Looking forward to the high-speed train to KL and then to Ipoh!
The buzz surrounding the proposed high-speed train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, capital of neighbouring Malaysia has been mostly positive.
Cartoonist James Tan in his blog
illustrates the economic benefits anticipated by the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong and Mr. Najib Tun Razak perfectly above.
What does it mean though on a personal level?
My first thought was – one more transportation option for Ipoh!
Ipoh, the once-upon-a time tin-Mecca 175 kms away from Kuala Lumpur, is my mother’s hometown. I spent the first year of my life there and have a soft spot in my heart for the place.
Set in a river valley surrounded by beautiful limestone karsts, Ipoh is a charmingly sleepy town with some of the best Chinese food in South East Asia: Wonderfully soft rice noodles in a hearty prawn and chicken stock, fresh big-head crawfish reared in abandoned tin-mining ponds, oily fleshed sultan fish caught from the Perak River near the royal town of Kuala Kangsar, old-fashioned Chinese pork sate and so on and so on.
Although I wasn’t born in Ipoh, it has always felt like balik kampong or coming back to my old home town when I go there. My maternal grandmother and grandfather are buried in the St. Michael’s churchyard, my godmother and godfather in another cemetery on the town outskirts. I remember visiting my grandmother’s sprawling one-story house, running through the fruit trees, orchid sheds and pigeon cotes in the garden with my cousins and all of us rolling around and giggling madly on the cool wooden floor of the “white-wood room” before falling asleep in the muggy Ipoh nights.I’d love to spend more time in Ipoh chilling with the one cousin in my mother’s family to still live there, feeding my face and talking about old times. The only problem? There are limited options for getting to Ipoh and back from Singapore.They are -
1 – A 7 to 8 hour bus ride (roundtrip SGD 70.00).
2 – A 1 hour 45 minute plane ride on Firefly (roundtrip SGD 200+)
3 – A 30 minute plane ride to Kuala Lumpur (roundtrip SGD 200 +) and 1 ½ hour drive to Ipoh in a rental car (minimum 3 days SGD 200 +)
A comfortable high-speed train ride to Kuala Lumpur followed by a taxi ride up to Ipoh, or a slow 3 hour chug in the old Keretapi Tanah Melayu carriages could be fun.
It would be an attractive option, at the right price.
The Malaysian part of my heritage has just become easier to access. On a personal level, that’s wonderful!