Taiping, 8 January 2001
What's the distance between Kluang and Taiping?
  • A straight line would be the shortest, taking a short cut through the earth's arch.
  • The crow fly distance would be around 400 kilometres, according to my own rough estimations.
  • Following the rail track it might double.
  • Taking into account all the sideways rocking of the train it would surely be a multitude.
So, I don't know the answer. Time is constant, and distance is relative, as I firmly disagree with Einstein.

Anyway, it sounds like a double distance. The entire cross country train journey takes around ten hours, about as long as the intercontinental flight from Holland.

Kluang 10:25
Paloh 10:46
Labis 10:12
Segamat 11:35
Gemas 12:04
Tampin 12:52
Seremban 13:26
Kajang 11:18
Kuala Lumpur 15:00
Sungai Buloh 15:23
Tanjung Malim 16:34
Tapah Road 17:43
Kampar 17:59
Batu Gajah 18:26
Ipoh 18:46
Sungai Siput 19:22
Kuala Kangsar 19:43
Taiping 20:24

The train schedule mainly shows tranquillity, no hurry, no fuss. In Malaysia the express train takes it easy as well. Yet the train are quite punctual, an hour late departure is exceptional.

A day in the train is an exceptional experience. A train is a collective of people, strolling along in a stretched cookie jar on wheels, all in the same track.

The train is crowded. Today is the last day of school holidays. Tomorrow many Malaysians will return back to school or jobs. In a train heading for the opposite direction it must be similar. Strange how many people are always on the move, in opposite directions. Why o why? On the whole it should be possible to optimise those flows, balancing them out.

The crowd changes. My fellow passengers slowly all make way for new ones. In Kuala Lumput the whole train is abandoned.

For me the journey is only half way. Taiping is a lot more up north. New passengers board the train, it gets cleaned and the crew changes as well. It's like the start of a new train journey. The train and myself seem to be the only constants.

The day goes by. At Ipoh the evening has fallen. I don't like it. I would have preferred to arrive in the afternoon, so I'd have all the time to look around. It resents me to stumble through a dark Taiping. So, took the easy way out, and safely, like a genuine tourist:

Travel Survival Kit: Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei
  1. While still in the train browsed though the Travel Survival Kit ( and choose an hotel.
  2. allowed a taxi driver to pick me up, did not bargain and paid too much.
  3. At arrival the lady of the reception hurried towards me to tell that the rate was not as listed in the book.
All hotels in the book are sure of a steady flow of backpackers. They know that the visitors have made their choice, even before getting out of the taxi. The price doubles, with the risk of being kicked out in the next edition. But well, don't worry today about tomorrow's problems.

The books of Lonely Planet ( are meant for the individual, adventurous traveller. Yet they result into risk avoiding massive flocks.

Meanwhile I'm in Taiping for almost a week now. The flow of tourists passes by. I am an exception by staying at one place for a long time. The hotel and myself seem to be the only constants. Yet I do make a journey, albeit a virtual one, as my environment continues to change. Distance is relative.

I associate the stream of tourists with lemmings. Even though the steam is disguised, in small size two groups, they run from one tourist attraction to the other, blindly following the same beaten track, as prescribed in the book. They seize to exist as a tourist when they stop running, at the end of their journey, and leave the country above the coast line.

Till next week!