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?

Butagumi

 

When I first described what tonkatsu means to the Beau, he wasn’t very enthusiastic about going to Butagumi, he finally relented because I really really wanted to try it especially since every Tokyo food blog says that you can’t leave Tokyo without trying them. So the poor man allowed himself to be dragged there even though he really does not want to eat pork. Like at all. Luckily for him, they had a great selection of starters that he managed to fashion a decent meal out of.

as for me, I got to eat Tonkatsu! And man! Am I Glad I dragged him there. It was delicious! The meat was so tender and the outer part so crispy! We even got a rose beer to accompany the meal.

The tonkatsu comes in a set meal with starters and soup. I think we stressed them out quite a bit when we said we only wanted one order of tonkatsu but instead of throwing us out they allowed the beau to pick his starters. Having devoured mine, I wish we had gone ahead and just ordered two sets of tonkatsu with different cuts and I could have eaten BOTH of them!

It wasn’t the most difficult place to find but it wasn’t the easiest either but here is the best description I can give for finding it:

Butagumi is closest to Roponggi station. We took the Tokyo metro subway, got out and turned to the left downhill and passed by the expo located across the street on the left from us and kept walking until we saw a Koban (police station) crossed that Street towards a restaurant called TeTas. There is a parking lot with really fancy cars under the bridge while crossing the road. After you are on the same street and facing TeTas turn to your left and walk down to the nearest Street that turns in. Turn in by turning right. You will then see a bit kinda of a fork road. If you look up you will see a cute building with a crescent moon. That’s Butagumi.

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)

 

 

Umegaoka sushi no midori

 

On a wet rainy Thursday in Tokyo, we decided, with an umbrella between the two of us, that sushi was a must. A few clicks on Google suggested that Umegaoka Sushi NoMidori was the place to go. That and it was only a block away from the coffee house where we were taking refuge.

When we got there, it appears we were not the only ones with the same idea. There was a line but no dry waiting place. To get a table you have to use this automated machine outside the restaurant. Which was cool because you could get a number with English instructions but the waiting screen letting you know who they are calling was in Japanese. And there were three boxes with three different numbers so it was a bit difficult to figure out which number referred to what.

Minor gripe aside, we didn’t actually wait that long. We were seated rather quickly and ordered promptly from their menu which had pictures. The Beau really really wanted mackerel so he ordered the whole row of it. The waitress tried to talk us out of it by pointing to the mackerel piece but the Beau insisted. We ate a lot of mackerel that day. Also, the sushi here is huge. I’ve gotten so used to small little sushi pieces that it was a bit surprising to see such huge sushi. I had to unbutton my trousers by the time we were done. I ordered a set that included eel. Mine had more variety. But I definitely was not able to finish it all up.

From what I can tell, its a pretty popular spot with the tourists and locals alike. No big surprise since its so close to the Ginza strip. They don’t accept credit cards. Only cash or debit. The photos are a nice touch especially for those of us who only know how to say “Ohio!”. We pretty much survived the entire vacation by pointing at pictures of food. Sometimes we got lucky. And sometimes we did not. I would say we were about even in this case.

Anyway, it was a fun meal. I got to take lots of pictures and at least be able to say that we actually found a restaurant that has been recommended on all the blogs I’ve been reading up on prior to the trip. Which basically means I can say some of the homework I had done prior to this trip was worth it. And it sort of made up for the fact that our trip to Disney Sea was cancelled due to rain. And that the Alice in Wonderland cafe was also closed for lunch.

Tsubameya Wagyu Grill

Most times when I’m on holiday, I always end up with a splurge meal. You know, a meal that is probably  slightly out of budget but feels like it’s a meal that’s worth the extravagance because #yolo ? Sometimes it happens because I’m completely out of cash and most times a splurge restaurant is fancy enough to accept credit cards. Sometimes it’s because it’s the last day of vacation and well, why not?

So for our splurge meal in Tokyo, we wandered down Ginza and found a place that looked pretty classy.I was a bit wary at first because I didn’t have wifi and couldn’t check out the reviews but the Beau thought it looked good. Plus they had Wagyu beef! Which means he might get away without having to eat any gizzards. He was quite excited.

So for our first course we ordered some calamari, which was pretty good. Then we has to figure out the Wagyu beef part. So there were three different cuts. Lean, moderate and fatty. I ordered the moderately fatty one while the Beau chose the fatty version. Each cut had to be at least 150gm. So we ordered 150gm of each cut. The Beau didn’t think the meat was going to be enough and ordered a risotto as well. But illbbe honest, the meat was thick. And succulent. And by the time we were done, I had to unbutton the top of my jeans. In short, the meal was excellent. And well worth the splurge!

Work in Progress

For my first fine dinning experience in Copenhagen, I obtained reservations to Work In Progress, so called because its a new restaurant by the Cofoco restaurant group, and apparently they haven’t quite decided on the name or the concept of the restaurant yet. It was located close to the University area, on the first floor of a hotel on Sankt Peders Stræde that also housed a fancy Burger joint.

The first course was a mussel soup with apple and squid, followed by a pork shank that was accompanied by a potato compote with bacon. The last course was ice cream made of honey and pear puree. I was enamored with the mussel soup and the squid was cut into noodle strips. I’m not normally a fan of onions but the potato compote with bacon was covered with onions which was very very good. I finished the whole thing! Bonus? The sides came on a different plate. I understand that its not very environmentally friendly but it did allow me to enjoy my sides without the potato compote interfering with my pork shank.

Here are the details:

Address: Sankt Peders Stræde 34, 1453 København K, Denmark
Open all week – Sunday only open in the evening
Tapas: 12:00-17:30
Dish of the day: 12:00-16:00
Evening menu: from 17:30. The kitchen closes at 22:00
I was told by the hotel concierge that because its a new restaurant, its easy to get a reservation but if you can’t call, try emailing!
email: workinprogress@cofoco.dk