Thursday, April 13, 2006

Downtown Hell Hole

Instead of driving some 300kms on my own down to JB, I always depend on coach services for shuttling back and forth the North-South Expressway.

Since I seldom go home, aside from say Chinese New Year and the few odd trips home now and then, I look forward to the time when I can excuse myself from work and take an extra day or two to be home. Plus, the thought of mom's home cooked food usually sends me into a state of delirium. In a good way of course.

But there's always two sides to a coin no? To get to heaven, one must first exit from hell.

Yes, I'm talking about the ugliest and stinkiest piece of shit KL has to offer - Puduraya Bus Terminal.

I've been taking the bus home from Puduraya ever since my student days, and back then, it was worse! In the last couple of years, they've actually taken the effort to refurbish the place and fixed it up a little, though the only thing that looks nice is when you look up towards the ceiling. It still is bad though. Old. Stuffy. Hot. Smoky. Dilapidated. Packed. Urgh.

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The ceiling could have you fooled for say, a train station in Tokyo?

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Then the camera pulls back to reveal some old rusted fans mounted on the walls. Not quite Tokyo anymore is it?

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Puduraya is perpetually packed with travellers at any time of the year. Of course the human traffic (and sweaty body odour) escalates during the festivities. Old and young, sick and healthy, able and disabled, Asians, gwailos, crying babies, cigarette smoke, students, families, couples, little stalls selling sweets, newspapers and food stuff, touts yelling in your face: "Genting! Penang! Ipoh! Singapore!", vehicle fumes... it's one helluva concoction I tell you!

Of course, the usual dos and don'ts apply here as well...

* If you are of the fairer sex, avoid wearing shorts, miniskirts or tiny tees to this place to avoid unncessary attention.
* Always clutch your bags containing valuables tightly in front of you, and if you're using a waist pouch, I know it looks cool when you have it at the back of your waist, but we all know pickpockets love it. Especially in crowded places.
* Hold your breath when you are about to squeeze through a crowd of people to get to where you want to go - the smell is not quite Estee Lauder's Pleasure!

After purchasing a ticket from the counter, I made my way to the departure platform as indicated on the ticket, one floor below.

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Goodbye daylight, welcome hell hole.

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The platform where passengers board their bus.

The ground floor of the bus terminal has always been dark and dingy as far as I can remember. This is the place where the buses park and get ready for departures. This is probably the most suffocating part of the entire journey. A waiting bus leaves his engine running while waiting for passengers. A bus with the engine running emits black fumes from their exhaust. Now multiply that by say, 30 buses at any one time all parked on the ground floor.

This means that passengers waiting at the side of the buses are forced to inhale everything. Alternatively, you could walk further from the buses where there is some daylight (read: a little bit of fresh air) and wait there.

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The air vents above me are black, greasy and dirty. The cemented ground has papers, leftover food stuff, cigarette butts; all littered everywhere, and oil stains and puddles of water form motifs on the ground. You smell something nasty.

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Stagnant water in the drain clogged up with rubbish. Bah!

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Dodgy looking isn't it?

Finally, it was time for me to board the bus heading down south, and we were soon out of the hell hole.

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Phallic looking trees that line our expressway.

Posted by Doreen at 11:34 am