Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Trip to Malacca

I departed Ipoh on 15 April at 11am and drove my proton car all the way to Malacca (south of Kuala Lumpur).
I stopped for lunch at Sungai Buloh rest area after around 2 hour-driving. I like Sungai Buloh rest area because it has many choices of food/fast food inside the bridge across the North-South highway, such as Burger King, A&W, and some local food restaurants. So, you can enjoy your food while looking down the cars passing the highway. The restrooms are clean and very big with many rooms for ladies and gents. There is a separate surau for male and female. The baby room is quite complete too. It provides powder, soap, and moisturizer for free to freshen up your baby.

After having lunch, I continued the journey to Malacca from Sungai Buloh by taking the highway that leads to KLIA/Seremban/Johor Bahru (E6), then in Dengkil, I had to take highway E2 to Johor Bahru.
About 1.5hour later, I got out of high way at Simpang Ampat to take road 19 that leads to Malacca Town.
After about half an hour later, I arrived in Malacca town. Geez...many of the roads are 1 way road, so if I want to go to a specific road, I have to make a big loop to get there. But driving in Malacca town is pretty easy because not many cars on the road.

Finally I arrived in the hotel at around 4pm. I checked in and had a rest for an hour then went out to see Malacca town before the sun set.

Malacca town is such a historical town. The city has a very heavy influence of Portuguese/Dutch and Chinese peranakan cultures. All the historical buildings are preserved and are accessible for tourists.
I parked my car in front of St. Xavier's church (was built in 1840 and is still used until now) and paid a parking coupon. Then I walked down to enter the historical zone. At the entrance of the zone, it's written "Selamat Datang. Anda kini memasuki zon warisan sejarah negara (Welcome, you are now entering national heritage zone)".
The city is literally painted in red. All historical buildings/houses are painted in red. It's magnificent! It's just beautiful. My hand just couldn't stop taking pictures.
There is Melaka Art Gallery, Christ Church, and Stadthuys. These buildings were very old and they are painted in red. There is a small windmill too.
Then I went up to St. Paul Church to see the sunset and also to see this oldest church in Melaka (was built in 1541). After that, I quickly went down to see the most famous fortress gate in Melaka, the A Famosa (in Portuguese language it means The Famous).

From there, I took a trishaw ride to go back to where I parked my car. The trishaw is beautifully decorated and full of music too. The trishaw driver is a Portuguese decendant. It cost me RM20 to go around from Dataran Merdeka to in front of St. Xavier's church.

After that, I had my dinner at Newton, traditional food village, where I could find the delicious local dishes. The grilled fish is so delicious but it's a bit too spicy for me.

The next day, I started my day at 10am. After I checked out of the hotel, I parked my car in front of Dataran Merdeka Melaka megamall. I had to display an hourly parking coupon so that I wouldn't get a ticket... :) It cost RM60cents per hour or RM5 for a whole day parking.
I had my breakfast and lunch inside the foodcourt of the megamall. The food there is not bad, especially the fried rich from the Hainanese Chicken rice-stall. I love the soft bun kaya too.

When I got tired walking around the malls (there is another mall called Mahkota Parade), I drove my car around the city trying to visit more tourist attractions (which are so many!!).
But since my driving skill is limited, I just opted to visit Baba and Nyonya heritage museum which is not too far from the heritage zone and the Maritime Museum.
Unfortunately, when I arrived there, both museums were closed. So I just walked down the street where the chinese peranakan are lived. I went to a Mahjong shop where a couple made the Mahjong by themselves. I bought a set of gin rummy cards and a set of Mahjong cards.

After that, I had dinner at Nancy's kitchen restaurant, No.15 Jalan Hang Lekir (3rd Cross Street) off jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock (just 2 door away from the Mahjong shop). At Nancy's kitchen restaurant, you can find all the delicious authentic nyonya cuisines (chinese peranakan dishes). I was lucky because usually, this restaurant is not open for dinner. On that day, they had to open because a bunch of Australian tourists had booked to have dinner there. Nancy herself greeted us together with her husband as if we visited her house as a family. This restaurant is quite famous even the president of Singapore has visited this restaurant before. I found it by accident (lucky me!!)... :D

I ordered assam fish, dabel curry chicken (devil curry chicken - it's called 'devil' because it's bloody spicy), nyonya soup, kacang botol with sambal belacan, and of course for the dessert, I ordered bubur chacha. Bubur chacha is actually the same as kolak in Indonesia. The food is just so so so delicious. I ate like a pig! The price of the food is very reasonable. I think it's quite cheap :)
I also bought Nancy's homemade cookies such as kueh bangkit, kueh nastar (pineapple jam cookie), and fried shallot. Nancy's cookies are very very delicious!! Honestly!
Nancy and her husband give cooking classes as well. They can be contacted at (606)2836099/ (606) 2844462. The restaurant is open at 11am - 5.30pm everyday, except Tuesday.

