Not so long ago Maureen & I planned a visit to Singapore to meet up with other Old Conways for a ‘Conway’ reunion. The reunion was mainly attended by those living in the Australasia area.
I looked at the various airlines and their prices and decided on our old favourite (which was our favourite at that time) Malaysian Airlines, which would require us to transit Kuala Lumpur, but we were on holiday and getting to a destination is half the fun..
We could have stayed at the airport and transited KL later that night to Singapore, but as we hate night flying we decided to stay a couple of nights in KL before carrying on to Singapore.
I’d always wanted to do the train journey from KL to Singapore, but when I looked at the schedule the journey would have taken over seven hours. I considered this to be far too long for such a short trip, knowing that from KL to Malacca was only a two-hour drive and that Singaporean tourists would drive from Singapore to Malacca for a weekend break, so I decided to investigate a road trip, which would only take five hours.
There are several coach companies that run the five-hour trip from KL to Singapore, so after checking out a number of them I decided to book us in Solitaire class with Transtar Travel, which is a Singapore listed bus company.
If the transit time was correct at five hours, then using the bus would be quicker than flying. Our hotel in KL was nearly an hour’s drive from the airport. We were expected to check-in two hours before take- off, followed by just over an hour’s flight. Then we would wait for our bags, clear customs & immigration and finally take a taxi to our Singapore hotel. The bus would be faster!
When I made our booking over the internet I was asked to pick our meals! We had a choice of four types of meal, and our choice would be served during the trip.
We left our hotel after breakfast and a short taxi ride saw us at the terminus for the Singapore destined bus. The terminus was not a giant place with hundreds of people jostling for space, but a side room of the travel agent.
Tea, coffee, water and some snacks were available while we waited a few minutes for our bus, which was originating from our agent’s office in KL so we wouldn’t have to worry about our seating.
Our bus arrives . .
The downstairs area of the bus had been fitted out to accommodate a group who might wish to have a meeting. They also had toilets and I think a small kitchen to heat the meals.
Upstairs we had the choice of eighteen seats (nine down each side of the bus) for three passengers. Maureen & I and another lady. Staff took our bags and loaded them on to the bus.
Each seat had a TV screen in the armrest, in the manner of a business class seat on an aircraft, as well as a pullout tray for meals. There was plenty of room to have your tray out and to watch a film while you had your meal.
We had a good choice of films and TV shows, in various languages, and I watched ‘Angels & Demons’, the film from the Dan Brown book. Maureen prefers to watch the world go by.
I believe that the entertainment system now has a choice of 100 films, as well as interactive games.
Being on the top deck we could see over the many palm oil plantations, which can be monotonous at ground level. The freeway system is very good in Malaysia and a constant high speed is not a problem.
A couple of hours in to the journey the stewardess came round with our hot meals and a choice of tea, coffee or a small bottle of cold water.
After about three hours we stopped for a toilet break, and to stretch our legs.
At the border we stopped for immigration and customs. The procedure was straightforward and I think we were back on the bus after about ten minutes. We didn’t have to present our luggage, just our passports.
Approaching the Singapore bridge.
Our arrival in Singapore we were once again outside a travel agent, where we could change money and book a taxi to our hotel. A very relaxing trip and inexpensive at $30 (Australian) for each of us, which was lower than a single fare on a low-cost carrier from KL to Singapore.
If you plan to do the trip from Singapore to Malaysia the cost per ticket is higher than the rate from Malaysia to Singapore.
In May 2016 the through train is no longer in service and now passengers have to use three different trains to travel from KL to Singapore.