Daytrip to Melaka

On Saturday afternoon, while sitting on the bus to Johor Bahru, I wondered out loud if it was possible to go on a day trip to Melaka.

Turns out we can.

Except because we left Singapore in the mid-afternoon, our day trip was going to involve spending a night in Melaka. Which, really, isn’t a big deal.

So how did we do it? Simple. First, take a train to Bugis station and get on the express bus to Johor Bahru. There are many options but we chose the yellow express bus on Queen Street. When you buy a ticket to Johor Bahru, you are actually buying a ticket to Larkin bus terminal. Which, we later found out, is not the terminal at the Malaysian Immigration.

After you have cleared immigration, most people would turn right to go to the City Sq mall. Walk straight until the end where there are escalators and on Platform B, there will be buses taking you to Larkin Bus Terminal. Its located about 15 mins away from Johor Bahru center.

After alighting from the bus, walk to where the ticket counters are (you will pass by a few clothing stores, and some hawker stores). We basically got tickets for the bus that was leaving in 5 mins and hustled on over after forking over RM 20.90 per person.

Once we were on the bus, it was smooth sailing all the way (no restroom break, no jam!) and arrived in Melaka at 5.30pm. At this point, I was panicking a bit because we didn’t pack anything other than our passports and some cash. There was no change of clothes, no PLAN on where to stay for the night. After arriving at Melaka Sentral, we hopped on a taxi to Jonker St for RM20. Luckily, there was free wifi around the area where the church was. I whipped out the expedia app and swipped on the Holiday Inn because I desperately needed access to a computer for work purposes. It was a bit more expensive than I hoped and there were certainly cheaper options. But well. A business center was something that could not be compromised on. After that, we walked along Jonker street looking for food. I started off with some gula melaka iced latte at this hipster coffee joint belting out some old jazz classics.20170617_143813[1]

The coffee is super sweet but so refreshing on such a hot humid day. After the drink, we wandered around Jonker Walk, buying random kueh from the various food stores, and tried on a few cheongsams. I almost bought a

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I almost bought a kua but realised that my figure would probably change by the time I’m ready for my traditional wedding ceremony. And then we realised that we really needed to buy something to wear the next day. I was already wearing my green elephant pants so we bought 2 t-shirts from a store for the next day. Then we headed to Mahkota where there was a Uniqlo for the other neccessities.

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We checked into the hotel and took a quick shower before heading out to Jonker walk again for the night market.

There were lots of quick accessories and more clothing stores. And a lot more food. We got more street food and a coconut jelly. I briefly considered getting a Henna but didn’t think my workplace would appreciate such impulsive behavior.

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By the time we finished the walk, I was exhausted, and it was 9.30pm. So we headed back to the hotel where I proceeded to check my email. BIG mistake. I finished up my assigned tasks before heading back to the room to sleep for a few hours.

The next morning, we feasted on the buffet breakfast at the hotel before heading out again.  We climbed up Bukit St. Paul. Only the outer shell of the church remains.

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After the brisk climb, we headed back to Jonker walk for a second breakfast. We found a chendol place that served quadruple duty as a currency, gem museum and tribute to Mao. They also had some nonya laksa. The chendol and laksa were both very good.

After getting our second wind, we proceeded to walk around the area again. We found one of the oldest mosque in Melaka, an old kwan im temple and more food stores.

But we were completely stuffed. So we settled for some curacao coffee instead.

After that, we headed back to the hotel, took another quick shower and checked out. Got a taxi back to Melaka Sentral and took another bus back to JB where we stopped for a quick dinner. Unfortunately, we were part of the unfortunate crowd that got stuck in JB immigration around 5pm. Took about 2 hours to clear immigration, another hour to finally board a bus back across the causeway. Luckily, clearing Singapore immigration was much quicker (30 mins) and we caught the first causeway link out of Woodlands. We then took a train from Kranji back home. The journey from JB to Simei took 5 hours. Maybe we should stayed another night in Melaka?

Prague

So I haven’t updated the blog in a while. I want to say that it’s because I’ve been busier than usual. But that’s a lie. I’ve kinda entered this weird lull in my life where nothing much has changed and I’m bored. I’m not as anxious as I normally am but the pressures are still there. I think I’ve just tuned it out. Or I’m burned out. Not sure which.

