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  • Writer's pictureRick

West Malaysia Day 25: Half Day in Malacca & Return to Singapore

25th day into the West Malaysia trip. It was a good day to go home. Any more days, I would have to purchase mobile data for another 5 days, wash my laundry and crack my head over whether to laze in Malacca or explore some new towns. But more importantly, another weekend and 1st May holiday were coming, I would have to pay higher rates for hotels just to linger in Malaysia.

Buses from Malacca to Larkin Sentral in Johor Bahru was never a concern on weekdays. If, for any reasons, all bus tickets were sold out, I could always get a ticket to any towns in Johor, such as Muar, Batu Pahat, Tangkak, etc, and transit from those towns to Larkin Sentral or, even better, to JB Sentral. But, longer travelling and waiting time would be needed. Last alternative would be to go to some tour agencies that provided direct transfers from certain hotels near the old town to Singapore at 2~3 times the price.

I would spent half a day in Melaka Old Town until check-out and then start the return journey to Singapore. No rush. First thing, breakfast.

The old town was very quiet in the early morning yet coffee shops were the busiest. I came to Heng Huat Coffee Shop, just a few steps from A.I Smart Hotel. The coffee shop was busy but few of the smaller tables were available. I took one table and ordered a small wanton noodle, from Ah Ma Wan Tan Mee stall, and kopi-o kosong and butter-kaya toasts from Heng Huat. I was very hungry, indeed.

Then came the morning loitering session between 9am to 10am. The sun was already at full force but shops and cafes were opening up slowly. Fighting off the urge to hide in the hotel till check-out, I wandered around the sleepy old town, hiding in shadows, finding places to sit and kill time.

Jonker Walk World Heritage Park was probably the best spot in the old town to offer sitting places, washrooms and rubbish bins apart from the sculpture of muscle man, Dr. Gan Boon Leong, in the middle of the park. But, it was still an open space.

I also bought some freshly-baked traditional pastries from Gu Pong (古邦土产专卖), a local products shop, which had been around longer than I could remember. I bought 2 packs of chicken floss tau sa (mung bean) biscuits and a box of pineapple tarts to take home. They could not fit into my backpack for sure, I would have to hand-carry them home.

Around 10am, I walked past French Brown cafe again, it had just opened its door and I jumped in. A cup of black coffee and a pistachio cromboloni earned me a seat in the air-conditioned cafe. I added a salted egg chicken floss yam roll to make it brunch. It would be at least 6 hours before the next meal.

It was my first time eating this pastry called cromboloni. Since I was provided with a fork and knife, I cut the pastry as though it was steak and made a mess of it. It probably was meant to be eaten by holding it in the hands.

An hour later, I returned to the hotel to check-out and walked to the bus stop, just round a corner, for Panorama Melaka Bus 17 (RM1.50) to Melaka Sentral. I did not wait for long for the bus.

On reaching Melaka Sentral, I booked the next bus to Larkin Sentral at 1pm via the Easybook app but there was no option for boarding QR. After purchasing the ticket online, I still had to proceed to the ticketing counters to get the boarding pass at RM0.70. It was a weekday, no long queues at the counters, yet the opened counters for “boarding pass only” was unmanned as it was lunch time. I waited 10 minutes for the staff to return before getting my boarding pass. I might as well purchase the ticket from the ticketing machines directly and save the hassle.

The Larkin-bound KKKL Express bus departed at 1pm and reached Larkin Sentral at 3:42pm, taking slightly longer due to slow traffic as expected.

Normally, buses from Malacca to Johor were non-stop, meaning no toilet break. Bus drivers would manage to complete the journey in 2.5 hours, excluding traffic jams. However, traffic jams were very frequent on the Skudai Highway during peak hours and weekends. When that happened, some unprepared passengers would asked the drivers for toilet breaks but would often be told to wait — until the bus reached the final destination. I had started water rationing since 11am, taking sips at long intervals.

Boarding for Singapore-bound buses was at Gate 1 & 2. A boarding pass of RM1 would be charged on entry through the departure gate's gantries. The new happening here was that the gantries would become cashless in future. Only Touch n' Go and credit / debit cards could be used. For the time being, a staff was stationed at one gantry to collect RM1 from uninformed passengers and tapping a special card on the gantry to allow them to go through.

I used my YouTrip card to pay the RM1 and went through the gate.

I would have to get my Touch n' Go eWallet to work before the next trip — that meant buying a top-up card from a petrol kiosk to "reload" the eWallet for a foreigner. I did not use Touch n' Go for this trip because it was pointless for me to put cash into the eWallet when I had limited cash for use. Using DBS PayLah! for cashless payments was easier but not all outlets in Malaysia supported DuitNow QR and Malaysia's transport services seemed to prefer Touch n' Go.

Clearing Malaysia customs was a breeze using the auto-gates via MDAC. Traffic on the Causeway was heavier towards Singapore since it was already nearing peak hours. 15 minutes later, I was back on Singapore soil — there was no need to submit SG Arrival Card for Singapore residents when returning by land via Woodlands Checkpoint or Tuas Checkpoint.

— End of West Malaysia 2024 —

The total cost of my 25-day trip worked out to be S$1,405, an average of S$56.20 per day. The bulk of my expenses was on accommodations (including city and tourism taxes) and food. Transportation ranked third since I had used only buses and trains throughout the whole journey.

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