Downtown Line Stage 3: A New Alternative for Changi Airport Access

The Downtown Line Stage 3 comprises of 16 stations from the city to the east, with the new terminus of the line at Expo Interchange. Most of the line runs parallel to the north of the East West Line, relieving some load off the latter. With Expo being an interchange station with the East West Line’s Changi Airport Extension, the completed Downtown Line running between Bukit Panjang and Expo with a loop around the city offers a new rail alternative to and from Changi Airport.

Transfers between the Downtown Line and the East West Line is seamless with a subway link connecting the two stations within the paid area. Just follow the signs towards the East West Line or Downtown Line, depending on which direction you are heading in.




The subway link connects to the existing paid concourse of the East West Line’s Expo station.


If you are transferring from the East West Line to the Downtown Line, the signs are clearly posted as well.

What may slow you down during the journey though, is the waiting time for the East West Line train to and from the airport, with the Changi Airport Extension operating at a slower frequency of 7 to 12 minutes.


The travel time between Expo and Changi Airport takes just 5 minutes.

Changi Airport MRT Station links directly to Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.

If you are heading to…

Terminal 1: Take the exit to either Terminal 2 or Terminal 3 Departures Level and transfer to the Skytrain to Terminal 1.
Terminal 2: Take the exit to Terminal 2.
Terminal 3: Take the exit to Terminal 3.
Terminal 4: Take the exit to Terminal 2 Arrivals Level and transfer to the T4 Free Shuttle Bus Service to Terminal 4.


From here, I headed to check-in for my Malindo flight to KL.


Bonus Hack!

Get from Terminal 4 directly to the Downtown Line

Instead of getting on the T4 Free Shuttle Bus Service to Terminal 2 and change to the East West Line to Expo Interchange and change again for the Downtown Line, you can take SBSTransit Bus Service 24 directly to Upper Changi MRT Station.


The T4 Bus Stand is located across the road from the terminal, which is accessible by an underpass from T4 Arrivals Level.

SBSTransit Bus Service 24 from Terminal 4 to Upper Changi MRT Station departs from the first berth of the T4 Bus Stand. The journey takes around 15 minutes.

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Malindo Air/Batik Air Malaysia OD817: Penang to Singapore by Business Class

As quickly as I arrived from Bangkok, it was time to head back to Singapore with Malindo. Malindo operates one flight daily to Singapore and while the flight timing isn’t the most desirable, departing Penang at noontime, it was part of the Business Class promotion that I bought a couple of tickets with, so, here I am.

Malindo’s check-in counters are at the very end of the departure hall.

It was kind of confusing at the check-in area since it’s more crowded than Kuala Lumpur, with a general queue for all counters including the Business Class one.

The “No Entry” sign at the exit area didn’t help too, so I queued as per normal.

Perhaps this Smarter Shuttle thing is delaying things at check-in.


The queue for the common check-in took around 15 minutes.

“Not Just Low Cost” – then don’t remove your IFEs on your new planes guys.

My boarding pass receipt for my flight to Singapore.

Penang Airport, while compact, has a Plaza Premium Lounge in the departure area and Malindo includes it as part of the Business Class service, which is awesome.

Heading for immigration and security clearance.


I went up to the Plaza Premium Lounge to have brunch first, since I haven’t had anything for breakfast yet.

Came back down from the lounge just in time when boarding calls for my flight is made.

The central gate hold room, or rather area since there aren’t any checks to enter the room, for Gates A1, A1A and A2.



Walking down to the plane at Gate A2.


Despite the crowds queuing for boarding at the gate, I was the second last Business Class passenger to be seated on the plane.

In addition to the seat pocket items, a copy of The Star was provided at every seat.

On top of that, a blanket and pillow was also provided at the seat for the flight.

My welcome drink of apple juice.

Once everyone has been served their drink, the stewardess came around to take orders for today’s lunch, which is, surprise surprise, chicken pizza or vegetarian pizza again.

An actual pleasant surprise for me though was that I had my neighboring seat empty.

Pushing back from the gate.


The cabin lights were dimmed for take-off at noontime.



Bye Penang!


Turning away from Georgetown.


Flying over the Penang Bridge.


Butterworth Railway Station from the sky.



Since this was a longer flight to Singapore as compared to KL, the IFE was thankfully available on board.


