In Malaysia most commuters prefer to drive instead of taking public transport. However I prefer the latter as my daily train ride from Seremban to Kuala Lumpur gives me a chance to relax and reflect instead of being cooped up in a traffic jam, crawling in a line of northbound cars on the Federal Highway.
I have to wake up early for my daily journey, as there are few express trains that ply the route. My usual express train leaves at 06:55 and arrives at Sentral Kuala Lumpur, or Kuala Lumpur Central Station, at about 08:00. The service is run by Keretapi Tanah Melayu, the government-controlled train authority of Malaysia. If I miss my usual train, I jump on the next regular train instead. However the journey may take as much as another half an hour to an hour longer, depending on delays. The next train is at 07:20 and only reaches Central Station at about 08:45 or later.
One way tickets on the KTM Komuter service cost RM6.00 (approximately USD2.00 or GBP1.50). I invest in a monthly Kad Karib pass, which can be used on Komuter and Light Rail Transit lines within Kuala Lumpur. This costs me RM100, and I manage to bypass the queues when I need to change transportation mode. The express train passes idyllic countryside, lush greenery and sleepy villages, through the satellite towns of Nilai and Bangi, then the university – Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), before making its first stop at Kajang.
The seats, which were relatively empty before, start to fill up. I am dozing, shifting slightly to make space for my fellow passengers. There are construction workers carrying their tools, students with their notepads, suits and their suitcases. The train is air conditioned and this early in the morning, the day’s heat and humidity have not yet seeped into the carriage. More scenery flashes past – we pass Bandar Tasik Selatan, or South Lake City, which always reminds me of Salt Lake City in the USA; Seputeh, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumur; the behemoth bulk of Midvalley Shopping Mall and then finally, we arrive at Kuala Lumpur Central Station, a sleek, shiny, modern station of steel and glass. I invariably wake just in time to alight at this stop, alerted by some internal alarm clock. From here it is a quick walk across the road to my offices, next door to the Hilton Hotel.