Last year, we only managed to squeeze in a 2 days 1 night stay in Malacca. Unfortunately, the region here was choked full of haze from the Indonesian forest fires and our stay in Malacca was quite badly affected. The burning smell was so strong we would rather stay in door if we could. It wasn’t so pleasant to venture outdoor.
So this year, we made another trip to Malacca in September but for a two nights stay this time. About two weeks before our departure, haze from Indonesian forest fires raised its ugly head again threatening to ruin our short vacation. Thankfully, the haze situation was not as bad as last year and after a few days with the help of change in wind direction, the situation was under control. However, few days prior to our departure, the outbreak of Zika virus put a dampener to our trip where most people would be trying to stay away from getting mosquito bites.
Our hotel booking was done a few months earlier during the Accor sales where we had an excellent rate for our accommodation at Novotel Melaka Hotel. We also had a great deal on coach travel booked during the Malaysian Travel Fair where a return bus trip for two of us cost only $50. With transportation and accommodation all settled, we waited for September to arrive which came soon enough.
Day 1 – Singapore to Malacca
We took a train ride to Bugis MRT Station and exited at Exit A. Straight ahead as we walked would lead to Queen Street where the bus terminal is located our own right across another traffic junction. At the traffic junction ahead, we turned left to head to McDonalds for breakfast as it was only 6.45 am. This restaurant operates 24 hours, so this is a good place to have a quick meal as most eateries are still closed at this time of the day, unless we wish to venture further into the Albert Court Food Centre for hawker food. This would however, take up more time and cause more stress before our bus trip.
After a quick meal, we walked over to the bus terminal and confirmed our seats at the small ticket office outside the bus terminal. The bus from 707 Inc was already there parked by the road side. A few fellow travellers were also waiting along the road outside the bus. The bus wasn’t there when we went for breakfast so it was good time for us to fill our stomach before the bus ride.
The bus driver wasn’t around but the front door was left open. We went up to locate our seats and sat down to read the newspapers we collected outside Bugis MRT Station earlier. Soon, fellow travellers began filling up the bus. The bus was nearly full and the driver came up to check his passenger list and then we left Queen Street bus terminal at 7.30 am.
The bus travelled west passing the imposing office towers at the city centre and then travelled on the AYE heading to Jurong industrial area. This was the time where many people who worked in the west were heading to work so there was considerable traffic along the way. Nevertheless, we arrived at Tuas Check Point before 8.30 am.
Clearing immigration was a breeze for us. We had to wait for about 10 minutes before the bus got through custom inspection. All the passengers then boarded the bus and we moved off again and headed towards Malaysia. In about 10 minutes, we brought down all our belongings to clear immigration on the Malaysian side and had our bags scanned.
It didn’t take very long. Everyone boarded the bus again in about 15 minutes and this time, we could simply rest as we travelled on the highway towards Malacca. Most passengers tried to rest and catch up with some more sleep as we got up rather early this morning. Some read the papers while others fiddle with their mobile devices for a while. We were thankful it was a quiet bus ride unlike some bus rides in China where we had to bear with some excessively loud passengers talking nonstop disturbing those who wish to catch some sleep.
Near 10.30 am, the bus pulled up at a rest area outside a petrol station for passengers to go for a short toilet break. The bus was not parked near the rest area where the shops and restaurants were located to prevent passengers from taking a much longer break. Malacca is not very far from Singapore anyway so just a quick toilet break would suffice. It would be a good idea to have an early breakfast before taking this journey because unlike other bus journey to Kuala Lumpur and beyond, a much longer break is catered for at the huge rest stop after Yong Peng exit where plenty of food options and shopping are available.
In under 10 minutes, everyone was back on the bus and we moved on again and Malacca wasn’t far away now. Not long after, we exited at Ayer Keroh and headed towards Malacca City. We reached Melaka Sentral Bus Interchange where many passengers alighted. From here, they could take buses to head to other parts of the city or other cities as well. The driver went to the office to settle his official matter and then returned to the bus. We moved off again leaving only 4 of us on the bus as we made our way to the tourist district of the old town.
