Du! Du! Journey on Track

July 26, 2011 at 12:48 am | Posted in itchy backside | 2 Comments
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Itchyfingers had intended to take a day trip to Kluang as our last ride from Tanjong Pagar Railway Station before it ceased operation but we couldn’t get tickets online cos of some technical issue on the site. Tisu Boy had to go down to the station personally but was told that tickets to Kluang could only be purchased on the day. But there would the risk of not getting any tickets on the day we preferred, so he decided to purchase tickets to the next station, Segamat, upon recommendation by the ticket officer. Er, that was the first time I heard of this place.. :p


Wow…not very cheap hor? $21 for one way..Our train rides in Bangkok cost
only a few cents! But it was an air-conditioned
 coach and the ride would be
about three hours..and we were travelling overseas, although Malaysia is
just next door…hahah 

We reached the station earlier to have some brekky. But not all stalls were opened…Seemed like not fated to eat the Nasi Briyani liao…Ended up buying from the same stall I bought my Mee Goreng on the other night


Er, first time I eat Mee Siam from a bowl, normally they are served in plate…
I hate these disposable styrofoam bowls… 


Itchyfingers with our brekky…Strange, same stall but Tisu boy’s Mee Rebus
was served in proper plastic bowl… 


People were already checking in at the opposite platform for the next train 
while others were busy taking photos on this side. They put up the ugly red 
plastic tape to warn people not to jump down the track to take photos, 
which many did on the previous night we came 


Long queue was formed at the ticketing counter for any last minute tickets. 
It was five days before the 30 June deadline…


Long queue was similiarly formed for the next train’s departure. We were
still taking our own sweet time taking photos…hahah…


Tisu Girl having her ticket punched at the departure gate. With Itchyfingers
on this trip were our friends here – their beautiful faces were digitally
masked out to protect their identities…hahahaha… 


As mentioned on the previous post, taking a train from Tanjong Pagar
Railway Station was unique as we had to clear Malaysia custom first before
clearing the Singapore side. Sadly, this would be history now that both
customs are housed under the same roof at Woodlands


Special queue for those with trolleys…


Tisu Girl fooling around at the Malaysian custom. This would not be 
possible and tolerated had it not being the last days of the station, as I don’t
think photography was allowed at any customs…hahaha… 


Tisu Girl clearing the custom…Passports were not chopped at the station
for some reasons…all along they never do, which left us with no memories
for this date on our passport… 


But they chopped it on the white card, which would be taken away when 
we returned. Would love to keep this! 


It was ten minutes past the departure time…But no one was complaining…


Our previous train rides to Malaysia were not as comfortable as we were in
non air-conditioned overnight coach. Couldn’t sleep well as the seats were
hard and uncomfortable. These were much better 


It was the first time we travel by day on train, so we were rather excited to 
see the view, especially when the train passed by my old house at
Commonwealth and my friend’s present place at Buona Vista…not sure
where was this though…hahah

The train came to a halt when we reached the Bukit Timah Station. There were many people taking photos of the track and station and of course, the train.


Not sure what do you call this thing in front of this section of the train
that was 
not in operation…Should have jumped down and check it out
and take some photos of the station but we weren’t sure how long our train

was gonna stop there…


The old sign. We were heading towards Woodlands


8.50 am. We reached Woodlands checkpoint! Here I didn’t dare to take
photo of the custom since Singapore side should be stricter…haha 

The journey continued twenty minutes later. To kill time, we chit chatted and had a second round of sushi brekky with apples as dessert…


The tv was finally turned on…But a lot of information on KTM…in Malay…

The ladies decided to check out the food coach for some kopi. We ended up staying there till arrival as it was much cooler and we could play some games there…hahah…


We had two sets of tangram games to compete against each other…This one
took me quite some time and needed some help to get it right…


Kluang station. Our original plan was to visit Kluang, a more popular day
trip destination. Of course we could still choose to
alight here instead of
going further up to Segamat, but that would mean we 
were paying a higher
ticket price to Kluang. So we decided to stick to Segamat


Finally after 3.5 hours, at about 12.30pm, we reached Segamat!


Segamat! Here comes Itchyfingers!