My Vegetarian Pizza, the staple food of Malindo Business Class passengers.


For the IFE, Panasonic noise cancellation headphones are provided. I managed to get around 20 minutes of entertainment time before the IFE had to be stowed away for landing.



Passing by Singapore City.

Sentosa from above.



Seems that we’re going to land from the north instead.

Cabin lights were dimmed again.

It was pretty bright outside though.

Back in Malaysia for landing at Changi Airport.



Passing over Pulau Tekong.



Back at Changi.



While Malindo operates from Terminal 3, it usually parks at the far end of the A Gates, and this time is no exception too at Gate A18, the furthest gate possible.


The curtains were closed to allow Business Class passengers to disembark first.


Bye Malindo, my first and only Business Class experience from Penang to Singapore.

This is a quick turnaround flight back to Penang.


From the last gates of the pier, I got on the Skytrain to get me to arrivals.





Just less than a minute later, I got my bags from the baggage carousel and off I went.

Lounge Review – Plaza Premium Lounge (Penang International Airport): A Comprehensive Lounge Sufficient for Short-Haul Flights

Penang International Airport has a pretty compact layout and a relatively simple departure transit area. Despite this, there lies a Plaza Premium Lounge on the mezzanine level of the departure area just after immigration. Thanks to my Malindo Business Class ticket which includes a visit to the Plaza Premium Lounge, it’s time to have brunch.


The Plaza Premium Lounge is located a short escalator ride up to the mezzanine level just after departure immigration and security clearance.


An exchange of the lounge voucher at the counter later, and I was off to explore and relax a little.

2 hours for RM168? Honestly, Don’t think I would pay for this if I’m on a normal flight.


The Plaza Premium Lounge at Penang Airport features their distinctive lounge seats found in all other Plaza Premium Lounges around the world, which are very comfortable for single travellers or small groups.

There is also a dining area for those who wish to have a meal.

If you wish to work on your laptop, there are bar counters and stools too.

The self-service buffet spread is rather simple at first look with just some hot drinks, orange juice, bread and petit fours.

At the hot counter, the only 2 items available were Nasi Lemak and porridge.

Until I saw this menu. Breakfast is served a la carte style, so just place your order with the chef and come back in 5 minutes.

The cold drinks selection was also diverse enough for a short stay.

Now for pictures of the food.

This is the Western Breakfast, the first item on the menu. It does indeed taste better than it looks, though the portion is rather small. But hey, there’s technically no limit to how much you can order…

… so I went for the Scrambled Egg Croissant next. The egg was pretty much prepared almost the same way as the Western Breakfast. Still good though, especially when I had it with butter.

A small portion of Nasi Lemak just to see how it fares.

Hint: Go for the western. Or have your Nasi Lemak before you come to the airport.

And a little bit of pasta salad (more like just pasta), olives and pickles.

After my brunch, I had around 15 minutes before I had to go to the gate so I lounged around with a drink at the sofa area.

Overall, the meals are pretty satisfactory for airport food and with the small number of flights as compared to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong, it was a pleasant and quiet stay. The lounge lacks shower facilities.

After the lounge stay, I headed back downstairs to board my Malindo flight to Singapore.

Rapid Ferry: Butterworth to Penang Island (Georgetown) by Ferry

After I alighted from the KTM Komuter Northern Sector from Padang Besar, it’s time to head to Penang Island with none other than the newly-rebranded Rapid Ferry.


This post is about the travel experience onboard the Rapid Ferry.

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

Click here to visit the dedicated Rapid Ferry information page.



Despite being rebranded, the walking route to the Rapid Ferry is still the same.

Penang Sentral is taking shape though, which is connected to the existing bridge. Wished that they would have actually built a new linkway for the railway station and ferry terminal instead of having this unequal development.

With the Rapid Ferry, the old system of dropping coins into the gate is gone and replaced by a proper ticketing system. However, this also means that you can’t skip the queues at the counter anymore even if you have exact change.

Fares for the Rapid Ferry remains unchanged at just RM1.20 per adult, even with this new ticketing system.

My ticket on my first Rapid Ferry ride. Well technically it’s not my first ride across to Penang Island, just with this new ticket and new service name.

Scan the ticket’s QR code at the turnstiles to enter the waiting area.

All other procedures remain unchanged.


