It’s possible for one to travel all the way from Tanjong Pagar Station to Bangkok and beyond by train. There are two possible ways but through KL Sentral Station. The first way is to travel on a Keratapi Tanah Malaysia (KTM) night train service to Butterworth to connect with the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) express train #36 which starts at 1345 hours on the next day. This can be pretty inconvenient because we arrive in Butterworth at an unearthly hour of 0600 hours. There is also a morning KTM train service from KL Sentral to Butterworth but arrives an hour after the SKR train has left.
Fig 1: Border map of Padang Besar (c 1983)
The second alternative is to travel on the same KTM night train into Hatyai Junction arriving at about 1000 hours, and spending a half-day there before boarding SRT #36 or SRT #38. Both train services depart within 20 minutes of each other to Bangkok.
Both KTM and SRT trains pass through the border town of Padang Besar, Perlis. The Malaysian side of Padang Besar is simply Padang Besar but the Thai side is Padang Bazar or Pekan Siam.
Photo 1: (Above) A view of the single train track crosses the international border in the distance. The container trucks are heading in the direction of Pekan Siam after clearing Malaysian CIQ. (Below) I am standing facing Malaysian territory on the Thai side of Padang Besar. Notice the single train track. This narrow passage is frequently used by Thais without passports to enter Malaysia. It appears authorities on both sides of the border are familiar with people using this access. That day I encountered a family of four adults and six children when I was at the spot. Maybe I should think of walking back into Malaysia this way.
I did the first train ride from Singapore into Bangkok in 1971 (link). Today, I toggle between trains, planes, buses and “motosikals” to get across the border but I certainly won’t do what we did in 1974 (link). I doubt I have the courage and a pair of strong legs. Anyway the cost for a “motosikal” and bus journey into Hatyai Junction from Padang Besar is RM3 and 40 Baht respectively.
Photo 3: (Above) The lady just cleared Thai CIQ and is now on Malaysian territory. (Below) This is another way apart from trains to get across the border. A metal basket on the handle-bar holds the luggage. Sometimes the pillion-ride wears a helmet but it depends ……
The border between Thailand and Malaysia over in Padang Besar is not quite of the same alignment as it was. In 2006, Malaysia and Thailand concluded a new border agreement whereby land of equal area (approx. 2,200 m2) was exchanged. A new security fence and wall was erected at the same time. The result is the Tokong Buddha Temple is now inside Thailand and parts of the border-road after the Malaysia CIQ to the guard-house is now Malaysian. People who were previously Malaysians and still living in properties beside the Tokong Buddha Temple are now classified as Thai citizens. Having spoken to those people, I still cannot get over the anomaly.
Photo 4: If you prefer to cross the border the conventional way by train, this will be the daily scene at Padang Besar Station. Passengers alight and walk into the building which houses the Malaysian and Thai CIQ. After clearing Thai CIQ, and boarding the train again, you are already on Thai territory and the next stop is Hatyai Junction. Conversely, it is the same for trains departing Hatyai for KL Sentral Station.
So which way will you go mate?
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