The rail journey begins:
Butterworth to Kuala Kangsar
I'll leave Penang now and travel slowly from Butterworth to Kuala Kangsar, the first stage on my long rail journey south to Singapore.
This map is taken from the 1914 Pamphlet of Information for Travellers. Note that Penang Island, Province Wellesley and the Dingdings are coloured pink, the colour traditionally used on maps to denote British colonies. These territories, along with Singapore and Malacca made up the colony of Straits Settlements.
In this leg of my rail journey I will walk from the former FMS Railways building in George Town, Penang to the ferry terminal and catch the ferry across the North Channel to Butterworth, the closest station to George Town. The train to Ipoh will be stopping at the following towns and I plan to get off and explore most of them:
(Click on the links to find more information on the respective stops. If there is no link it means I have not visited those stops yet.)
When the 1914 guidebook was written, Butterworth was little more than a ferry jetty and railway station. Today it is part of a large industrial zone. Penang Bird Park is located nearby.
2. Bukit Mertajam
I hope to see the old Bukit Mertajam railway station before it is demolished to make way for line upgrading. Also worth seeing in this town is a colourful market and the famous St. Anne's Church, which I wrote about on my Thrifty Traveller blog.
3. Nibong Tebal
People visit this small riverside town to sample their renowned crab porridge or curried prawns or to take an evening boat ride to witness fireflies putting on their nightly show.
In 1914, Taiping was the headquarters of the British Administration of the State of Perak. The guidebook called Taiping the 'most beautiful town in the Peninsula'.
It's still a pretty town. Here are some photos from my visit. I also visited the hill station, Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill). You can read details here.
8. Kuala Kangsar
The scenery from the railway between Taiping and Kuala Kangsar is very fine according to the 1914 guidebook which also called Kuala Kangsar a 'remarkably beautiful' village.
The guidebook also refers to the Malay Residential College, a school for 'Malays of gentle birth'. The college is still running today. You can read details of my visit to Kuala Kangsar here.
4. Parit Buntar & 5. Bagan Serai
The 1914 guidebook describes the countryside around these towns as a picturesque rice growing region offering good snipe hunting during the season (September to March). I'll not be doing any hunting but plan to stop off to see what these sleepy towns have to offer.
7. Port Weld
The first railway line to be built in Malaya ran from Taiping to Port Weld (now Kuala Sepetang). Not much of that line remains now.
Read about the interesting community of Kuala Sepetang on my Thrifty Traveller blog.