I am no train enthusiast nor I’m a train hobbyist (apparently there are those kinds of people out there) but I do have some sort of affection towards… err… trains.
I guess this fascination with trains can be attributed to the fact that I grew up in a house that’s located next to a railway track. Yes, my home (or rather my parent’s) in Temoh is just about 50-60 metres from the railway track.
I remember guests who stayed overnight at our place, more often than not, would have their sleep interrupted quite constantly when night trains rumbled on nearby. And I must say, the thundering sound of the trains can be rather overwhelming especially in the dead silence of the night. As for us, well, we have embraced the trains whole heartedly that it does not affect us one bit.
My mother told us that once, small town Temoh was thriving once because it has a railway station and she herself travelled daily on the train to Teluk Anson (now Intan) to attend her secondary school (Teluk Intan’s Convent School). That was in the 50s.
And as a child, one of my greatest desires then was to take a ride on those trains. I remember wanting so much to get on a train especially when several relatives from KL would do so and arrived to tell stories about their train ride. (And usually, if we knew someone would be coming over, we would wait by the track just to wave to them – we did this quite often).
I believe my first train ride finally happened when I was in Standard Two and it was a trip to the grand city of KL. If I’m not mistaken, the reason for going to KL then was to send off my uncle Ayah Chu, who’s about to further his study in the UK. Fortunately, my late father decided that maybe my brother and I could go on to KL (my two younger brothers, mother and him who would followed soon by car later) first by train. We were, understandably, overjoyed. So with my young and single aunt Wan Chu acting as chaperone, we boarded the train in Ipoh and began our long ride to KL. It was a Mel Malam (Night Mail) and we left Ipoh around 10pm. And we arrived in KL early the next morning. Punya la jauh……
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to ride on the trains a few more times. Some became quite memorable rides – like the ones in 1982 when we were in KL and my father phoned asking us (I was spending my school holidays at my aunt's place then) to get on the earliest train out of KL as his best friend (my future father in law) had passed on – it was sombre ride indeed; or the first train ride back kampong with two of my college mates (I’m sorry but their names escape me) in 1984 for my very first term break – the train was so crowded that I have to stand all the way back to Kampar!!!
Today, I still occasionally take a ride on the train via KTM Komuter especially on days when I have meetings in and around KL Sentral. I find it is much easier (no need to stress out braving the jam and looking for parking) and cheaper. But of course, on the downside, I don’t fancy riding in one during peak hours when all the cars are packed to the brim.
Anyway yesterday, the wife and I did a train ride again when we balik kampong for a day. And what a nostalgic and emotional day it was!
We started our journey very early. Left home at 4.30am and drove to KL Sentral. It was good driving in KL when the roads are deserted. Anyway, by 5.30am, we are securely seated in the train. At 5.30am on the dot, the KL-Ipoh shuttle service started its journey.
It was an uneventful journey as we were mostly asleep throughout the journey. But unlike many years ago, we arrived in Kampar before 8am. Whoa.... that's fast, considering the last time I took a train ride from KL to Kampar, it took me at least 4 to 5 hours. There's our train leaving the station for Ipoh after depositing us two and one other youngster in Kampar.
I so wanted to take a picture of my home in Temoh during the trip. On the way over, I was already aiming my camera soon after we left Tapah Road station. A few minutes later, Yan informed that we just passed by the house. Of course, I don't believe her because I didn't see the usual landmarks and all and I think I should know how the house look like, kan? But before I knew it, we are already arriving in Kampar. What???!!! Where did the house go???? So on the way back, I was more determined to capture the house on my camera and was so ever ready even before we boarded the train and I nearly missed it again. That's the house, now hidden behind those rambutan trees. If you look carefully, you could see my parent's bedroom window on the left of the pix.
Aaah, that's us all ready to board the train back to our daughters and home in Subang Jaya. The picture looks nicer because this was taken by our niece Nurul who uses camera mahai. Thanks Nurul. :-)