Sunday, 22 April 2012

Holding out for the best Ka-CHING! rates in town

Money. This is the deciding factor whenever I travel on a budget. Everytime I spend money in a country which holds a bigger currency than my country... (owrghh! Wallet screaming out in pain!).... part of my preparations entails frequent checks on the rates at the money changers around KL at least 3 weeks before.

While searching for the best Australian Dollar rate in town, I did something extra before skipping out on a short trip to the nearest friendly-Money-Changer's booth! I pay a visit to the Bank Negara Malaysia's Ringgit Foreign Exchange rates website. (Disclaimer: BNM only as a guideline for my own tracking purposes to compare rates with banks and money changers.)

Well, I usually observe the rates on weekends and midweek so it would be convenient for me to run my errands together with exchanging currencies.

Talk about killing several birds with one stone ( ・_・)ノ⌒●~* ポイ!  

After 2 weeks of observation and comparing the prices to some of the money changers in town, I discovered that there IS actually a money changer in Pavilion shopping mall that adheres closely to the currency fluctuation shown on BNM's website, and they offer cheaper rates compared to the ones along Jalan Bukit Bintang.

Half-hearted as I am to divulge information of the getting good rates in KL, in hopes that their business will not turn brisk and then affecting the currency rates they are currently selling :P - do look for a money changer's booth located on the crowded Pavilion sidewalk that leads to the outdoor cafes and restaurants - La Bodega, CBTL, Starbucks etc on the ground floor. Try look for it! That's the only one, you can't miss it.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

When you travel, go somewhere that will make you happy!

One fine Sunday morning, my usual travel buddy; none other than Chanchan, and yours truly set out to the nearest Coffee Bean & TeaLeaf outlet, with books, pencils and a Galaxy Tab. What could be more relaxing than sipping coffee and discussing something painful.... something like, route planning.

Both of us had picked our favourite destinations, and it was time to fit them into our itinerary. Chanchan wanted to look at penguins and the planning was quite easy-peasy. As for myself, it was not that easy to plan and we had to mull it over after stuffing our faces with breakfast.

I had been busy scribbling in my planner the week before with my very best..ahem, Doctor Yen writing, detailing all the carefully selected lodgings and points of interests that our piggy banks could afford, and also the kind of places that my inner child would love to visit.
Inner child said, "Hmm, I would love to visit a theme park!"

And so, Doctor Yen thumbed through the Lonely Planet guide book and wrote down a short prescription that would make even the saddest inner child happy. Doctor Yen would love her Inner Child to visit Luna Park in St. Kilda! Inner Child's eyes sparkled with joy upon catching a glimpse of the picture of the gaping entrance on Luna Park's website that Doctor Yen was carelessly scrolling through. And so, it was brought to Chanchan's attention, where she gladly helped to fit into our very busy sight-seeing schedule.

"But what's there to see in Luna Park?" The grave and mature side of Chanchan had emerged.

Inner Child tugged at Doctor Yen, and whispered, "Because it was built in circa 1910, like those I saw on TV! There will be many things to play and seeeee...I want to experience what I saw but could not touch!"

So, I grinned at Chanchan and replied, "Oh, it's ok. We will not be taking up much of our time there because I won't be going on the rides anyway. I just wanted to take photos!"
Ok, it's partly true because if I couldn't go on the rides, I will just satisfy myself by taking photos.

Oh well, but then again I know you could have guessed that Chanchan already knows my real intention =D =D

As helpful as she was, Chanchan checked the opening hours and we decided we could spend at most a few hours to stroll and take some fun photos. End of story.

It was a big YAY for me, as I know when I reach there, my Inner child will let loose and make me happy!!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A food excursion to the south of KL

It was September the 24th, 2011; 6:45pm. I was late - chasing the train to Sri Petaling. Mich was waiting for me in her car wearing spanking short shorts. Myself, in a scruffy, brown long Tee I got for MYR10 in Bangkok's Platinum Mall.
Both of us had an agenda that day. To backpack to Melaka without doing any prior hotel booking in advance. Totally....pushing our luck. But, never say die right?

And so, off we zipped down in her cute and tiny Kelisa using the Alor Gajah freeway to Melaka town. Mich drove at 80-90kph. Girl talk all the way. Munched some choc. Took us 2hours. Not too bad!

Our Kelisa turned into the quaint little town of Melaka. Streets were dimly lit up. It was almost 9pm. NINE PM?! We had no idea where to stay, where to eat. And that was the start of our little adventure.

So first, we went to Jonker Street. Found a little corner to park and pay. Here's Mich doing a quick pose in front of the lovely pre-war shophouses painted in red.

While procrastinating to look for a place to stay the night, both of us walked along this street and turned into the Jonker's food and shopping avenue - the pasar malam. People and hawkers were swarming the street. Food everywhere, artisans selling their goods. Upfront there was a stage sponsored by Mamee, and there was some event going on. Live karaoke ftw!

Mich bought some "kuih bahulu" and we munched and munched till we reached Jonker88, a small kopitiam that sells Malaccan-styled noodles with a very popular ais kacang/cendol stall located right at its entrance. So we put our backpacks down, heaved a sigh of relief and ordered our food. I was itching for some cold, icy dessert and so, I joined the insanely long queue of foreigners and locals alike for a bowl of ais kacang!

After our food, we walked around the dark and quiet alleys of Jonker Street. Pubs are everywhere, people drinking quietly/noisily. Looked quite fun. I even saw a quaint little temple at the corner of an alley!

After that, we went to look for lodging. Went to the Baba House, and there was one room left with no water! Disappointed, so we walked and walked again, knocking every door that we think would offer us a place to sleep but there was none! Hence, we decided to drive out of Jonker, towards Melaka Raya.

Round and round we went near Dataran Pahlawan and we chanced upon this shophouse which has a backpacker's inn upstairs, called Samudera Backpackers inn in Melaka Raya. It was around MYR75 per night. Place was pretty clean and it is run by a Malay owner who also stays there with his family. Before going to bed, we went downstairs for some beer, basking in the warm night of Melaka town. And that was that, till we woke up the next day.

Some pic-cies of Samudera Backpacker's inn...


The next morning's cloudy sky was drizzling. We were up by 7am, and headed out an hour later to Jonker Street again for food. Bought a full 6hour parking voucher and parked right up 1512 for a short brekkie. One convenient thing about buying parking vouchers, is that some shops do sell them. Phew! And it was just next to 1512. Businesses open late on a Sunday. We only managed to have our western platter after 9am. I quite like the otak-otak that I ordered as a side dish. It tasted a tad different, somehow.

Next, we continued on our journey to look for Kenny's Delights. According to Mich, this Nyonya eatery was opened by the Baba & Nyonya actor and it's one of the must-eat locations. And to my delight - the wooden house on stilts has vintage decor and red cloth covering round tables for family eatouts. A few families came out for lunch that Sunday. What a happy noon!

A feast for the eyes and the stomach :P

Home was beckoning to us. Full stomachs want to rest and sleep! Took us half a day to taste only a small part of Melaka. But oh well! I will be back someday =D

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