Photo Credit: Unsplash
When it comes to travelling, we are always looking at convenient and comfortable alternatives within our budget. We weigh out the time, money, effort and safety of available options before making a decision. And I wouldn’t have realised how simple it would be until I had to embark on the journey myself.
I am a through and through Millennial, and as tech-savvy as I proclaim to be, I stand guilty for skepticism pertaining to online bus ticket purchases through my years, arguably one from the old school of thought whereby physical tickets provided a sense of security that an actual ticket was purchased. You can’t help but rekindle the articles and videos on social media of innocent people falling victim to online con-artist and tragic loss of life through bus accidents which got anxious that I was part of real life Final Destination death scene.
It just so happened that one day, due to my occasional procrastination, the train tickets to Kedah was fully booked and I could not miss this wedding for the world. And so I rallied myself and purchased a bus ticket online for the first time EVER, hoping for the best but expecting the worse.
Here’s how it went down.
Booking the ticket
Upon a friends recommendation, I used CatchThatBus to book my bus ticket. Basically, there are 2 ways of booking your bus ticket(s) with them – via website (www.catchthatbus.com) and mobile app (free on Google Play or App Store), both with their own perks.
With the mobile app, you can purchase your ticket(s) at a lower price when you sign-up to their Promo Cash feature. I, on the other hand, proceeded to book through the mobile website as I found it more interactive and saved me the time of downloading the app, signing-up and proceeding to book my bus ticket. All it took was 5 simple steps including payment before I received my e-ticket.
*Note: Seating arrangements for operators without seat maps are subject to seat availability.
Journey from Kuala Lumpur to Alor Setar, Kedah
With a good 7 – 8 hours promised on the road, you wouldn’t deny that it’d be a tiring and nauseating one. But to my suprise, my doubts got the best of my motion sickness and the journey ended with me optimistic for the next one.
I departed aboard Quickliner Express from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) station. On top of the station’s accessibility via various modes of public transport, the lobby is complete with restrooms, prayer rooms and rows after rows of seats for passenger convenience.
Throughout the journey, we only stopped once for a 30-minute break to recuperate and replenish ourselves. And although keen on punctuality, the bus driver ensured that everyone was settled in before resuming the trip.
The amenities were also up to par. Being a 2 x 1 seater bus (single and double seats), there was plenty of legroom and the chairs were indeed spacious and comfy; providing passengers that relaxing ride every bus operator would promise. There were power sockets on both sides for every row and even paired air-conditioners.
Returning Journey from Alor Setar, Kedah to Kuala Lumpur
I made my return trip the following day aboard Cosmic Express. As it was the final trip for the day, we departed the station 10-minutes after the scheduled time, allowing a buffer for passengers who were running late.
The journey was comfortable given well equipped amenities. It was aligned with spacious reclining seats and sockets to keep electronic devices charged. The seating arrangements allowed for ample legroom to stretch, making the long ride bearable.
One key point to highlight in spite the late night journey, on a traffic-free highway, the bus driver was strict to abide to the permitted speed limit. And we arrived safe and sound within the estimated 5 ½ hour time frame.
Arriving once again at TBS in the wee hours of the morning was initially a worrying thought regarding safety, but I was quickly reassured when I saw the crowd of passengers already at the bus terminal sleeping, eating, resting and walking around, awaiting the day to start!
Overall, my bus travel experience back and forth Kedah was refreshing and relieving. It made me realise I had been scared silly all these years, for nothing. Clearly, the bus as an option as a means of transportation is way cheaper relative to train and flight tickets. But economical and accessibility factors aside, I was able to sit back, relax and allow someone else to do all the driving, helping me de-stress over the weekend from my 9 to 5 job.
Thing to note!
Because it is my first bus trip ever, I made many amateur-ish mistakes only a “noob” would make. Generally, different bus operators have different service standards they uphold. Prices vary accordingly to the same trip as well, due to the different amenities and facilities provided. So the next time you decide to travel via bus, here are some points that might prove handy:-
- Know the entire bus route for a better track on travel time
- Review the advantages of an operator – e.g. shorter travel time (speed could be a factor)
- Compare and contrast the amenities on the bus to best suit your comfort and travel plans.