I told VinXi and Sue I was gonna give really bad reviews to Ringos Foyer Guesthouse. This is why. We took the bus from Melaka Sentral to the Dutch Square then trekked for at least 5 kilometres under the hot sun on a Monday noon searching for the hostel. Okay...when we were finally there, we pressed on the door bell for a couple of times and no one was there. I even got so frustrated that I pressed on the bell like a maniac. I think the sun must have gotten to me. No one was there, we were tired, sweating and stranded. Thank God we didn't get sunstroke and pass out in the middle of heavy trafic. That will be an experience to remember. Anyway...I read several reviews and heard that Ringos was a great place to stay. They got 86% on their overall review. Well...they didn't mention they don't operate on lunch hours, did they!? So, why is it that we couldn't get the amazing service reviewed on HostelWorld? Like lost lambs, we trekked everywhere for a place to stay...wasting hours of our precious time that could be used to eat cendol!!
The Dutch Square
Church of St.Francis Xavier
First trip ever without any of my family with me...just friends. Surprisingly, my parents let me. Okay, it's just 2 hours away from KL...so, not that bad laa. Mission for the trip on our minds were...FOOD! Yes...lots of good food. Not Stadhuys, A'Famosa or Taman Buaya...those crap we always write in our primary school essays. I've been to Melaka tons of times. In Form 3's school trip, I went to Melaka too but it wasn't much because they just brought us to some quiet, boring fruit farm and Mahkota Parade. There wasn't Jonker Street or all that good stuff. I had it all planned. The places we would go, the food we will eat, the place we will stay and how we'd go there. They slept at my house the day before then we head over to Puduraya for a bus to Melaka. I thought a bus ticket would cost RM9...but a backpacker virgin like me didn't think of the government tax at all. Everything I had was from the internet. Internet has good info..but experience is way better.
The Dutch Square
Church of St.Francis Xavier
Finally, we found a reasonable guesthouse to stay the night in. It's called River View Guest House. Yeah, I wrote a good review for this one. The owners, Raymond and Mani were really friendly. They told us to help ourselves to anything in the kitchen. It was as if we were in our own house...supported by SueFinn's constant referral to the guesthouse as 'home'. It's pretty new...so there weren't many people staying there. We could even choose our own room and it has a view of the Melaka River!! Ferries would pass by the guesthouse and we would wave at them. Okay...it's pretty hot in the room, especially if you're used to the ac. It's just next to Jonker Street with full access to pubs(not that we went), public transports, and definitely, good food.
Speaking of good food, Melaka has it all. The first thing we had was chicken rice balls at Hoe Kee restaurant. It was really good and cheap. I only paid 5 bucks for the meal which is wayy cheaper than the price in KL. After that, cendol for dessert. This guy specializes in Nyonya cendol and his shop is full of collectibles from Coca-Cola. It was like stepping into a museum. It was just opposite Hoe Kee...so, we didn't do much walking for the cendol we had been waiting days for. After that, we did some walking around Jonker Street and got a map from the Tourist Police. Even with the map, we managed to get lost a couple of times more than necessary....usually led by me. We took the Panorama bus around town. Went to Mahkota Parade and Dataran Pahlawan. Which I must say, are the only places we can find people our age. Jonker Street is quiet on weekdays. If you want to go Melaka for nightlife, you should go on fridays and weekends where stalls are open at night. But with so many people, you'd have to wait in line for everything. We went to the Portuguese Settlement too...and saw the sea! Okay...it's wasn't really the sea...it's the Straits of Melaka...but it's the closest we can get to the sea. The beach was really dirty though...and I saw some ships dumping oil into the waters. But there were still a few fishing boats nearby. VinXi made a joke about the sun. She pointed at the sun and the beach and said, "sun of a beach". Haih..now wonder the sun was glaring at us that day...