At around 7pm, I drove back to Ipoh and arrived Ipoh at around midnite after 1 stop to take a leak at Tapah.

I really had a great time in Malacca. I do recommend you to visit this most historical city in Malaysia. The people in Malacca are just super duper nice and friendly. I am sure you will have a wonderful experience in Malacca. Don't forget to check out the photos here:

For more information about Melaka, please visit: or

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Finding Nemo - Disney on Ice Asia

Last weekend we drove 2.5 hours from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur to see Finding Nemo Disney on Ice at Stadium Putra Bukit Jalil. Since the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix race in Sepang was about to begin on the same day, we decided parked our car in the hotel and took LRT to Bukit Jalil.

My son did not know where we were going and why he wore that special Finding Nemo T-shirt. He had no idea that his parents were about to give him a wonderful surprise.
He was just happy to take the LRT train. He said he rode on Thomas train (Thomas the tank engine & friends).
When we arrived at Bukit Jalil, we headed to the Ice ring stadium right away. Along the way my son was very happy to see Nemo posters leading to where the show would be.

Once we were inside. There were sooooo many kids running around with their parents and many people selling Finding Nemo characters. My son was blown away. I saw his big smile on his face. He was soooo excited. He run like a shooting star the moment my husband put him down.

These are Marlin and Dory soft toys. BTW, these soft toys are not cheap!

We got VIP seat near the ice ring, so we could see the show clearly. My son was ecstatic when the show started. He screamed and clapped so loud on his daddy's lap, especially when he first saw Mickey, Donald, Minnie, and Goofy to open the show. He was more excited when Dory, the huge turtle and the huge whale came out.
I could see that my son was extremely happy. My husband and I were even happier. We knew he would be very excited to see this show. My son loves Finding Nemo. He knows almost all the name of the characters and he remembers the story line.
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From KL to Singapore, vice versa

I love to visit Singapore at least once a year, not only for shopping but also for visiting my friends or for just a trip down the memory lane. Yeah...I used to work and stay there for 3 years. It was 3 years of hard working but at the same time it was also 3 years of gaining marvelous experience in my life.
I have many friends in Singapore and they are very happy to see me each time I come. To me, they are not just 'friends', but they are more like a family to me.

Since I moved to Peninsular Malaysia about 2 years ago, it is so much easier and cheaper to go to Singapore. There are many ways to go there other than just taking a plane which is quite expensive for a 45 minute-flight from Kuala LumpurInternational Airport (KLIA).

Last year, I went to Singapore twice, in January and in May.
In January, I took Senandung Malam train from Kuala Lumpur sentral Station to Singapore. I bought premier night deluxe tickets for me and my maid. My son didn't need a ticket because he was under 4 years old. We got a private cabin with 2 beds and a toilet. There was a TV as well. We were given toileteries, some snacks and hot drinks. The journey was quite long but most of the time we just slept and when we woke up in the morning, it was at Johor Bahru already. The Malaysian Immigration officers went up to the train and chopped our passport to get out of Malaysia. 5 minutes later, we arrived at Woodlands, Singapore immigration check point. Here, we had to take our passport to get chop to enter Singapore and we had to bring all our belonging down to get screened.
The train departs from KL sentral at 10.00pm and will arrive in Singapore at 08.20am
The ticket ex-Kuala Lumpur is RM130 (for lower bed)/RM110 (for upper bed). If you want the whole cabin by yourself, the ticket price is RM180.
The ticket ex-Singapore is the same but the currency is in Singapore Dollar.
For more information, please visit KTMB website ( Train to Singapore is catagorized as intercity train.

In May last year, we took Air Asia. At that time, there was still direct flight Ipoh-Johor (Senai International Airport)-Ipoh. Unfortunately, now this route is not served anymore.
From Senai, my Singaporean friend picked us up and drove us to Singapore.
On the way back to Senai, Johor from Singapore, I took any morning train from Singapore to Kulai, Johor. Kulai is the nearest train station to Senai Airport. The ticket price was SGD12/person one way. From Kulai, we had to take a taxi to Senai. The taxi price was RM10.