Anyway I just returned from a 7 day trip to Prague. Prague is a lovely city and I chose to go during the ‘off’ season in the first week of May which was supposed to have a smaller crowd but if that was the off season, I’m sure the ‘on’ season crowd would have been terrible because there were a lot of tourists when I went. Now 7 days in Prague is a lot. Most people would have planned day or overnight trips to Dresden or something like that. But I’ve been off my game and didn’t plan anythijg except buy my air tickets because i wanted to go to the andre reiu concert and it so happened that the joseph strauss orchestra was going to be in Prague during my designated vacation days. Yea. So this free and easy holiday emphasizes the easy part. Anything that required more effort wasn’t going to happen. Based on this trip i would say a full 3 days in Prague would be more than enough to see the major sights and catch at least 2 operas or see a couple of shows.

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All of the museums and most churches require an entry fee in Prague but a majority of the fees are quite low. If the church required a fee and you are into classical music, i suggest you buy a concert ticket instead. I didn’t bother with the castle. I went to the grounds and walked outside (that’s free) but didn’t bother with the inside.

20170509_075435.jpgTo see the big cathedral with the beautiful stained glass, I recommend buying circuit b. Otherwise just walk in and see a bit of the front parts of the church. If that bit already draws your attention and you MUST view the rest of it then go get the ticket.

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Interior of the st. Vitus cathedral with the beautiful stained glass windows.

I prefer the solitude so I walked up to the castle grounds early morning. I recommend catching the train elevator things across from Most Legii (the bridge that isn’t Charles Bridge) up before strolling to the castle. Less painful on the legs. The Starhov monastry is at the top of the elevator and its a more pleasant walk then climbing up to the Castle.

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In the wee hours of the morning the Charles Bridge is a lovely place to take photographs but in May the sun was already rising at 5.30am. The people that were there had gigantic lenses poking out from their DSLRs and large tripods. A few only had cellphone cameras but were mostly drunk teens/20ish kids on the tail end of their night out.

Another major Prague attraction is the astronomical clock which is super popular with tourists. The show goes from 8am to 11pm. I never bothered to stick around for one but did snap a few pictures at random times.

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Now I know it sounds like I didn’t have a good time in Prague. I did. I REALLY did. I took a tour with Tour4Charity where the 400czk fee goes towards a charity that helps children in foster care adapt to life after they are out. I also did a food tour with Taste of Prague (point of note, the staff at Taste of Prague were incredibly helpful. Helped me obtain a last minute reservation with DeGustation, gave lots of helpful pointers on things to do, where to eat, etc EVEN after the tour was over. Totally worth it. LOVE their service). So I learnt about the history of the Czech Republic as well as their food history so I wasn’t a complete failure as a tourist. But if I’m honest about it, i walked around a lot, saw the interior of a few churches and one synagogue, ate quite a bit and dinned at some rather nice establishments.

I had a grand time watching the opera and it was so affordable I had to pinch myself.

But yep. That pretty much sums it up! At some point i will probably blog about some specific sights. But for now this is just a quick hello! And what have you been up to lately?

Pompompurin Cafe

There are many themed cafes in Tokyo. They have cat cafes, owl cafes, ‘maid’cafes and robot cafes. Most charge some kind of cover charge. Makes sense i suppose. You would pay a cover charge to go to a club. So why not a theme cafe. Anyway, we wanted to go to one just to look-see.

We had just visited the Meiji temple amd Google said there were several theme cafes near us so we decided to walk down this little alleyway in Harajuku area to see if we could find one and found the pompompurin cafe

The pancakes themselves were so-so and the coffee was passable. But the cafe itself was definitely very cute. I can see why these themed cafes are so popular. It’s a pity I couldn’t drag the Beau to another one.

i read on other blogs that there is normally a Long queue but when we were there, we were seated almost immediately. So good luck! And have fun! No, seriously. I think when you go to something like this, You really need to go with the correct frame of mind. If you are determined to hate it, you will hate it. Go in with a cynical mind and you won’t enjoy it, but if you are going there, determined to enjoy the kitschiness, then yes, it will be rather fun.

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Address: 東京都渋谷区神宮前1-7-1, CUTE CUBE HARAJUKU 3階 (Google Map)

Opening hours: 11am to 9pm

(advance coupons starts at around 930am and the cafe will be closed to all walk-ins once all coupons has been issued out)

Accessible from either Meijijingumae station (Chiyoda line) or Harajuku station (JR Line)

 

 

Copenhenmark, Denmark

Have you heard? The Danes are the happiest people on Earth! I guess they’ve moved on quite dramatically from their depressed schizophrenic Prince of Denmark after their primary residence was changed from Elsinore to Amalienborg Palace.

