform 8.

Push the button to open the train doors.

As this was a busy time for arrivals, the platform was shared with another arriving train in front.

The destination plate of the Express 72 from Ubon Ratchathani to Bangkok.

The SRT Northern and Northeastern Lines are the cheapest and possibly fastest way to get from Don Mueang Airport to the city. Perhaps you should try this the next time you are visiting Bangkok via Don Mueang Airport.

Scoot TR868: Singapore to Bangkok Don Mueang by Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

Scoot TR868 is the very last flight of the day from Singapore to Bangkok Don Mueang, departing at 10.20pm. While the arrival time into Don Mueang requires a definite hotel stay, it works if you require an early start for the next day.

When I got to Changi Airport Terminal 2, however, the departure has been retimed to 10 minutes later.

The check-in for Scoot at Row 11 was pretty crowded at 8.45pm.

Thankfully, I had no check-in bags and all I needed to do was to print out my boarding pass from the FAST check-in kiosk.

My flight was departing from Gate F34.

Queuing to get into the gate hold room. Wasn’t in much of the mood to walk around the airport at night, and I got to the airport just in time to check-in anyway.

9V-OFA “八宝” (Eight Treasures) ready to take me to Bangkok Don Mueang, and some others to Tokyo Narita.

The gate hold room was rather full. Looks like it’s going to be a rather full flight as well.

Queuing to board first as I was seated in the very last row of the plane.

The interior of the Scoot Economy Class cabin on the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

Seat 41A is the very last window seat on the left side of the plane.

The regular legroom available. It feels slightly more spacious than the usual A320 legroom.

However, I have this extra space to stretch out as the aircraft body tapers towards the back.

A lot more breathing space here for a window seat.

Here’s where things got a little bit complicated.

Apparently, my seat was fixed in the reclined position (even ever so slightly, due to the bulkhead behind) and could not be put upright no matter how hard I tried (and later the cabin crew), so I was asked by possibly the chief stewardess to move to another seat during take-off and landing citing safety reasons.

I was moved to a Stretch seat by the exit row in front, Seat 30C, for take-off, which was awesome with pretty much unlimited legroom. I asked if I could sit there permanently, but the crew mentioned that they have already arranged an alternative seat for me in the ScootinSilence quiet zone instead as that would be the same price as my initial Seat 41A (one of the few pair seats). Unfortunately, I got the middle seat, Seat 10E, as the flight was rather full, so that was quite disappointing.

Oh well, at least no one was in front of me so I didn’t have the seat in front of me recline into my face and I could be one of the first to get off the plane at Don Mueang.

The flight landed on time at 11.45pm and immigration was rather quick, taking less than 10 minutes with less than 10 people ahead of me in the queue.

From here, I picked up my DTAC Happy Tourist Super 4G 8 Day SIM Card from Klook before heading off to a hostel opposite Don Mueang Airport to rest for the night.

Unacceptable KLIA Aerotrain Service Standards

The Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Aerotrain is, according to the initial airport design, the only way to get between Satellite Terminal and Main Terminal Building. It is the backbone of KLIA as the Aerotrain is needed to shuttle passengers from the plane in the Satellite Terminal to where all main activities before and after the flight takes place at the Main Terminal Building including check-in, immigration and baggage reclaim. Simply put, for most international flights, all airport-ish activities are done in the Main Terminal Building, and the plane will be parked at the Satellite Terminal, necessitating the travel between the two buildings whether the passenger likes it or not.

If there is a way for things to easily screw up this simple but compulsory passenger experience, it’s by running the Aerotrain, the only way* to get between the two terminals, on limited services – and that’s what seems to be happening in KLIA on a regular basis.

*There are shuttle buses as an interim solution, but read on.

Landing into KLIA and with the plane parked at the Satellite Building, I needed to get the Aerotrain to the Main Terminal Building in order to clear immigration and get out of the airport.

Arriving at the Aerotrain platform, I was greeted with this.