Eventually, the bus pulled up along the main road outside Hatten Hotel and all of us got off the bus. My wife and I then entered Hatten Mall and was surprised to find Tim Ho Wan had opened a restaurant there. We were not in the mood for Hong Kong tim sum for the day. Having a quick check on their menu, we moved on through the mall and exited next to the 7-11 convenience store. Further down along the side road are bus bays where we would be taking a bus from here back to Singapore in two days time.
We walked through the side street and headed towards Jalan Melaka Raya 2 and we arrived Novotel Melaka Hotel in under 5 minutes. The hotel was still the same as last year and we wasted no time to approach front desk for check in procedure. Very quickly, we were given the card keys to our room because we had already done our online check in before leaving Singapore.
Our room was located on the 15th floor and this time, we were given a room facing the city where the view was not bad too. The condition of the room was excellent and typical Novotel standard. Everything worked and we had no serious issue with the room or its amenities except hair-conditioner was not provided. My wife then called housekeeping but they sent more shampoo instead. So we thought they might have run out of conditioner or they don’t provide this item and we decided the head for lunch instead for following up on the matter.
We left the hotel and walked towards Jalan Merdeka and then went to Dataran Pahlawan Mall. We entered from the side entrance and checked the menu of Secret Recipe near the entrance. We decided we would return for tea later. We walked further into the mall to have a look at other restaurants. We passed the familiar Wong Kok Restaurant but decided to move on. Eventually, we settled down at the Johnny’s Restaurant for a simple lunch.
After lunch, the real mission began. Dear wife sprang into action with the first stop at the Guardian Store. Since the outbreak of Zika, insect repellents were flying off shelves in Singapore and became difficult to find items. Over in Malacca, such products were still readily available. However, over in Johor next door to Singapore, it might be difficult get such items as well.
My wife happily bought a number of essential items besides insect repellents and Guardian was having a promotion of buying three items for the price of two. So on top of the favourable exchange rate, the prices for these items were really good and my wife was of course beaming with joy. It was really great to be able to purchase such items for the current situation we had to deal with and such news was also heavily reported in Malaysia. We were surprised Malaysian had not snapped up these essentials.
Next, we entered Brands Outlet. My wife was checking out bags for our older boy. So we snapped picture for a few bags to check with him later. After this we continued to roam the mall. It was a Thursday, so the mall was rather quiet. No promotional event was set up at the main atrium. Having checked out a few more shops, we left the mall and walked across the road to Mahkota Parade.
Mahkota Parade wasn’t any busier as well. However, huge Malaysian flags adorned the main atrium as Malaysian Independence Day was just the day before. My wife spent quite some time at Watsons this time. Woman always has stuff to buy while I waited outside the store. Having done shopping at Watson, we explored the mall here. We went to level three to check out the sports shop where we bought two pairs of Adidas shoes last year. There were no sales at the shop so we left. Finally, we entered Parkson Departmental Store to check out what were on sale.
After spending some time checking out prices, we exited Parkson through the side entrance, crossed the road, we went over to Hatten Mall. We entered H&M Store and took a quick look then left the store. We then went up to Sports Direct Store to check out sports gear and shoes. Last year, we bought quite a lot of stuff from here and the staff were really helpful and friendly. We spent some time here and I tried on a pair of Asics shoes that was on sale at only RM145. The pair of shoes was meant for our younger son. It was rather comfy and it looked good too. So we took pictures of the shoes to check with my son before getting it for him.
We went up another level to head back over to Dataran Pahlawan which is connected to Hatten Mall via a bridge. There were more shops here and we shopped along the way. It was near to 3.30 pm so we went back to ground floor to have tea at Secret Recipe. Their Tea Time Special was good where we could order a slice of cake and get a cup of coffee or a pot of tea for free. So we chose a cheese cake and a moist chocolate cake and settled down to rest a while.
We also used their free wifi to check with our boys whether the bags and shoes were good for them. Our older boy didn’t need the bag but our younger son liked the pair of shoes. So we would head back over to Sports Direct to get the shoes after tea. Our cakes and coffee and tea came. The cheese cake was good but the moist chocolate cake was anything but moist. It was so dry we couldn’t even finish the cake. Anyway, the tea time special cost only RM8.80 per set so we didn’t make it an issue.