Inside the ferry, the Rapid Ferry branding becomes more apparent.



Pulau Undan, resting at Butterworth, bears a new Rapid Ferry livery with landmarks of Penang.

The journey time across to Penang Island remains the same at around 30 minutes.

Pulau Pinang also spots a new Rapid Ferry livery.


Docking at Penang Island.

Disembarking from the Rapid Ferry.

From here, I got on the Rapid Penang Central Area Transit (CAT) bus to my destination.


This post is about the travel experience onboard the Rapid Ferry.

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

Click here to visit the dedicated Rapid Ferry information page.

 

KTM Komuter Northern Sector: Padang Besar to Butterworth by Train

With the Thaksinarath and Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train completed, it’s time for my final train journey for the Bangkok – Butterworth route: the KTM Komuter Northern Sector.

With the rescheduling of the ETS timetable effective 1 August 2017, trains either ply the KL Sentral – Ipoh, (Gemas) – KL Sentral – Butterworth or (Gemas) – KL Sentral – Padang Besar routes only. The only train service that serves the line on the wye junction which links Bukit Mertajam to other northerly stations is the KTM Komuter Northern Sector. But not that I would have bought an ETS ticket for a short-distance journey anyway.


This post is about the travel experience onboard the KTM Komuter Northern Sector.

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

Click here to visit the dedicated KTM Komuter Northern Sector information page.


Tickets for the KTM Komuter Northern Sector can be purchased at the usual ticket counter at any time.

However, you should only buy your ticket within a reasonable time frame on the day of departure only as you will be questioned by the staff at your destination station should you be suspected of overstaying. Tickets are printed with the date and time of your purchase.

The slightly confusing fare and time table as seen at Padang Besar.


Waiting at Platform 2 for my 2957dn to Butterworth departing at 10.25am. This train is the next connecting KTM Komuter train after the arrival of the Express 947 Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train at 9.30am.

EMU 26 operating as 2952up, pulling into Padang Besar to form 2957dn immediately after arrival.

Also on Platform 2 is the Express 948 bound for Hat Yai, but with permissive working in place, 2952up is allowed to stop at Platform 2 as scheduled.

As passengers disembarked, possibly for weekend shopping at Padang Besar, the passengers proceeding south of Padfang Besar start to board. This is to be an on-time departure for 2957dn.

With the first and last coach filling up with passengers and lacking air-conditioning, I opted for a seat at the end of the middle coach, with possibly the only air-con unit functioning in the whole train. Better be choosy since I’m given the opportunity and get comfy for the 2-hour ride.

Don’t be fooled by the small number of stations to represent the length of the line as they are placed further apart as compared with stations on the KTM Komuter Klang Valley Sector.

Departing Padang Besar at 10.25am, right on time.


All was calm on the journey…

… until the train was arriving at Arau.

Oh wow.


Within a minute, all seats in the train were taken up, leaving the remaining passengers with standing room only.

More passengers started to board at Sungai Petani. Despite me being seated at the end of the coach already, I tried to tuck in my belongings as much as possible to create a little bit more space for the standees.

Making the turn into Bukit Mertajam.

Most passengers alighted at Bukit Mertajam to transfer to the next train bound for Padang Rengas.


Crossing over the Prai Swing Bridge.

Arriving into Butterworth.

Passengers heading north rush into the train as the train arrived at 12.27pm, 11 minutes late, but their train to Padang Besar, 2960up, is formed by this same train which was supposed to depart at 12.25pm.

It’s back to Padang Besar again for EMU 26.

Meanwhile, I let the crowd from 2957dn clear from the lift and staircase first before heading up.


With the northbound crowd cleared, the 2960up departed Butterworth at 12.30pm, 5 minutes late. Also, now that the crowd for the stairs have cleared, I went up too.

The crowd at the concourse, waiting for the next ETS Platinum train to KL Sentral.

Penang Sentral ahead is finally taking shape, though I wish that it would be more integrated with the railway station.

The facade of Butterworth Railway Station once again, and it’s the end of the line for me. Contrary to my previous trips, I will not be taking the train all the way back to Singapore.

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From here, I got on the Rapid Ferry to Penang Island.


This post is about the travel experience onboard the KTM Komuter Northern Sector.

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

Click here to visit the dedicated KTM Komuter Northern Sector information page.

