Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Holiday On Wheels (by Peter Chan)

Photo 1: SQ stewardess serving passengers with re-heated meals.

June is a special month in Singapore. This is the time for the school-breaks and parents would have planned to take their families for that one holiday destination; for shopping or for relaxation. There are others who prefer to join boot camps organized by religious bodies as in Chun See’ case, whom I was informed, had been consistently active in the last two decades.

Photo 2: AirAsia stewardess pushing her trolley of drinks down the aisle but you have to pay for coke and mineral water.

Coincidentally this June 2011 is “extra special” because KTM Bhd will terminate its KL-S’pore train services at Tanjong Pagar Station come July 1. I thought it smart to “beat the crowd” by going on the last train ride early and what a pleasant surprise awaited me. You see, most of us are traumatized by train rides and KTM is of no exception. With a Singapore wife who prefers to travel in style, gastronomic food and good hygiene, train rides simply is never one of the options.

Photo 3: Stewardess pushing a trolley passing the second-class beds. She is serving MILO in Styrofoam cups. I thought I had seen that MILO logo before until I realised MYLOW was coined referring to Mr. Low Thia Kiang, MP for Aljuneid GRC during the Singapore 2011 General Elections.

To the best of my recollection, excellent service can be found on air-planes and that only with certain airlines. On this train ride, I was awakened by these familiar words, “Kopi, Teh or MILO” spoken by an English-speaking stewardess. Her name is Miss Tuti. I have made comparisons of the KTM cabin service with those provided by some Asian airlines. Does it look familiar and unusual at the same time?

Photo 4: These visitors from India did think it very unusual for this high-level of customer service, something very uncommon on India State Railways. They are told that tosai is a special order otherwise they have to settle for that box of Nasi Lemak.

Let’s check out the buffet coach. In the past, KTM did not offer the full in-house dining experience. It was the usual tea tarik or kopi-susu in Styrofoam cups and even then it was not “panas”. The sandwiches were very much left to be desired. Today the standard of dining and cooking has improved. MALAYSIA BOLEH LAH!

Photo 5: It is 4am in the morning. The warm lights and powerful air-conditioner adds a touch of class not seen for many years on the KTM buffet coach. The tables are cleaned each time a customer departs. Whilst a group of ladies chat, there is a customer who needed a quick snooze. The kitchen is at the far end on the right.

Being the June holiday and “Salamat Jalan KTM” farewell, I shall be coming up with my PETRONAS Twin Tower experience; inside the tower and from the air. There is also the cross-border Malaysian-Thailand experience and my personal discovery of an important 1931 photo of the Tanjong Pagar Station.


Icemoon said...

This must be Peter's article, from the writing style, topic and pictures.

Icemoon said...

I'm confused .. is that SIA stewardess on KTM train?

Lam Chun See said...

Oops. Forgot to mention Peter's name. I think the girls' uniform looks more like the ones worn by MAS.

Icemoon said...

MAS one more "class" to me and looks like a kebaya. SIA one is round-necked like in the photo. Peter should clarify, how come got SIA look-alike in KTM train? Their staff should have their own uniform.

Zen said...

The sia uniform has remained unchanged, sticking to its original design for ages. This resistance to change surprises me. They truly hold to the theory of not fixing anything if it is not broken, or maybe the management strongly believe in the taoist principle of:'no action is actually taking action itself'. They maybe correct because sia is still one of the most successful airlines in the world. It establishes a proud track record, and to many passengers, it is a great way to fly.

Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for an interesting and informative blog with refreshing photos. Waiting for your next blog about the Petronas Twin Towers in KL with abated breath...tell us more. Cheers!