Before going to Segamat, we did some research online and found that the place is famous for its durians. Though Itchyfingers are not great fans of the thorny fruit, we didn’t mind trying it. However, walking on the street, we didn’t see or smell any durians. Some sites suggested going to the salons at Segamat, but we weren’t very keen on that. There were really quite a number of hair salons on the streets we explored…


Three salons so near to one another…Very old school signages…


The not so impressive Segamat River…should call muddy river…


It was a Sunday but the town was quiet. Many shops were closed…


Quiet street…


Meow meow…

The weather was very hot and we managed to find some coffees shops and decided to settle at one for lunch. We certainly needed some ice cold drinks! 😀 When the lady asked us if we would like some homemade 红豆水 (red bean water), we were puzzled what was that. But we ordered some anyway…


So it was just the usual red bean soup but more watery lor and less beans
lor…hahah…I asked for extra ice cos it was really sweet…


My shredded chicken noodle…not bad


The rest of the gang ordered wantan noodle. The extra meat were added by
Tisu Boy soley for photography purpose…just like what photos on food stalls
would always show their servings as much bigger portion…hahah

After lunch, we explored around to digest our food before having some desserts…hahah….


Old but charming


Nearby was this rusty old car that looked like it was gonna fall apart any
time…Being Itchyfingers, I tried opening the door and…it opened! Er, I think
no one would want to steal this antique, so there was no need to lock it… :p


Opposite street was this Ah Pek touching up the paper scrolls…Nice
calligraphy but a bit too scribbly to make out all the characters.. :p

The rest of the afternoon was spent at a pet shop selling exotic animals like Tarantulas and Leopard Geckos; lazing around in MacDonalds eating ice-creams, some junk food and reading papers as well as shopping in the one and only more happening shop selling cutey stuff (hahah) before heading back to the station to catch the train back…

Our train was supposed to arrive at 5.30 pm so we reckoned we could have a late dinner back at Singapore since we had been eating non-stop here. Then there was some announcement in Malay. Luckily my friend understood some simple Malay and said it sounded something like train delay. A check at the counter confirmed that it was due to some technical problem at Butterworth and the staff gave the assurance that our train would arrive at 7 pm. Well, guess we would have to spend more time at Segamat…maybe we should try to look for the durians again?


Still no smell of durians…But we managed to find the famous Nan Yang
Coffee Shop! 


Four of us ordered the Iced Three-layer Tea 三色奶茶 after seeing the poster
on the wall…I asked what was the bottom layer and the guy said it was 
gula melaka (palm sugar) and tasted like chendol…Wow…sounded good…


We were careful not to stir too hard and mix up all the three layers of tea,
milk and gula melaka in case it would be too sweet. So bit by bit, we stirred
to our own preference for sweetness…I ended up with the least amount of
gula melaka in my glass…Not bad!


The Kaya and butter roti were also highly recommended on the internet so
we also ordered some…But I forgot to take photo of it and this was what
was left when I remembered…hahah

Then it was time to catch the train again…


We decided we should take the overhead bridge and saw this old gate


This stretch of road was quite busy, and there was this slope that made
crossing the road a bit dangerous as it was tough to see approaching
vehicle. This was from the overhead bridge


Segamat station


While waiting, we took more photos…

Then the announcement came again…This time, it said our train would be delayed by another one hour again! :O Alamak!


My friend’s hubby showing another friend how to play Angry Bird….
Angry people playing Angry Birds…hahahah….


Din find Angry Bird very appealing so turned to shooting cute cats at the
station instead…hahah…This meow meow looked angry…Angry Cat…


Pretty and hungry skinny little cat….

It was close to 8pm and still no sign of any train…Even the locals were losing patience and decided to come back tomorrow. Of course we had no choice but to wait…but how long more? This time they announced that it would be 9 pm…Gosh…We had expected train delays as my friend’s parents just came back not too long ago from their day trip and theirs was delayed for 1.5 hour. But we din expect to have to wait for more than that…and we weren’t even sure now if it would really arrive at 9 pm after the numerous changes…

We were all so glad that the train finally arrived at 9 pm…By now we were so tired and had no mood to take any photos liao…Good thing we still had some sandwiches left…


When we finally reached safely at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, it was 
already past 1 am! We were all feeling tired…and my friend’s hubby said
that after this ride, the romanticism of train riding is all gone! Hahahah!


But there were still many people savouring their favourite food at the
platform! If we were to arrive at around 8pm as scheduled, we might also
have our late dinner here but now we just wanted to go home! :p


A last thanks to all the loyal customers’ support…

The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station finally ceased operation on the 30 June 2011 after serving people from all walks of life for 79 years. The building will then be conserved and hopefully it will be transformed into another place where people can have easy access and interaction with in the near future.