Only one train was in operation, and the crowd was building up quickly at the Aerotrain platform with the multiple arriving flights.

Moving forward all the way to the front door didn’t help the situation either.

I had wanted to just head down to the bus platform to find if there were shuttle buses to the Main Terminal Building instead, but the train pulled in just as I was about to go down to the escalators.

Should I get a bus which I’m not sure if there will be services on that day (I had wanted to try it on a previous trip but it was not available), and add in additional unknown minutes of waiting for the bus and a longer journey time, or should I just squeeze into the train and get to the Main Terminal Building in 2.5 minutes?

The answer was obvious. Train it is.

The other train was parked at the opposite platform with a queue line over the platform screen doors stating “Maintenance in Progress”.

Moving into the train was a rather slow process, but I’d say these are due to the passengers rather than the design of the Aerotrain system.

I managed to get on the train as the last person through the doors just in time before they closed suddenly without any announcement, audio or visual. Also, the air-conditioning was almost non-existent.

It felt as though I was on the KTM Komuter to Mid Valley from KL Sentral in 2012 instead.

This is the part where I got really pissed off with KLIA after stepping off the crowded train.

The KLIA Aerotrain operates with the Spanish Solution for all stations whereby passengers exit from one side of the train and enter from the other. The doors on the exit side opened first, and due to the crowd, and my body on the entrance door, I did not get out of that side in time before the entry side doors opened. As there were no crowds on the entry side, I decided to just step out of the train on that side and be on my way down to immigration. However, I was stopped by a KLIA staff who said that I could not exit by here and needed to go around the other side as shown in the train. I explained that the train is very crowded and I couldn’t see any signs saying that exit was only on that side. And then came her classic reply, “Even if you don’t see, you also must exit one side.” which to me felt like some logic was missing from that sentence. Do note that there are no gated areas on both platforms. But at least she did not force be to reenter the train and exit from the other side, only to loop back to the same point where she stopped me again.

To KLIA’s credit, there is actually a sign for the exit side of the train. Here’s a picture which I took on my return trip.

This is the sign for the way out of the train.

Wait, you can’t see it? I promise you, it’s actually there.

Here, let me increase the contrast and backlight by a ton for you.

Voilà~

The actual exit sign above the exit door of the train.

And this is the entry side of things. However, even if I were to have roamed my eyes around during the train journey, I wouldn’t have seen this as I was right below this sign, unable to turn much of my head around anyway due to the crowds.

I believe that the sign is supposed to be lit up when the train is at the station, so that people can actually read the words clearly. However, it was probably down, along with the air-conditioning and the in-train announcements.

If KLIA can’t even get people between the plane and immigration efficiently, which is getting more and more frequent nowadays, it’s not very difficult to understand why KLIA has dropped a whopping 10 spots down to #44 in just one year in the Skytrax World’s Top 100 Airports of 2018.

An international airport is typically the first impression that visitors to a country get the moment they step off the plane. I didn’t expect KLIA to portray the Klang Valley public transport peak hour scenario the moment passengers get off the train, even before they head for immigration.

I’m already expecting some comments soon to defend KLIA on this and to tell me that I should have been a good boy and exited on the other side instead, that I’m perhaps causing trouble for KLIA, or I should have taken the shuttle bus if I were so unhappy about the Aerotrain, which I’ll repeat again that I had wanted to try it on a previous trip but it was not available. But isn’t the main and possibly only purpose of the Aerotrain to transport people between the two terminals? The shuttle buses should be just an interim solution (which takes longer than the Aerotrain ride by the way) and not touted as a “more scenic route” as I don’t think that’s what passengers are after when they wish to efficiently get from the plane to immigration and baggage reclaim.

I wouldn’t use the word improve here as the current service standards have dropped instead of being insufficient on its existing capacity. Rather, KLIA needs to actually return back the Aerotrain to it’s stated service standards of 2.5 minutes frequency during peak periods. And with 3 trains in total available, it’s actually possible to have two trains (2.5 minute frequency) to always be in operation while one is undergoing maintenance.