In March this year, I wanted to try something different. So, I took an executive bus from Kuala Lumpur - Singapore and back. It's Aeroline bus. This super executive bus is really comfortable. The bus has LCD screen, meeting room, toilet, and even kitchen with microwave and water boiler. Each seat has plug point for your laptop/electronic gadget.
The ticket price ex-Kuala Lumpur is RM80/person and RM50/child one way. The ticket price includes food, snack, hot drink, and a bottle of mineral water. The bus departs from Corus hotel in Kuala Lumpur and arrives in Harbourfront, Singapore. From Singapore, the bus departs from Harbourfront and it arrives at Corus hotel, Kuala Lumpur. The journey takes 5 hours with 1 time stop to take a leak... :)
The bus stops at Johor Bahru for Malaysia Immigration check point and at Woodlands for Singapore Immigration check point and vice versa. We need to bring all our luggages down for immigration inspection at the country entry check point.
Along the way, you can see the beautiful scenery of Southern peninsular Malaysia.

When you are in Singapore, you really do not have to worry about public transportation there because Singapore has the best and most convenient public transportation in the world!! Anywhere you want to go in Singapore, there is always an MRT, LRT, buses, and of course, taxis. For the taxis, if the queu is long, I suggest you call the taxi and within 5-7 minutes, you'll get on to your taxi. The taxi phone numbers are Taxi comfort: (65) 6552 1111 / (65) 6552 2222 or SMRT taxi: (65)6555 8888.

But if you are in Kuala Lumpur, try to go to places where you don't have to take a taxi. If you do need to, then it's better for you to just rent-a-car. Otherwise, Kuala Lumpur has a good train system. There is LRT, monorail, KL Express (from KLIA-KL sentral).
For more information and directory or map train system in Malaysia, visit this website:

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Souvenir from Jakarta part 2

The last time I went back to Jakarta, I got a chance to spend 3 weeks there. It was the longest period I've ever stayed in Jakarta since 2003.
Since I left Jakarta 10 years ago, I don't go back there too often. But everytime I go back Jakarta, many things have changed that make me feel more and more like a stranger there. I am even 'a guest' in my parents' house because I do not know anymore how things are run there.
Many times my dad scolded me for spoiling things at home or for opening the door for a salesman who pretend to be an officer from Pertamina. Luckily nothing bad happened.

I have forgotten that you just can't simply trust anyone at all in Jakarta. So many people will do anything, I mean anything, you can never imagine to get some money the easy way.
My mom has kept on telling me to stay alert ("don't let your mind go blank!" that's what my mom says) everywhere I go to avoid being hipnotized and robbed.
One of her friends has been hipnotized before and she was asked to withdraw all her money from the nearest ATM. Luckily, she was alert and she even said a prayer out loud to scare the person that hipnotized her.

Everytime I go back Jakarta, I'm always stuck at home unless my parents or my friends are nice enough to take me out for a drive or just for a walk in the malls.
There are too many shopping malls in Jakarta. Around my house alone, there are 3 shopping malls considered the nearest to the neighborhood.
There is good and bad. The good thing, you don't have to go too far to enjoy shopping/meet friends who lives in the same area/spend time with family or just to enjoy the cold Air Conditioner inside the mall when the weather is very hot/when there is an electricity black out at your neighborhood because usually, the malls are immune to the black out (My dad likes to go the nearest shopping mall when there is an electricity black out in my neighborhood because at home, we can't open the window to let the air in. If we do open the window, the mighty mosquitoes will be having a party inside my house the whole night).
2 obvious bad things of having too many shopping malls are:
  1. There is less and less area for water/rain water retention that can cause flood in Jakarta.
  2. Heavy traffic jam.
The high living cost in Jakarta is also another thing that I am not familiar with. Coming from Ipoh (which I think has the lowest living cost in Malaysia), I am not used to spend so much money for a bowl of noodle. Just for a comparison, a very big bowl of noodle complete with big prawn and fish cake, in Ipoh, it will cost me RM4 (= 10,000rupiah), but in Jakarta, a small bowl of noodle will cost me minimum 18,000rupiah. In some places it even costs 25,000rupiah(= RM10)! And still people buy...

The last time I was in Jakarta, the price of rice was sky rocketing. Government has tried to control the price and helped the poor to get the rice, but unfortunately, there are some people who just don't care about anything else in the world other than their own bloody fat tummy and they bought all the cheap rice from the Government and sold it to the poor with a high price.