 

Express 947 Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train: Hat Yai Junction to Padang Besar by Train

After arriving from the Thaksinarath from Bangkok, I had slightly more than an hour to go before the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train departs at 7.30am.


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.


Hat Yai is the biggest town in southern Thailand that is closest to Malaysia. It is slightly less than an hour away by train to Padang Besar, and SRT offers two pairs of shuttle trains daily.

Tickets for the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train are only sold on the day of departure, so queue at the counters for immediate travel to purchase your ticket.


Tickets usually costs 80 baht when travelling with the Daewoo DMU, but as the rake is swapped with a non-airconditioned third class rake, the air-conditioning fee and second class fee is waived for this journey, saving me 30 baht. No complains at all, in fact I’d prefer a non-airconditioned train.

The Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train departed from Platform 3 on the day of my journey.


The Alsthom locomotive coupling to my rake to form the train to Padang Besar.



Express 947 from Hat Yai Junction to Padang Besar is ready for departure.



The train is made up of 3 coaches of Bogie Third Class coaches, probably to cater to the large crowd heading up to Hat Yai on a Saturday.

I sat in the high-capacity Third Class coach on the bench for 3 people so I have 6 seats to sprawl out for my bags and myself.

Departing Hat Yai Junction.


Heading right to Padang Besar, branching off the line to Sungai Golok.




The typical scenery when travelling south to Padang Besar.

Crossing Phet Kasem Road or Thailand Route 4 before arriving at Khlong Ngae Railway Station.



Arrived and departed Khlong Ngae Railway Station almost immediately as there were no passengers boarding or alighting here.



Arriving at Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station.

If you are heading to Malaysia, do NOT alight here. There are two border stations and the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train will get you across to Padang Besar Railway Station in Malaysia.

Entering the electrified sector.

Passing through the old Padang Besar (Thai) Railway Station.

The rickety border gate.

Hello Malaysia.


Arriving at Padang Besar Railway Station.


The Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train arrived at Padang Besar at 9.19am, 6 minutes ahead of schedule.

A quick run-around of the locmotive later, and the Express 948 is formed for the return trip back to Hat Yai Junction.

Here’s probably the cause of the downgrade to third class coaches – there are too many passengers for them to fit into the 2-car Daewoo DMU. Despite the train already being half-full, these passengers are still queuing for immigration into Thailand.

Needless to say, the Express 948 to Hat Yai Junction was delayed.

This also means that you need not worry if there are too many people buying tickets on the day of your departure as SRT will cater for enough space for you and will not depart the train while you are still queuing for immigration – so don’t fret.


The train conductor of the Express 948 telling passengers to move in to the centre of the car.

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From this platform, I waited for the KTM Komuter Northern Sector to continue on my journey towards Butterworth.


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.

 

Special Express 31 Thaksinarath: Bangkok Hua Lamphong to Hat Yai Junction by the Best Train in Thailand

The new flagship trains of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) were launched in 2016, running throughout the Northern, Northeastern and Southern Lines in Thailand. The order of 115 new coaches from CRRC Changchun forming 9 train sets is SRT’s largest single order for new additional passenger coaches. The new coaches are also a platform for SRT to create a new image of service, add more facilities to trains and focus on Thai-style service and dressing.

The new CRRC coaches run on 4 main routes daily, namely, the Bangkok – Hat Yai “Thaksinarath“, the Bangkok – Chiang Mai “Uttrawithi“, the Bangkok – Nong Khai “Isan Mankha” and the Bangkok – Ubon Ratchathani “Isan Wattana“, with new service names which were personally given by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

After more than a year since the launch due to my own schedule conflicting with ticket availability as tickets do sell out 2 months in advance – almost immediately after opening for sale, I finally got to try the Thaksinarath running from Bangkok to Hat Yai. With this trip, I learnt that the service standards on the new First Class coaches were actually more premium than advertised.

The Special Express 31 Thaksinarath departs from Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station at 2.45pm. Having a First Class ticket entitles you to a simple lounge visit if you would like to rest before your train departure.

I departed from Bangkok with the Thaksinarath on a very special day in Thailand on 13 October 2017, the one-year anniversary of the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The platform had an artwork dedicated to him, Rama IX, the ninth monarch of Thailand from the Chakri dynasty.


The Thaksinarath is ready for her passengers at Platform 4, more than an hour before the time of departure.