If two or even all three trains are breaking down so regularly, KLIA should just decide on an alternative permanent solution instead.

Air Mauritius MK647: Kuala Lumpur to Singapore by Airbus A330-200

Mauritius is probably best known as a luxurious tropical island destination with hotels on white sandy beaches with mountainous backdrops in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I got myself a ticket on Air Mauritius from KL to a tropical island, but instead of one that’s about 9 hours away, I was headed to a neighbouring island instead on the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore – Port Louis route.

This is one of 3 Fifth Freedom Flights on the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore route. A Fifth Freedom Flight refers to a flight between two countries which are not the airline’s home country and a ticket can be purchased for this sector between the two countries.

Check-in for my flight to Mauritius Singapore was at Row L.

Not much of a queue here for check-in.

Check-in was one of the best I’ve ever had in KLIA.

I had a glass display box to bring back home and was concerned if I could carry it on board as hand baggage. Unfortunately, it had reasonably sharp edges so the check-in staff advised me to check it in, but was genuinely concerned about it breaking during the flight and asked if I wanted to go get it wrapped more just in case. (I had wrapped it with about 10 layers of newspaper on each corner already so it was quite good to go, but that was pretty thoughtful of her anyway.)

My boarding pass for my MK647 flight back to Singapore.

Heading for immigration.

The queue looks quite empty, with approximately 10-15 people in each queue. However, this process still took about 20 minutes to complete, even with each queue leading to 2 or 3 immigration counters, ie. with an average time spent of 2 to 4 minutes per passenger.

Not sure what this Customs Checkpoint is for. Feel free to pass through the body scanners with your pockets full and your filled water bottle, but place your bags in the x-ray machine where they will be supposedly screened. The security checks for boarding the plane are not done here.

Heading to the Satellite Terminal for my flight departing from Gate C17 via the Aerotrain.

The relatively spacious Aerotrain as compared with my ride the day before.

Heading off to the Satellite Terminal.

Two Aerotrains were in service this time.

The Aerotrain at the Satellite Terminal.

Heading to Gate C17.

Ooh, someone’s face seems to be missing from the panels beside the travellators.

(HINT: This guy was still here on 11 May 2018.)

Gate C17 is right at the end of the pier.

The flight was ready for boarding when I reached the gate, so it was a pretty smooth walk from security screening at the gate and straight to the plane.

The path on the right was for Economy Class passengers.

Boarding the Air Mauritius Airbus A330-200, 3B-NBL “Nénuphar”.

The interior of the the Air Mauritius Airbus A330-200.

The legroom available for my seat.

A tourism video of Mauritius was played while the plane was still at the gate. Here’s a similar video from YouTube:

Contrary to my previous flight, headsets were provided in the seat pockets. However, the entertainment system was not in the Interactive mode, so it was still kind of useless.

Once the plane was ready for departure, the cabin crew came around to close the overhead compartments. Announcements were made to welcome everyone on board, and to introduce the aircraft name of Nénuphar – water lilies – to everyone.

Pushing back from Gate C17.

The safety video was played, with scenes of Mauritius almost throughout the video. It’s probably one of the few (if not only) safety video which makes an emergency ditching look fun.

After the safety video was played, this screen showed up.

Preparing for take-off.

The plane had to wait for an incoming Cathay Dragon Airbus A330-300, which was still in the old Dragonair livery.

Glad I’m not on this ML series.

Ready for take-off at Runway 32R.

Bye Satellite Building.

Bye Main Terminal Building.

Turning left towards the Strait of Malacca.

KLIA from above.

Flying by Port Dickson.

Once the seatbelt signs were switched off, refreshments were served.

The light snack consisted of a mixed vegetable sandwich and a box of apple juice. Tasted pretty alright, and more than I expected since the previous flight had only a box of juice.

Passing by Muar.

The front Economy Class cabin was pretty full for this flight.

