#soloSaturdate Dec 23, 2017
Whew! December must be the busiest season for me. I got caught up in the whirlwind of activities here and there. Not only it’s time for Christmas parties and programs, but also it’s the winter break at the mainstream schools which means the teachers in my language center (including me of course) have more class loads than usual because there are special winter classes for Koreans. They have this thing as teukang or “special lecture” at different hagwons (afterschool academies).
But even just today I took my most-needed break just before Christmas and as a result, I’m officially declaring myself ready to go solo as I’ve embarked on my first backpacking trip alone. I have this feeling that I will be off to more of this kind of trip in my future adventures.
Anyway, the more important question is:
If you had $200 to spare, where would you travel?
I WENT TO MALACCA AND SINGAPORE
with that much (or little).
My mini-journey to Melaka went this way…
Despite my feet itching to go to far-away lands, I have to settle for somewhere more familiar and nearer, and as being practical (or cheapskate that I am), I had to wait for airfare promos for Christmas.
I booked a flight to Kuala Lumpur, and even though I would’ve loved spending some time feasting at Jalan Alor, I didn’t stay there in the capital and took the bus to Malacca (Melaka) directly from the airport. It was where I wanted to go back again so I spent half a day of walking [tour].
The first time I was here in 2016, my co-teacher was my travel buddy and we rounded 2 or 3 museums in Melaka, so I didn’t feel the need to go inside any museum this time.
[These visits to 2 countries were intended to be stress-free, so I took only what time afforded me. Anyway, I could always go back for more visits in the future and I will. ]
I finished immigration procedures at about 5:30 AM, but unfortunately , the first bus to Melaka was already full, so I went on the next available trip at 9:45 AM. Forgetting to book online and ahead of time made me lose some precious time, but it made me recharge my phone batteries and eat a simple Indian breakfast at the nearest eatery while waiting inside KLIA2.
I recommend online booking your bus trips, so you can choose your seats beforehand. Book bus tickets around Malaysia and Singapore online here on busonlineticket.com.
Since this trip wasn’t about listing down how many places I’d go to, I tried to keep it as stress-free as possible. If things didn’t work out as planned, it was still OK. Think about stopping “to smell the roses.” This trip was only about going “there” and being “there.”
When in Melaka
I arrived Melaka Sentral at about 12:30 coz traffic started to build up as we were approaching the city. Still I had to make a short ride to the Dutch Square in the new Panorama buses. They’re still Bus #17, only that they’re now electric, not the old red Panorama buses. But you can take one back to Melaka Sentral from Jonker Walk.
I was late for lunch and usually my tummy would not be cooperative in this case, but perhaps my tummy held it a bit longer as I had to take snapshots of these places after I got off the bus and just before crossing the narrow street to the bridge and over to Jonker Walk. Here they go:
Cross the bridge over the Melaka River to Jonker Walk; you won’t miss it when you’ll see the Hard Rock Cafe.
It was past my lunch time so I wasn’t supposed to eat something spicy and with coconut milk, so I just ordered some nyonya laksa, and durian cendol to beat the Melakan heat at Jonker88. You just have to be patient in waiting for a free table, but the place is always packed. I couldn’t afford to wait to find an empty seat to eat, so I just found myself a wooden cupboard in a corner, ate quietly while standing and facing the museum displays.
After taking my first stroll along Jonker Walk today, I rounded the bend to the right and came back to the direction of the Stadthuys via Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock which is almost parallel to Jonker Walk.
What I like with Melaka’s streets is that they are a museum themselves, and you just have to go to the real museums for the details mostly. Along this street you could find The Baboon House and Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum, one of the must-visit museums when learning about the disappearing Peranakan culture. The Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum is also just nearby.
It was a sweltering heat in Melaka today. Imagine being baked in an oven. The heat from the ground was rising up although it wasn’t really sunny. I needed to replenish my sugar supply so I went to this famous cafe located along Jalan Hang Katsuri– just a small road intersecting Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Jonker Walk, so it wasn’t really hard to find.
After recharging and waiting for the streets to cool off a bit, I resumed my walking tour up to these places down the Dutch Square roundabout:
Beside this museum is the entrance up to Bukit St Paul where you find the church and kind of see the Menara and Flora de la Mar Museum from a distance.
I’ve grown accustomed to quick afternoon downpours when in Malaysia, so when it did I took this time to eat my dinner earlier than planned. Across from the Menara Taming Sari is the junction where I enjoyed the flavorful asam pedas fish and lime juice, refreshing after hours of my walking tour.
I was asked which fish I liked from those on display, but should’ve ordered a small wok of asam pedas fish; a big serving which I ordered by mistake was good for 2-3 people (!) nevertheless, I enjoyed everything happily (only my pocket grumbled after that munchin’).
The sun was setting which means one thing in Melaka: It’s time for the Jonker Walk Night Market. I headed back to Jonker Walk strolling along the Melaka River which exuded another kind of beauty after being rainwashed.
If you fancy taking the river cruise, you may queue here for your boat tickets.
Back at Jonker Walk Night Market, I just bought enough for me to stuff in my backpack even though there was so much to bring home as presents.
Dodol tastes so much like a Filipino delicacy, so I love to bring home these.
Going back to Melaka Sentral bus station, I took the red Panorama bus over at the other end of Jonker Walk. Turn left and you’ll see a bus stop there. It only takes about 10-15 minutes back to Melaka Sentral with this ride.
I would’ve wanted to stay longer for the food, but tonight, I’m going to take the last bus from Melaka to Singapore. Whooooooaaaaah!
The walking tour was indeed worth it!!!
Here’s how I did it: (computed in USD)
Saigon to Kuala Lumpur (via AirAsia):
Airport breaky (NZ Curry House)
with mee goreng and teh tarik (local milk tea)
KL to Melaka (bus):
[Click here for bus online bookings in Malaysia and Singapore.]
Panorama electric bus to the Dutch Square:
about 49 cents
(The bus driver collects the fare as you ride.)
Melaka lunch (Jonker88):
for the nyonya laksa and about $2.30 for the durian cendol
for the House Blend coffee and crepe cheesecake
for the big serving of asam pedas fish and lime juice
Panorama (old, red bus):
about 37 cents
for ayam goreng spicy chicken and cappuccino
Melaka to Singapore (bus):
Fun Toast breakfast:
for the traditional kaya butter toast and Gula Melaka coffee
for a tall serving of mint tea
for beef rendang set meal and milk tea
Singapore Tourist Pass:
(S$26 with a $10 deposit for the card)
for nasi lemak with coffee
Singapore to Saigon (via Vietjet):
Grand total: $201.20
Less: about $7.47 (refund for the STP deposit)
NET TOTAL: $193.73
Click here for Part 2 of this trip, my instagrammable Singapore walking tour. Please keep posted! Mabuhay and terima kasih!
Let’s go places!!