Having rested and recharged, we went back to Sports Direct to purchase the Asics sports shoes. It was a good buy and we were pretty sure our younger boy would enjoy wearing this pair of shoes to school. We then left Hatten Mall and walked along Jalan Merdeka to head back to Novotel Melaka Hotel.
Along the way, we dropped in at Scents & Senses to check out on their massage packages. The price of packages was rather reasonable. For a 90 minutes package, it was from RM90 onwards. We were full of shopping bags and we would like to have a quick swim before our massage. So we booked a massage at 5.30 pm.
It was already overcast as we made our way back to Novotel Melaka Hotel. Very quickly, we returned to our room. We were surprised a plate of fruits was left in our room while we were away. It was a nice gesture indeed. We changed and then went to the swimming pool on the 5th floor. Only one male hotel guest was swimming when we arrived.
We took our plunge for a quick swim as the skies were threatening to pour any moment. The water was surprisingly still quite warm as it was rather hot earlier of the day. While we swam our laps, it started to drizzle. Soon the drizzle turned into light rain and we had to leave the pool.
Back in our room, we showered and got ready to head out for our massage. From our room windows, we could see the rain had more or less subsided. But when we exited the hotel lobby, it was still drizzling. So we entered the hotel and approached the hotel staff to borrow an umbrella. We were given a good size umbrella to share as we made our way to Scents & Senses.
In under 5 minutes, we arrived at the Thai Massage outlet on time for our 5.30 pm appointment. This place was rather pleasant. We were ushered to sit down to get our feet washed before being invited to go up to the rooms for our massage. Couple rooms were already occupied so we were assigned to rooms beside each other.
The ambience of the place was good with soothing piped music. Soon, we were put to ease to indulge in some relaxing therapy to get our stiff muscles worked on. These masseurs were really professional and they were from Thailand. We had a much better experience here than in Thailand.
So quickly 90 minutes were up and they did not cut corners with the time allocated for the massage. Hot ginger tea was served after the massage which was very good. After making payment, we crossed the road and walked back to Novotel Melaka Hotel. It had already stopped raining and we were glad we could find time to slot in this massage session on the first day.
Hot towels were used to wipe away the oil on our bodies earlier but we still preferred to shower again before we head out for dinner. When we were ready, we went to the hotel lobby to check out the menu from the restaurant. The a la carte menu seemed to be sufficient for us. As it was already dark by now and we were too lazy to head out to look for restaurant for dinner, we simply settled in to have dinner at the hotel.
The restaurant was rather dark because we were the only diners that evening. However, the staff turned on more lights while we were there. We ordered the local dishes and waited for our food. We were actually more tired and thirsty than hungry so some simple and easy food would do for us. Our food arrived after a while.
As we started with our dinner, the singers outside the restaurant at the lounge also began to sing. So we had some musical accompaniment for our dinner. They sang oldies pretty well. Unfortunately, due to an empty lounge, it was a rather sad and pathetic sight and we felt sorry for the male and female singers. Anyway, we enjoyed our meals over some sentimental songs of the seventies. We were really full even though we just had a plate of food for each of us. Of course as Accor Plus members, our dinner came with a 50% discount which would be much cheaper than having dinner in a restaurant elsewhere.
After dinner, before returning to our room, we had a chat with one of the hotel front desk staff who asked about our stay so far. We then enquired whether the hotel was no longer providing hair conditioner because we didn’t get any conditioner in our room. He was surprised and immediately called house keeping and told them to send us some hair conditioner.
So we returned to our room and not long after, a hotel staff came over and handed us some tubes of hair conditioner. There would still be some language barrier in international hotel chains where some staff could not understand and communicate proficiently in English. Anyway, this was just a small matter.
We then settled down to pack our shopping spoils for the day and chill our night away watching TV. We were also connected with the children back home with the hotel’s excellent wifi. We were of course thankful and grateful there was no haze and no Zika here in Malacca. It was a great day no doubt. Having left home very early in the morning and having had a full day, we could not stay up for long. Soon we slumbered into dreamland looking forward to another great and exciting day following.
Continue to Day 2 …