The back was about half empty though.

The extra legroom bulkhead seats might be useful for a long flight to Mauritius.

The rather clean washroom on board.

Nearing Singapore, the plane flew pretty high above Batam than what I’m usually used to on narrow-bodies. Not sure if it’s due to the assigned flight level or the bigger plane.

Turning back from Batam to Malaysia.

It was a little bumpy on approach to Singapore due to the rain clouds.

Landing into Changi Airport from the north-east.

Passing by Pulau Tekong.

Approaching mainland Singapore.

The partially-burnt written-off 9V-SQK sitting at Parking Bay 517L.

A Volga-Dnepr Antonov An-124 Ruslan, a rare sight in this region.

Touched down at Changi Airport.

Turning back to Terminal 1.

The new Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 parked at a remote stand near Terminal 1.

Turning into Gate D37.

A last look at the cabin.

Goodbye Air Mauritius.

All passengers have to disembark from the aircraft at Singapore, including transit passengers to Mauritius. However, transit passengers to Mauritius can re-enter to the gate immediately.

As for me, I’m headed out.

Goodbye MK647, leaving to Mauritius without me.

Heading down to arrival immigration and baggage reclaim.

The new refurbished Terminal 1 baggage reclaim area.

Since most people were headed for Mauritius, all bags for Singapore-bound passengers were on the belt by the time I got here.

Once past customs, it’s a walk to the new arrival hall under Jewel Changi Airport.

Overall, among all my flights on the Singapore – Kuala Lumpur sector, I have to say that Air Mauritius is to me the best airline serving on this route on all flights I have taken so far. (For the record, I have flown with Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air, AirAsia, Jetstar Asia and Tigerair (now Scoot) so far on this route.)

For a short flight, having a wide-body to serve the route is already a bonus. On top of that, there’s the frills of a full-service airline including check-in baggage (and friendly ground staff), substantial light refreshments and even one of the most friendly cabin crew on the KL – Singapore sector.

Would I fly Air Mauritius again? If the schedules to KL fit, and I’m rushing for time, sure.

KLIA Transit + Nadi Putra 500: KLIA to Mid Valley, KL Sentral, Pasar Seni & Hab Lebuh Pudu for RM13.20* by Train + Bus

KLIA is well connected by bus and train services, though with trains costing a premium. However, if you’d like to take a train + bus combination, there is one possible method at quite an affordable price. Here, I’ll show you how to get from KLIA to the city for RM13.20 by KLIA Transit and Nadi Putra 500 highway bus.

Head down to the KLIA Transit platforms and purchase your ticket either from the counter or the ticket kiosks. If you’d like to pay by Touch ‘n Go, the ticket counter here offers free reloading services without the 50 sen service charge.

The fare from klia2/KLIA to Putrajaya & Cyberjaya costs RM9.40 regardless of payment mode.

Wait at Platform B for the KLIA Transit train service.

Check the stops of the next train before boarding the train as the platform is for bi-directional services.

Ensure that the arrow points towards KL Sentral for the next train.

Push the button to open doors.

The KLIA Transit departed KLIA at 10.52am.

Heading out of KLIA.

Passing by the palm plantations on the way out.

The KLIA Transit train makes a brief stop at Salak Tinggi.

New CRRC Changchun Equator EMUs parked outside the depot.

A KLIA Ekspres Siemens Desiro ET 425 M sitting outside.

The interior of the new KLIA Transit CRRC Changchun Equator EMU.

Arriving at Putrajaya & Cyberjaya station, with Putrajaya Sentral on the left. Get off here to change to Nadi Putra Service 500.

The train arrived at Putrajaya & Cyberjaya at 11.06am, making it a journey of 14 minutes.

The KLIA Transit train will continue on to KL Sentral, but don’t follow it all the way or it would cost you RM55.

Head upstairs to exit the station.

Once you have exited the station, turn right and continue straight to Putrajaya Sentral Bus Terminal.

