Since I came to Sabah 15 years ago, I have tried various kinds of transportation available in the state. From buses to taxis to speedboats and plane, I have enough experience to tell friends and families that visited me on how to move around the state of Sabah. Well, almost, actually! I was left clueless when my brother asked me about the Sabah Train recently and how it feels inside the train?
Well, I guess it is about time for me and my family to pay a visit at Tanjung Aru Railway Station and so we bought ourselves train tickets to Beaufort. The Railway Station is only about 10 minutes drive from the city centre and there are ample free parking spaces for the car. Everybody was excited and can’t wait for the journey to start. My boy even left his bag at the canteen but luckily the canteen operator kept the bag safe while we were away. Thank you very much madam!
At 7.50 am the train arrived from Secretarial Station at Sembulan. Not many people were inside the train at that time and we easily found seats for ourselves. We were lucky that the train that arrived is the new one (well not too new actually :D). The coaches were equipped with air-conditioning and fitted with comfortable seats. This new diesel-powered locomotive is also capable of doing 100 km/h. So, it won’t take long to reach Beaufort from KK. I heard that there are other trains which are quite old and non-air-conditioned. They say it is fitted with only basic seating and ceiling fans! Not sure about its engine however.
The most enjoyable thing about riding on a train is the view – scenic all the way. I love the part when the train was passing by the beach near Kimanis. It was so beautiful. However I couldn’t snap many photos for this blog as the view was blocked by trees. Still, I managed to get one for you today, courtesy of my sister-in-law. She was sitting near the window and was the first to alert us when we reached that area. You can see the photo below captured by her iPhone 4.
The train stopped at several stations along the way – Putatan, Kinarut, Papar, Kimanis, Bongawan etc. You can check out their route below:
We reached Beaufort at 10 am and had our lunch at a restaurant near-by. Sorry, I can’t remember its name but it was close to Beaufort’s train station. It was clean and the food were not bad either. We can’t be too far away from the train station as we needed to board the train for the trip to KK in 1 hour or otherwise we will have to wait for another 5 hours for the next train.
I think we boarded the same train that took us to Beaufort but I must say that this time it is quite humid inside. Perhaps it was a different train, or maybe the air-conditioning was not working or probably due to the fact that the coach was almost full with passengers. Nonetheless, the seats were still quite comfortable and every one of us managed to get a seat, though quite far from each other.
As the train passed other stations along the way, they picked more and more passengers and by the time we reached Papar, it was almost as crowded as the mini buses in KL (circa 1990s – remember the pink buses?).
With the air-cond not functioning well (or at all), we were sweating inside the train till we reached our final stop back at Tanjung Aru Railway Station. According to one of the train’s frequent passengers, over-crowding is not the usual case except during the weekend or holidays, when there is a sudden increase in volume as tourists and other passengers board the train as well.
Overall, it was a great experience for us and I’m thinking about boarding the train again but this time up to Tenom, preferably during a working day. We will need to book a hotel there as there won’t be enough time to do it on a day trip. We will need to plan our trip carefully this time to ensure everything is smooth and everyone enjoys the trip. To those coming to Sabah for Visit Malaysia Year 2014 and planning for a trip to the south west of Sabah, I would like to suggest you to try out the SSR Train. It will be a uniquely interesting experience, especially if you take the train down to Tenom.
– On Board SSR Train To Beaufort