I then went to the Buffet Car. It is a far cry from what it used to be more than a quarter of a century ago. I remember how each train’s buffet car is operated by a different operator; and on one particular mail train southbound from Butterworth is operated by this chinese husband and wife. Everything was hawker style – mee hailam, mee goreng, cantonese mee, mee hoon, kuey teow, cantonese fried rice etc etc. The car would be filled to the brim with people from the 3rd class coaches who refuse to make that 10-car journey back to their respective seats.
It’s totally different now. The seats are modern and more comfortable…not those wooden benches and barstools of the yesteryears. The buffet cars are all operated by a single company…and the cooks are non-Malaysian (mostly Bangladeshis).
But to my surprise, the buffet car was empty at lunch time. Maybe the cost of food and drink’s gone up.
Although the nostalgia of the smell of oyster and soy sauces, mixed with fried garlic is no longer there, the romance of being in a buffet car is still the same. I bought me a cup of Maggi (Curry flavour) and a drink packet, and just sat there watching the alternating sceneries, camera in hand.
I remember walking back to my seat more than 2 years ago; sometimes we would hang out in between coaches, or sometimes we’d just sit by the steps. Those who smoked, would smoked then. But the smell of diesel fumes emitted by the locomotive…priceless.
Walking back to my coach this time was through a dark passageway, uninteresting and dull.
Finally, I saw signs of civilisation as we passed Kulai. I sent a text message to Wifey informing her that I was half an hour away from JB.
Many of you would question my decision to take a train ride down to JB. A drive would take me 3-hours the most. But Wifey drove down the day before, so taking another car down seemed absurd. Flight? It would take me an hour plus to get to the airport, and if I were to take any of those low-cost carriers, I would have to be there two hours before. The flight would take close to an hour, and then spend another hour getting to the hotel (after taxiing to the apron and parking the aircraft). That would have been 5 hours.
Buses? You will never catch me on a bus ever again. I have had bad experiences being on those fast coffins. And my last trip by an express bus going to JB took me almost 8 hours. The driver exited the highway at Tangkak, and we followed the old trunk road all the way, and made lots of stops too.
On the train, I had a much needed sleep; I was very relaxed, and I got to reminisce about the old days when life was so much simpler.
I should take another train ride, sit back and relax…