My lack of planning, favouring spontaneity, had worked well up until this point. The existential crisis I now faced was my own fault, as my Lonely Planet had warned that you should book ahead for Melaka especially at weekends and, what do you know, I ended up with Melaka on my agenda exactly over the weekend. The hotels I had selected were available on Friday or Sunday but not Saturday, what a dilemma! After a whole lot of umming and ahhing I settled for the Friday night and then booked an extra two nights at a hotel in Singapore, where I was guaranteed to find something to keep me occupied. I faced similar problems when leaving Melaka, however, as the bus I had chosen, with a convenient pick-up directly at the hotel and arriving right in the city centre, was full – as were most of the others, and I desperately started researching trains and taxis to be able to continue my journey.
Anyway, enough with the boring logistics – part of the adventure, isn’t it? – and on to the historical city state of Melaka, or Malacca. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s crammed full of Dutch and Portuguese colonial shopfronts, antique shops and Chinese temples.
A fascinating mix of the old and the new, the antique and the modern, the authentic and the kitsch – but a day in the town of Melaka was plenty for me, and I was happy to move on to the last stop on this particular trip: Singapore.
The practical bit:
Flight Langkawi-Kuala Lumpur: I flew Malaysia Airlines for RM 150 including luggage, arriving in at KLIA. The airport is about an hour away from Kuala Lumpur city centre.
Bus Kuala Lumpur-Melaka: I had researched a bus that would take me from Melaka directly from the airport, KLIA (instead of going into town first, which takes an hour, and taking a bus from there). I was pointed in the direction of a red company that left at 2pm but online I had seen that there was a bus leaving at 1pm. When I insisted, I was reluctantly taken over to the Transnacional bus, which left as planned just a few minutes later. The bus ticket was RM 25 and it stopped first at KLIA2 (15 minutes away), the budget airline terminal before continuing on to Melaka Sentral. From there, I took a taxi (voucher from the taxi counter) to my hotel for RM 20.
Casa del Rio hotel: On arriving, I was ushered into a lounge area by the pool and received a welcome drink, a lime sorbet, with a lovely little “Welcome home Ms Lundberg” message. I also received a spa voucher for RM 50 but watch out: (a) it was full when I arrived, so book ahead during busy periods and (b) it doesn’t apply to the cheaper/shorter treatments.
Bus Melaka Sentral-Singapore: After a brief delay where I wondered if the bus would turn up or not, we departed at 2.45pm; I eventually got off the bus in Singapore at 8.30pm. As we approached the border, the bus stopped first at Malaysian immigration where we got off leaving our bags on the bus. We went up to get our passports checked, through customs “nothing to declare” and then down an escalator to find our bus. Top tip: keep your eye out for distinctive-looking people from your bus and you can follow them (though this didn’t work for me, as I almost followed what turned out to be the wrong person onto the wrong bus). We spent quite some time in a traffic jam on the bridge and then reached Singapore immigration. This time we took our luggage off the bus, filled out a card, had our passports checked, bags x-rayed (“Liquor? Cigarettes? Okay.), and found the bus again. Finally we were dropped in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere… I crossed the road to the Kampung V shopping mall, exchanged my leftover ringgit, and waited in line for a taxi to my hotel.