North to Kuala Lumpur

So after spending a few days in Singapore I had about 5 days to make it up to Kuala Lumpur for my flight to Sydney.  My original plan was to take the overnight train from Singapore to KL, but it turns out they had stopped the direct service about a month before my trip 😦

I had heard about Melaka (Malacca), a small town on the coast about half way between the two cities.  It is a UNESCO world heritage city due to the history of the town; it has changed hands multiple times due to the strategic location on the coast.  The town itself is quite small, but it seemed like a great place to spend a night and break up the trip a bit.

I had found a great deal online at The Pines hotel.  They were celebrating their 1st anniversary and were offering rooms for $100 MYR (approx $30 CAD).  I was able to snag one and quickly had a plan to spend about a day and a half in Melaka.

Booking a bus from Singapore proved to be a bit difficult to figure out.  It was suggested that I take a bus to Johor and then get on a long distance bus there.  The only problem with that is the timetable wasn’t very clear.  It seemed like my best bet, although slightly more expensive, was to take a bus directly from Singapore, so I made my way to the bus stop and hopped on the direct bus to Melaka.  The ride was with the 707 bus company and was fairly uneventful.  The bus was roomy, with only 3 seats across, but a bit worn down and could probably use a face-lift.  It was a safe and relatively quick ride to the turn off, and then a bit slower while making the trip into the city.

After arriving at the terminal I tried to take out some money, but strangely couldn’t get the ATM to work.  I switched what little Singapore money I had into MYR and went looking for the hotel.  I didn’t have quite enough, so ended up haggling with a combination of USD and MYR, and then it was a quick cab ride to my hotel I checked in to my  room… which could have easily fit 4 people with room for a dance party!  Large living area, with a small kitchen area, but not cutlery or cooking utensils?  There was also a nice pool area on the 7th floor that overlooked the city with rooms that had a private entrances to a smaller pool area down the side of the hotel.

Hotel room at The Pines
View from the pool level looking towards the coast

After basking in my room for a little while, and calling my bank to sort out the ATM issue, I took the free shuttle into town to walk around and see the sights.  There is a lot of history in the city, but as it was late afternoon a lot of the places were closing so I took a stroll down Jonker street and explored the area (taking note of a veggie restaurant to try out the next day) and then settled in to have a drink overlooking the river.  After a bit of energy from a g&t (or two), I head out in search of some snacks and a bank machine.  I ended up wandering over to what I think is a newer shopping area of town, complete with a few malls and a starbucks 😉  And soon it was time to head back and catch the shuttle back to the hotel.

Enjoying a drink and a the view

Day 2 in Melaka included sleeping in and spending some quality time relaxing by the pool at the hotel before checking out.  I hopped back on the shuttle and went back to see some of the sights, including the maritime museum in a replica ship!  There is quite a bit of evidence of all the different cultures that have held control of the city over the centuries, from the Dutch to the Portuguese.  I also managed to squeeze in a bit of time for some traditional Malaysian food, although from one of the northern regions.  If you are a history buff, I’m sure you could probably spend a few days here, but most people will be happy with a day or two.

After getting my history fill, it was off to the bus station.  I had heard that buses from Melaka to Kuala Lumpur are fairly easy to come by and got some suggestions on which tour companies to aim for.  I ended up on the second choice Delima, as the first (Transnational) was sold out.  They have buses leaving every half hour until about 7pm.  I think it ended up being slightly cheaper this way and the bus was newer that the one I took to Melaka, but more like a typical greyhound with 4 seats across.  There was a bit of traffic getting out of the city, but once on the highway we were zipping along.

We arrived at the new bus terminal in KL, which is quite far out of town but an easy train ride to Sentral (the main train station).  You can catch the local commuter train or the express train that also goes to the airport.  I ended up catching the express train and was just one stop away from checking in and climbing into bed.

I had been planning to couchsurf,  but my host cancelled last minute, so I hopped on the internet and booked a last minute room at Razzy’s Guesthouse, a hostel fairly close to Sentral in Chinatown.  After a bit of a confusing walk from the station (it’s not made for pedestrians) I found the guesthouse.  The check in was fairly smooth, but my room was right at the end of the hall and didn’t get much wifi signal.  I was still pretty tired, not entirely over my jet lag, and the beds were comfy so I called it an early night and got some sleep.

The next few days in KL were pretty random, but I met up with a lot of awesome people to go exploring.  The first day included a trip to the Batu Caves, where there are lots of monkeys to watch out for, and heading up the Petronas twin towers.  We spent most of the time using Uber and Grab to get around town, which was pretty cheap and worked well, but you needed a valid phone number, which I didn’t have 😦

I joined some more couchsurfers for a night out on the town, and managed to make it until after midnight before calling it a night!  Who’s old now? Oh wait, that’s me 😉

The next day I went back to Sentral and switched to a hotel right by the station so I could get up and go the next morning to catch my flight.  After dropping of my bags at the hotel, I head back out for a fun afternoon!  I had plans to meet up with a couchsurfer who was living in KL for a few months, but it turned into a whole gang of people.  After wandering around the mall for a little while, we all grabbed a coffee and got to chatting.  It was great to relax and share travel stories.

After a while a few people had to take off, but the rest of us were up for an adventure!  Someone suggested that we head out to the French Village… ummm, okay?  Not really knowing where this place was, we jumped in the car and headed out of town… really out of town… until we were pretty much in the middle of the jungle.  And then we turned a corner and there was a french village.  Yes, it was a bit Disney, but it was crazy, and unexpected, and a lot of fun!  We wandered around for a while, took a lot of photos, and grabbed and snack.  It turns out it was actually a resort and seemed to be quite popular.  And not all that expensive.  If you can figure out a way to get there it would be a lot of fun for a night or two.

Soon it was time to fight traffic and head back to civilization.  After some creative driving, we made it back to the city and I went back to the hotel to check in.  The hotel, Macktz Comfort Inn, was pretty cheap and basic.  I had a private room and bathroom, which was great, and they had upgraded me from a single to a double room.  And there was also tv and A/C!  The downside was that the wifi was very weak and didn’t really stay connected.  It was an okay place to stay for a night and the location was ideal for getting the train in the morning, but I probably wouldn’t stay there again.

After a decent night’s sleep, I packed up and headed to Sentral to catch the express train to the Airport.  There are 2 types of trains to the airport, a local and an express.  The local makes a few stops before making the way to the airport, including the Bus Terminal, while the express goes directly to the airport, first KILA1, then ending at KILA2. I hopped on the express and was soon on my way to the next destination!



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