Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bringing Folding Bikes Onto Malaysian Commuter Trains

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It's always great to have some bike-packing fun by travelling to far away places with our foldies in our car and zooming to the destination to start cycling.
It's even greater to travel by trains with our bicycles, going to even further places and save the hassle of driving. We had done several bike-packing trips by train. The first of which was on a World Car-free Day in 2012, an experience of train & ferry bike-packing from Kuala Lumpur to Pulau Ketam that opened my eyes to the many possibilities of train travel with our bikes (... see World Car-free Day 2012 blog). We did it again when we went to the scenic Sungai Chiling (... see Sg. Chiling blog).

NOTE: 1. This blog covers only travelling by the KTM Commuter trains that serves the Klang Valley and slightly beyond to Tanjung Malim & Sungai Gadut. KTM has extended their route, see update below.
2. Click here to see the blog for travelling by KTM ETS Intercity Trains, this is the electric train line that connects Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh.
3. Click here to see the blog for travelling by KTM Regular Intercity Trains, this is the diesel engine train that serves Peninsular Malaysia down to Singapore and up to Haatyai, Thailand.

Rapid KL, the company operating the MRT, LRT & KL Monorail trains, and the BRT (Bus Rapit Transit) in the Greater Kuala Lumpur are now allowing full size bikes onto their trains during weekends. Folding bikes are allowed at off-peak times everyday but have to be folded before going pass the turnstiles at the ticketing areas.
1. Weekday Times only for folding bikes & foldable scooters : 10am – 3pm, and 8pm – 12am.
2. Weekend & Public Holiday Times for above and also regular non-foldable bikes: 6am – 12am.
Do note that Rapid KL may revised the above schedule to meet future travelling patterns.
Click here for more details on guidelines, travel time, boarding doors and stations with racks available for full-size bikes.
3. Click here for the Klang Valley Transit map that includes the LRT & MRT lines.
4. Click here for Rapid KL detailed train lines.

KTM officially launched their Ride n Ride Programme with guidelines for bringing foldies AND FULL SIZED BIKES onto the Commuter trains, for details click here.
NOTE: Folding bikes are allowed onto Commuter trains at all times, a RM2 fare is charged per bike.
Non-folding bikes are allowed during weekends and public holidays onto the first and last coach, 
 a RM2 fare is charged per bike.

(For the revised schedules, click here)
(For the fares & subsidies, click here)
(For a PDF file of the fare table, click here)
(For a PDF file of the fare table for the Northern Sector, click here)
KTM's Revised route and stations stops (Click here to view/download PDF file)
1. As of 15th December 2015 KTM has changed their routes, this is on a trial basis and may be further revised. The new routes are:
 a. Port Klang to Rawang
b. Rawang to Tanjung Malim
c. Batu Caves to Seremban
d. Seremban to Tampin (Pulau Sebang) to Gemas
2. Please note that the weekdays and weekends schedules are differtent
3. There is a need to change trains at Rawang and Seremban stations.
4. For the moment there is only one train a day from Seremban to Gemas, and two trains a day from Gemas to Seremban.

Un-bagged bikes looking forlorn as not allowed onto train without being bagged.
However, a couple of incidents regarding bike-train travel got me thinking about the problems of bringing our bikes onto trains.
The first was when a few of us tried to bring our bikes onto the KTM Komuter at Port Klang Station. As we had not brought our bike bags along, we were denied entry to board even after having purchased tickets.
The second was even more critical as almost twenty bikers were not allowed onto the train with their bikes at Klang Station even though the bikes were bagged. The reason given by the station-master was that bikes are not allowed onto the train during peak hours. He wanted to charge RM20/- per bike to allow them onto the train, this was almost ten times the train fare for passengers!
These incidents will always dampen an otherwise happy trip.
For note the peak period is 6:00 to 9:00 am and 4:00 to 8:00 pm on weekdays.

For cyclists who would like to use the Commuter Trains with their bikes, the following maps will be useful:

The Klang Valley Rail Transit Map
For a PDF copy of this map click here.

The KTM Komuter Route Map
Please note that KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu, i.e. Malayan Railway) Komuter runs two lines in the Klang Valley. Other operators run other lines and for a better understanding of how these services connects it is better to have a look at the Klang Valley Rail Transit Map.