Got lost on the way to eat dinner...again, my fault but thank heavens for people and directions. We had satay celup for dinner. I actually planned to go Capitol Satay but it was closed. So, we had to eat at the pirated version of it...the one next door. I forgot it's name...but it was alright. It was just 8pm but shops were already closed. Trekked back to the hostel...didn't get lost there! Saw a stall selling fried oyster (ho jian) and they looked delicious. Rented bikes for tomorrow with the help of the guesthouse owner. Went back to talk, eat and finally slept at 2am. Oh...I just have to highlight VinXi's constant singing. At first, it was bearable but after a while...it was funny and annoying. She had to sing the whole night...at one point, she sang to the curtain on our window, as if it will close by itself with the help of her magical singing. Singing was still okay...but couple it up with dancing...you get the picture. And she's a huge fan of Super Junior. Even to the extent of watching MVs everyday and memorizing all their dance moves.
Next morning, we woke up at 5am and cycled to Bukit Cina to catch the sunrise. Actually...more like getting lost, then cycled to Bukit Cina. It was a nightmare...we followed the not-very-detailed map and I again, led us to nowhere. We had to ask for directions three times. At one point, we even cycled into a cemetary. We know where Bukit Cina is..it's just the question of how to go up. There was this creepy road up that we could have cycled up but it was just too scary...especially since Bukit Cina is where all the tombs are. So, we searched everywhere for an hour and finally found access up, next to a school The guards told us to go up only when there is more light. We actually woke up way earlier than necessary...but it was good too...since we wasted all that unnecessary time on getting lost. Saw the sky turning brighter...but the sun did not turn up...it was just too cloudy. Up there, we got really good view of Melaka city. It wasn't much...not like KL anyway. No skyscrapers or high-rise buildings. But it has a charming feel to it. Up there, people, mostly middle-aged, comes up to exercise. VinXi, mentioned that it was a good location for a music video. Really...with all the tombstones behind. Maybe we should recreate Michael Jackson's Thriller-asian version.
Had breakfast and went back to the hostel for a nap. More singing on VinXi's part. Cycled to Eye on Malaysia. We didn't get a chance to ride it in KL. It wasn't much of a view up there but it definitely reminded me of my phobia of heights. I paid 8 bucks for that ride and immediately regretted it when the ferris wheel moved. No one was there....we had the ride to ourselves. To me, cycling there was more fun than the ride itself. Mostly because there weren't any cars and we had the wind blowing on our faces. Went for lunch at MAM restaurant on Jonker Street. The baba laksa there is amazing! Very different than the laksa we're used to. It has lots of kaffir lime leaves in the soup with canned tuna. It doesn't have the oily and thick taste in normal curry laksa. It tasted refreshing and light. Had cendol and abc. Then we went to tapau chicken rice ball for the trip home and Sue bought pinneaple tarts. Took the bus back to Melaka Sentral and took the 'exclusive bus' which was a load of crap. The guy promised us a tv and drinks. All we had were the radio on Sinar fm and a pretty comfy seat. When I asked the driver to drop us off at KTM Serdang, he dropped us at some rest house next to UPM. Thank God my brother knows where to pick up up.
All in all...it was a great trip! Except the part of getting lost a lot. Had a great experience with food and the people there. To compare KL and Melaka is like comparing the past and the future of Malaysia. Throughout the trip, people offered to help us when we get lost. I call it, power of the map. When I hold my map up, the locals swarm to help us. When we cross the street, the cars stop for us. It was so different from what I know of KL. In KL, if you don't walk fast, cars will not stop for you and drivers will shout at you. Everything in KL is about luxury in the fastest way possible. KL people has no time to be friendly. There are robbers everywhere and the people around will just watch you getting robbed, expecting someone else to call 999 or help the victim out. In my previous posts, I mentioned buses in Malaysia being rude and the drivers unfriendly. Well, I was shown wrong. Buses in Malaysia isn't rude at all....only RapidKL buses are. In Melaka, we were shown Malaysian hospitality at its highest. The guesthouse owner was willing to help. The bus we took, Panorama, was constant. The drivers will ask us where we want to go and offer to direct us to the right station. It was a whole other view of Malaysia. However, I must say that the drains there are clogged up and really stinks. Reminds me of my hometown, actually. In Muar, the drains smell the same and had the same unidentified jelly-like substance that don't flow in the drains. Apart from that, Melaka was a breath of fresh air. Very much recommend it...go on weekends if you like the nightlife. But to me, going on weekdays was pretty good because we didn't have to get in line or face the crowds. Oh...and going with friends is way more enjoyable because you learn to be independent and you're not tied down by your parents.