Tickets!? Got your tickets!? (AirTrain from Newark to Penn Station)

When we were on our way back from our vacation in Georgia, I realized that I’d accidentally selected a return flight that would have us landing at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. I didn’t realize this until we were at Hartford International Airport in Atlanta, checking in. I couldn’t figure it out at first. When I picked these tickets, I’d selected to see only flights for “NYC” on the website. Why would the Delta site show Newark in New Jersey as a NYC airport? It’s not even the same state!

AirTrain Newark Description

AirTrain Newark Description

So, while we were sitting in Hartford, waiting on our flight, we had to do a quick check to see what sort of transportation was available from Newark into the city. I did NOT want to spend 70+ dollars on a taxi. Luckily, there was another, affordable option: the AirTrain. On the website, it looked fairly new and the tickets weren’t that expensive. It’s been a few weeks, but I think they were only 11 dollars apiece to get to Penn Station.

The thing is, the site is a little misleading. I saw that shiny train and thought that’s what was going to take us to Penn Station. The reality is that it just drops you off at another train platform where you get on this old-timey looking train where conductors come through the cabs hollering to see your tickets.

Old NJ Transit train from Newark to Penn Station.

Old NJ Transit train from Newark to Penn Station.

I couldn’t help but think of that scene in the Indiana Jones movie where Jones threw the bad guy off the zeppelin and then told the stunned crowd that he didn’t have his ticket.

Train tickets

We had our tickets!

Train tickets clipped to the back of the seat in front of us.

Train tickets clipped to the back of the seat in front of us.

It wasn’t a bad experience. It’s really convenient, even. But, from now on I’ll definitely be double-checking that the travel websites are actually showing me NYC airports that are in NYC. Landing at Newark, as opposed to landing at LGA, added about an hour to our total travel time.

Singapore Ez-link Card Stickers

My wife and I were looking through some of our old photos together and we happened to see these:

Singapore ez-link card with a Papa Smurf sticker on it.

Singapore ez-link card with a Papa Smurf sticker on it.

Singapore ez-link card with a Garfield sticker on it.

Singapore ez-link card with a Garfield sticker on it.

They’re not just cards with pictures.  I know in the US you can get something like that as a sort of collectible, but these are actually stickers on top of ez-link cards from Singapore.  You see, in Singapore, they use a transit card that’s like a contactless debit card.  You just tap it against a reader and enter the train station or bus.  You don’t even have to take it out of your wallet or purse if you don’t want to, and, because there’s no strip to worry about and they’re not disposable, you can decorate them.  They’re simple and usually don’t expire, as far as I remember.  We wound up turning these in for new ones, when they upgraded their system so that ez-link cards could be used to pay tolls on toll roads in cars as well.  In fact, that might have been when we took these photos, just so we could remember our stickers.

I miss these things, and how much easier they were to use than the MetroCards we get in New York City.  MetroCards seem like a waste to me, because you get one, use it for a while and then it has to be thrown away.  Wouldn’t it be better to just use the same card until you wear it out?  It would definitely be more cost effective.  Of course, switching to a card like this would create a loss of work for whoever makes the current MetroCards.  That’s probably the reason they won’t upgrade.  I understand that it’s important for people to have jobs, but I just get tired of seeing it used as an excuse to halt progress, especially when the upgrade could make life easier and is better for the environment at the same time.

Riding in the back of a Jeepney in the Philippines (Video)

As I’ve mentioned many times before, a jeepney is a popular mode of transportation in the Philippines.  They stop at somewhat regular places to pick up passengers and will drop passengers almost anywhere.  The jeepneys on the road range in style from old and junky to new and pimped out with young guys running the show and jamming music.

The last full day I was in the Philippines I road in a jeepney with my wife and I decided to record some of the action.  What you see in the video is an assistant, or conductor, who rides in the back.  He calls for passengers, announces the destination, signals stops and resumes to the driver and also collects payments.  This is a good way for the jeepney driver to make sure he doesn’t get ripped off by people who sneak in and out without paying.

Enjoy!

If You Stink, GTFO of my FX!

Bawal ang may putok!!!

