Let me start by saying I wasn’t supposed to go this trip, but I did it anyways. This is the first time I traveled alone and hopefully not the last.
I always plan my trips, or at least I try to, but I didn’t plan any for Melaka. It’s not spontaneous or anything (I actually purchased my ticket and booked my hostel a week earlier), but I don’t have a solid itinerary. I was even planning to forfeit the 2-way bus fare ($38) and hostel deposit ($3). After a last minute debate with myself, I finally decided to go.
June 1, 2016 (Wednesday)
8:00 – Boarded the shuttle bus going to Melaka from Boon Lay Shopping Centre. It’s a total 4-hr drive from Singapore to Melaka, I was just sleeping most of the time. One thing that made me lose my mind was the excruciating long queue at the immigration. There were only 2 immigration officers attending the foreign passport holders, which took me about 45 minutes just to get pass it.
13:00 – A little light-headed and generally disoriented (due to excessive sleeping), I alighted at Melaka Bus Sentral. Bus 17 (RM 2) is the only bus going to Melaka Town, and getting on it is was not easy. You have to squeeze your way in or you won’t get in it at all. Going to my hostel is another story; they don’t have any maps showing the bus stops. Being unprepared, I had no choice but to purchase a data roaming plan.
14:30 – Yote Flashpackers (RM 21.25), my hostel, is a good 15-minute walk from the town itself.
15:00 – So after I dropped my bag, I went out to start my walking tour around the town. It was easy to find, once you see the pink buildings you’re already there.
I started with the Christ Church then headed down to the Rakyat Museum Complex. I was able to see a (documentary) shooting for Enrique of Malacca, the slave who circumnavigated the world.
A brief history, so Enrique was from Malacca and was captured after Portugal conquered Malacca in 1511. He was sent to Portugal and became a slave of Ferdinand Magellan (Portuguese explorer who served the Spanish king). Cutting the long story short, he accompanied Magellan on his expedition and acted as an interpreter when they reached the Philippines in 1521. Some believed that he might actually be a Filipino since he was able to speak and converse with the Filipino natives.
After my historic tour, I went further down to Taming Sari Tower, where I broke my DSLR Camera (*sobs*). I was (and still am) heartbroken, it’s been my travel buddy for 5 years, and most of the pictures I’ve taken were with that camera. But the most surprising fact was that I didn’t throw any tantrum. Normally with that kind of situation, chances are I’m already cursing out of frustration and anger but I didn’t. I was surprisingly calmed and collected.
After the heartbreaking incident, I decided to treat myself instead with the local and famous Chicken Rice Ball (RM 18 small serving), to be honest, I was surprised by the serving size of the roasted chicken (it’s actually good for 2-3pax), made me wish I order more rice balls.
To cap-off the day, I went for a sunset river cruise at the Melaka River (RM 21.20). It was peaceful and relaxing, perfect activity after a tiring (and heartbreaking) walk around the town.
After alighting the cruise, I was determined to head back to my hostel to finally rest, when I saw this local art store that offers caricature portraits for RM 10-B&W, RM 30-Colored (pretty good deal if you asked me).
20:00 – Already back in my hostel. Had a short chat with the owner Yuna, very pleasant person. She told me that the hostel is quite new, it just opened about a month ago and doing well so far.
I got to know my roommates as well, Lizzie (28yo from London), Christy (30yo from Germany) and Yuri (25yo from Japan). They all have one thing in common, “quit their jobs to travel the world”. Some kind of wanderlust epidemic huh? It made me actually think if I can pull that off.
June 2, 2016 (Thursday)
9:30 – I saw almost everything yesterday, and just left the see St Paul Hill and Porta de Santiago. Had a quick breakfast first in a nearby cafe, Uncle Brown Cafe, before starting my half-day walk tour.
Great view of the town from the hill, sadly I wasn’t able to take photos because of my DSLR (*sniff*).
On top of the hill there was a small art gallery, unusual place but stunning artworks. While I was there, I managed to chat with artist himself, Daniel. Beside his artworks, were news clippings of him; he was featured quite a number of times in the local newspaper. His passion to paint and draw started at a young age of 11, fast forward to 36 years he’s still loving it! Quite amazed, I told him that he’s a local celebrity and should have his own studio. In response, he said that it’s not easy to find a place where you can showcase your work to both locals and tourists, that’s why he’s on the hill.
As we chatted a little more, I begun to notice that he doesn’t have a particular style or a trademark. He’d use acrylic paints, marker pens, watercolour and sometimes coffee ink (boy it smells soooooo good). His explaination struck me more, he said an artist should be versatile and let your heart tells you what to do. Even if it means, waking up in the middle of the night and just do whatever it is. Now that’s PASSION!
13:00 – Time to go, packed my things and head out to the town where they said Bus 17 pass by. Since I was in Town again, I decided to grab a lunch by the river. Saw it from my river cruise yesterday, and wanted to experience it myself. Had a peaceful lunch, I took my time, longer than usual.
14:00 – Boarded Bus 17 going back to Melaka Sentral. My bus going back to Singapore will leave at 15:00, just enough time, so I thought. Because I have never really research anything about Melaka, I was surprised that route going back to Sentral took longer than I expected. And by that, I meant it took almost an hour to reach the bus station. Typical me, I started to get anxious, even blaming myself for not taking the taxi. I was so stingy with spending RM 10 on a taxi when there’s a high chance that I might be purchasing RM 50 for a new bus ticket. I felt like I’m in the amazing race, by the time I alighted Bus 17. Running and hoping the bus haven’t left. Thank God and all the saints, when I found out that I’m just right on schedule. Phew! That was a close one, really tight.
19:00 – You know the feeling like you’re bored, got nothing to do so you decided to prolong the adventure. Hahaha! Well, my bus was scheduled to drop us off to Golden Mile (near Nicholl Highway MRT), I thought to myself it’s too far from Woodlands. I decided to alight the bus thinking I’m already in Johor Bahru anyway, and the customs checkpoint is somewhere near, and boy I was wrong! Hahahaha! Apparently I was Johor Bahru LARKIN, which is 16 minutes drive to the Johor Bahru checkpoint! I need to take Bus 170 to go there, and pay RM 1.80, to top it off I have no RM spare. Luckily, I can now use my EZ-Link card for Bus 170. But it doesn’t stop there, upon reaching the JB checkpoint I have to change to Bus 950 headed for SG Woodlands checkpoint then Bus 950 again to Woodlands Interchange.
JB Larkin -Bus 170-> JB Checkpoint -Bus 950-> Singapore Checkpoint -Bus 950-> Woodlands
To sum it up, I exchanged the hassle-free check-in to Singapore for 3 strenuous transfers, just because I’m stubborn and I don’t want to commute from Golden Mile to Woodlands.
My first solo trip may not be extravagant, but it’s truly personal. I found out new things about myself. Things that I may have never known if I never went for this trip.