Kuala Lumpur to Malacca by coach

One of the best ways to get around Malaysia is by coach.  The main roads are excellent and the coaches are very comfortable.

On our last trip to Malaysia, my wife and I had no specific plans so just decided to travel around as we felt.  We did quite a journeys by coach, and they were mostly enjoyable – but here’s a little rort we discovered that is used by some drivers to improve their income.  I must point out that we weren’t ripped off, but we were amused by it.  Instead of using the anglicised name Malacca, I use the Malaysian spelling Melaka, throughout.  The following is a direct quote from my trip diary:

We went over to the Puduraya, KL’s main bus station, and bought tickets for the 12pm coach to Melaka.  I pointed out to the charming women who sold us the tickets that we were large westerners and she guaranteed that the bus had “big bum” seats.  Satisfied with our purchase, we headed back to the hotel to rest up.

Checked out at 11.30am and went across to watch the circus that is the Puduraya bus station.

Most coach terminals are organised places which run to strict timetables, but this is Malaysia, a country in which chaos rules.

The coaches that were departing from the same platform from which we were to depart were late leaving because someone had parked a coach at the bus exit, meaning that no bus could get past to depart.  We had noticed that Malaysians seem to have very little motoring intelligence, simply breaking road rules as they see fit, and doing whatever they liked on the road.  Fortunately, one of the marshals eventually got the blocking coach moved, so that the scheduled departures could occur. We assumed that our bus would soon appear at the platform, but it failed to show up. Primarily, because our coach couldn’t reach the platform as other coaches had triple parked at their platforms, blocking the entrance way and turning Puduraya into a gridlock again.  We hung around on the platform, wondering what would occur. After a while, a man came to the platform and asked us to follow him, so we lugged our luggage out into the street so that the bus could be brought to us there.

Eventually, our bus did show up, so we loaded our luggage and got onboard.  The seats were comfortable, and the coach was air-conditioned, but we just sat on the coach for about forty-five minutes.  The staff took advantage of this hold up to round up more passengers while we waited, and waited, before anything happened. Finally, we set off, but the driver still had the front door open, and we thought he may drive all the way to Melaka like that.  About half a block down the road, the driver stopped the coach again.  This time three people got on board, a local, and two backpackers.  The local escorted them down the back, then got off the bus, handing the driver a pile of cash as he exited.  Now we understood that the Malaysian system is partly kosher and partly black market.

We finally left for the two hour trip to Melaka.  The journey was supposed to be non-stop, but I learned from another passenger, a local, that there would be one stop because the driver gets a kickback from a roadside vendor at a particular roadside stop whenever a vendor made a sale to a passenger.

Malaysia’s major highways are excellent, and every few kilometres there are well-signposted rest areas containing toilets and other facilities.  Sure enough, just over halfway into the trip, as predicted, the coach pulled into a rest area, right next to the driver’s colleague’s stall.  We stopped for about to allow for a tandas (toilet) stop and a purchase-from-the-stall-so-the-driver-could-get-a-kickback break.

We arrived at Melaka Central two hours after leaving KL very relaxed after quite a good trip.

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