People smelling horrible in public transportation is something that I, unfortunately, had to get accustomed to in Singapore.  I don’t know why, but even with constant running water and plenty of soap being available, some people in Singapore have no clue when it comes to personal hygiene.  I’ve heard some people try to use the heat as an excuse, but it’s just as hot in the Philippines and I’ve never felt my nose and eyes burn and water just from the stench in public transportation here.  (Yes, I’ve been on the jam-packed Manila trains.)

I took the above photo in an FX, a popular form of transportation for long distances here in the Philippines.  The sticker is a handout from a radio station.  It serves a dual purpose as both an advertisement and a warning to passengers.  The large lettering in black on a yellow backgrounds translates to: “Bad armpit odor not allowed!”  Thankfully, I haven’t been in a situation where someone’s body odor was a problem in an FX.  It’s about the size of a van, so it would be horrendous if someone stinky got onboard.

I do think they should put up signs like this in Singapore though.  There’s a campaign for everything else, so why not a ‘No Foul Body Odor’ campaign?

The Best Way To Get From LCCT (Or KLIA) To Kuala Lumpur

This is assuming you care about how thick your wallet is when you do get to the city.  If your only concern is speed then your best bet would be to just get the RapidKL train that goes from KLIA to KL Sentral.  I don’t think that train stops by the LCCT, but if you’re flying into the LCCT I doubt you’re going to want to ride that train anyway.  The last time I checked I think the tickets were 35 RM per person, per trip.

So, if you’re looking for the best way to get to Kuala Lumpur without paying excessively high fees, just use the bus.

LCCT

As you’re walking out of the LCCT terminal, just past customs, you’ll see some booths on the left with people selling tickets.  If you go through the sliding glass doors and see the sign for the toilet, you’ve gone too far.

You can get a round trip ticket, good for one month, on the Aerobus for 14 RM.  That’s a damn good deal and the ride isn’t bad at all.  The train gets you to KL Sentral in about 20 minutes.  The bus does it in 50 minutes for a fraction of the cost.

After you buy your tickets, exit through the sliding doors, walk forward until you see the McDonald’s, then make a right and follow the sidewalk down past the Mary Brown and the Coffee Bean (or Mr Bean?  forget which).  You’ll see buses pulled up along the sidewalk.  You need to find berth number 4.

The buses you’re looking for will look like this:

KLIA

There are similar buses going out of KLIA.  It may be the same operator, but I don’t remember for sure.  I’ve only flown into KLIA once, whereas I’ve gone through LCCT twice.  I can’t remember exactly how to get to the buses but there are signs.  The costs are nearly the same as well.  I think the tickets are 9 RM apiece.  I don’t know if there’s a deal for getting a round trip ticket.  Regardless, it’s still cheaper than a train and definitely cheaper than a taxi.

Bus Service Quality

If you’re wondering about the bus quality, they’re in good shape.  Depending on what countries you’ve been in you might be used to seeing beaten up buses.  That’s not the case with the buses shuttling between KLCC / KLIA and KL Sentral.

The buses are clean.  There’s no eating or drinking allowed onboard.  The seats are pretty comfortable and they recline.  It’s a luxury type bus with cushioned seats, rather than a city bus with hard plastic seats.  So, you get to really relax.  There’s no TV or radio in them but they are air conditioned.

KL Sentral

The buses all drop you off on the lower level of KL Sentral.  That’s good because most hotels / hostels / etc. are along the train or monorail routes and you can easily get to the train or monorail from the drop off point.

For the train, you just go up the stairs and into the building.  You can’t miss it.

For the monorail you have to go around the block that’s adjacent to KL Sentral.  Depending on how soon you go (relative to this post) you’ll notice that the area you have to go around is under construction. It’ll be to the right of the bus as it pulls in.  Your best bet is to just follow the crowd.  A lot of people will follow the sidewalk around to where the monorail is as they get off the bus.

Here’s a map to give you an idea:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=KL+Sentral&sll=1.352083,103.819836&sspn=1.022803,1.245575&ie=UTF8&hq=KL+Sentral&hnear=&radius=15000&ll=3.134088,101.686696&spn=0.071946,0.071946&output=embed
View Larger Map

(Zoom in to the see the building and the train, monorail and RapidKL drop off points.)

The bus will drop you off on the road that’s just below the RapidKL marker on this map.