Those years of train travel


Early in the morning, the train pulled into the more classic Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. At both ends of Singapore and Malaysia, two elegant train stations serve as the starting point and end point of the journey. It was a beautiful era of train travel.

The tour guide took us to Patting, which is the end point of Malaysia’s first railway, running from the inland city of Taiping to Port Weld (now called Patting), with a total length of 12.8 kilometers. It was opened to traffic in 1885. Built to export Malaya’s natural resources, it is not surprising that it appeared in Perak, a state rich in tin.

This railway was dismantled in the 1980s, but the white-on-black station sign in Potway remains. Memories are as long as railroad tracks? Or is memory like a railroad track, like everything in the world, with its lifespan and ups and downs?

Retire after success at the train station

In the early 20th century, the rise of railways greatly improved transportation in the Malay Peninsula. In 1909, a railway was built from Prai in the northern part of the peninsula to Johor Bahru in the southern end. In 1923, the Johor-Singapore Causeway was completed. In October of the same year, the first batch of travelers were able to travel between Singapore and Malaysia in this fashionable way. This railway journey has just reached the centenary mark this year.

I like taking trains. With the rise of low-cost airlines and a well-developed and frequent bus network, taking the train may not be the preferred way to travel to Malaysia now. In addition, train tickets are very popular and often sold out.

The first time I took a train to Malaysia is still fresh in my memory. I was probably a freshman in college. I bought a sleeper ticket and arrived at the starting station, Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, a few hours before the departure time. We were as nervous as attending a graduation ceremony. After all, it was On our first long-distance train journey, we had too many unknowns to face, such as whether the restrooms on the train were clean? Will there be a wake-up call when arriving at the station?

This elegant train station was built in 1932 and is full of Art Deco details. There are beautiful and delicate tile paintings inside the train station, and several Hercules shapes on the facade. It is said that the design was inspired by the train station in Helsinki.

There is also a food court in the train station that mainly serves Malay food. The turmeric rice is particularly delicious. Later, we always arrive at the train station early and eat well before setting off. This station is actually an asset of the Malayan Railway Board. Later, Singapore reached an agreement with Malaysia and took back the land. Now the station has retired and is being renovated, and will be transformed into a fashionable place for eating, drinking and entertainment.

The bed in the sleeper car is covered with clean white sheets, and you can still smell the smell of washing powder. The curtain can be drawn on the bed to contain the roar of snoring. Early in the morning, the train pulled into the more classic Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. At both ends of Singapore and Malaysia, two elegant train stations serve as the starting point and end point of the journey. It was the beautiful era of train travel.

It’s a moveable feast

The last time I set out on the old train was to write a travel article about the Orient Express for a Chinese magazine. Like VIPs, we were helped into the car by the butler. In this mobile world, we made friends with travelers from all over the world (mostly Western seniors over 60 years old) and listened to their low-key bragging about the adventures they had in Southeast Asia when they were young.

I took a train from Malaysia to Singapore and headed south from Kranji. Everywhere I passed was a sparsely populated jungle scenery that was unfamiliar to me. There were layers of green in the shadows of trees. There were no smartphones at that time, so I couldn’t use the map. It’s this brief feeling of being lost in knowing where you are that is most like traveling.

After the closure of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, it was moved to the Woodlands Pass, the starting point of the Malay Peninsula. From then on, I could no longer use the speed of the train and the perspective of the car window to see the scenery of Singapore, and I could no longer enjoy “this” in Singapore. A moveable feast.” Some past and some losses are not past and lost, but exist in another form.

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