Head down the first flight of stairs on the left.

Nadi Putra Service 500 is an express bus operating between Putrajaya and KL at normal city bus fares.

However, to board the bus, you have to purchase a Putra Pay card as cash is no longer accepted. Payment for all Nadi Putra bus services are by Putra Pay only. Queue here at the ticket counter to purchase a Putra Pay card for RM10 which consists of RM5 card cost and RM5 value. If you are planning to take multiple journeys, you can top up your card here first.

Once you have your card, proceed to board the bus.

Nadi Putra Service 500 departs every 30 minutes by the 00th and 30th minute of the hour.

Place the Putra Pay card on the reader and tell the driver where you would like to go. Once he has keyed in your destination, a paper ticket will be printed and given to you, thereafter your Putra Pay card will be returned to you.

The fare from Putrajaya to KL costs RM3.80 by Putra Pay only.

Despite me telling the driver than I’m heading to Mydin (ie. the local way to call Hab Lebuh Pudu – no one calls it that way), my ticket gets keyed in for KL Sentral. Guess it’s the same fare.

However, factoring the card cost, I actually pretty much paid RM10 for this bus ride since the card cost is RM5 and I can’t do anything with RM1.20 in the Putra Pay card in KL.

The interior of the Nadi Putra bus to KL.

The Nadi Putra Service 500 bus departed on time at 11.30am.

Passing by the MRT Sungai Buloh–Serdang–Putrajaya Line viaduct pillars. This would be the ideal replacement for this bus service since it would offer similar fares (I hope), provided that KLIA Transit doesn’t increase the fare for interchanging with this new MRT line like how it’s done for Bandar Tasik Selatan.

Nadi Putra Service 500 makes a small loop around the housing estates around Putrajaya Sentral before hitting the highway.

Turning on to Lebuh Sentosa.

Turning onto the Maju Expressway (MEX).

Queuing up to pay the toll.

Nadi Putra Service 500 takes the Maju Expressway just like other express buses to KLIA and klia2.

If you hit a jam, you know that you’re approaching KL.

The Nadi Putra Service 500 bus made a brief stop at Mid Valley at 12.15pm to drop off one passenger.

The Nadi Putra Service 500 bus made another stop at KL Sentral at 12.20pm outside Nu Sentral on the KL Monorail side. Surprisingly, not many passengers alighted here as I had expected.

Pasar Seni was where most passengers alighted. The bus stopped here at 12.25pm.

I moved two seats forward where the air-con was colder.

Approaching Hab Lebuh Pudu.

The Nadi Putra Service 500 bus arrived at Hab Lebuh Pudu at 12.30pm, making the bus journey from Putrajaya to this terminal in 1 hour. From KLIA, it makes this journey a total of 1 hour 38 minutes.

Information stickers around the bus on the new cashless system, a bit too late for that now.

The overall interior of the Nadi Putra bus.

From here, it’s within walking distance to Pudu Sentral, Plaza Rakyat LRT Station, Merdeka MRT Station and Masjid Jamek LRT Station.

If you are travelling in the opposite direction from Hab Lebuh Pudu to Putrajaya on Nadi Putra Service 500, get the first Nadi Putra bus in the line.

If you’re okay with getting from KLIA to the city in slightly over one and a half hours (which does happen on express buses sometimes too) but including a KLIA Transit train ride and a highway bus ride, this might give you the best combination at a fare of just RM13.20 in total, assuming you have a Putra Pay card already. (Including the cost of a new Putra Pay card, this journey would cost RM19.40 instead.)

Air Mauritius MK646: Singapore to Kuala Lumpur by Airbus A330-200

Mauritius is probably best known as a luxurious tropical island destination with hotels on white sandy beaches with mountainous backdrops in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The flag carrier of Mauritius, Air Mauritius flies non-stop between Singapore and Port Louis since 15 March 2016.