Also see related posts:
> Last Supper
> Memories – Tanjong Pagar Railway Station 
> Exploring by Train (Part 1) – Bangkok, Thailand Trip #5a
> Exploring by Train (Part 2)  –  Bangkok, Thailand Trip #6a
> Exploring by Train (Part 3) –  Bangkok, Thailand Trip #7a
> Back on the Right Track (Part 1) –  Bangkok, Thailand Trip #8a
> Life along the Track (Part 2) –  Bangkok, Thailand Trip #9a

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Last Supper

July 18, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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Itchyfingers had long wanted to go sample the famous Nasi Briyani at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station but we kept postponing it. Then we planned to do so on the day we take a train ride to Malaysia. As the station was slated to cease operation at the end of June, all the food stalls would have to vacate by the 26 June. It was only then that I thought it might be a better idea to try to go and sample it before our train ride, as I think it might be more crowded nearer to their closing day.

But Itchyfingers were still too late. Obviously there were many people with the same idea. When we reached the station slightly before 7 pm, there were already so many visitors that the carpark was full.


The station at night

I only ate there once during lunchtime when I was working somewhere nearby some years back so was not really familiar with the stalls, and certainly not sure which was the stall selling the famous Nasi Briyani. Forgotten what did I eat that time…Didn’t see the name appear on any stalls but from what we saw on tv, I reckoned it should be one of those near to the platform….


It was kinda chaotic cos there were so many customers. Being uninitiated,
Itchyfingers just followed the longest 
queue for this stall at the left although
it didn’t have Nasi Briyani written
 on the list of items they were selling…
No one seemed to be ordering Nasi Briyani too. Maybe I got the stall all
wrong. But it was a bit stuffy and hot inside here so we decided to just
order other thing to eat… Boo…

There was this crowd of hungry-looking customers waiting very eagerly like vultures in the middle of the canteen. Then I remembered watching on tv some customers commenting about the pisang goreng (banana fritters) being snapped up the moment they were served. Itchyfingers finally saw with my own eyes! The moment the tray of freshly fried banana snacks was taken out, those lucky vultures, er, customers, with metal tongs in hands waiting impatiently started to grab them into their plastic bags with speed of thunders! Others without the tongs simply use the bag as gloves to grab the fritters, nevermind they were so hot! There was no time to waste! Others who either didn’t have the tongs or the bags or were too far from the tray could only stare with jealousy, curse and swear secretly and pray there would be some left for them when it was their turn. So nice to eat meh? Itchyfingers was tempted to leave my queue and try my fingers on those fritters but decided that I would be no match for these “old birds”…hahah…Very tempted to go up to take photos of them in action but was a bit shy to do so…hahah…


After about 15 minutes in the queue with some communication problem,
finally got my two servings of Mee Goreng…But they actually tasted so
so only!
😦


The tables in front of us were all full…those empty chairs belonged to the 
people who were still queuing up for their food…


We decided not to take up the table after finishing our food as there were 
more and more people coming in 


Back in the canteen, we had missed the latest round of pisang goreng 
snatching. More hungry vultures were hanging around the serving table
with plastic bags waiting…This lucky guy was sitting comfortably enjoying
his fruit of labour…The pisang goreng really looked like big fried chicken wings! 


This stall selling chapati was very popular as well. The two ladies were
working non-stop! 


Indian rojak.. queue again!


Shelves for titbits almost emptied!


Even the magazine racks were almost empty…


Long queue for the last minute train tickets…


Not sure why tickets to certain areas could only be purchased 24 hours before
departure, cos it was really troublesome to keep coming back if you failed
to buy yours. For our train ride, Tisu Boy couldn’t purchase them online and
had to go twice to queue up


My friend said that one Malay word we really need to know when travelling
to Malysia is “Tandas”,
 which means “toilet”! Very important indeed! 😀


Kopi for you?


No lah, weather was too humid…Prefer a cold drink. They should preserve
this fridge with the station name…There was another one at the M. Hasan
Canteen near the platform. Makes a “cool” glass cupboard for books too! Haha


The Ramly Burger stall owners were so busy…


Satay! Power! 8)


I like these bamboo fans! 😀


Somehow I found these chickens quite funny looking…hahah

When we were leaving, there were still a steady stream of visitors to the station. Many people were there for a last meal at their favourite stalls, but almost all came with cameras. Although Itchyfingers were not great fans of Malay food and hence were unfamiliar with the stalls, it was still a bit sad to see long-time stall owners being asked to leave the station. The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station would be preserved as a national monument but surely it would be more lively to have these stalls selling Singaporeans’ favourite food than to have a dead building without activities? Afterall, food has always been a part of our culture.