That said, my latest vacation to Copenhagen was something that I had been looking forward to for weeks, and yet, surprisingly (or not surprisingly), I barely planned for it. And as my sister would say, when you fail to plan, plan to fail. And I sort of did, sort of. I mean, I probably spent more than what I should have, and had I spent some time planning, I might have saved some money. Still, even though I did overspend, a little, I did have a good time. And I think, if I had known, that everything was going to close at 4 or 5 pm, I might have planned my sightseeing a little better too.

But there’s a lot to see in Copenhagen. And there’s also not much to see in Copenhagen. If that makes sense. I think a lot of it has to do with what sort of sightseeing you like to do. I spent a bit of time going to the modern art museums, only to find that I’m still not a super big fan of a lot of modern art. At the same time, I don’t really think that Copenhagen is a big haven for a lot of the Classics. They did have a Golden Age in the 17th century (I think) but I’ve seen a lot of the more classical pieces of art in the past and these days, instead of trying to see everything all at once, I tend to see what catches my eye whenever I enter a room and kind of just zoom in on it. Copenhagen also has a thing for their sculptors, and there are a lot of them everywhere but that’s not necessarily what I’m into either. I do, however, like architecture (that’s a recent thing), and I love old churches (but apparently only the Renaissance and the Gothic ones). So I guess what I’m saying is that if I had done my homework, I could have been a lot more focused in my sightseeing, and saved myself some dough, and perhaps not have been as rushed even though I was there for a week, which is a lot of time to spend in such a small city.

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That said, there are a couple of ways to lower the costs of your stay. Most of the State museums are free. The Hirshsprung museum (a really cool small art museum) is free on Wednesday, along with the Thorvald Museum (mostly scupltures). The Carlsberg art museum is free on Tuesday. The castles and palaces all have an admission fee, and that includes the Christanborg Palace, The Amalienborg Palace, Krongberg and Rosenberg castle and Roskilde Cathedral. Climbing up the Tarnet at Christanborg is free. But to see the Round Tower, it will cost 25dkr, and so does climbing up the round spire at the Sankt Anne church. Freetown Christiana was an interesting experience. I’m not sure what I should have expected. I was expecting happy hippies? But it wasn’t as pleasant as my imagination would lead me to believe. Paper Island has good and fairly affordable food. 7Eleven, surprisingly, has great coffee and some of the best tasting croissants in the city.

I had gotten a 48hour Copenhagen card. I think it released a bit of the pressure on trying to figure out what I wanted to see, and I felt freer about taking public transport. That said, I think I might have saved a bit of money by just getting a 24hour city pass or 24 hour transit pass and using my student card to get cheaper admission prices at the castles. Or getting a Parkmusernee. Unless if you really plan your time really really well, the 48hr Copenhagen Card might not be as worth the price you are paying for.

 

So here’s a big picture summary:

the Copenhagen card which comes in 24hrs, 48, 72 and 120 hours allows you to go to MOST of the attractions in Copenhagen (and some out of it) and also comes with free transportation on all modes of public transport (water taxis, bus, metro, subway) to all the zones (as far as Roskilde and Helsingor). May be worth it if you are short on time and cannot go to the free museum days.

There’s a combined ticket for Kronberg and Amalianborg (but there’s no student ticket price for that). Kronberg also offers a separate student ticket price.

There’s a combined ticket for all 4 sites at Christanborg palace (but if you are only interested in the reception rooms…just get the reception room ticket. Bonus if you have a student pass on you).

All the palaces and castles have student ticket pricing.

There’s a 24hr City Pass that allows unlimited travel on public transport.

The Museum Park Pass (Parkmusernee) will cover the The David Collection, The Filmhouse, The Hirschsprung Collection, SMK (National Gallery of Denmark), The Natural History Museum of Denmark and Rosenborg Castle.

Free Museums:

The David collection

Staten Museum for Kunst (its next to Kronberg castle)

The Botanical gardens (but you’ll have to pay for the greenhouses)

Free Museum days:

Thovald museum is free on Wed

Hirshsprung museum is also free on Wed

The Glyptoteck (that’s the art museum that was built by the founder of Carlsberg) is free on Tues.

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