Our side trip to Malaysia was always going to include KL and another city, we 'ummed and ahhed' about where to go and chose Malacca, a UNESCO heritage listed city. With its rich history and great scenery, a side trip would be a good way to experience this culturally diverse city, the only decision to be made was when to go and how to get there.
We decided to go on the weekend as we had heard that there was a great market that was held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
First things first, we needed to get there and a bus was the logical choice, both Mrs Wombat and I did the research on this one, we found that there were a great many bus services running to Melaka. We opted for the KKKL bus line and booked the trip on line, costing less than $5 each each way. The trip takes just over 2 hours so excellent value here.
Saturday morning we checked out of our hotel and the receptionist called a Grab car (like Uber). I took note of this and thought I need to give Grab a try, our car was there in 2 minutes and at a cost of around $5 to get to the bus terminal. On arrival at the terminal we struck nothing like we have ever seen before, thousands of people, hundreds of busses and ticket counters everywhere. Not knowing how to collect our paper ticket from the electronic ticket on my phone, first things first, straight to the information booth where we were pointed in the right direction, the green counter for ticket collection.
I presented our passports and my phone with the details and a moment later was handed 2 tickets with the boarding time, the gate and the platform.
As usual, the Wombats arrived way ahead of time, so we had time to buy water, a snack, find the toilet and then the gate. The bus system in Malaysia is fast and efficient and before long our bus arrived, along with its big seats and roomy interior, this would make an air line go broke!! We plonked ourselves down, reclined our seats and settled in for the ride. Mrs Wombat was asleep in minutes, I was happy to read a book and listen to music.
Our 2 plus hours on the bus flew by, as we travelled on the freeway heading south. Malacca is about half way between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and in no time we arrived at the Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal where we are about to get ripped off…….
We hopped off our bus, grabbed our back packs and walked with our fellow passengers towards the exit, next minute a guy appears out of nowhere and is asking us “do you want a taxi and where you go?”. I thought for a moment and looked at Mrs Wombat, yes we need a taxi and we know where we want to go, it all happened so quickly. I agreed and rattled off the address, asked how much, he told us RM 20.00 (Malay Ringgit, about $6.30AU) and we headed off. What I hadn't noticed, was that he only had 1 arm! Mrs Wombat had noticed but didn't like to be rude and comment. We climbed into the most unroadworthy taxi, with a one armed taxi driver, realising that we had been taken for a ride before we had even set off. It should have been half this price, Mrs Wombat said, that she was sure he was part of the 'taxi mafia' that she had read about and if we had exited the bus station where we should have, there were some nice taxis all lined up and our metered fare would have no doubt been much less, never mind…
We were dropped off a 2 minute walk from our hotel, we reluctantly paid the one armed bandit and walked to our hotel. We have especially selected this small boutique hotel for its location and booked it through Agoda. We were warmly greeted and asked to take a seat and were given a refreshing drink and lovely cool towels for our face. We offered our booking details and find that there is no booking for this hotel… Oh Ohhhhh…. then we are informed that we are being upgraded to their sister hotel down the road further. I queried this, as it initially sounds like it might be a downgrade. The manager escorts us to his car parked out the back, Mrs Wombat is fuming that our booking has been mucked up and is thinking this is an Agoda issue, however we load our backpacks into the boot of his car and 5 minutes later we are once again being escorted into the lobby of another lovely boutique hotel.
We commenced the check in procedure and the manager informs us that we have once again been upgraded to the largest room, a multi level room and with balcony, (this is now sounding like an upgrade)! He gave us a tour of the hotel, explains that breakfast is across the road in another sister boutique hotel and then we are shown to our room.
Room entry is on the 2nd floor, where we then go up and up to another level and are presented with the bathroom, day bed in a living room, with a massive TV. Up another set of stairs and we are now in the master suite, with another massive TV, king size bed and a view overlooking the city. We have truly been upgraded and Mrs Wombat is starting to cool off a little.
We threw our bags down and headed out for a late lunch and a walk around the streets of Malacca. The streets are alive with tourists, the day is hot, the humidity is high and the buildings are beautiful. We found a spot for lunch and a cool drink. Finishing lunch, we walked along the famous Jonker Street and got a feel for this quaint place, making our way eventually back to our penthouse suite for an afternoon snooze in the air conditioning.
Malacca, is a quaint historic place with a history a mile long, the Portuguese colonised it, the Dutch then had a crack and finally of course the Brits did as well and as such you have a lovely mix of cultures and architecture. The Chinese influence is very prominent and the buildings are amazing with artwork and colour.
One of the reasons we chose Malacca for a visit, was the market, so I went out early in the evening to check it out, Mrs Wombat chose to miss tonight and visit tomorrow night. I walked from one end of Jonker Street to the other and was quite frankly disappointed. The food areas were good but the rest of the market was mostly cheap Chinese crap, with very few, if any local merchandise. We have been to all the best markets in SE Asia and this would have been the worst of them, I grabbed some dinner and went back home to watch a movie on our big screens.
The following day, we had a magnificent breakfast with lovely food and great service. We then went walking along the streets, dodging the many tourists and we stumbled onto a Sunday Trash and Treasure market, so had a browse, didn’t buy anything and finally made our way to a boat cruise up the river. Mrs Wombat didn’t feel like a cruise as she was feeling a little unwell, but I muscled my way through the hoards of Chinese tourists and took a seat. Malacca is a bit like the Venice of Asia, (A bit of a stretch but you get the picture), the river winds its way through the city, under bridges and you get to see the sights. I got off the boat 45 minutes later, dodged the fake tourist photo offer, picked up Mrs Wombat and we headed off for some lunch.
Later that afternoon, we chose to walk along the river as it was lovely, flat easy walk, the heat had gone from the day and we could admire the beautiful scenery. This gave us a chance to stop for an evening drink at a cafe on the water edge and later that evening. dinner at another cafe.
We retired to our suite and cast our Netflix onto the big screen for another movie marathon evening.
The following morning, once again a lovely breakfast, the restaurant was noticeably quieter which was nice, back to our room, packed our bags and headed off to the bus station, this time in a Grab car booked by our hotel and at a fraction of the price of the rip off Taxi on our arrival. The driver had two arms and a lovely clean and roadworthy car. My advice to anyone visiting this lovely city is to avoid the weekends and the crowds and avoid the weekend market, enjoy the buildings the architecture and the local sights and sounds.
Our bus back to KL was even better than the trip down and a bit over 2 hours later we were exiting the terminal, this time I was booking the Grab car and 2 minutes later, there he was. We climbed in and headed off to the Mercure Hotel.