Thursday, October 4, 2018

Malacca with Kids: 2D/1N

What comes to mind when i think of Malacca? Historical sites + the sweltering heat.

Growing up, we've made numerous trips to Malacca but the recent trip with our children brought us to see Malacca in a different light. 
I've always liked the idea of staying in quintessential boutique hotels. More often catered for couples/solo/small group travellers, i've not come across one that is fitting for families with young children.  So, imagine finding one in the heart of the heritage row which not only met our expectations but also accessible for the kids.





Welcome to Aava Malacca HotelThis 15 room boutique hotel is housed within 3 connecting heritage buildings that were extensively refurbished to give it a modern Peranakan feel yet maintaining the heritage structure and fa├žade of the buildings.
The place oozed a wonderful marriage of the old & new. 


We had the privilege to stay in the Advantage Suite. 
Note: this is not a sponsored post. just sharing treasures as we come across them

Lest you be intimidated by the price tag of a night's stay, don't be, because their rates are quite affordable. The luxurious comfortable sheets & the spacious bathroom were so inviting. I like the fact that the property had little nook & corners here & there, which were nice for photos.





Breakfast in the quaint stairwell dining area was made out of a modest spread of warm croissant, toast, sausages, chicken ham, pancakes, cereals. Good enough to fill our early morning tummies before we hit the streets for another round of local fare & sightseeing. 

In my opinion, our stay at Aava Malacca was a major factor which contributed to making our trip such a memorable one.



Within the property, nestles a small swimming pool which offers guests a clear view of the malaccan river. Suffice for our happy children, waiting to splash away at any opportunity they can.

Unlimited access to old-school snacks at the lobby, much to the delight of the cheeky gal

If i had a say, what i felt could have made the property even more stellar would be to:
i. Feature & house local artisans' wares. 
Was on the lookout for handpainted peranakan tiles or any original handmade wares to take home as souvenirs. Sadly, most of what we came across was a bombardment of the typical standard magnets/keychains of sort at Jonkers
plus,
ii. Snippets of history behind the structure/house/former owners before the hotel came to be would have been nice for guests to fondly remember the place by.

Location of the property was superb as the backdoor opens right out to a section of the malaccan river. We enjoyed a lazy after-dinner night stroll, & the following day; a slow paced morning walk. The row where the property is located is home to many beautiful murals. No need for driving out/hassle of looking for parking to the places we wanted to visit!


It was also just a walk away from discovering hidden gems like the Sin Hiap Hin liquor store from pre-war days. 

Hubby accidentally stumbled upon a small backlane kedai which he ecstatically bought a parang for a steal. No need for bargaining.


Shop selling livestocks eg pigeons, rooster, white mice.

 Amidst these old & weathered shops were hipster cafes waiting to be found. We stopped by this cafe to take a respite from the scorching heat. Notice their signboard below. I like that it didn't had any fancy upmarket name!




The waffles with bacon & caramelized bananas & syrup was a winner 

The steep staircase which only fits one person at a time, leads to the upper floor

Lunch at the much talked-about Baboon House known for its juicy burgers & sumptuous salad. No food or interior photos to show, unfortunately, it was a no-photo zone cafe upon stepping into the premise.
our squinty eyes.. it was that hot!

Our dinner highlight was far from posh but something me & hubby were looking forward too - squatting in little stools, enjoying an abundance of siham (cockles), tauhu bakar, sotong kangkong, century eggs' accompanied by their tangy sauce concoction; in the backlane of Jln Bunga Raya.


 


The kids were learning to slowly adapt to this sort of dining-style. ha! They stuck back to familiar food eg fried kueyteow which i bungkus from the nearby makeshift stall. We still encouraged them to be adventurous in trying new food, which they later did!

Below is a quick highlight of the places we visited (besides Jonker Street)


1. Submarine museum @ Dataran 1Msia Klebang

Would have scored better if the tour was interactive but still, nice that we got to see up close; the submarine & fighter jets.


crammed space - not for claustrophobics



2. Made a pitstop to try the Klebang Famous Coconut shake. Super refreshing to counter Malaccan weather. No photo cos it was gulped down in minutes.



3. Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum 
Educational walk-through for kids.
We opted for a self-guided tour at RM50 for our family of 4. It helped that the kids recently watched a few episodes of Nyonya Singsei on tv & it was quite fun to see them identifying some of the antique pieces they saw.




In my opinion, the best trips are those without fixed itinerary.. going a little off-the-beaten-track. Not knowing what to expect. Venturing out with an open mind, trying new things & then, discovering little bits of history & surprises in every corner. That sense of wonderment. That's what we hope to experience in all our humble travels.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Our Dummy Guide to Bangkok

My sis & i have been talking about traveling together for a looong time & it was a little surreal that the day actually came that we left our hubbies & children back home & attempted to do this together.





{3D, 3N @ BKK)
Day 1:
Arrived KLIA at 2:45pm, checked in & purchased a wifi plan at RM19/per day, the cheapest via TravelRecommends. With a RM200 deposit (which will later be refunded to you via your bank account 3 days after), you'll receive a router (which can be shared up to max 5 devices).

Reached Don Mueang airport at about local time 7pm.
We were in "explorer-mode" & decided to get on board a public bus outside the airport. Very much like our mini buses back in the 80s except that the bus was spanking clean & the female conductor was super courteous.

I realized one cannot predict the rain in bangkok. It pours very suddenly & stops quite the same way. Was wet upon reaching our accommodation.

We opted for a "luxurious" version of a backpackers' stay at Goodfellas Cafe & Hostel in Thong Lo via Booking.com.


It is situated a fair distance from where the places of action are in Bangkok eg Paragon & Chatuchak market. We spent about 30-45 baht each trip commuting from the Thong Lo BTS station to the places we wanted to go. Although it would have made better sense to stay nearer to the hub but I would not have traded the experience.

Why? 
Clean amenities eg shower heater, toilet, common area.
The room and bed were comfortable & spacious by hostel standard.
And best of all, the complimentary breakfast which i found myself looking forward to every morning at the cafe.



After checking into Goodfellas, we headed for a late dinner of tomyum & basil chicken rice, at the stalls nearby. Only to find out later that around the area, they had a roadside stall that served an abundance of fresh seafood, grilled on the spot.


Day 2:

The complimentary breakfast included choice of a savoury sandwich + pastry + coffee/tea.
I chose a delicious pesto chicken sandwich + warm blueberry danish + caramel machiatto the first morning. My sis remarked that it's the best caramel machiatto she has ever had! It was good.



After a hearty breakkie, we headed off to Chatuchak & began at zone 2 & 3 because that's where most of the more hipster stalls were located. Be prepared to sweat buckets. The heat & crowd can be overwhelming. But i did find a few stalls worth visiting.





Caramel Store - Section 3 Soi 43/Room 095
Cutest t-shirt prints for young & old, with all sort of doggy breeds; from beagle to terrier, schnauzer to chow chows. They've got it all.

Stumbled upon this fries & chicken sandwich bar for some much needed reprieve & their laab dressing that goes really well with fries/chicken sandwich was really yummy. Bought bottles of them to be given away.

Foot massages are aplenty. Sadly i didn't exactly enjoy the experience. My sole was bruised {ouch} from the intense rubbing.

I've never walked so much in a day. Next destination was Neon Market; where we were looking forward to interesting container of local crafts/ artisans/snacks/food but were sorely disappointed. That was an absolute letdown. We braved the distance & rain only to find a few miserable rows of stalls in a huge open space. Most destination guide for "10 best markets to go to in BKK" listed Neon Market but sadly, it wasn't updated.

Day 3:
Jim Thompson House Muzeum was worth the visit. At 150 baht, an English speaking guide will bring you on a tour of the charming Thai house, how this one man contributed to the thai silk industry, & his mysterious disappearance.