My ticket on the Thaksinarath to Hat Yai, with a supplement for single occupancy.


Heading the Thaksinarath and other trains operating with the new CRRC coaches is the Hitachi locomotive in the new livery. This new livery was given to match the new image of the CRRC coaches, and she certainly looks smart and modern despite it being 24 years old.

Compartment 19/20 is my moving hotel for the night en route from Bangkok to Hat Yai.



Welcome aboard the Thaksinarath.


The First Class compartment is sufficiently spacious with ample luggage storage and a generous amount of legroom for the day setting.

Each berth comes with a power socket and reading light. In the day setting, only the one on the lower berth is used.


In the day setting, the screen on the lower berth is used for entertainment and food orders. The screen also tells you if the washrooms or shower are available for use in real time.

A USB port is also available with the controls for the screen to charge your phone.

The channel guide for the entertainment screen is provided in the compartment. Also, you can get the WiFi password “TESTTEST” at the bottom of the channel guide.

An additional screen is also available on the upper berth.

An attendant is available throughout the train journey. To call him or her, press to bell button beside the compartment door.

A light above your door lights up which will let the attendant know which compartment he or she should serve once he or she receives the notification within the attendant’s room.

With the door shut, you will also have the option to keep it locked. A peephole is available to check on your visitor, if any, and also the best evacuation route in case of an emergency.

Shortly before departure, the attendant comes around to provide all passengers with complimentary drinking water for the journey.

Sanitized glasses are also given out directly to you instead of displaying them first in the compartment, ensuring that you actually physically see a clean, sanitized glass before accepting it.

Now, for a walk around the coach to see the shared amenities available.


The most important feature in the new First Class coach would be the presence of a hot shower. Nothing to get you more comfortable than this whether you are en route or about to go to bed.

Soap is provided in the shower cubicle.

A modern Panasonic water heater is provided for a hot shower. While the shower head is positioned slightly low, it’s probably for good reason and you won’t want to spray the water all over your clothes hung on the hook above.

If you wish to use your own toiletries, a soap dish is also available.

A new addition for trains in Thailand would be a gents’ washroom cubicle consisting of only a urinal and a sink.

And of course, two mixed gender washroom cubicles are also available.

It is worthwhile to note that the toilets on the new CRRC coaches have waste tanks on board as compared to the “natural flushing” on the existing DMUs and coaches.

On journeys out of Bangkok, you can also watch the journey go by when you are waiting for your turn at the washrooms or shower.

A sneak peek into the attendant’s room.


Each First Class compartment also feature connecting rooms should you be travelling with a group of 3 or 4. A lock bar is available at each side of the connecting door, ensuring that only with both bars lifted, can the connecting door be opened.



The spacious 4-person compartment with the connecting door opened.

Shortly after departure, the train conductor and attendant comes around to welcome you on board and to check your ticket.

My checked ticket with the hole punch on top.



The attendant then provides me with the headset to be used on the entertainment system, and a personal commentary in English on the various functions available in the compartment and coach, including how to adjust the aircon flow.

He then salutes me to thank me for choosing SRT for my journey and that he is at my service today throughout my journey.

Truly first-class Thai-style hospitality.



A short stop at Sam Sen to pick up some more passengers, including a family in First Class. My attendant also helps them with their bags while ushering them to their compartment.

As compared with the doors on the older coaches, the ones on the CRRC coaches closes automatically in sync with the whole train, without the need for each attendant to press the button on each door.

The steps also can be folded up at the gangway level to provide a wider aisle space and also future-proofs the train for high-level platforms at Bang Sue Central.

Don’t stick your hand there.



The temperature is set at a cool 22 degrees.

Looking at Bang Sue Central, the future modern home for all trains.

After departure from Bang Sue, the attendant comes round again to provide towels for each passenger for the shower.

Passing by Bang Sue Locomotive Depot.

Branching off to the Southern Line after Bang Sue Junction.


Bang Son Purple Line and Red Line station.



Crossing the Rama VI Bridge.

Time to try out the food ordering system.


Scroll through the menu to see what you like.

Once you’re done, tap “Submit” and you’ll receive the message “Your order is being processed, please wait.”.

Once your order is picked up by the crew in the restaurant car, you will see the message “The order is finished.”.

The waitress comes by with your food shortly after that, and you can pay her in cash.

