Sunday, April 27, 2008

Melaka / Singapore - Day 4

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

So this morning is our last in Melaka. After we got up and finished packing, we headed out to the little place across the street from the hotel for breakfast. But alas it was closed. After a moment of thought we both said screw it and went to the hotel for thier breakfast buffet. We were anxious to eat and head over to the central bus station so we could get an early bus to Singapore so the hotel breakfast was the quickest and easiest option. And it wasn't half bad. Western and Asian fare with plenty of choices to satisfy us both. It was also the first time I'd had a glass of milk in a week and it was delicious!
We made a quick trip back up to the room to get our bags and check out. We took a few pictures of the room before we left (Sorry the bed isn't made up)
The comfy, comfy bed.

The bathroom with the huge tub

Desk and balcony (I loved the sliding louver doors)

After checking out, we hopped in a cab and were off to the bus station. And we lucked out as the next bus wasn't sold out, was scheduled to leave in about 30 minutes, and was one of the nicer ones that had one seat on one side of the aisle and two seats on the other. This meant the seats were much more comfortable.
The trip to Singapore would take about 2 1/2 hours to get to the border. Then we had to deal with immigration. Our friends (Jim's co-worker and her husband) had traveled to Singapore a few days before us and said it was a major pain getting through the check points so we planned an extra hour for this part of the trip followed by the bus ride into the city to the bus station.

Once we were out of the city we noticed what looked like steps going up into the hillside along the highway. We weren't sure if they were for people to climb or if they were used to help water flow to the storm sewers during the rainy season.
Just over an hour into the trip we stopped at a rest stop for a bathroom break. This was our bus. Jim took a picture of it not only for our photo album but to remember which bus was ours! There were several at the rest stop and we didn't to wind up on the wrong one to who knows where!At the rest stop we saw a prayer hut for Muslims daily prayers. It faces Mecca so those needing to use it don't have to worry about which direction they need to face.
Back on the road, we finally reached the last city on peninsular Malaysia, Johor Bahru. Here are a couple of pictures Jim managed to take from the bus window. And finally we crossing the border. We were pleased to see that there wasn't a long line of traffic like the one our friends faced a few days ago. It could have been that they traveled over the weekend while we were traveling during the week.
While we were pleased to see little to no traffic backups, what awaited us was just as much of a pain......passing through customs and immigration. Since we opted for the much cheaper form of land travel, by bus, we first had to stop at the Malaysian side of the border, get off the bus, have our passports stamped out of the country, get back on the bus , drive a few hundred yards to cross the border and get off the bus again. This time to enter Singapore and have our passports stamped. Then get back on the bus again to go to the bus/taxi station in downtown Singapore. This was our first glimpse of Singapore when we finally stepped off the bus at the station. Note the dark would soon rain, alot. It was also when we realized that we forgot to get any Singaporean money! Aw, crap. Jim quickly got directions to the nearest bank while I waited with our luggage. About 20 minutes later he returned, money in hand and we hailed a cab to take us to our hotel.

Now while we were planning this trip, we were surprised at how expensive hotels in Singapore can be....even the so-called budget hotels. For example, at nicer hotels like Hilton, rooms start at about $300/night. And if you are totally made of money, you can stay at the famous Raffles Hotel for a mere $800/night. We, however, are not made of money so we looked for a place that was more affordable. After looking through a lot of websites and checking Trip Advisor, we settled on Hotel 1929, a small boutique hotel in the Chinatown section of Singapore. And small was right, the lobby and sitting area were cozy which is a nice way to say tiny. One cool thing about the place was the funky chairs . The owner has a thing for antique chairs which were located throughout the hotel and adjoining restaurant. There was also a cool poster in the elevator with a historical collection of chairs.
We knew the room was going to be small but we never expected this small:This is the view from the door
And the view the wall opposite the door
The two-sided bathroom. This is the sink, right next to the door. Behind the sink is the rest of the bathroom (the toilet and shower)
The view looking in from the bathroom doorAnd the view from inside.

Yeah, the room was small. Jim could stretch out his arms and be within a few feet of touching opposite walls. Add in the bed, the bathroom, a tiny desk and chair, and all our luggage and the room was bursting at the seams. It was quite a compact room.

