Sunday, December 28, 2008

Travel Notes: Singapore-Malaysia Jan 07

Trip Diary (retrospective notes): Singapore-Malaysia, January, 2007
1/17/07; 1/18/07
United 837 SFO-NRT-SIN; Wed, Jan 17 1129A- Thu, Jan 18 330P
connecting to UA 803 SIN-NRT-SFO; Thu, Jan 18 530P - 1159P

SFO-NRT upgraded to C using 1K SWU, 5124 miles, seat 25F
NRT-SIN C, 3324 miles, seat 24G
B 747; Fare Class WXPRO10; $836.7

Cheap airport shuttle a bust, as usual, since it wasn't leaving until 130A,though I checked the time anyway for due diligence, then joined the fairly long taxi queue.

Not much point to taking the airport shuttle unless it leaving almost immediately and there aren't many people on it.  In my experience the airport shuttle almost invariably lets me off last.  At least once the shuttle came very close to my hotel and passed on.  It's not that less expensive than the taxi (and never worth it if traveling with someone).  The MRT is cheap to the airport, but takes forever, and isn't an option after about 11PM.
Never paid attention before, but it's 18KM from SIN to Hotel 81 Bugis according to the receipt. Room rate $89 x 2 days for a windowless, aircon room. Clean and secure, if basic, with one of the full flood bathrooms without a separate shower stall.  Non-squat, western toilet.  The room was away from the lift so less noisy than some rooms.  For whatever reason this Hotel 81 branch doesn't get the short time hotel crowd like the Palace in Geylang.  I made the reservation online directly. 
Of course, the driver didn't know where the hotel was, so directed to Shaw Towers and then the 1/2 block from there. I had found on a previous trip that directing to the Intercontinental is a bust since he has to make a U turn.  I don't know why I try to avoid the Singapore taxis.  They're pretty honest.

Breakfast (not included at Hotel 81) at Killiney Kopitiam around the corner on Purvis. S$4; I guess it was a version of nasi lemak, plus the toast and kaya, plus coffee.

Internet cafe on Stamford Rd. S$5.25 to find hotel in Malacca and KL, using Asiatravel, but ended up booking directly with the Hotel Puri's Singapore office by mobile phone.  I was looking for a hotel with character and wasn't particularly price sensitive, within reason.

I also considered the Baba House 

After seeing both the Hotel Puri and the Baba House, I think the Puri was the better choice.

Coffee 1.20 with the usual struggle to stay awake the first day.  Not at Starbucks!

Lunch 6.30 @ Bugis Junction foodcourt; "gourmet" claypot S$5 plus a drink

MTR to Lavender, then connecting bus after screwing around for a while trying to find offices for the VIP buses to Malacca and KL.  I should have noted their addresses first, but I thought there would be easy to find signs.  Nope.  Lavender bus "station" is basically a big parking lot with some small temporary type offices for selling tickets.  Nothing like a Malaysian or Thai bus station.

Bus ticket to Malacca $16 purschased for the next day @ 10A from Lavender bus station

I needed some RM and had wanted to check out Mustafa Centre in Little India anyway.  It was within walking distance, but a taxi seemed an ok choice.  Taxi $4 from Lavender station to Mustafa Centre. And almost stupidly lost my wallet in the taxi, but luckily the taxi couldn't move immediately because of a traffic jam and I retrieved my wallet from the back seat.  Duh.

Changed S$ to RM at the always entertaining Mustafa Centre

Dinner: Chicken noodles $3; beer $5 at the handy (and cheap) Seng Huat on North Bridge road

Internet $3

Haagan Dazs in front of the Hilton for old times' sake. 4.70 for a single waffle cone

Breakfast $4 at Killiney Kopitiam

Top up mobile $18 @ 7/11 using a SIM with S'pore number from a previous trip

Taxi to Lavender bus station $6.50

Bus to Malacca took 2nd/Tuas border crossing

Lunch along the road @ Ayer Hitam 1230P RM8

Malaysian SIM RM5 bought in the Malacca bus station

Taxi from Malacca bus station to Hotel Puri RM10!, going rate 15.  Beats me how I got this rate.  The driver may have been illegal.

Hotel Puri RM172.50, room 310, free wireless internet in lobby.  Rom was in the newer part of the hotel and was pretty charmless, though nice enough.

While in Malacca I did the usual tourist things, got lost at least once, and did a lot of walking.

Dinner at hotel RM15.  Walked all over the area of the hotel and saw many restaurants, but most would have been best with another person.  In the end, took the easy way out and had a quite dinner in the hotel's garden.
Day View

And at dinner.

Breakfast included at Hotel Puri, somewhat of a mob scene.

Walked around again while it was till fairly cool.  Got lost again.

Taxi to bus station RM 15.  I asked the hotel to call a taxi after waiting a while on the street.  It took forever to come after the call.  Next time I'd probably just try to flag one down on the street and wait longer.

Bus ticket to KL Puduraya station RM9.50, on Transnational; the largest (?) Malaysia carrier.  Of course, the bus didn't actually make it into the station because of usual jam outside the station.  Since it wasn't raining this was only somewhat inconvenient.  Finding the Swiss Inn was somewhat challenging.  I had through the Hotel Furama would be a good landmark, but it was closed.  Luckily someone pointed me in the right direction and I got there in 10 minutes walk from the bus station.

Swiss Inn RM108, superior room including breakfast, booked through Asiatravel, initially charged RM170, lesson learned: be sure to print travel agent confirmation! Room 530

Lunch chicken nasi RM5.50.  Don't remember where this was, but it must have been some informal restaurant.

Basically walked around Chinatown for the day, not going further afield. 

Dinner Tang City food court chicken noodles + beer RM5 + RM7.40

Bus ticket back to Singapore RM30.50 1/22 @ 10:30A, Transnasional

Lunch RM4.50 on the road back to S'pore; causeway border crossing

Internet S$3

Dinner S4 + S5.40 t at some stall or food court

Taxi  from Hotel 81 Bugis to SIN S$18.45, 12.30 plus night differential 6.15
UA804 SIN-NRT 730A-255P
UA838 NRT-SFO 525P-920A

Notes and random jottings:
  • Most Singapore transport was by bus and MTR using an EZ Link card from a previous trip.
  • Used leftover S$ from previous trips and then hit an ATM using HSBC card by the City Hall/City Link passage.  HSBC  card didn't work in Malaysia, but I may have been trying it in a deposit only machine, now that I think about it.  It worked on a subsequent trip in Malaysia.
  • Jetstar to PNH: low cost carrier
  • Lantern Festival Taiwan. Did this reference come from a travel show I watched along the way?
  • Celtic Tides CD music must have been playing along the way
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