My late lunch of Green Curry Fried Rice and Pinky Milk.



For microwaved food, the Green Curry Fried Rice with Egg actually tastes pretty good, though honestly I still prefer the freshly cooked ones on board the old trains. 59 baht per pack.

The Pinky Milk tastes a lot like strawberry milk. 45 baht per cup.

The branch line to Suphan Buri splitting off from the mainline.

The branch line to Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok splitting off from the mainline.

With a slightly longer stop of 5 minutes at Ratchaburi, the Kway Teow sellers are out in full force as usual, except that they can’t come on board this new train anymore. Nevertheless, the passengers crowd the door to buy a box off them. You can’t miss having at least one box when you pass by Ratchaburi, seriously.

The stallholders whipping up another batch for the next train.


And the familiar taste of Ratchaburi Kway Teow back on board the train. 10 baht per box.



Speeding along south away from Bangkok.



If you are like me, you can also track the train’s position on the map and view the upcoming timetable updated in real time as the train travels along, depending on the speed and length of stop at station.


For dinner, I decided to walk to the restaurant car to order directly and have a look instead of using the ordering system in my compartment.

For Muslim travellers, these four items are Halal-certified. For mains, the restaurant car offers a Red Curry Chicken with Rice and Basil Chicken with Rice. 2 options of Wanton Soups are also available, with a clear base or a Tom Yum base.

These are not featured on the touch-screen ordering system though.

On recommendation by the waitress, I decided to order an Iced Mocha. All coffee drinks are made by the coffee machine behind the counter.

If you want some OTOP products, tidbits or somehow prefer instant noodles instead of the wide range of mains on board (what’s wrong with you?), you can also pick them up here.

The diners in the restaurant car. Most would come from Second Class as there is no touch-screen ordering system there. There will be a round or two where the waitress would walk the length of the train to take orders though.

A walk through Second Class where most berths have been converted for the night.

Since I was still a little full from the late lunch, I went for a Pork Salapao (Pau) and Pork Khanom Jeeb (Siew Mai) instead. This is truly “Dim Sum pun ada” without any shoutouts, unlike a certain other company with advertisements all around but almost no actual product.

The Khanom Jeeb was good – tender and flavorful, but the Salapao was somehow a little crusty on the bottom. Some parts even came off with the paper base.

Departing the famous Hua Hin Railway Station.

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And time to call it a night.


The attendant dashed out of his compartment almost immediately after I pressed the call button. I know because I pressed it while peeping out of the door.

Like other Thai night trains, he fixed my bed for the night with such efficiency that even machines, if any, wouldn’t be able to catch up or be as accurate when grabbing new stuff to be placed on the bed.





The bed sheet was even pulled by itself as the mattress folded out to its final form without any additional adjustments after it has set.

A final touch with the placing of the pillow, my attendant saluted me again, wishing me “good night” and “enjoy your sleep”.

My attendant’s masterpiece.

The packed blanket is also provided individually to ensure hygiene, as per the existing night train arrangements.

As I was travelling with a single occupancy, the upper berth was not folded or laid out, but here’s how the compartment would look like if it was twin-sharing.

There are fold out steps on the side, with a very CRRC look like the ones in China.

Be careful not to kick the call button when climbing up though, or the attendant may come running out again.


Amazing Luxury on rails.

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As with all night trains in Thailand, I always rest well in the night, and this trip was definitely not an exception. I woke up just slightly before the attendant’s wake-up call announcement about half an hour prior to arrival in Hat Yai.

Am I seeing this right? This will be an early arrival into Hat Yai of 16 minutes.



Entering Hat Yai Junction Railway Station.

The Thaksinarath’s actual stop in Hat Yai Junction was at 6.18am, but the system registered it the second it crossed to the 6.19am mark. With a scheduled arrival of 6.35am, the Thaksinarath arrived 17 minutes early into Hat Yai Junction.

Goodbye moving hotel for the night, you were truly First Class.

Disembarking from the train.

A final goodbye salute from my attendant later, and the First Class experience on the Thaksinarath is concluded.


The Thaksinarath is the longest route among all four services served by the new CRRC coaches, and offers the best all-rounded experience as you get to experience both the day and night in a single journey.

