Penang does have some lovely buildings.
The ferry from Penang to Butterworth (where the train station is) is FREE! on the assumption you make a return trip. Suckers! The ferries run about every 15min.
The ferry terminal is connected to the train station so it’s only about 200m to walk. I picked up my ticket without any trouble – but I had booked 10 days before. I don’t think you could get one on the day.
There’s a small shop in the train station itself, or you can go to the hawker market across the tracks – look for a big blue fence – it’s on the other side. I spent about 30min talking to a taxi driver who told me that, in amongst other things. On finding out I taught NZ history he asked, “What’s this Treaty of Waitangi all about? I’ve never found someone that could explain it all.”
“Err…” I replied.
“This is not a test!”
So I explained it. Just the 3 articles. I didn’t think I’d be doing that in a Malaysian train station!
He warned me to buy some food, so I did. The train turned up on time and had toilet paper in the toilets! Luxury! There is no food on board at all so I was glad forr my parcel of rice and beef.
The seats are comfy and you have the whole bench to yourself, so it’s easy to curl up for a nap. One man was wandering through the train seeming authoritative but wearing a random yellow t-shirt. He didn’t put on his Thai Railways uniform until we were at the border, then promptly took it off again.
There are a few stops but the main one is at the border. While I was in Penang I saw a lot of signs advertising a Thai visa application service but it’s not necessary. It took about 5 min to pass through both checkpoints, or 30min if you were the man in the front of the queue who was tryin to reenter Thailand after overstaying on his previous entry. If you are stuck on the border there is a magnificent public fitness park on the Thai side – with an outdoor bench press, exercycle, Nordic walker, etc – at least 20 stations.
The dinner and breakfast menu arrives after you reboard the train – 8 choices (120/180B) and drinks. However it doesn’t arrive until 8.30! I survived on my biscuits.
The beds start being made at about 9. The lower one is a bit wider, and they’re comfy! Much better than a lot of beds I have slept in over the past few weeks!
Breakfast arrives at 7.15am whether you’re awake or not – and if you’re not the hostess will wake you up.
The train keeps going for several more hours, arriving in Bangkok at about 12.
I say about 12 because we stopped at 11.30 and were told it would be very slow going to the station and we would be better off going by taxi. 4 of us banded together and the taxi was 200B from some unknown location.