Sis treated us to an "expensive" lunch at Jamie Oliver's to celebrate our birthdays :)



Met up with a dear friend for the afternoon who brought us to theCommons - an industrial like architectural space with lots of green & open spaces for the neighborhood community to congregate. On weekends, people come here to listen to live jazz musicians, have coffee, meals & chill in the deck.






We headed then to Pattiserie Rosie, a quaint little shop which we were told had one of the best desserts in town. Because we were still stuffed from lunch, we ordered a chocolate dessert and a bacon quiche to be shared. Two thumbs up! And we didn't had to share with our kids. LOL!


It was our final day for any shopping to be done so off to JJ Mall in the evening. We were told it closes an hour earlier than usual. We rushed to our destination not knowing exactly where it was. Somewhere there... and we walked as fast as our feet could take us. Finally reached there 45 minutes before closing & zoomed in on just one store. I have dreamed of getting this colorful enamel tiffin carriers for a long, long time but it was costly in KL so to our delight, we spent our last hour running through racks of enamel ware & went away satisfied with our spoils.

Right outside JJ Mall was JJ Green Market which we spent the whole evening outdoors browsing through stalls after stalls & we found a few goodies. Found a stall that had simple wooden displays from as low as 100 baht. Bought one that resembled a dollhouse for Leah at a mere180 baht.
Stopped for dinner at a cramped stall which served pad thai with free flow of fresh beansprouts. Tasted divine at 50 baht.
At the end of the night, we lugged our treasures with contentment on our face. My pair of feet couldn't walk another 500 metres to the station to catch our ride back to the hostel. We were so desperate that we were willing to pay 50 baht for a 1-minute ride on the tuk tuk to the station!

We didn't manage to visit any Tesco Lotus to get our supplies of Mama porky instant noodle & Lays chips. We ended up at 7-11 and bought whatever instant noodle left on the shelves. 
Reached back to the hostel at almost 11pm. All i could think of was to take a warm shower & hit the sack until my sister began rummaging through her stash & exclaimed "we need to take a shot of our spoils. it's THE mandatory thing to do at BKK"... I was like what?! My eyes were shutting & every inch of my body was screaming for rest. I must not have been in the right frame of mind but i found myself sitting on the floor taking out my loot one by one from the bags & arranging & styling them on our bed! Thereafter, in that ungodly hour, we started the insane process of poking holes into every bag of chips we bought - to release the air & tape it back so that the air pressure in the plane won't bust open the bags of chips (which did happened before).



Day 4:

We were impressed by the folks from Goodfellas. They went above & beyond to prepare a bag of breakfast goodies with a hand-written note & freshly made coffee to takeaway with us since we had to leave by 630am (they only open at 8am) to beat the weekday traffic to get to Rama III. 




We wanted to do something out of the ordinary in Bangkok - to get to know a little more about the people & the culture & we found that in the Colors of Bangkok bike tour. We signed up for this 1/2 day bike tour at 1250 baht/per person.

The description on the tour over the website states: "...takes participants through a part of the Thai capital which they will never see on their own" & that instantly captured our attention. And i would think even local Thais would not have experienced it before.

It was one of the highlights of our trip.
With our friendly guide, Jay & a Dutch couple, we zipped in & out traffic, through the busy streets of bangkok by bicycle to get across to the "slum" area. Can be quite daunting at first but at the same time, exciting. 








The neighborhood began with posh houses and then through roads which led us to the slum area. Though lacking in material forms, the residents in these small community greeted us with warm smiles. We stopped by a kindergarten which is also partially supported by the bike tour company. Crossed the river with our bikes via a long boat & cycled through the community & entered Bang Krachao "the green lung of Bangkok". Fed fish in a lake. Made a pit stop for a quick, nice warm local meal. Continued zip zapping out of the narrow routes & back to the bike tour office. It was a nice finale to our trip. 

The package even includes a short video of our bike tour. 

Off to the airport we went. The 4 days went by so quickly (that i needed a couple of days to recuperate) :)



*this post is a birthday tribute to my little sis. super thankful for the company & memories made! not forgetting our hubbies & kids who've made this trip possible for us!

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