While it is not touted as such, this is in my opinion the best train service in Thailand, perhaps even comparable to the Eastern and Oriental Express with the excellent English my attendant spoke, service attitude throughout the experience from station staff when buying my ticket 2 months ago, security guard at the First Class lounge in Bangkok, on-board facilities available, and of course you can be yourself without a strict dress code unlike on board the E&O.

It may be very slightly more expensive than the existing First Class Daewoo coaches, but the additional 100 baht (≈S$4.10) difference, it is certainly worth it. For a price of THB 2,594 (≈S$106.56) for single occupancy and THB 3,388 (≈S$139.18) for two in a compartment, it is certainly the best way to travel around Thailand.

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From here, I continued onwards to Malaysia via the Hat Yai – Padang Besar Shuttle Train.


Booking Methods

  • SRT counters
  • Online from 12Go Asia (joint ticketing with connecting trains available)

Tickets are open for sale 60 days before departure.

How do I book tickets online?

Click here for a step-by-step guide for 12Go Asia.

Lounge Review – State Railway of Thailand (SRT) Hua Lamphong Railway Station First Class Lounge

Typical First Class coaches at the State Railway of Thailand include private compartments with an attendant at your service. If that isn’t premium enough for you, you now get to relax before your journey if you depart from Bangkok at the First Class Lounge just beside Platform 3 of Hua Lamphong Railway Station!


After showing your ticket to the security guard at the counter, one of them personally escorts you to the lounge.



The lounge is a simple but spacious room with sofas and a TV with local channels. If you’re early for your train, you could use this to rest for a while but it’s not really necessary to make a special detour to it.


Available in this lounge is a free, clean toilet. If you hold a First Class ticket, it most certainly beats using the public toilet in the station for 3 baht per entry.


Free, cold mineral water is also available in the refrigerator. Though if you’re planning to take one for your train trip, do note that if you are travelling on the Thaksinarath, UttravidhiIsan Mankha or Isan Vattana, a bottle of mineral water will also be provided on board.


The First Class Lounge is open from 5am to 12pm and 1.30pm to 8.30pm daily. While it’s not the most premium of lounges out there, it at least offers a clean, free toilet and a place to cool off in the Bangkok heat.

Scoot Airlines TR292: Singapore to Bangkok Don Mueang by Plane

This trip to Bangkok lasts barely a day as I was thinking on the route I should take with my one-way Penang flight purchased on impulse a couple of months back. While in Bangkok the previous time, I was thinking of trying out the Thaksinarath as the train was already one year old and I can’t believe I haven’t taken it yet. A quick check online later for the airfares while still in Bangkok, I bought a ticket on the Thaksinarath and a cheap $68 all-in flight on Scoot back to Bangkok, again on impulse.

Scoot TR292 is the very last flight of the day to Bangkok from Singapore, departing at 10.20pm.

Despite already checking-in online two days ago, I was still required to do a document check at Changi Airport since I was on a one-way plane ticket, which isn’t normal. The queues at the FAST Check-In ironically wasn’t that fast.

And because I was thinking how far I could stretch my $68 without purchasing any add-ons, Scoot has kindly assigned me a seat in the very last row of the plane on the window side – 41H.

Hmm, Gate D41? That’s in Terminal 1. Guess it’s pretty full up in Terminal 2.

So off I went straight to Terminal 1 instead of spending my waiting time here.

The Enchanted Garden at Terminal 2.

Turn left to the Skytrain station. Don’t fall for the D40-D41 11-minute-walk trap along the E Gates.


The Skytrain takes just 2 minutes to get across, and up to 4 minutes of waiting time if you miss one. Which still saves you time and effort.


Even the Scootees on my flight decided to get the train.

Wave at those who decided to take the 11-minute walk, which is no one.



My Scoot flight TR292 to Bangkok-Don Mueang ready for boarding from Terminal 1.


Goin’ Scootin with 9V-OTC.

The interior of the Boeing 787-8.

And my assigned seat right at the back of the plane.

41H, the aisle seat, is my home for the next 2 hours. Though as Scoot actually charges a premium for these couple seats at the back since they’re the only couple seats on board, an extendable headrest is provided. But in my case, I got it for free because I was cheap.

It does have limited recline though, and 90% of people passing through the aisle has hit my left shoulder or arm.

On 41K, the window seat, there’s a lot more shoulder room as the aircraft body tapers at the back, leaving a gap wide enough to stretch out on the side but not wide enough to slot a seat in it.