But then, despite all these still many people survive in Jakarta. One example is this family who lives in the neighborhood I grew up in (my previous post). They are the 'orang asli' (origin) of Jakarta or the popular name is Betawi people/Batavian.
They have become my neighbor since I moved to the neighborhood when I was 5 years old.
I honestly am amazed with their spirit to survive the high living cost in Jakarta with only a non-fixed income job.

Here they are:

This is Kong (Mr.) Nyamus and Mak (Mrs.) Nyamus.
Kong Nyamus used to work as a school gardener
to feed his children. Mak Nyamus massaged people
to get some money. When I was small, mak Nyamus
used to cook for me. Her sayur asam is the best sayur asam
I've ever tasted.

The one in motorbike is one of many Nyamus' sons. He is twins. The other one doesn't live there anymore. He grew up with me and my brother. He used to take my brother to school everyday. His job now is a motorbike taxi (or 'ojek' in local language) driver. He is married with 2 sons. Both don't go to school because this guy doesn't have enough money to pay for his sons education.

The lady in pink shirt is Nyamus' youngest daughter. She is the same age as me. We grew up together. The other lady works as a domestic helper for my neighbor. I don't know when she came into the neighborhood.

These 2 boys are cousins. One is son of the ojek driver above, and the other one is son of the pink shirt lady.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

My neighborhood

This is the neighborhood I grew up in. Yes, I don't come from a rich family, so I don't live in a rich neighborhood. These houses have been there since I was 5 years old. It sustains the development of high rise condominium and big shopping mall nearby. The kids there were preparing to go for fishing. They are my friends' children. The one with the blue door is their house. They were very happy to see me. They have never been in a photograph before so they were very excited when I took their photographs. And when I told them that their faces can be seen by people from all over the world, they got even more excited.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Doner Kebab@Puri Mall

My mother has reminded to put this story here to give another example of jungle life in the city but this time happened in Jakarta.

At that night, I took my parents for a walk at Puri Mall and we decided to have dinner at the foodcourt there. Before we went back home, my mom wanted to buy a lamb kebab for take-away. My mom has been longing to have a lamb Kebab from Doner Kebab restaurant. She's been dreaming about it and promised to herself that she would only have it with me.
I accompanied her to order 1 lamb kebab. At that time, there was another customer before us who ordered 4 vegetable kebab. After I placed an order and paid, the cashier asked me and my mom to step aside and wait for the lamb kebab. We followed the instruction.

After for about 20 minutes, we still haven't been called for our lamb kebab while we have seen many other customers ordering different kinds of kebab and I could see that Doner Kebab crews were overwhelmed by the orders. It was very chaotic because some people have come back because they got their kebab different from what they had ordered earlier.
My mom came forward and asked if her kebab was ready or not and instead of asking an apology or giving some nice explanation to my mom, the cashier shouted at my mom to step aside and just wait. I got pissed off and stepped forward to face the cashier. I tried to explain nicely to the cashier what we have ordered and how long we have waited patiently.
The cashier also shouted at me to wait because the lamb kebab not ready. She was extremely rude! I did not move and stared at her. She quickly went to the kitchen and came out again with a package of kebab. She gave me the kebab and said "this is your lamb kebab!" and pushed the kebab to me. I still stared at her but I took the kebab. Meanwhile, there were other customers who yelled at her impatiently for their kebabs.

I walked off together with my mom and went back home.

At home, my mom quickly opened the kebab and ready to enjoy her dream kebab while telling me all stories about how long she had dreamt of eating that kebab. Once she bit her kebab, she realized that her lamb kebab was not lamb kebab. It was vegetable kebab. The vegetable kebab is alot cheaper compared to lamb kebab I have paid for! She got soooooo upset. She thought that kebab was one of the vegetable kebabs ordered by the customer before us. She was extremely upset and disappointed. She was very angry with her self for wanting to eat kebab so badly. I felt bad, terribly bad. I asked her if she wanted to return to Doner Kebab restaurant to change the kebab and complain and talk to the manager. My mom refused. I was disappointed too. My mom blamed me for staring at the cashier that made the cashier went to the kitchen and took any package of kebab to make me go away.

I really didn't like the attitude of Doner Kebab cashier. I really do not recommend Doner Kebab to anyone! That's how you will be treated! No apology or explanation! Just plain rude!
What a jungle way of life in the city of Jakarta!