I got myself a ticket on Air Mauritius, but unfortunately, I wasn’t heading to a tropical island, but rather, a tropical peninsular north of Singapore called West Malaysia on the second leg of their Port Louis – Singapore – Kuala Lumpur route.

This is one of 3 Fifth Freedom Flights on the Singapore – Kuala Lumpur route. A Fifth Freedom Flight refers to a flight between two countries which are not the airline’s home country and a ticket can be purchased for this sector between the two countries.

MK646 departs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 9.00am from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. Check-in was at Terminal 1, Row 14 where there wasn’t anyone in the queue in front of me.

Check-in was rather quick, done in less than a minute since I’ve already completed my online check-in and I didn’t have any check-in bags.

Two groups of people came by after I’ve completed my check-in.

My boarding pass for my MK646 flight to Mauritius Kuala Lumpur.

Inside the transit area of Terminal 1.

As MK646 would be coming in from Port Louis and not originating from Singapore itself, I checked Flightradar24 to see where the plane was coming from and headed to the Cactus Garden to spot the arrival.

MK646 from Port Louis to Singapore touched down at Singapore Changi Airport at 8.21am, 31 minutes delayed from schedule.

The flight was operated by 3B-NBL, Air Mauritius‘s only Airbus A330-200 in operation on my date of travel. Air Mauritius has a grand total of 2 Airbus A330-200s in its fleet.

3B-NBL heading to Gate D36.

Wondering where might be the most unusual spot to take photos at such angles?

Thank you Changi Airport for the best view out of the toilet. (And for keeping it clean at all times. Thanks Uncle.)

Heading on to Gate D36 to board my flight to Kuala Lumpur.

3B-NBL “Nénuphar”, from the outdoor smoking room beside Gate D36.

The MK646 flight to KL is code-shared with Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines.

3B-NBL “Nénuphar”, from the gate hold room of Gate D36.

The gate hold room of Gate D36, before all other passengers from Port Louis came in. All passengers on direct flights through Changi Airport need to disembark from the plane and go through security screening before re-boarding the plane.

What’s left of my boarding pass after entering the gate hold room.

Boarding was called after all passengers were cleared from the plane and most have gone through security screening.

There’s this different feeling before flying when boarding a wide-body plane rather than a regular short-haul narrow-body.

Heading to the plane via the aerobridge.

Stepping on board Air Mauritius for the first time.

The interior of the Air Mauritius Airbus A330-200 3B-NBL “Nénuphar”, in a 2-4-2 configuration.

The bulkheads are decorated with tropical scenes of Mauritius.

Heading to the aft cabin where my seat is.

The extra legroom seats atthe front of the cabin, which might be worth it for the flight to Mauritius.

Seat 30A would be where I am for the next hour.

The Economy Class legroom on Air Mauritius’s Airbus A330-200.

The entertainment box sticks out on both sides of each seat pair.

The view of the cabin from my seat.

The entertainment screen remains switched on from the previous flight, however, no headphones were provided on this short sector.

The entertainment system is touchscreen, with a remote control at the side of each seat.

A two-pin jack is required to plug your headphone into the entertainment system.

The row of 4 seats would make for a nice bed for an overnight flight to or from Mauritius.

Signs around the plane are in English and French.

The literature in the seat pocket are placed in a clear Air Mauritius plastic folder, which is great when I was rummaging the seat pocket for my phone and passport after landing as I didn’t have to flip through magazines to find it.

The safety video was played upon pushback.

The safety video was great, with scenes of Mauritius which I’m not going to experience even after disembarking from this plane.

Watch the full safety video here:

A Xiamen Airlines Boeing 737-800 in SkyTeam Livery. While Air Mauritius isn’t in one of the bigger airline alliances, I could use my Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) frequent flyer account to accumulate miles on Air Mauritius.

Ready to take-off.

Terminal 5 under way.

3B-NBL “Nénuphar” was the sole Air Mauritius Airbus A330-200 in operation at the time of my flight, with the other aircraft being retrofitted.