The view from my seat, 41H…

… versus the spacious view that my neighbour has in 41K.

And since this is a Scoot 787, the mandatory sound and light show during boarding begins, no thanks to the strategically-located buttons on the armrests.

A quick hop to the toilet before take-off.

A pretty full flight to Bangkok-Don Mueang and onwards to Tokyo-Narita at this time on a weekday. The plane took off from Changi 15 minutes late due to refuelling.

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The flight was very quiet, since this is after all the 787. I slept through the first half of the flight in comfort with the additional headrest. It’s a good premium to have if you’re on a longer flight and too lazy to bring along a neck pillow. Certainly doesn’t feel like a budget flight at all.

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About slightly more than an hour into the flight, the captain made an announcement to greet the passengers and afterwards the descend into Bangkok started, with the cabin crew preparing the aircraft for arrival. This means having my seat back upright and my headrests flipped back to its original position. Oh well, nice short nap anyway.

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And the flight landed in Don Mueang 15 minutes ahead of schedule, which means my flight to Bangkok took exactly 2 hours. Pretty fast.

And everyone’s excited to get off the plane for who knows what reason. You’re at the back of the plane guys, the last of the last to get off. Relax.

Only one aerobridge was in use at Don Mueang.

Wish I was keeping left.


With the many arrivals into Don Mueang at this time, immigration was still pretty smooth. I was done with immigrations and customs in about 10 minutes, since I have no check-in bags to wait for.


From here, I crossed the highway and took a short walk to my hotel to spend the night before heading rightfully into Bangkok the following morning.

AirAsia AK721: Kuala Lumpur (klia2) to Singapore (Changi Airport) by Plane

AirAsia has one of the most frequent flight departures between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Not wanting to take another bus ride back to Singapore on the same day I came up by bus, I opted to fly back instead.

From the SkyBus drop-off point which I pre-booked my ticket on, it was a walk through gateway@klia2 before I got to the main terminal building.

Printing my boarding pass at the Self Check-In Kiosk.

Immigration was surprisingly clear on a Saturday evening.

Upon checking my boarding pass at the gate, the staff informed me that my 7.45pm flight would be delayed by 15 minutes. Okay, no big deal I guess.

Inside the gate hold room, it’s obvious that there isn’t enough seats for everyone even for a small A320 aircraft. And because the entrance to the gate hold room is just beside the exit door to the aerobridge, the standing passengers like me had to move in to the rear to allow other passengers to board.

Is this a bus or an Airbus?

Boarding commenced at 8pm, 15 minutes after the original time of departure. So it isn’t a 15-minute delay after all.

Another WiFi-enabled plane. Too bad I doubt I’ll be using the free entertainment this time though.

And because I didn’t want to pre-book my seat, AirAsia has kindly assigned me the middle seat in the row as usual. 🙄

Inside the very full plane, which took off at 8.19pm instead. 34 minutes off schedule.

And of all people, the person beside me decided to be the most chatty person in the world, talking to me in a one-way conversation for 90% of the time about literally everything under the sun like how he had to pack his meal in order to rush for the supposedly-delayed-and-now-slightly-delayed flight, how KL Hokkien Mee is the best thing in the world and how the world is changing thanks to lithium-ion batteries.

I did pre-book my on-board Ashok’s Butter Masala Chicken Biryani meal inclusive of the Est Cola for only RM10 though, which is actually cheaper than eating at klia2 before the flight.

Oh, and chatty guy asked me “What is Masala?”, thinking that Masala is the main dish, but I just pointed the word Biryani out to him.

The chicken and vegetable curries were a little saltier than the usual Singapore ones, but every Briyani I’ve had in Malaysia so far are salty, so I guess this is normal? And if it’s already salty in flight it’s probably even saltier if I ate this on the ground. But nevertheless, still worth the RM10 for sure.

Chatty guy proceeded to tell me how bad carbonated drinks are. He’s now known as Chatty Annoying old (CHAO) guy.

Never been happier to get off a plane. Perhaps if I had pre-booked my preferred seat earlier, I wouldn’t have ended up beside CHAO, but then again, you can only choose your seat and not your neighbours.

How I wish AirAsia had a Pick-Your-Non-Annoying-Neighbour option.