Let's look at some points that will possibly ease travelling with your bike on trains:
- Always remember that we are not the only people travelling on the trains.
- Try not to be a nuisance to other travellers by being quiet as some may be taking a snooze.
Do not obstruct the aisle of the train. If this is not possible, give way to other passengers when needed.
- Be courteous with the train staff whether it be the station-master or a porter, remember that they are just doing their job. Rudeness will get one nowhere and there is no point arguing unnecessarily. 

2. Try to be as knowledgeable of train regulations as possible. Click here for the link to the rules & regulations posted by KTM. This link may not work as their posting is updated regularly, alternatively go to KTM's Home Page and at the top click on "Terms & Conditions".

3. Bag your bikes.
It is a regulation to bag your bikes your bikes. Although sometimes during off-peak period bikes may be allowed onto trains without bagging, do not take the risk; bring your bike bags along just in case.

4.Try to travel during off-peak period. This will avoid having to jostle with the crowd while boarding and also there will be more room on the train.
Note: KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu) have a notice board that posted this notice regarding folding bikes in Kommuter trains. It states that folding bikes are allowed onto trains as long as no part of the journey is during peak period (which is 6:00 to 9:00 am and 4:00 to 8:00 pm on weekdays).
*This was when a group of my friends faced a stern & rude station-master who refuse to let them board unless they pay RM20/- per bike. Fortunately, a member of the group politely pointed out that it was a Sunday and thus not peak period and the station-master relented sheepishly.

5. If travelling in a large group, it could be a good idea not to enter the railway station all at one time. Go in perhaps two or three at a time. Station personnel seems to be jittery about a large group of bikers entering simultaneously, and tend to stop and ask questions.

5. Try to occupy a corner to yourselves, this will give some privacy and lessen obstruction to other passengers.

6. Secure your bikes or hold on to them so that they do not swing or topple over, and cause a nuisance.
Many of us use a gizmo which we call a bungee cord (it's an elastic cord) to secure our bikes to the vertical posts of the train (... see Bungee Cord blog).
7. Should you not be allowed onto the KTM Komuter train at a station, do not despair. Try riding to the next station, perhaps you will be allowed there as it is up to the respective staff to make the call. In the worst situation, you can always ride all the way back or send an SOS to a friend to pick you up. Or wait for off peak time, i.e. cycle around some more!

8. One can use the Touch n' Go debit cards for travel by KTM Komuter train, by swiping the cards at the turnstile gates at entry and exit. I, myself, personally rather buy the tickets as a friend had a bad experience of having more than the required fare deducted.

9. I advise NOT to use the TBS-Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (Southern Transportation Terminal Hub) as a kick-off point for your train-bike packing trips. This terminal is more a bus transportation hub. The Komuter Train Station IS NOT within the hub, getting from this hub to the "nearby" Bandar Tasik Selatan Komuter Station would require carrying your bike up two flight of stairs, across three pedestrian bridges and the down another flight or two of stairs. And there are no toilets at the railway station!
We faced this during a bike-packing trip to Malacca (... see Peranakan Bike-packers blog).

Quaint houses fronting the Rasa Railway Station.
Do travel by train and make it a part of your biking adventure. Who know's, the train may take you through and to nice rustic places.

I will be going on a couple of bike-packing trips that include rail travel beyond the Klang Valley soon and will let you all know if I learn anything new.
Should you have any observations while travelling on the train with your bikes do feel free to share here.

