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SINGAPORE TO KUALA
SINGAPORE TO KUALA LUMPUR
We travelled on a Malaysian train, known as KTM ( www.ktmb.com.my ) from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and back again to Singapore. We paid £90.00 return for two of us in First Class. I must say the service was very good and the train arrived at the expected times, to all stations on the way. The carriages were very clean. In fact, the cleaners came very often to freshen up and empty the dustbins.
TRAIN JOURNEYS IN AUSTRALIA
It is important to appreciate the availability of rail links in as a vast country as Australia. There are lots more things to consider if you are thinking of driving around the outback. Towns and villages are very far apart and you have to worry about things such as fuel, water and food.
There are various types of cheaper train tickets for foreigners in Australia. We bought a 15 day travel ticket known as Flexi Pass at a cost of £887.00 for two. You can buy it on the net (www.gsr.com.au) from outside Australia or within Australia by showing your passport and it is valid for 6 months. You can use this ticket on all the trains run by Great Southern Rail. These are The Ghan, Indian Pacific and The Overland. You can also use all Country Link trains all over the country and the Sunlander and Kuranda railway on the East Coast.
Over the years we have been on three different
great rail journeys in Australia. In 2003 for the first time we travelled from
Alice Springs to Adelaide on The Ghan and from there on to Perth on The Indian
Pacific. In 2007, as I mention below, we started a long journey from Darwin. In
2010, we travelled from Perth to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and back
to Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. You could say why again? It's because we just love these long train journeys in Australia.
Our train journey from Adelaide
to Melbourne was on The Overlander. Melbourne to Sydney and Sydney to Canberra
was on The Country Link. Each of these trips were within a day and none
of them involved any outback scenery but more farm land and towns. There were
more stops than would be from Darwin to Adelaide or Adelaide to Perth.
One great pleasure of travelling long distance on Australian trains, such as The Ghan and The Indian Pacific, is that you meet so many travellers from all parts of the world. Both trains used to have a lounge carriage where travellers relax and chat about their travelling experiences. One minute you are talking with someone from China or Japan and another minute you would be talking with someone from US or Latin America. There are differences in culture, features, colours, behaviour and age. You feel like you are bonding very fast with everyone, as a result of that common interest, which is travelling. However, when we went in 2010, the only place to sit and chat was the dining car.
We travelled from Sydney to Perth for 3 days on The Indian Pacific train. One of the highlights of the journey between Sydney to Adelaide is the spectacular scenery around Blue Mountains. As the train climbs up the hills, from a distance you see the mountain range covered with eucalyptus trees and a blue haze. According to the tourist guide of the train, the blue haze is the result of an ultra fine oily mist, given off by the eucalyptus trees, and the name Blue Mountains comes from the colour of this mist.
The distance between Adelaide and Perth is1662 miles and it is just flat and plain land. The slow pace of the train gave us enough time to see and absorb this barren land, particularly The Nullarbor Plain. This is a vast desert with no people or houses to be seen. There were wild camels, kangaroos, emus and cows.
TRAIN JOURNEY IN
Travelling 990 miles from Johannesburg to Cape Town on The Premier Class train (http://www.satravelbooking.co.za/ ) was an eye opener. It wasn't just the view outside that was eye catching but the service on the train was remarkable. In fact I decided South Africans get a great pleasure out of the service they give to their customers. They make you feel very important.
Our journey took us through various types of landscape. Crossing the semi-desert Great Karoo was a good experience. It reminded me of The Nullarbor Plains except that Great Karoo has a view of many beautiful mountains from a distance. We had a good sighting of ostriches and springboks on the way. At the end of this semi-desert land, our train disappears into a 1 mile dark tunnel ( Hex Valley Tunnel) under a mountain and when it comes out the other end, the landscape changes dramatically, from flat semi-desert to green and hilly surroundings. We suddenly come to the valley of vineyards and the wine industry. We pass by the world famous South African wine industry of Paarl, before we get to Cape Town.