Choo Choo To Hat Yai

Choo Choo To Hat Yai.

My lovely, beautiful and adventurous friend Marina Zakaria (@marinazakaria on IG) took a train (ETS) from KL Sentral to the northern border town of Padang Besar. It took about 5 hours, Marina (in own pic shown here) recommends the Platinum class which is RM 106 one way and faster with fewer stops. From Padang Besar, it is another one hour by taxi van ride to Hat Yai town. The electric trains no longer makes the choo choo sounds of olden days steam locomotives.

Sadly, Lonely Planet introduced the town as “Hat Yai has long been a favourite stop for Malaysian men on their weekend hooker tour”

Besides red lights, I know there is also great food and cheap shopping. I last visited the town a long time ago by flight.

Inspired by Marina, I hope to visit Hat Yai again by rail to meet my Hat Yai based friend Egg or Woranon Thitinunthakorn (@iameggg on IG). He is the active founder of the startup TuberThailand, the co working space and startup community promoter in Hat Yai. I should have introduced him to my friend, the similarly inclined Kashminder Singh when Egg visited me in KL the last time.

In researching hotels in Hat Yai, I found many good deals. I created a hotel deals page for the city at:

#hatyai #thailand #mycenhotels #ets #ktm #train #padangbesar #klsentral

A Tip For The Wandering Stranger

To lessen my anxiety, I took some pics to calm down. I don’t remember where I was but I traced my route to the Kramat Railway Station In Central Jakarta. How do I do it?

Here’s an important photography tip: Many times we may not recall or know where we were in a strange and unfamiliar city. Whether you are walking or in a car, try to shoot more, especially with a digital camera. Ideally. we should shoot with a camera with GPS enabled so the coordinates are recorded together in the exif data.

Unfortunately, I didn’t. I did shoot all the nearby shops and streets. In Jakarta, many shops, even small ones, have a signboard with the street name shown. By looking at nearby landscape pics I was able to see I was at Jalan Pramuka Raya. With that, I went to Google Map and found the railway track crossing and railway station. Google Street View allowed me to match up the images to confirm.

In the collage:
Top pic: When the car stopped on the track.
Lower left: Google street view showed it to be a busy crossing and is gated.
Lower right: The shop sign that gave away the street name

Book a hotel out of 715 hotels in Jakarta here.

Wandering Stranger was one of the saddest songs by Lionel Ritchie.

#jakarta #railway #train #crosing #indonesia #kramat

A Ghost Station For A Ghost Train?

The permanently-closed ticketing counter at the Behrang Train Station is plastered with newspaper cuttings. A collection of morbid news on fatal accidents and suicides involving people on the railway track. It is to serve as a warning, perhaps. For there is open access to the platform and track.

The silence and emptiness is strangely attractive. It was as though me and my new friend, the invigorated cat, own the station. We wandered on the platform, looked at the tracks up-close, sat on a steel bench and waited for the train that never came.

I found out later from local residents that in spite the solitude, the station is functioning. One can still hop on a train from here, I was told. Provided someone on board is getting down, the train will stop.

The info left me with more questions. How does one disembark at the destination when boarding without a ticket? How would they know which station you board from?

How does a passenger from inside stop the speeding train in order to get down. Is there a bell button to push like buses of old days? From the platform, can I flag it to stop?

This is a nice and well-equipped modern train station, mind you. It is sad and surprising to see it so under-utilised. To the town’s credit, it isn’t vandalised at all. It also makes sense to not waste money on staff when there are hardly any passenger.

I don’t know. When it comes to train stations in small towns, the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it or re-locate it” applies, sometimes.

Maybe this is the reason it was chosen as the location to scrap the phased-out trains. No one comes here. I am glad I did.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 400, f13, 1/60 sec.

Only The Lonely

Behrang train station is strangely deserted. There is not a single person around. No passengers, no workers, not even a guard in sight.

Only soul that greeted me was one very lonely cat. A very skinny and young cat at that. Poor stray (probably dumped here) must be wondering why there are no humans to give it food. Or why it is so hard to find leftovers.

I usually carry a bag of dog food and another bag of cat food in my car. Many strays will not eat kibbles though. Luckily, I also have Whiskas wet food packs.

Need to relocate the animal after feeding or talk to the the Indonesian wrecking crew nearby. Hope I can persuade one of the guys to give it regular food.

More on the station next.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 800, f13, 1/80 sec.

Behrang Stesen

The names Behrang Stesen and Behrang (town) are used interchangeably. The little town was the railway station and vice-versa. Things changed after electrification and double tracking of the lines.

Like the towns of Rasa and Tanjung Malim I visited earlier, the realignment of roads and construction of flyovers changed the face and structure of the affected towns forever.

But how did this historical station end up as a train’s abattoir? The clue lies in the station itself. We’ll look at this in the next post.

Photography Notes: There is a 6-foot high barrier at every railway track flyover, bridge or crossing to prevent people peeing onto the high voltage cables below.

I remember reading about its implementation after some foolhardy people peed onto the electric cables from above.

It was during the early days of electric trains. I think they wanted to test the electrical conductivity of urine.

Unfortunately. the barrier also makes photography difficult. I held the camera with up-stretched arms but couldn’t see the exposure info nor frame properly with the flipped-down LCD due to midday glare.

No problem. Activated Sony’s Wireless Live View and Smart Remote Control app on my Samsung Galaxy Phone via one-touch NFC.

The Sony PlayMemories Camera App allowed me to monitor, frame and touch-focus via the phone’s LCD screen. The setup is like a wireless or electronic periscope.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f8, 1/500 sec.