The following are useful web-sites with regards to travelling by train:
1. Wikipedia on Keretapi Tanah Melayu - this gives some useful information on the history of the railway, some routes, rolling stock, etc.
2. KTM E-ticketing - for purchasing tickets on line. Note: you will have to register as a member, registration is free. This DOES NOT include the commuter trains.
3. Official Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) Website - the official site with links to the various services offered by the railway and more importantly their latest announcements.
4. KTM ETS Intercity Train Timetable - schedule showing time of departure and arrival of the ETS trains at respective stations.
5. KTM North-South Route Timetable - Timetable for normal trains from Hatyai in Thailand to Woodlands in Singapore by the normal & express trains.
7. KTM Train Fare for South Line - i.e. from Sentral to Singapore.
8. KTM East-West Route Timetable - Timetable for trains travelling along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia; from Tumpat in Kelantan to Woodlands in Singapore.
NOTE: for those travelling from the West Coast to the East Coast, there would be a necessity to change trains at the Gemas Station.
9. KTM Train Fare for East Line - i.e. from Sentral to Tumpat, Kelantan.
10. Klang Valley Transit Map - a PDF map showing the eight railway lines servicing the Klang Valley and the various stations en-route. This include the ERL, the line from Sentral to Kuala Lumpur International (KLIA) airport.
11. KTM Komuter - for trains from Sentral up to Rawang in the north and Sungai Gadut in the south. With links for route, timetable and fares.
12. KTM Komuter Time-table - Times of train arriving at various station along the lines.
13. KTM Komuter Fare Schedule - a PDF chart showing the fares between the various stations.
14. Express Rail Service (ERL) - Link to the express rail service from Sentral to Kuala Lumpur International (KLIA & KLIA2)
15. Touch n' Go Card - Link to this debit card that can be used for transit.

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Brompton Accessories #7 :
"Akslen" Two-bulb 10-Lux Headlights
A headlight that mounts onto the Brompton handlebar post snugly.

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Bikes & Accessories / Bringing Folding Bikes Onto Malaysian Commuter Trains
If you like this, view my other blogs at Jotaro's Blog
(comments most welcomed below. if you like this pls share via facebook or twitter)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Selangor : Hippo 4 - Paya Indah Wetlands Revisit

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Putrajaya-Selangor / Hippo 4 - Paya Indah Wetlands Revisit
                                                   AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                           
Selangor : Hippo 4 - Paya Indah Wetlands Revisit

Putrajaya to Paya Indah Wetlands : 20th July 2014
Cycling Distance Covered : 34.65 km.
Time : 8:00 am - 2:35 pm
Time Taken : 6 hrs. 35 mins. (including stops for breakfast, lunch, visit to the wetlands, regrouping, etc.)

Route Recommendations :
1. Ride route is fairly flat, with slight slopes between Dengkil & Paya Indah.
2. Time your ride so as to be able to reach the wetlands in time for the feeding of the hippopotamus and crocodiles. The feeding times are 10:00 am & 11:00 am respectively.
3. The are some nice eateries in Dengkil including those that sell good seafood, roast duck and bao (steamed buns).

Chin, me & Jason at Paya Indah, December 2013.
I was introduced to the Paya Indah Wetlands when Cikgu Chin took Jason and me on an impromptu ride there after a photo-shoot at Putrajaya (... see The Wetlands Ride).

The Paya Indah Wetlands is a interesting place to visit. A sort of mini zoo, it allows some interaction between visitors and some of the animals. One of the star attraction of the place are the Hippopotamuses; many are attracted by their huge gaping mouths when it comes to feeding.
Since our first visit there, Cikgu Chin has shared the place with many by organizing two cycle rides there. Many like the place, but yet many also missed these two rides. So Chin together with his co-host Liliana, created another event for those who had not been able to make it. This being the fourth one, they called it Hippo 4.
The two teachers plan and execute their riding events well. Prior to the ride events, they make recce trips to plan the route and also to scout for suitable eating places. As such many love to attend their rides. One of the most interesting rides I went with them was to the Serendah Waterfalls (... see What A Rush!).


View Hippo 4 - Paya Indah Wetlands Bike Ride (34.65km) in a larger map
The ride will take us from the new city of Putrajaya to the Wetlands via the small town of Dengkil.

Eventhough this is the fourth outing to the wetlands, the turn out was very impressive. All in fifty-six came to experience this ride and its destination.
With such a large number, there was concerned for the safety of the participants; a few of us volunteered to be marshals and sweepers to ensure that all goes well and that nobody gets lost.

(Photo by Liliana)
The start point was at Taman Empangan in Putrajaya, so named as it is at the tail end of the Putrajaya lakes where a dam ("Empangan" in Malay) holds back the lake water.
It is a good place to start as there is ample and shady car-parks. Getting there was easy as this part of Putrajaya has less traffic and the park is easily recognisable with a small bridge that looks like butterfly wings.

