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  • Writer's pictureRick

West Malaysia Day 11: Dragging My Feet to Kuala Lumpur

I had decided to go to Kuala Lumpur. Any destination beyond KL would require me to sit in a bus for 5 hours or more, which I would prefer not to. But I was in no hurry to get to KL. I preferred to linger in Malacca for a while longer.

I already decided where to have breakfast and I needed to be there earlier. I left the guest house at 7:30am and headed to the old town, which was super quiet at this time of the day. A handful of locals were going about their daily life. The busiest people were, perhaps, the cleaners, combing and clearing up the streets before tourists started pouring into the town.

Low Yong Moh Restaurant (荣茂茶室) was already half-full at 7:40am. I shared a table with an elderly. The staff came over and showed me his “menu” of dim sums — a tray full of various foodstuffs. I picked a few dishes, felt that it was too little for a nice photo, and picked a couple more.

I thought I over-ordered but it was still manageable. Low Yong Moh Restaurant had been my favourite place for traditional dim sums without frills and cheaper than fanciful restaurants.

It was only 8:30am after breakfast. I strolled around the streets, walking a little further outside the old town and then turned back again. I had not been paying much attention to street arts since I came to Malacca this time — well, blame the sun.

One fascinating thing in Melaka Old Town was that an Indian temple, a Malay mosque and a Chinese temple were located along one stretch of road — in fact, similar scenes could be found in Chinatowns of Singapore and Penang too.

I decided to go back to Tú Ann Việt Nam Cafe for some Vietnamese drip coffee. But they were running low on coffee beans and new stocks were not delivered yet. So, the lady boss suggested her iced Vietnamese milk coffee which used lesser coffee. I gladly accepted. While sipping the coffee, I chatted with the lady boss, a Vietnamese, about the coffee beans she brought in from Vietnam herself, which gave her coffee a nice aroma.

I went back to Kota Lodge, packed my things, charged my phone, etc, until there was nothing more to do.

11:15am, I checked-out and walked to the back entrance of Siang Ann Kopitiam. It was just a 5 minutes’ walk that allowed me to cut through the row of houses and the bus stop was quite near to Siang Ann’s main entrance, but it was not a nice thing to do. It did give me another opportunity to eat at Siang Ann Kopitiam.

I went for toasts this time since I had a hearty breakfast. On recommendation, I ordered their popular Hainanese French toast and a traditional butter-kaya toast. The cendol was not ready yet so I opted for iced longan almond tofu.

I was not in a hurry to get to Kuala Lumpur. Furthermore, there were tons of buses from Melaka Sentral to KL TBS. Even if all services to TBS were full, I could always get ticket to Shah Alam, or some other places, and transit to TBS.

12pm, the lunch crowd was coming in. Time to go. I walked to the bus stop, waited, and took Bus 17 to Melaka Sentral for RM1.50.

Before reaching Melaka Sentral, I used Easybook’s website to check on ticket statuses to KL Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS). It showed many seats were still available. But when I was purchasing a ticket at the auto-ticketing machines in Melaka Sentral later, it showed seats were sold out until 3pm. I bought a ticket for RM15.90.

A quick checked on Easybook again showed seats were still available for 1:30pm onwards. Not believing it, I tapped on each “Select” button a time, it did an update for the selection and indicated “fully booked” until I reached the 3:30pm bus. The information on the website was cached and had turned stale — I downloaded Easybook's mobile app later.

I had a little more than 2 hours to spare. I checked all corners of Melaka Sentral, there were no cafes except a MacDonald and Subway. MacDonald was full but Subway had seats and accepted cards. I went in, had a 6-inch roasted chicken sandwich and a cup of hot Americano, and sat in there till 2:30pm.

The 44-seater Melor Interline bus bounded for KL TBS departed at 3pm sharp. Once again, I had to leave one of my favourite travel spot and food haven. I was pondering to do a small loop back to Malacca instead of a big loop to Johor on the return journey…

The journey to Kuala Lumpur took slightly more than 2 hours due to slow traffic and congestions nearer to KL. And I remembered why I disliked staying in KL — it was the capital city, costly, crowded and congested.

The bus arrived at TBS at 5:14pm. In the terminal, I used KTM’s ticketing system to check for available train tickets to Ipoh, Taiping or Penang. All were sold out for the upcoming Saturday, the day I planned to leave KL. The “holiday period” of the festive Hari Raya was not over yet.

And I saw a scene in TBS that deterred me from buying last-minute bus ticket. Despite being a weekday, the queues at the manual ticketing counter were long. If each person used 5 minutes to get a ticket, 12 person would take an hour or more. I would never ever buy tickets here.

Not sure what should I do next, I proceeded to Chinatown, or Jalan Petaling, where I had booked my stay.

I exited TBS building, followed the signs to Bandar Tasik Selatan LRT Station, took the train towards to Sentul Timur (brown line), alighted at Plaza Rakyat LRT Station, walked over to Merdeka MRT, and took a MRT train for just one stop to Pasar Seni. I exited from Pasar Seni LRT Station and headed into Chinatown.

Petaling Street Market was the most crowded street in Chinatown. There were shops on both side of the street and makeshift stalls lining the street in front of the shops. But these stalls were permanent, they were not dismantled when the stalls closed for the day. It was also these stalls that made the street narrower.

At 7pm, I found SCC Gateway Chinatown Hotel at one end of the Petaling Street Market, checked in, got a windowless single room as booked, and I cursed! It seemed like the management of SCC had taken over what used to be Sasana Hotel and was still in the midst of refurbishing it. The stairway was dusty and there were cockroaches — I killed 4 little ones in my room over the next 2 days. Worst of all, soundproofing was non-existent. I could hear people showering next door, someone singing karaoke behind the wall of my room and vehicles honking outside the building. And there were stains on the pillowcase.

The reason why I booked an accommodation in Chinatown was because of its proximity to the Kuala Lumpur Train Station. But, as Kuala Lumpur’s network of rapid transits improved, this reason seemed weak. And, since there was no available train to my forward destinations on the coming Saturday, I had no reason at all to stay in Chinatown. But, it was more troublesome to forgo the booking and find another one. This was why I only booked 2 nights per accommodation on this trip with some flexibility to change hotel.

I dropped my backpack in the room and went to the street market below the hotel to find food. The first food stall I found was none other than Kim Lian Kee Hokkien Mee in the middle of the market. I had ate at this stall two times before and I still chose to eat the Hokkien mee here to reminisce the flavours.

Kim Lian Kee’s menu had expanded. If I had more chances to dine here, I would want to sample more dishes but since I last ate the Hokkien mee in 2017, I wanted to taste it again, so I ordered the small-size Hokkien mee — at RM15. The wood-fired noodle dish used thick noodle, non-oily and with a well-balanced flavour that is neither too sweet nor too salty. This was the old traditional taste that would not change — hopefully.

After the meal, I walked around the area to see what had changed and also to look out for delicious food.

30 minutes later, I was back in my room.

Later in the night, close to midnight, a lady screamed from her room and created a frantic commotion in the corridor. Followed by heavy footsteps to the lift lobby and, minutes later, came back with someone with a walkie-talkie — probably a big cockroach in her room.

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