TANAH MERAH, Malaysia // We were finishing our last dive and on the speed boat back to the beach. The kid sitting next to us Devon was discussing how awesome the dive was and we were comparing our GoPro cameras. Eventually we started talking about Singapore and how we were cluelessly going to get there tomorrow.
Turns out, he is from Singapore, going home tomorrow, and taking the night train. Could this have worked out any more perfect? We were skeptical of the night train, as it supposed to be 14 hours long. On the flip side, it is known to be an amazing journey through the jungle. Since Devon just came from this way a week ago, he volunteered to be our private tour guide on the way back. Times like these are when I feel fortunate for not planning too far in advance, and enjoy having flexibility to make spontaneous last minute decisions.
The decision for the night train was a good one. Not only was the trip for 2 people 27 US dollars, we would also not need a hotel room for the night since we were sleeping on the train. The only problem was that we arrived at the tiny Tanah Merah train station in the middle of nowhere Malaysia 6 hours early. We were afraid that they may sell out of tickets, but that was not the case at all, as over half the sleeper class was empty. We had 6 hours of time to kill and had to take cover from the heat and get some food before boarding. Fortunately there was one place in town and directly across from the train station - Kentucky Fried Chicken… and this place was packed! Around 2pm it felt like the meeting place for every elementary school kid in the entire town. We waited in line for 20 minutes with our backpacks, played cards, and chatted with Devon about Singapore for the next 6 hours. Devon just finished his time in the Singapore military and is just about to start University in a few days.
The train boarded at 8pm and after sleeping pretty well (a lot better than the crazy night bus) we arrived in Johor Bharu, in southern Malaysia at 11:50am.
Devon navigated us quickly from Malaysia into Singapore, and safely into a taxi cab to go to our pod hostel in the downtown Chinatown area. Singapore is one of the smallest countries in the world. After flying through here on a layover a month ago on our way to Indonesia we finally get some time to explore it.