On 25 February 2016, JOM NAIK KERETAPI embarked on a trip around the Malay Peninsular from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Hat Yai, Thailand with the northbound journey via Sungai Golok on the eastern side of the Malay Peninsular, and the southbound journey via Padang Besar, on the western side of the Malay Peninsular.
After crossing the border and a short motorcycle taxi ride, we arrive at Sungai Golok Railway Station just in time to catch the 6.30am train.
Sungai Golok Railway Station is the southernmost station in Thailand. It is served by 6 pairs of return trains daily to the main town of Hat Yai.
Passengers are required to go through security screening at stations between Sungai Golok and Hat Yai.
The station sign of Sungai Golok.
Our train to Yala. This is Ordinary 448 bound for Surat Thani, a journey which would take 11 hours and 25 minutes on schedule. However, we are only taking this train for 2 hours to Yala.
Military presence is strong on board the train, however they were unobtrusive and friendly, and it is easy to forget that you are on a heavily armed train.
The ticket for Ordinary 448 to Yala. The fare costs 22 baht for the 2 hour journey. Thai residents ride third class Ordinary trains for free.
Passing through southern Thailand.
Southern Thailand has blurred culture, languages and livelihood with northern Malaysia, so mixed location names are common. You can find Malaysians working in southern Thailand too, with almost everyone, Thais included, speaking both Malay and Thai.
At Tanyong Mat Railway Station, a lady came onboard to hawk salapao (steamed buns) or roti pau. They come in a non-spicy sambal flavour of onions and egg, and a sweet version with red bean. Each bun goes for 10 baht.
Crossing with Ordinary 453 from Yala bound for Sungai Golok.
Another station name with mixed influence, Ban Salo Bukit Yuae Rae Railway Station.
Bulls grazing in the grass.
Crossing with Rapid 175 from Hat Yai bound for Sungai Golok.
After around 2 hours and 30 minutes of actual journey, we arrived at Yala for breakfast, trainspotting and purchase of SIM cards.
The conductor readying the train for departure onward to Hat Yai and Surat Thani.
A hawker prepares her food items for the next train.
Spotting the arrival and departure of Rapid 171 from Bangkok (Hua Lamphong) to Sungai Golok.
After breakfast, the journey will continue on to Hat Yai by Ordinary 452.