Thursday, April 25, 2013

How The Trip Started

I've read about Songkran, Thailand's New Year/Water Festival, many years ago, but I didn't have the thoughts to experience it myself. When my friend Lilian, who relocated to Thailand in 2010, posted about her Songkran experience, I knew that I should come and see it. 

Then another good friend Tika relocated to Malaysia last year because her husband Budi got a job with Petronas Malaysia. So I had some wild thoughts to visit them and do a Malaysia-Thailand overland journey, and because adventure is my game, I put Cambodia into the itinerary.

Thanks to Tiger Airways, a budget airline that seems to always hold a promo to fly in the region every now and then, I got  a Buy One Departing Ticket Free One Homecoming Ticket. Yay! So I planned my trip by flying Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur (KL) and continue the rest of the trip by land before flying back to KL from whichever city I am at and then the KL-Jakarta flight.

Tangent: Dear Tiger Airways, just a kind suggestion, how about having an open-jaw ticket throughout South East Asian countries for the next promo? Sincerely, Your Future Faithful Customer. 

I managed to coax my uni friend Aneen to join me in this trip. But we both almost cancelled the trip when Aneen's mom was hospitalized a month ago and D was rushed to ER three weeks prior to the departure date. Anyway, all's well ends well. Our folks got better and gave us permission to take the holiday.

Here's the initial itinerary that I made before the departure.
April 10: Arrive in KL, have a quick city tour and depart to Butterworth-Penang at night
April 11: Arrive in Butterworth, ride the ferry to Penang, have a quick tour around Penang before riding the ferry back to Butterworth and head to Surat Thani, Thailand by train
April 12: Arrive in Surat Thani, ride a boat to Koh Phangan (I've read that Koh Samui has become too overcrowded, but Koh Tao is too quiet, so I hope Koh Phangan will be somewhere in the middle, not too loud but not too quiet), do snorkeling and spend the night here (a real bed, at last!)
April 13: Spend the first day of Songkran, go back to Surat Thani, take the night train to Bangkok, estimated time of arrival is 6:30 the next day
April 14: Arrive in Bangkok, shop at Chatuchak Market, go to Wat Arun, Wat Pho and Grand Palace (a must)
April 15: Last day of Songkran, perhaps go to Ayutthaya and take river cruise along Chao Phraya 
April 16: Depart for Siem Reap, Cambodia
April 17: Explore Angkor
April 18: Still in Siem Reap (or Phnom Penh? If we still have the strength to take the trip)
April 19: Fly back to KL
April 20: Take another city tour or perhaps go to Malaka (again, if we still have the strength to do it)
April 21: Fly back to Jakarta

Updated: In case you'd like to know, I composed the itinerary by browsing the following websites
--Lonely Planet Thorn Tree
--Websites on Malaysian railway schedule:,,  
--Website on Thailand railway schedule:

Phew! The itinerary sounds very ambitious, doesn't it? Did we make it the whole time? Absolutely not. Let's start with the first leg of the trip: Kuala Lumpur.

My flight on April 10 was scheduled at 7:35 a.m. Since Soekarno-Hatta International Airport obliges the international flight passengers to be at the airport two hours before departure and I live on the other side of the city, I left my home at 3:30 a.m. Alhamdulillah, I managed to hail a Blue Bird cab just a few meters away from my home. This is one reason why I love you, Jakarta! 

Arriving in KL at 10:35 a.m. (the flight was only two hours, but Jakarta-KL have one hour time difference), my friend Tika picked me up at LCCT. We went to Masjid Putra in Putrajaya, where I had to don a hooded robe due to my very casual outfit (long-sleeved T-shirt and cargo trousers). I felt like a Hogwarts student.

Then we had lunch at Village Park restaurant in Damansara area. I had nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves and served with chicken/lamb curry, anchovies, peanuts, egg, vegetables and sambal belacan. In Indonesia, it's similar to nasi uduk) and teh tarik. Yum!

 Tika said that the restaurant was featured on AFC. It was a delicious nasi lemak! And I forgot to take photos of the teh tarik, which is also delicious by the way!

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has visited this eatery. And so did former PM Mahathir Mohamad (his picture in the restaurant was on the other side of the restaurant, but I was too lazy to walk over and photographed it)

Next stop was KL Sentral to buy train tickets to Penang.

In Indonesia, papan kenyataan will mean the reality board. In Malaysia, it means information board. If you ever see me reading the board for a long time, it's because reality is hard :).

After waiting for several hours, I got the tickets and we went to Kuala Lumpur City Gallery, where we can see Kuala Lumpur's heritage building models. It's similar to Urban Redevelopment Authority's Singapore City Gallery. The best thing about this place: it's free. Ha! And you get to learn more about Kuala Lumpur and its heritage architecture, of course :).

Merdeka square

I couldn't find a sewer top with KL on, so this should do

Aneen was scheduled to arrive in KL's Low Cost Carrier Terminal at 9 p.m., while our train to Penang was scheduled at 11 p.m. So Tika and her husband Mas Budi took me to dinner before we picked her up.

Dear Tika and Mas Budi, thank you for being such cool hosts :)

Our dinner: satay ayam (chicken on skewer). It seems that every meal comes in large portion here
Ais kacang (ice with red beans)

We went to LCCT to pick Aneen up and then headed to KL Sentral to catch our train. And the following is the final photo for this post.

I slept on the upper berth. Good night everybody!


  1. kapan aku bisa kayak gini...
    ih jalan2 mulu ihhhh.....

  2. ai, intinya adalah rajin mantengin website budget airline, secara dompet saya baru mampu pake yg murmer saja :). kalo lg promo memang jatuhnya bisa murmer banget. mengutip tagline airline merah punya negeri jiran: now everyone can fly!