Malaysia has a really good long distance bus network. The coaches are generally modern, clean and comfortable and the major roads are very good. We’d been travelling around Malaysia using all forms of transport air, train and bus and found the buses to be the best way for us as you did get to see the countryside, and the bus service seemed to be much more comfortable than the trains.
We went to the main bus station in Kuantan, which is the Makmur Express Terminal, to purchase our tickets for the 250kms journey to KL. The station is on two levels and you need to go to the upper level to purchase your tickets, and any food or drink you wish to take with you. There are several bus companies competing for your business, but we chose one we had used before; for our journey from Malacca to Kuantan, because we’d had a good trip with them.
At the approximate time, in Malaysia buses don’t actually run on time, we boarded out coach for the journey west. Kuantan is quite a pretty city, and we were enjoying the drive through the town on into its outskirts, when the bus had a problem. The driver pulled over to the side of the road, had a look at the mechanics and summoned another bus to take us to KL.
This was an interesting diversion only, and added to our adventure. The passengers got to know each other as we mingled by the side of the road waiting for our replacement bus, we arrived after about 40 minutes, which wasn’t bad considering the late notice.
We shifted luggage and boarded the second bus, and continued to head towards Kuala Lumpur.
When you journey from east to west, and vice versa, you cross the mountainous spine of Malaysia and the scenery is quite pretty. Virtually the whole of the interior of Peninsula Malaysia seems to be occupied by palm plantations, from which they produce palm oil, which is used for cooking in South East Asia.
I had noticed that our new driver seemed to be in love with his mobile phone as he drove the whole time with it planted on his ear as he steered with one hand. I’m unclear as to the legality of using mobile phones whilst driving in Malaysia but I suspect that if it is illegal, as it is in other parts of the world, then it probably isn’t policed very much.
Just outside of KL are the Genting Highlands, which are cooler than KL so are very popular with locals. The road through the Genting Highlands is steep and winding and there was a lot more traffic on the roads than we had seen during the first part of the trip.
Additionally, it started to pour with rain. It teemed with quite a bit of force and visibility was considerably reduced. None of this seemed to bother our driver, who continued on his merry way, driving one-handed fast over steep, wet curves with his phone still planted firmly in his ear, an action which gave us some anxious moments, but didn’t seem to phase him very much.
To his credit our driver did manage to negotiate the steep descent without mishap, even if progress around some of the tightest bends were somewhat heart-stopping.
Nevertheless, we made it out of the mountains and wended our way through the heavy KL to reach our final destination without incident and the phone still attached to our driver’s ear.