Tl;dr – taxi, train, free shuttle bus, ferry, walk
Our Uber boycott would face its first real test on this trip. Our experience with Grab so far had been slow. We’d tried to get one during rush hour and no-one would accept and, when they did, they were 30 minutes away. We needed to get to the station for our 9:00 train. As breakfast was drawing to a close I started the process. Ten minutes later our taxi was ready and waiting.
After looping the train station a couple if times we were finally dropped at the front door (Grab uses a fixed fare system so it didn’t matter).
We wandered into the giant building and found zero signage. I asked a security guard who pointed us round the corner where we found a throng of people and another security guard behind a rope. We asked him about our train and we were told to wait.
Fifteen minutes later we were ready to board onto our allocated seats. Because the train afterwards were fully booked we ended up booking onto a slightly more luxurious train with food included. Sure enough, part way into our journey they brought round some snack bags.
The train was lovely and comfortable. We were in rows of two and two so there was plenty of space. I don’t know how much of a step down the regular train would have been but for two pounds each extra I probably wouldn’t be inclined to find out.
We arrived on time into Butterworth, the town on the mainland across from Penang. It did not appear to be a happening place.
The train company puts on a free shuttle bus from the train station to the ferry terminal which we were happy to jump in. We got to the ferry terminal and got a bit flustered. We were advised we needed port entry tickets but they only took coins. I rooted through my coins and realised I didn’t have enough. We let everyone go in front of us and noticed that the last guy gave a note to the man. It transpired this ticket guy was not a ticket guy and was a change guy. We changed our smallest note, deposited our coins and were into the jetty building. We noticed the boat was waiting so we strolled towards the sea but were stopped at the gates along with one other bloke. If we had understood the whole change scenario we would have been waving back to that bloke as we sailed across the sea…
Thankfully it was only 15 minutes until the next one so we had time to get sone crisps and a Kickapoo Juice.
Once the next boat turned up, the gate opened and I strolled to the front of the boat to get a first glimpse of Penang.
The crossing was short and smooth and we disembarked into Penang. It was a short stroll from the jetty to our hostel but we got our first taste of the complete lack of pedestrian walkways in Penang. Weaving around cars and scooters we successfully navigated our way to our next home and the first time we’d soent four nights in the same place for a long time.
08:17 (GMT +8) Grab taxi from Explorer’s Guesthouse to KL Sentral Station: 10 MYR (£1.79), 12 minutes
09:00 train to Butterworth: 158 MYR (£28.32), 3 hours 52 minutes
13:00 free shuttle bus to Butterworth jetty: 8 minutes
13:38 ferry to Georgetown: 2.40 MYR (£0.43), 19 minutes
13:59 walk to The Frames Guesthouse: 17 minutes
Arrived: 14:16 (GMT+8)
Total time in transit: 4 hours 48 minutes
Total travel time: 5 hours 59 minutes
Total cost: £30.54 (£15.27 each)