The break would be a long one, until the Government announces the use
of the old station… 

Do join Itchyfingers as we took our last ride out from the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station! 😀

Also see related post:
> Memories – Tanjong Pagar Railway Sation 

Memories – Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

July 11, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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For most people, going to the train station is for the obvious reason – travel from one point to another, well, unless you work there. The first time Itchyfingers visited the train station years ago was not to travel, but to look for birds. I just started birdwatching not too long and was part of a team of novice birdwatchers participating in the Bird Race, which required teams to go around Singapore trying to count the most numbers of bird species within a specific time frame. We heard from the seasoned birders that swifts were easily found at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, so we went there to check it out.


If you look up the tall ceiling at the main hall, you will find many of these
nests. I think they were House Swifts…There used to be a big colony of
swifts nesting at the Supreme Court but they had since been cleared away

Itchyfingers had since then taken about three train rides to Malaysia for birdwatching trips. Each trip was kinda rush and we didn’t really take that many photos of the railway station. Last year, after news that Malaysia would be returning Singapore the land parcel used for the KTM trains came out, Itchyfingers went back to the station to take some photos.


The KTM parking coupon


The Tanjong Pagar Railway Station was opened in 3 May 1932


Old lamp pole. The lamps actually looked like those helmets of old police 
officers…haha 

Visitors would find it hard to miss the four huge marble relief on the facade wall by Italian sculptor, Rudolfo Nolli. Each represented the four pillars of the Malayan and Singapore economy – Agriculture, Commerce, Transport and Industry, with the initials FMSR (Federated Malay States Railways).


Agriculture


Commerce


Transport


Industry


Entrance…


Signage at the left side of the entrance. There used to be rooms available
for rent at the station…


The main hall of the station…I can’t remember if this Tourism Malaysia
house was here when I first visited…It looked relatively new compared to
the rest…

Besides the swifts and their nest, when you look up the main hall, you would also see six huge panels of paintings depicting rustic scenes from rural Malaya and Singapore. Can you believe they were made of rubber?


Scenes of yesterdays – coconut growing


Shipping


Bullock cart transport


Rubber tapping


Rice planting


Tin mining


It was off peak season, so only a handful of people were queuing up for
tickets 


I think one of the reasons people regard train commuting as romantic must
be because of the Oriental Express…Of course lah, you gotta dress up in the 
train where there were comfortable nice beds and you enjoy fine dining…
But the impressions all came from movies and posters…It just feels so unreal and
exclusive. Itchyfingers had thoughts of catching one
 before they cease operation
from Tanjong Pagar Railway Station but we were
 put off by the hefty price tag… 


Despite being Malaysian land, all transactions at the ticketing counter and
the food stalls were in Singapore dollar 


No one was waiting for their train to come…the Railway Food Station was
also quite empty… 


At one time, the upper floors of the station housed a 34-room hotel for
more than 60 years. When we were there, only this small little room with
double decker beds was operating…Would have easily missed it as it was
tucked at one corner 


This family book store and money changing service had been operating at
the station since 1936…


The food stalls near the platform


Platform for incoming train


Evidence of the station being constructed between 1929 and 1932


The platform for departure where you clear the Malaysia custom. This was
one of the most unique features at the station here: because it was Malaysia
land, we had to check into Malaysia before checking out of Singapore at the
Woodland check point when it would have been the reverse if you were to 
travel via car, coach or plane. And there was no chop on the passport for 
some reason, so if you come back via other transport you would need to 
produce your train ticket to prove that you didn’t cross over illegally…
Gotta miss that now…


Gate closed at the departure platform…The next train was in the evening


Huh? Why cannot bring in batik sarung? Telephone also cannot?


Time seemed to have stood still at the station…just like this malfunctioned
clock… 


Wow! Such nice gestures for taxi drivers!

It was in October last year when we photographed these pictures, and as the deadline for the cessation of operation of the KTM train at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station came closer, Itchyfingers, like many other Singaporeans, went for another visit…Do stay tuned for our next post! 🙂

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