Thoughts of a geek

1 June 2010

Melaka

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , — qwandor @ 7:57 am

It has been rather a while now, but finally, here is a bit about what I did in Malaysia.

Melaka was my first stop in Malaysia, after crossing the border from Singapore to Johor Bahru and taking a bus up on the Wednesday. Busing between cities in Malaysia is actually quite convenient, you can just go to the bus station and buy tickets for the next bus then and there, and there seem to be buses leaving for major centres every half hour or so. My bus fare from JB to Melaka was only MYR 19 and it seemed a nice comfortable ride. Unfortunately I got a bit ripped off by a taxi driver in JB after getting a bit confused about how to get to the Larkin terminal (from which the intercity buses depart), but apart from that it was fine. Once I got to Melaka, the plan was to catch a local bus from Melaka Sentral to my guesthouse. I got myself some food and a local SIM card at Melaka Sentral, and then found and got on the local bus. It was rather old and rickety, and had no air conditioning, which made it really hot. It was bearable while we were moving and there was air blowing through the windows, but whenever we stopped at traffic lights it got really hot. The bus was also really full. Unfortunately I completely missed the stop for my guesthouse. I had been trying to keep an eye on street names in an attempt to match them up to the map I had printed from the guesthouse’s website, but nothing looked familiar. Unfortunately I had not managed to get the data connection for my phone working by this point, so I could not look up maps on that. We ended up on a highway towards Muar, by which point I realised that I must have missed the stop. The driver confirmed that I had indeed, and told me to wait for a bus on the other side of the road. (At least, I think that is what he was saying. He did not speak much English.) I duly crossed the road and waited for a bus back towards my destination, but after waiting for about an hour with only two different-looking buses passing, neither of which would stop for me, I was getting a bit worried, and it was getting on in the evening and starting to rain. I was glad that I had had something to eat before leaving Melaka Sentral. I was very grateful when a taxi stopped for me, and managed to work out where I wanted to go. I was very glad to pay the MYR 15 fare back to my guesthouse.

I stayed at Old Town guesthouse, which I recommend to anyone else visiting Melaka. It is quite quiet and fairly small, but the owner is nice and friendly. It was nice having plenty of space, after the crowdedness of Singapore. They have an unusual system where there is a little notebook for each guest, where they note how many nights you are staying, and then whenever you want something that they sell (they have a various cold drinks, and some basics like toothpaste and so on) you note it in the book. You then pay for everything when you leave. There was no booking deposit or key deposit required either.

Anyway, after settling in to the guesthouse, I met a Canadian girl who was also staying there (she had previously been living in Australia, I think she said), and on the recommendation of the guesthouse owner we went to the nearby Capitol Satay Celup restaurant. Apparently rather popular and somewhat famous; we had to wait for a little while before a table was available for us. It is rather expensive by local standards — we paid MYR 10.20 each for the meal — but well worth it for the experience. Each table has a bowl in a hole in the middle full of satay sauce, with a burner underneath hooked up to a gas bottle to keep it boiling. You pick your choice of satay sticks from a large selection available on the side of the room, then bring them back to your table on a tray and put a few at a time into the boiling sauce to cook for a short time (ranging from a few seconds to several minutes depending on what they are), then eat them freshing cooked. Check out someone else’s review of the place, or just have a look at my photos. On hearing that I was from New Zealand the owner of the place proudly showed me photos on the wall of some All Black who had eaten there once. After dinner we had a look at some of the nice buildings nearby in the Dutch area, all painted red, before heading back to the guesthouse. My photos of the Dutch area at night are also online.

On Thursday I spent pretty much the whole day just wandering around town, visiting various museums, art galleries, ruins, churches, mosques, temples, and a shopping mall. I tried Cendol but did not like it. I also bought quite a few icecreams and glasses of cold fruit juice throughout the day. I took plenty of photos so those are probably the best description of what I saw.

I had a curry for late lunch (well, it was about 5:30 pm, but I had not eaten anything since breakfast at the guesthouse that morning) from an Indian stall at a small foodcourt by the roadside. It was cheap (MYR 3.50 for the food, plus MYR 0.30 for water), and the owner, although he did not speak much English, was really friendly. He was asking me about where I was from, and talking about how NZ was in the World Cup this year, and he kept on giving me more food and water — he gave me a different sort of curry to try which he thought I might like more, then some more vegetables, and more water to drink. The Malaysians I met generally seemed more friendly than the Singaporeans, especially in the smaller cities.

There were a few more people at the guesthouse that night, including an American man who had spent the last 16 years lecturing at universities in Japan, an Irish girl who lived in Scotland, and a girl from Sydney who had spent the last 2 years in London. They seemed to get along well with each other. One of them had had the same problem as me in missing the bus stop, and also ended up somewhere in the middle of nowhere just like I did. She ended up finding a store, where one of the other customers called the guesthouse for her, and the owner came and picked her up.

I had duck rice for dinner that night at a restaurant next door to the guesthouse, which was nice. The restaurant also seemed a lot cleaner and generalyl nicer than some of the places that I had eaten, though they did not have menus so I just had to ask what they had.

The next morning I had a quick look at the memorial and graveyard at Bukit Cina, right near my guesthouse, then caught a bus back to Melaka Sentral to find a bus to KL. The local bus was much nicer this time, in better condition and with air conditioning. See my next post for a bit about happenings in KL.

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5 Comments »

  1. Wow – certainly not your average day in the office Andrew. You’re getting quite intreprid with your adventures – keep enjoying and experiencing 🙂

    Comment by nzswan — 1 June 2010 @ 10:30 pm

  2. wow.. you actually remembered the exact prices!

    Comment by Shirley — 3 June 2010 @ 3:27 am

  3. […] Travel — Tags: kl, kuala lumpur, malaysia, travel — qwandor @ 5:10 am I finished my last post with the bus trip from Melaka to Kuala Lumpur. It was a fairly uneventful ride on the whole, but […]

    Pingback by Kuala Lumpur « Thoughts of a geek — 7 June 2010 @ 5:10 am

  4. Thanks for the guesthouse recommendation. I wish I’d stayed there – my hotel was not so great (though cheap). But I enjoyed Melaka anyway. Cheers, Richard

    http://richardtulloch.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/chilling-in-a-hotspot-melaka-malaysia/

    Comment by Richard Tulloch — 24 August 2010 @ 10:40 am


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