The train journey – the mystery of three minutes

Wherever I go on this earth by train, it looks all the same unless of course I am in some heavenly country such as Switzerland or New Zealand.

Next morning when I looked out of my window, I didn’t know whether we were still in Malaysia or Thailand. Thailand time is one hour behind; train was running late and hence the confusion. I changed my SIM card to Thai one but couldn’t get any connection… changed back to Malaysian.
Ok, so we were still in Malaysia. 🙂

The farms looked similar to Indian farms with more of tropical trees. The farmers could be seen working since early morning. All daily chores were going on in small houses that were scattered here and there. Only noticeable difference from Indian farms were Toyota & Nissan pickup trucks parked near them. 🙂

I had got a sandwich packed for my breakfast at KL sentral itself. That came handy, for, I had to take my medicines after food. It looked like westerners were regular on this sector since all of them were still sleeping.

I was waiting for next announcement. Then after sometime suddenly the attendant started waking up passengers by shouting, “Padang Besar, Padang Besar”…

At the border.

I knew it is the name of last Malaysian town at the border.
When he reached near me, I asked him about immigration thing. He in broken English could utter only 2 words…. “passport, 3 minutes” and gestured me to go out since the train was pulling up at the station.

All of us understood the same. The train is going to stop for just 3 minutes. Within no time there was a little chaos and everybody was jumping out of his/her berth. Fortunately I had to only put on my shoes and take my handbag along.

I saw a girl in late 20’s in shorts and a tee jumping out of her upper berth holding her passport. She had no time to even put on her shoes. And some had taken all their luggage.

The train halted and all of us (including that barefooted girl) found ourselves nearly running towards the immigration office. Tall lanky six foot plus Americans and Canadians, strong Australians, agile Chinese and a fragile, petite Indian woman….
Again, I hated the distance from my coach. Still I could manage to come second in the race. 🙂

Ha Ha…. The effect of painkillers I had taken sometime back or rush hour of Mumbai back home ?

The Thailand side.

The immigration process took exactly 3 minutes with the gentleman trying hard to explain me to stand a step behind for the webcam. He had to literally come out of his cabin and stand where I should have been standing. It was Malaysian part of the station and they speak better English than Thai people.

After the process, I hurriedly proceeded towards my coach in scorching sun. The door was closed from inside. I banged the door nervously. Are they running away with my backpack? A lady peeped out through the glass but didn’t allow me in. But my luggage is there in the train ! I peeped in. She said something which I could neither hear nor understand. The lady gestured again by holding the vacuum cleaner. The message was clear… they were cleaning the train.

Somehow I found it very funny to see two ladies sticking to glass window from either side and communicating.
Did I ever tell you the advantages of sign language ? 😛

Ok, fine. Let her do her work. Anyway the train would have become dirty with all sophisticated passengers sleeping through the night.

I went back to platform and like a pro guided every other passenger who was also trying to reach the coach. We were all in the same boat train.

Killed time by clicking some photos. Could not cross over to town part since nobody knew when the train will run away with our belongings.We all sat quietly for more than 40 minutes  before we could start our further journey.

And so we also knew the meaning of “3 minutes”.

P.S.- Apparently it was cleaning lady’s turn now to become all rounder.  She had cleaned the coach, made beds and acted as a money changer for those who wanted to have some Thai currency. All official duties.

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20 thoughts on “The train journey – the mystery of three minutes

  1. Nice one… getting of a train in in-between stations has always been a nerve wracking thing for me. to get ur immigration done on a stop would have been all the more….

    i cant believe u are actually making the time to post alogn the journey. 🙂

    have a great trip!

  2. Great to meet you in the Cameron Highlands and wonderful to read your blog.
    Already my favourite travel blog! Keep up your wonderful and pioneering work.

  3. What a great entry- you had me smiling with the conversation of the you and the cleaning woman through the glass.

    The post came out left sided on my computer- I’m wondering if this is because of my computer or a new way your blog is being formatted. I’ll keep looking for more updates.
    .-= anjuli´s last [post] ..Rocky Mountain High- March 15th 2010 =-.

  4. Manish,

    Joe Zachs,
    It was clean but not deserted.The scorching sun forced everybody to go in shade. I was the only fool clicking pictures. 🙂

    You can see the photo looks overexposed.

  5. Jamais,
    Hey Hi !!

    Great to meet you as well. I can’t believe this is a comment from a person I just met on the way…. a fellow traveler !!

    And many thanks for your encouraging words. And you know we are going to be in touch from now on. 🙂

  6. Magiceye,
    Thank you.

    Yes, as far as my experience goes… Malaysians speak better inglis than Thai ppl. And the example you gave was of better inglis. 🙂

    There are times when you have to resort to your sign language and acting skills. 😀

    I am not talking about five star hotels where you won’t experience this. It is about the common man of 2 countries. 🙂
    .-= Nisha´s last [post] ..Temple of Wisdom, Hat Yai =-.

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