Good thing I love buses

Kuala Lumpur Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 22 › view all entries
To decide where to got to next we used the very procedure of random pointing.  Basically we opened our guide book to the Malaysian section and randomly chose a destination.  Not sure what page we ended up on but we "chose" Penang.  Penang is an island state just off the northwest coast of the country.  We could either go up north by bus or a combination of a train and ferry.  We chose the bus as it was quicker, cheaper and faster and I am glad we did.

The bus station in KL is like no other I have ever been in.  I work in a bus station and my office is nothing like the depot in KL.  First I have never seen so many buses in one location.  I thought the Bangkok's eastern station was busy but this depot was crazy busy.
  We took a taxi from the Prince Hotel to the station and we could see buses lines up 500 meters from the entrance.  After getting out of the taxi we headed into what could only be called slightly under control chaos.  The building is kind of open air with walls that are open at the top in the attempt to allow air to flow through the building.  However with the well over 30 degree heat outside and the hundreds of flowing humans it was incredibly hot in there.  Through all the chaos I had to find a place to buy a ticket to Penang.

The problem was there was very little English on the signs and there seemed to be many companies going operating similar schedules and routes.   Not really knowing what I was doing I got into a line under a sign that seemed to say Georgetown, Penang which I was guessing would be our destination.
  During our time in in KL we were happily surpriused at how many people spoke good English but of course now I found a clerk whose English was very basic.  Good thing though the man was very patient and with the help of another clerk he figured out where we were heading and sold me a couple of tickets to Georgetown.  I hoped from there I would be able to figure out a way to get get to our hotel which I knew was just outside of Georgetown. 

Tickets now bought we had over 1 hour before our bus left.  I was so hot the first thing was to buy lots of water and some snacks.  The station is full of places to buy different foods and drinks.  It is kind of funny but I found the market inside of the station was more interesting then the street markets we had seen earlier in KL, it just felt more real.

Now I had time to explore the station. I would guess for most people waiting for a bus at a crowded station would not be a pleasant experience.  I can not say I was relaxed but I got so many good photos of buses so I was happy.  The most location was on a overhead walkway where I could stand and take photos of the dozens of buses entering the station.  An unusual feature of this station is the fact you wait for the buses on the second floor but you need to walk down some stairs to reach the bus when it is time to board.  There must by well over 30 platforms for arriving buses under the station.  The bad part is the drivers in Malaysia have not heard about not idling their engines and with around 60 buses all running their engines the air under the station is very gross.

Soon it was time to board the bus.  Unlike in Canada or Thailand you are given assigned seats and we got seated near the back of the bus.  The ride was only going to be around 4 hours and was quite nice as we passed through the Malaysia countryside.  The area was quite pretty with many jungle covered rolling hills and we drove at a good rate along a modern expressway.  The only trouble was with air con vents located above all the seats.  Many of the vents were leaking water onto the heads of the passengers.  I guess this is common as the passengers are very good at using the bus's curtains to make homemade vent covers so the water would flow towards the window.

Soon enough we were at the Georgetown bus station which is many times more calm then KL's.
  Kind of lost we headed into the station to try to figure out how to get to Tanjung Bungahand the Copthorne Orchid Hotel.  One of the funniest things to happen on the trip happens at the bus station in Georgetown.  Once we were in the building a guy walks up to us and ask us where we go.  After showing him on a map our hotel he told us to go downstairs and take a taxi.  We decided to follow his advice.

As soon as we walked downstairs I could see a line of taxis waiting so off we went.  As soon as we headed to towards the taxis we were met with competing yells.  The men by the taxi shouted, "Come, come, where you go?"  and some guy on the other end of the parking lot, with a very powerful megaphone, kept yelling "No sir not that way.
  Taxi over here!".  Not sure which line was the official line but we chose the closer line.  The other guys kept yelling even as we got into the taxi.  Once we had agreed to a price off to the hotel we went.  The driver was a very nice man from India that loved telling us how much nicer Penang was then his home city in India.  It seemed like he had a lot of good information but his strong accent and broken English made it hard for me to completely understand him.  15 minutes later we were at the Copthorne Orchid Hotel.
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