akmal's bike park

akmal's bike park

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Touring: Labis to Seremban - Day 1 (Part 1: Seremban to Labis)

20.05.2015, Wednesday.
Seremban to Labis

train ticket for the journey from Seremban to Labis
I bought the train tickets to get us from Seremban to Labis a few days before the journey, while on a recce ride. My small birthday present for Latfy. I asked the ticketing officer if there is a surcharge for bringing in bikes. Indeed, it ranges from RM20-30 depending on the journey, to be paid to the personnel on board the train. While I was there, I asked for the station master to discuss about how best to bring along the bikes, panniers and bags. In our discussion he at first would not allow to bring aboard the bikes. However, he did mention that there is a void space on the coach where we could put the bikes. I told him him that we would take off the wheels and bags so as they would not take much space and obstruct the aisle for other passengers to pass. So we agreed with such arrangement.

Latfy drove from KL to Seremban early in the morning while I waited for him at my house, partly anxious but mostly excited. You can always rely on him to be punctual (but most of the time he is early).

our touring bikes ready to roll!
The planned journey for the day is to cycle for about 7 km to Seremban KTMB Station from my house via Ampangan and board the 9.10 am train to Labis. The journey is scheduled to take about 2 hours. From Labis, we'll be cycling to Muar on route J32 (Jalan Muar - Labis). This will take us through small towns of Bukit Kepong, Lenga and Pagoh before reaching Muar. The distance from Labis to Muar is estimated (from Google Maps) to be 85km.

As far as I can recall, I've never been to Bukit Kepong, the town (especially the police station) made famous historically due to the Bukit Kepong Incident, a battle between the local police and communists during the Malayan Emergency after the WW II (it happened on the 23rd February 1950). And the closest I've been to Labis before this was only on the train going to Singapore, when stopping by at the small station to pick up passengers.

Basically, I've never had any romance with any of the towns on this stretch. It is exciting, and a little bit worrying. I guess the worrisome bit is about the terrain. Is it hilly? How about shades, will it be without any and we'll be going to ride under the hot sun? But then again as this is going to be a touring journey, I relegated my worries to be labelled as surprises. Besides, what more can we do?

Latfy rolling in Seremban
So at about 8.00 am we rolled out of the gate of my house on our bikes, panniers and all, towards the train station. I opted the Ampangan route, for it is quiet at this time of the day (moreover, it is a normal weekday). After Ampangan, I detoured a bit to Jalan Penghulu Cantik and we cycled along the road where Kolej Mara Seremban is located and out to a main road, Jalan Zaaba. We crossed the road and cycled along a small trail next to dental specialist building which takes us to Jalan Tuanku Antah. From there we went straight on to the train station.

unloading at
Seremban train station
We arrived at the station in good time, at about 8.45 am. We immediately took out the panniers and bags from our bikes and put them together with our helmets, shoes and water bottles in the blue IKEA bag that I brought along. The wheels were off the bikes and stashed in a separate IKEA zippered wheel bag. Unfortunately I didn't realize that Latfy's bike is with 700c wheels. They are a bit big for the bag. We could only manage to stuff in only one of his and both of mine. The other one had to be hand carried without any bag. So we have with us two frames, One Ikea blue bag, one wheel bag and one loose wheel. I took my bike and the blue bag while Latfy carried the rest. All in one sweep.

anxiously waiting for the train to arrive
Not long after that, we were on Platform 1 waiting anxiously for the train. We didn't exactly know whether the coach on the train is going to be near or far from the spot we were on the platform. It would be a challenge if it is! The train is going to make a brief stop, so we would have to embark the train swiftly. One good thing is that the platform is level with the train door sill, so we don't have to climb the steps to get on the train.

in the train, seated near to our bikes and bags.
When the train eventually arrived (on time!), we were relieved. Our designated coach was just 5 meters away from where we waited on the platform. After passengers alighted from the train, we made our move to get our things into the train. It went without any glitch. Another good thing was that there is a void space next to the door that we went into. No problem in putting our bikes and bags there, they fit nicely without obstructing the aisle. Our designated seats are actually in the middle of the coach, but since there were not many passengers, we took the liberty of sitting nearby our bikes. If the rightful owners would later claim them mid-journey, we'll just have to play our cards and kawtim with them to swap. Alhamdulillah, we didn't have to.

The train ticket conductor made his round and came to us. We showed our tickets and asked how much do we have to pay for the surcharge of bringing along the bikes and other bulky items. He looked at our tickets, and acknowledged that we are going to Labis. While clipping our tickets with his hole puncher, he said to us that the surcharge is waived due to the rather short trip. He's the most handsome person that we ever met that day.

all smiles, excited but anxious
As we had settled down and the train continued its journey, there were two things that we needed to do:
1. eat something for breakfast, and
2. take a leak.

I was informed by the lady janitor that there is no buffet coach, but there is a small vending pushcart in the adjacent coach. I went through a couple of doors and passed by a toilet to get to the pushcart, and bought us fried rice and drinks. They are a bit pricey, but hey, things were all sorted!

at Segamat train station
Nothing much to write about the train ride, as it was quite short. We had our breakfast, kicked back and relaxed. Well, I was not actually relaxed. I was still anxious about the actual cycling that we were going to start in less than 120 minutes.

At one of the stations, the train halted for quite some time as they discovered that the water pump for our coach toilet is broken. They tried to fix it but the attempt didn't do much help. The toilet was duly locked, and we had to wait until we reach Labis to ease our bladders. That actually made the journey a bit delayed. But it was a small problem for alhamdulillah, we were blessed with multiple easiness thus far, in this early beginning of the journey.


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