Let’s see if the new Airbus A330-900neo will replace the Airbus A330-200 on the Singapore and Kuala Lumpur routes.

While I could access the other parts of the entertainment system, I switched to the flight map throughout the flight since there weren’t any headsets provided.

A Mauritian juice box was distributed on a tray by the flight attendants on this short flight.

The mixed fruit juice was a vast mix of apple, grape, guava, passion fruit, pineapple, peach, pear, mango and orange.

A look around the washroom on board.

Moisturizer and cologne were provided in the washrooms.

The flight was rather comfortable since it was half-empty. The crew also walked around the cabin chatting with passengers, especially those who were continuing their journey from Port Louis.

Descending into Kuala Lumpur.

The flight information was rotated between English and French.

Had a little French class about what city names around the region are in French.

Passing over Port Dickson.

The very visible Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson from above.

Approaching KLIA.

The former LCCT, now sitting empty.

Touched down at 10.11am, 11 minutes late.

Turning back to the KLIA Satellite Building.

Turning into Gate C14.

A last look at Seat 30A.

Disembarking from the aircraft.

Looking back at the Air Mauritius plane.

Outside the gate, there was a KLIA staff greeting everyone with “Welcome to Malaysia”. First time I’m experiencing this, or maybe it’s just for long-haul flights?

Heading to the Aerotrain to get to immigration and out of the airport.

Only one Aerotrain was in operation.

The other train on the outer track was under maintenance on the other platform.

The relatively crowded platform.

I had almost wanted to go downstairs to check if the shuttle bus was available, but the train pulled in just in time. Risk it to go down and check on the bus or board the train and squeeze for 2.5 minutes?

I opted to squeeze.

Wonder how long the other train will take to get back on service.

Boarding the Aerotrain to the Main Terminal Building.

It felt as though I was on the KTM Komuter to Midvalley for the 2.5 minutes I was squashed at the door.

Surviving the “Welcome to Malaysia” ride, I got off the train on my door’s side, to which I was promptly chided by a KLIA staff. More on that on a dedicated post coming soon.

Heading for immigration clearance. Luckily, as I got down fast enough, there was just one person ahead of me at the immigration counter.

Baggage reclaim was at Belt E.

The bags weren’t available yet, but luckily I had no check-in bags to wait for. There was still an estimated 6 minutes and 55 second wait for the bags, despite already having walked from the gate to the Aerotrain station, an Aerotrain ride, walking to immigration and clearing it.

Back in KL. Seems like just last week that I was here. Hmm.

Overall, among all my flights on the Singapore – Kuala Lumpur sector, I have to say that Air Mauritius is to me the best airline serving on this route on all flights I have taken so far. (For the record, I have flown with Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air, AirAsia, Jetstar Asia and Tigerair (now Scoot) so far on this route.)

My flight was actually supposed to be 3 weeks before, but it got cancelled. However, the after sales service was great with the Singapore call centre rather responsive in picking up calls (none of those press 1 press 2 nonsense) and were very accommodating in my requests for my preferred flight change. The crew on board were also quite pleasant despite having already flown on a 7-hour flight from Port Louis just before, with one of them even asking me if I had gotten great photos of the flight after seeing me click around with my camera. And of course, being on a wide-body for a short flight is definitely a bonus.

Would I fly Air Mauritius again? If the schedules to KL fit, and I’m rushing for time, sure.

To Mauritius? Perhaps next time when I have more time and money, and the Mauritius Metro Express is completed. But with the crew as ambassadors of Mauritius, I think it would be a very warm and friendly country for a holiday.

KLIA Transit: klia2 to Bandar Tasik Selatan by New CRRC Changchun Equator EMU

The KLIA Transit is a commuter rail service operated by Express Rail Link running between klia2 and KL Sentral, serving all stations in between including KLIA, Salak Tinggi, Putrajaya & Cyberjaya and Bandar Tasik Selatan.

