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The 10 species you’ll meet on KL trains

Written by
Joyce Koh

If there ever is a competition to nominate a list of KL's top ten curiosities, I would definitely recommend taking a comprehensive public transport tour. Head to the nearest train station and admire a plethora of life forms in the rush hour coaches. Dive right in to experience the interesting tropical fauna that KL has to offer. There are ten celebrated species that you must not miss. Here's a detailed description of their characteristics and social behavior to make things easier for you to identify. Keep this with you at all times; you will never know when these shy creatures appear.

The railway platform is the habitat for four of the species, while the rest lurk in coaches. Firstly, the Red-Carpet Rider is reported to be more commonly seen in KL Sentral. Come rush hour, stand by the bright orange and green queue lines painted on the floor. Any five-year-old can understand 'Queue Here'. Waiting commuters usually queue by the two bright orange lines on the floor. Without waiting long your patience will be rewarded. The Red-Carpet Rider has a swaggering gait and their paws can only step on the invisible red carpet created by the two rows of obedient commoners. This bossy species will not tolerate standing anywhere apart from the empty space between the two queues of commuters.

There is a sub-species called the Greater Red Carpet Rider, not easily identifiable due to subtle markings on its coat. To see this, you'll have to make noises and try to make it queue up. If fangs come out and it starts barking, congratulations, you've found yourself a Greater Red Carpet Rider. The gentler variety usually looks like they don't understand human speech.

The second life form is called the Thick-Skinned Shoveller. This is a short-tempered type that possesses extraordinary strength. They come in all sizes, so don't dismiss the tiny ones just yet. As soon as the coach doors open and it appears to be jam-packed, the Shoveller (who is usually in a mad rush to save its burning nest) takes a running gallop and shoves everyone in. If you're trying to get out, give up and disembark at the next station.

We believe that the Murderous Intentions is a breed unique to the KTM family. Their natural habitat is very limited, but that is precisely why they're so deadly. If you've ever taken the KTM before, you'll be aware that KTM passengers need to squeeze past a tiny two-foot space between the escalators and train tracks to queue at wider meadows. Murderous Intentionees will assemble at that very important narrow space, and then sneakily use sheer numbers to force other commuters to walk on the edge. The reason for this behavior is unknown, but scientists are speculating that they are most probably looking for the perfect opportunity to sacrifice some extra passengers.

A distant relative of crabs, the Determined Incher is always in a rush. It's better to keep a distance. As the train pulls in, the Determinae Inchirae rushes up to the train door and starts following the moving door sideways, inch by inch, all other irrelevant items in its path bouncing off, until the train blessedly slows down to a stop. We will repeat: stay out of its way and observe from a safe distance.

Now that you're in the train, look for the poles. The Pole Leaner gravitates to any available pole, spreads its spindly legs and proceeds to rub its back against the pole in an attempt to remain upright. This species is gradually losing the ability to use its fingers to grip handholds (plus they need their fingers for Candy Crush) so they depend on the pole as a third leg for support. Poor things. That being said, don't place your hands on the same pole or your fingers will be crushed. By their backpacks.

The Snails need no introduction. They are really hard to identify in real life, and you can only spot them by their oily sweat marks left on clear train doors, much like their namesake. Apparently it's a form of marking their territory. Bring a tissue, just in case.

To see the eighth species, you need to have some luck, courage and height (for better visibility) on your side. Find the most sardine-packed coach you can and squeeze yourself in. Hopefully your patience will be rewarded. This species tends to congregate in groups. Try to peek amongst the squished bodies to keep an eye on the seats. The moment a seat is vacated, the No-You-Go-Firsts will inevitably huddle around the empty seat. They are cursed with knees that can't bend but blessed with high morals. This Asian variety is always hopeful that someone needs the seat more than them. Sadly, the sardine tin is too packed for the elderly to survive the crawl, and the seat remains gloriously empty. Behaviorists have yet to make sense of them.

The Hamster is easier to find by scent than by sight. Saddled with the need to provide for their family, and being afraid of constant hunger, Hamsters are in the habit of bringing food into coaches. The Hamster's sense of sight isn't great; they can't see the no-food-allowed signs plastered in the coaches. McDonald's and KFC are their daily diets. Usually the smell of fries is enough to induce starvation in other commuters. Eat something light before going in search of this unique species.

Out of all the Train Bugs, we are happy to report that the Surfer is a harmless breed. Like good citizens, they are willing to give up their seats for the needy, preferring to stare into space or at the phone in hand. Noticeably, Surfers also forgo handholds in order to strengthen their core muscles, performing admirable balancing acts depending on how violently the train swerves and brakes.

Remember, visiting hours are between 7am and 9am, 5pm and 8pm. If you resemble a Westerner, don't bother. All of the species mentioned above will behave differently when they sense your presence.

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