Only 'orang Teranung' have the honour of coming from the only state in Malaysia without train service. It wasn’t really true because once upon a time there used to be one train plying between Bukit Besi and Sura in Dungun. More about it later.
Now when I’m in KL, I hardly drive. Eleven years of jam-free driving in Kuala Terengganu kind of make me paranoia of the long un-moving queues. Of course I don’t mind being driven around even in a jam. It’s a glee (geli?) watching them in the cars around you putting on make-ups, eating sandwich, reading newspaper, talking, smiling, arguing to themselves (oh… on the cellphone maybe) or snoring away. I mean the drivers.
So when in KL, I parked my car, walked across to Setiawangsa LRT station and took a ride everywhere the line can possibly take me. With LRT, I made Sentral’s Strudel as my favourite meeting place. It seems that most clients and consultants don’t mind the train ride there. And meeting with a good sandwich and coffee as company surely beat the cramped meeting rooms and the hours wasted looking for parking bays. And there’s always a choice of mamak fare or the yuppy-ish Hilton/Meridian upstairs.
Train ride changes the way I attend to business. I now would rather don short sleeve shirt, jeans and sneakers. Rucksack replaced the briefcase. I guess at this late age, you don’t care about making a good (or should I say goody-goody) first impression anymore. After all we architects have the ‘artistic license’ to dress differently. And with higher electricity bills, it's time to wardrobe the suits away.
Train rides now include the ERL to KLIA. Its 28 minutes travel time permits me to push my meeting to end just in time. No more have I to make the excuse of leaving the meeting at four to catch the flight at seven-thirty. Okay, I still do that to get away when the meeting was boring and dragging. You know, those young project managers talk too much and spent too much time in meeting room rather than be on site in the mud or climbing the scaffoldings like we do. In Terengganu, we call these meeting room managers, ‘teng kosong’ (empty cans). Put a stone in a tin can, shake it and the noise is loud. Fill it to the brim, shake it, it make no noise at all.
And in KL, there’s also the monorail and the KTM Komuter.
For ‘budak koleq’, those train rides on the Ekspres Sinaran Pagi would hold a thousand memories.
Keretapi Bukit Besi was a far cry from the clean, sleek electronic trains of today. I’m not sure if it was run on diesel or charcoal, but we had fun chasing it to board as it moves out from Sura Gate. And your white shirt ended black when you get to Bukit Besi.