Kicking off and cycling from the southern part of Putrajaya was good too. The roads at these newer precincts are shady and have very light traffic; it's just great for cycling.

Our serene ride was soon to be over. Hitting the main road leading to Dengkil, the traffic was heavy and the roads almost unshaded. The marshals did they job well and ensured that all cycled safely here.

At the outskirts of Dengkil, we made our first stop - for breakfast. Although the town is now developing fast due to its proximity to Putrajaya, this section of the small town still has that rustic village look with timber houses dating from decades back.

As we were a large group, so as not to waste time, we had to split up and eat at different places. The eateries here just can't cope with so many of us fast enough. Some ate at the Wantan Noodles shop...

... while some of us had Ah Tee's Bak Kut Teh at a corner shop. By the way, those are not doughnuts in the pot above; they are intestines ringed to look likewise.

A quick look at some of the riders before we continue:
Two old dogs who are even older than this AhPek.
Dave and Patrick on their unique bicycles. They have overcome their age and shortcomings by using bicycles that are suitable for them. Dave is riding a trike recumbent while Patrick is using a tricycle.They are an inspiration to younger cyclists to follow in terms of spirit and determination. Yes! Don't let anything hold us back to live life. 

John, a cyclist who had a bad cycling accident a few years back. Despite a limp as a result of that accident, he continues to cycle. As he philosophically put it, "Life sometimes deals as a blow, we have to just get back on and ride on".

A father & son, in matching purple T-shirts. Cycling is a great way to bond!

Betty here is a newbie, having taken up cycling just about a month ago. Though new to our cycling trips, she is quite resourceful in overcoming her lack of experience and stamina. During a ride to the Chamang Waterfalls in Bentong, she came with another newbie friend; while she cycled her friend followed behind in their car. When she got tired, her friend took over cycling and she took over driving - a cycling tag team.

The road from Dengkil has some slopes; for some it took single-minded determination to overcome these.

(Photo by SC Chin)
Woooohoooooo!!! We are at the Paya Indah Wetlands!
Time to enjoy the place.

First stop is off course the Hippopotamuses!
It's their feeding time and visitors get a chance to feed them too.
Do be careful though when feeding them, these huge plump animals may look docile but they have very powerful jaws.

Elephant Grass, food for the Hippos.
And these hippos can really eat! According to their keeper, they eat twice their own weight per day!

(Photo by Liliana)
The crocodiles were another story altogether. Seeing the way they fight among each other for the chicken used to feed them; it's clear that they are ferocious creatures. Understandably, there is no feeding them by visitors.

(Photo by Kt Wong)
Looking at one jumping up to snatch a chicken, it's also understandable that visitors keep a safe distance behind the viewing fence.

They are many other animals to see here:
Scampering porcupines.

Elegant swimming pelicans.

(Photo by Kt Wong)
And a regal looking peacock with its tail fanned out a full spread. What a beauty!
It's quite hard to catch this bird in this stunning pose; Kt Wong took this photo during a previous ride. He must have been waiting patiently for this to happen (... see his blogs at "The Great Outdoors").

At one corner of this park is a tall look-out tower; from this one can catch a fantastic panoramic view of the wetlands and the surrounding lakes.

Time to ride back. And yet most of us will have lingering memories of this place and of the joy we had with friends here.

For lunch, we spread out to different eateries with most heading for the Dengkil Food Court. A few of us went back to Ah Tee's as he had in the morning recommended good fish to eat at his place. These were small Tomans (Snakehead Fish) prepared in two different styles. One was steamed in simple soy sauce-oil with some chili padi embellishment, this was quite ok. The other was steamed with Chinese rice wine, too much rice wine in fact as it totally masked the taste of the fish.

A few others had prawn fritters at one of the newer shops (see map above for location)...

... and took-away lovely paus (steamed buns) from a neighbouring shop.

It had been a good ride to a nice place to enjoy with buddies and making new friends too.
Till we ride together again :


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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Putrajaya-Selangor / Hippo 4 - Paya Indah Wetlands Revisit
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