We decided not to drive or take the coach to Ipoh because of the long hours of travel - about 9 hours. With direct flight via Firefly from Singapore to Ipoh, we have cut down traveling time to an hour, saving our day for sight-seeing. See First Flight for our experience on Firefly.
Firefly leaves from Singapore Budget Terminal which is just next to Singapore Changi International Airport. (I made the mistake of assuming this applies to Budget Airlines overseas which nearly cost us our flight back to Singapore) Here are some pictures of the Budget Terminal on 15th December, 2011:
Entrance to Singapore Budget Terminal at Changi
No queue at the Firefly Counter even after we have checked in.
Singapore Budget Terminal now has food outlets including Mcdonald's.
Our Boarding Pass
Upon arrival at Ipoh Airport, I looked around for the Taxi Service to avoid being overcharged as the local taxis do not run on metre. I found this counter right next to the entrance:
There was no one sitting at the table (it was not even a counter), so I waited. Then came a fairly tall Chinese man in tinted glasses who spoke in Cantonese asking me where I was heading. My request seemed unusual as he repeated after me, pondering for a second "Medan Gopeng to buy coach tickets then to Lost World at Tambun..."
He scribbled me a pink ticket RM30 with the said destinations, then told me to wait at the front where he would pick us up himself. From my earlier research, I knew Medan Gopeng Ipoh Bus Terminal is along the way to Tambun, but not sure how far it was exactly. Good thing it was just about 30 minutes drive from the airport!
Once in the car, Mr. Lai, the taxi driver, started chatting to us in Mandarin like an old friend. He said he had been driving taxi for the last 51 years and he could find his way around Ipoh with his eyes closed. At Medan Gopeng Bus Terminal, he was going to help me book the tickets and I had to make known of my email reservation with Unitity Bus.
I was a little shocked when I stepped in to Medan Gopeng Bus Terminal to hear people shouting at me from their counters. From the destinations they uttered in English, I realized they were actually touting for business. The second counter we stopped at had the date and time of Unitity bus which we wanted. The sign board at the counter read "Eighty Eight". It was very misleading as I had interpreted it as Lapan Lapan, which is another bus company. Nevertheless, I got the tickets and at the right price of RM15 per person.
When I was planning this holiday, it took me much googling to finally make a coach booking to Cameron Highlands. Most of the agents at the counters are not internet-savy and only take telephone bookings. It was by chance that I came across Titiwangsa Tours and received email confirmation through Mr. Chai. As I later learned when I got to Cameron Highlands, Titiwangsa Tours and Travel owns Unitity Buses and minivans, run local tours, as well as their own hotel and restaurant. Hence if you are planning to visit Cameron Highlands without your own vehicle, this is an option you can consider. More will be mentioned on Cameron Highlands later.
Back in the taxi, Mom and the kids were perspiring and were glad we were back. From there, we headed for Lost World at Tambun, which was about 20 minutes from Medan Gopeng. Mr. Lai asked if we needed him to drive us to the station on the day of departure, and we gladly booked him on the spot. He even offered to bring us out for early breakfast - and gave us his number if we were keen: 016-5418122. So now you know who you can call if you are in Ipoh and need a cab!
To be sure, I checked with the receptionist at Lost World Hotel and was told that the taxi fare from airport to Lost World was about RM25 to RM30. With value-added service from Mr. Lai, what else do I have to complain about?