On 13 March 2018, the second generation of trains on the Express Rail Link, the CRRC Changchun Equator EMU, were launched on both KLIA Ekspres and KLIA Transit services, increasing the frequency of KLIA Transit services from 20 minutes to 15 minutes during weekday peak hours. 4 sets of KLIA Transit Equator EMUs and 2 sets of KLIA Ekspres Equator EMUs were ordered in total. The name Equator EMU is inspired by the fact that “Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is located near the equator”.

The train arrived at 11.42am for the 11.48am departure to KL Sentral.

Don’t fret if the doors close quickly on you – push the button to open the train doors.

Departing from klia2.

9M-AQB on the taxiway, featuring the General Electric (GE) Livery with a locomotive on the starboard side.

Most passengers got off at KLIA.

Heading onwards to the city.

Making a brief stop at Salak Tinggi.

Making a brief stop at Putrajaya & Cyberjaya.

The MRT Sungai Buloh–Serdang–Putrajaya Line‘s viaducts seems to be intruding into the projected Putrajaya Monorail‘s alignment. I guess this means that the Putrajaya Monorail is an abandoned project forever.

Passing by Serdang KTM Komuter Station.

Running parallel with the KTM line and the Sungai Besi Expressway.

Approaching Bandar Tasik Selatan.

The KLIA Transit CRRC Changchun Equator EMU at Bandar Tasik Selatan.

The KLIA Transit CRRC Changchun Equator EMU departing Bandar Tasik Selatan.

I did not have high expectations of this train, but overall, I would say based on passenger comfort, the new KLIA Transit CRRC Changchun Equator EMU is similar to if not on par with the existing Siemens Desiro ET 425 M EMU. The ride was smooth and quiet, the seats were sufficiently comfortable and the TV and announcement sound quality was good.

If there’s one criticism, I would say that the seat would get easily dirty (and some already are) with the plain, light coloured fabric as compared with the patterned design on the KLIA Ekspres Siemens Desiro ET 425 M EMU.

But nonetheless, a good product. Hopefully, with these additional 4 trains, KLIA Transit services can be increased to perhaps 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day for added convenience when travelling to Putrajaya and KLIA as the low 30-minute frequency timetables wouldn’t have to be memorized anymore (or maybe it’s just me who’s memorizing it).

KLIA Transit: klia2 to KLIA by New CRRC Changchun Equator EMU

The KLIA Transit is a commuter rail service operated by Express Rail Link running between KL Sentral and klia2, serving all stations in between including Bandar Tasik Selatan, Putrajaya & Cyberjaya, Salak Tinggi and KLIA.

The KLIA Transit service can also be used as an inter-terminal transfer between klia2 and KLIA at a nominal fare of RM2.

On 13 March 2018, the second generation of trains on the Express Rail Link, the CRRC Changchun Equator EMU, were launched on both KLIA Ekspres and KLIA Transit services, increasing the frequency of KLIA Transit services from 20 minutes to 15 minutes during weekday peak hours. 4 sets of KLIA Transit Equator EMUs and 2 sets of KLIA Ekspres Equator EMUs were ordered in total. The name Equator EMU is inspired by the fact that “Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is located near the equator”.

The new CRRC Changchun Equator EMU has a longer seat pitch (I don’t actually feel so.) and a higher ceiling according to the promotional video on board the new CRRC Changchun Equator EMU.

Departing from klia2. The journey from klia2 to KLIA takes 3 minutes.

The overall interior of the CRRC Changchun Equator EMU.

KLIA’s air-conditioned platforms operate with platform screen doors. Once the platform screen doors open, push the train’s door button to open the train doors.

The train will continue to KL Sentral, stated on the LED destination sign as KLS.

Hopefully, with these additional trains, KLIA Transit services can be increased to perhaps 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day for added convenience when travelling between klia2 and KLIA as during periods where the KLIA Transit and KLIA Ekspres timetables do not match well, the transfer frequency between the two terminals can be up to 18 minutes – not something desirable when passengers are rushing to check-in for their next flight.