Shortly after we checked in, it started to rain....hard. When it finally slowed down enough for us to even think about going out, the hotel staff gave us umbrella's. A nice touch and probably a very common thing in a country where it rains so much but still a nice touch.

Just down the street from our hotel was this very cool Indian temple. It was very beautiful and quite the attention grabber when you walk down the street.
We passed it as we wandered over to one of the many food courts located throughout the area. The one we were headed to was the Maxwell Food Court. If you've ever seen the episode of No Reservations where Tony Bourdain goes to Singapore, this is the food court he visited. It supposedly has the best Chicken Rice around (which Tony vouched for) so we wanted to see for ourselves. And we were not disappointed.
When you walk into the Maxwell Food Court for the first time, you can easily be overwhelmed by all the delicious smells and aromas coming from the many food stalls. Take your time to look at all of them before you decide where to eat as there are so many good choices. We already knew we wanted to get Chicken Rice from Tian Tian. So we located it right away then wandered around a little more to see what else would tempt us. It was a hard decision but we finally settled on this Oyster Omelette from one vendor as well asTom Yum Soup from another.We sat in front of the vendor that sold us the Tom Yum Soup. The owner noticed me writing about the food and came over to ask how we liked the soup and where we were from. We told him we were from the US and that the soup was very good. We talked a little bit more as best we could since there was a little bit of a language barrier. He seemed quite pleased that we really liked the food in Singapore, especially his soup and before we knew it, he brought out a bowl of lamb stew.
It was very rich and hearty. Big chunks of carrots and potatoes swam happily in the bowl with chunks of lamb. The broth had a nice balance of Asian seasonings that Jim and I tried to decipher and jot down on my notepad. The owner must have realized what we were trying to do so he offered to show me how he made it. With very broken English and hand gestures, I quickly made note of all the ingredients as he held up the bottles and jars and holding up bottle and jars. And we managed to understand each other completely. It was so much fun! I think he really enjoyed it too.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel and saw this amazing temple. Its the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.Once you went past the front entrance you came into an open courtyard area. The architecture was just amazing.In the courtyard were places where one could place incense for prayers.
At the entrance to the temple itself, a sign of do's and don'ts for visitors who may not be familiar with what is acceptable when visiting.I had a little laugh (respectfully, of course) when I noticed the picture used for "No Pets Allowed" was a Boston Terrier.
Sorry Java you can't go in.

Inside the temple was rich with color. It was truly something to see.Back out in the courtyard were two statues standing guard. Jim and statue guard.

We walked around the area some more and looked at some stores and street vendors then went back to the hotel where I took a much needed shower. Singapore is probably the hottest and most humid place I've ever been. After we were cleaned up, we headed over to The New Majestic, a hotel owned by the same person that owned the Hotel 1929. When we checked in earlier we each got a free drink coupon to use at it's bar and who were we to turn down a free drink?

The hotel itself was sleek and modern and the bar was cool and funky.
This is looking straight up at the ceiling in the bar. Glass or plexiglass lights hanged from the ceiling and along one wall next to the bar. The room was long and narrow with a bench along one wall with tables in front of them. And as we found with the hotels, bar prices were high. But hey, our first drink was free so that made our second drinks that much cheaper! cha-ching.

Jim ordered Kilkenny, an Irish beer that he's only had in Ireland. We can't find it here anywhere. He was a happy man.
I ordered something cold, fruity and totally girly. I don't remember the name of it but it had pineapple, banana and chocolate in it and it was really good. Jim ordered another beer (Hoegaarden) and I got another fruity drink. We called it quits after that and were actually getting hungry again so we decided to head back over to the Maxwell Food Court to get some dinner. On the way we passed by the Chinese temple again and got this great picture of it lit up.
Back at Maxwell, we ordered a spicy Schezuan beef soup and fried dumplings from one vendor.

I was craving roti (again) and went to this vendor to get my fix.I watched as this guy deftly made my roti. And this was my reward.After dinner we were pretty well done for the day. Knowing we only had tomorrow and some of the next morning to see what we could of Singapore, we went back to the hotel for a good nights sleep. And little did we know just how much that sleep would be needed because the next day we were going to walk our legs off.

1 comment:

Mummy said...

What awesome picutres. Thanks for the postings.