Saturday, January 27, 2007

Into and out of KL in 2 hours

It was 3pm. I was in Cyberjaya and had to run some errand in KL. I pondered the idea of taking ERL (Express Rail Link). I've always wanted to ride it ever since it's started operation some five years back. A friend who heard about my intention advised me against it. It's expensive (RM9.50). And not worth it. I'm glad I didn't heed her advise. As it turned out, the return ticket is actually RM15.

I reached the Putrajaya/Cyberjaya station around 3.30pm. Except for the few ladies sitting on a bench, the station was somewhat deserted. I glanced at their id tag. I could see clearly the word HSBC. Perhaps they are working in a call centre located in Cyberjaya. I walked to the ticket counter. Actually, I almost missed it. There was only one counter, right next to the ticket gate. I had mistaken it as information counter.

The friendly lady at the counter asked me which ticket do I want. I fumble, there's more than one ticket to get to KL Sentral? The lady explained that they offer return ticket for RM15. The catch is that you have to use it the same day. Lucky for me, I have the exact amount of cash in my wallet. After paying the ticket, I was left only with few cents. I really hoped that the ATM machines in KL Sentral is in service. Otherwise, I would have to beg, 'Amazing-race' style.

I walked to the stairs. For a moment, it was a bit dizzying to be standing at the top of the stairs looking down. I am somewhat afraid of heights. I descended the stairs and onto the train platform. It looked like a KTM commuter platform. The train arrived around 3.45pm. If the door don't open, don't panic. Just press the button at the door. I discovered later that the train don't open the door automatically for you when it stopped at a station. You have to press the 'open' button whenever you want to get in or off the train. The door would stay open for awhile before closing (just like a lift, or what Americans call elevator).

As I stepped into the coach, I noticed that there were some purple-themed decoration in all the coaches. Could this be a standard decoration, I wondered. The seats are purple. And there were ribbons, flowers and laces, matching to the same theme. It was as if there would be a 'garden' wedding in the train. If music was playing through the speaker, I would thought that I was in a wedding reception. But, instead of music, they kept on repeating some advert. I sat next to a big window. Two minutes later, the train moved. Yay! my first ride on ERL.

For most part, we passed 'vegitation'. Local would call 'kawasan semak'. You would see greenery, trees, weeds. However, if you look closely, you would see exposed, and eroded land. Some flat and open plots of land. Those plots that developers already cleared and waiting for construction to begin. Perhaps the government should make some kind of rules requiring developers to plant grass these plots, and maintain the grass until actual construction begins.

The train made a brief stop at Bandar Tasik Selatan Station. This station looks better than the Putrajaya station. Perhaps because it is the interchange to the LRT line. The train continued without stopping anymore. We passed through the TUDM area. I could see the jams heading into KL. I was glad I took the train instead of driving. I reached KL Sentral around 4pm. The station was bustling with activities. There were mostly kids in school uniforms. You know they are students from some boarding schools when they wear batik school uniforms.

There were long lines at the ATM machines next to the McD. Not wanting to waste time, I headed to the upper floor. There are actually three more ATM machines on that floor. Not many people are aware of that. Sure enough, there were no queue at all. After withdrawing money, I headed out of KL Sentral to run some errands. By 4.30pm, I was back in KL Sentral.

I took the escalator down to the train platform. I only saw one lady sitting on a bench. It was eerily deserted. I took the escalator up, went to the ticket counter, and asked the man whether I got the right platform. The friendly man confirmed it. And so I went down again and sat on a bench somewhere in front of the escalator. While on the escalator, I saw the lady going up. Not long after I sat, the lady came down again. She walked to me. She was wearing a black t-shirt, a blue jeans and a brown sandal. The word "KTAK" (short for Kementerian Tenaga, Air dan Komunikasi) embroidered to her shirt. She asked whether it's the right platform. I told her yes. She sat on a bench not far from me.

We sat there, waiting in silence. More and more people came down the escalator. I also noticed that there were more bench with more people on the other side of the escalator. But still the platform was somewhat deserted. Perhaps, I'm so used to seeing crowded KTM commuter platform. After a long wait with no sign of any train, a man asked me whether this is the right platform. I told him that the ticket man said to wait here. At the back of my mind, I began to doubt it. The train finally arrived around 4.55pm. This train have no purple-themed decoration on it. As I took a seat next to the window, I realized that there was a small 'tv' on board each coach. The adverts over the speaker was not just audio advert, but also a visual one. The train moved around 5pm. 15 minutes later, I was in Putrajaya.

If I drove to KL, it might have cost me more than RM15. The tols to and from KL would cost me around RM4. Petrol would have cost me at least RM15. There traffic jams. Then there's parking problem. I definitely would not be able to go to and from KL in 2 hours.

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