A Travellerspoint blog

On the slow train to Butterworth

sunny 38 °C

Hello Readers!

Last week we abandoned our beloved Yute at Hat Yai in Southern Thailand. After an uneventful evening at our dingy hotel in the City (the centre was no place to go out at night – populated by more brazen rats than there were people), we were up the next day at 05:30, to catch our border-crossing train to Butterworth, Malaysia.

We were both excited about entering a new country as we always are and though I had visited Malaysia before, I was looking forward to Ross and I seeing the country with fresh eyes and seeing more of the country as backpackers. The day started well – Ross did his usual greatness at packing a bag of munchies and drinks, the train arrived on time and our cabin companions (French Canadian, Malaysian, Thai and Brits) all seemed very nice and in good spirits. We were scheduled for a 5-hour journey, arriving in Butterworth at 1pm, plenty of time to seek a great place to stay for our budget after a ferry to Palau Penang.

To echo Ross’s last blog describing the freedom and loveliness of having our own car, his sentiments came true. After 10 hours on the train, two long stops (one of which was parked up next to the Eastern and Oriental Express – just to add insult to injury), broken air con on our train and a broken train ahead of us, not to mention the domestic disharmony among the French Canadian couple sat next to us (they were tired); we were hungry, shattered and dehydrated. Butterworth was the pits – a port town to ferry people to Penang. Too weary to go on to Penang, we spent about an hour looking at overpriced horrid guesthouses with our luggage, only to spend money on a taxi to get us to the port and on the ferry. We should learn our lessons – bad decisions are often made when one is tired.

We headed for Georgetown, a fairly picturesque Colonial City with a seedy, grimey backpacker district where travellers get very little for their money; and a new town rich with British influenced buildings and architecture. After a stiff drink and a good sleep in the backpacker district, we went for a lovely walk to explore the City, which can easily be done if half a day. We treated ourselves to High Tea darlings, at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel – great fun, tongue in cheek & delicious.

We loved our road trip through Thailand so much, that we decided to do the same through Malaysia and the next day we were on our way to Kuala Lumpur with a planned overnight stop at Ipoh. My gosh, what a place – dire, average, creepy, ugly, and seedy. It was another horrid travelling day, scoping grim guesthouses (some of which were brothels) before we settled on somewhere nice and new and slightly out of our price range – sometimes, there really isn’t much choice. Oh, and we had a McDonalds Chocolate Milkshake for dinner – the only place that looked decent (!) that also had WiFi.

Onwards and upwards to Kuala Lumpur – we were determined to make this City- break a good one which Ross will update you on the next blog.

What we’re trying to say is that though we are have a fantastic time, and each experience, good or bad is stimulating; it’s not always fun. Sleeping and eating – our two preoccupations have been dire of late, and in between the highlights of the places we have visited, is has been hard work and budget draining to get to them!

Posted by charlieandross 06:24 Archived in Malaysia

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Oh dear, your blog entry is the first real negative one we've read. What a shame the fun element or ability to laugh at your situation was missing, we're sure things will pick up for you though. If it makes you feel any better, we've just bought 4 new tyres for the car and the washing machine has just died on us.
Have a good meal and rest and the world will look a lot better for you both. But after dinner tonight, our bl**dy washing machine will still be broken!
Love to you both,
Mum and Dad B xx

by vancoevorden13

Oh I'm so sorry to hear all of that! RATS? and no 'Erol' to keep them in check.

There will soon be better thing's to come I am sure and the up's will definately out weigh the down's.
Have a good rest and all will be well again.

Lot's of love to you both,
Mum xxx

by lee day

Keep your chin(s) up, don't forget it is the full experience that you both craved and this blog proves that you are getting just that. I would be willing to bet that the McDonalds Chocolate Milkshake for dinner must have tasted like heaven after all that you had gone through. This trip was always going to be a rollercoaster of emotions. Just stay safe and really appreciate the good moments as and when they occur; I'm sure that there will be many.

Loads of love to you both

Dad xxxxx

by John and Chris


I am glad you went to the E&O hotel for afternoon tea! I did that and it was lovely-like a slice of home! Sounds like you needed it after a bad journey. Go to the Cameron Highlands if you can, there are lots of tea plantations and some great hikes there! Have fun

Lots of love
Suzi x x

by Shalley

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