Thursday, February 16, 2012

malacca: a local bus or taxi?

before i continue with my melakan tale, i just want to say kudos to myself for reaching the 100th mark of posting blabbers and offhanded summaries of where i had been, far and wide errr near and narrow for i think i haven't really gone to the far and beyond. so there, a paragraph as dedication to this 100th post. yay, cheers! :)

A Street in Malacca
and back to what this post is all about, malacca! or melaka (in malay). the city itself has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site since 2008 based on its wiki entry here. it well deserves this honor as it has a rich heritage, having been under the rules of dutch, portuguese, and british. on top of its fusion of cultures, is its very evident chinese influence on the melakan food, festivals, design of their houses and everything that sets malacca apart from the other malaysian states.

true enough, breinn and i found ourselves to many closed shops, museums, cafes and restaurants in malacca during the chinese new year festivities. although, we were not alone in this circumstance for there were also a lot of tourists who probably chose to experience on how malacca celebrates its chinese new year. the melakans might have gone somewhere else for the holidays and we, the tourists flocked to their little city to fill in.

with breinn intently visiting me in singapore, i, in turn, dragged him with me for a 4-hour bus ride to the melakan state.

it was high noon when we were finally able to drag our butts out from our seats when our bus made its final stop at melaka sentral bus terminal where all outbound and inbound buses converge. with only a slight change of one character, sentral obviously means central.

A Closed Chocolate Shop
the actual weather when we arrived was searing hot which proved the forecast by my blackberry travel app utterly wrong.  just recently, i have been keying in my upcoming flights to my blackberry travel app which i find useful since it promptly reminds me of my flight schedule, missing accommodation, and it even has that sign that says my flight is monitored in which most of the time, it's always on time. i wouldn't want it however, to reflect as cancelled! well, i'm just skeptical if it's really working. with a few days before my intended flight, the app prompts a 5-day weather forecast on my destination. for malacca, it showed me clouds signifying thunderstorms during my planned 2 days. i don't know where it got its forecast or probably, it was just playing a trick on me!

when breinn and i got off the bus, we saw a few men asking "teksi" to some passengers who were on the same bus with us. this in some way reminded me of home where the so-called "barkers" or the drivers offer or gesture you to their taxi cabs. in my mind that time, i opted not to ask anyone yet on where we should go to hopefully catch a local bus towards the city center because it was far convenient if we followed the people on the lead. good thing, i noticed the sign for the local buses and taxis or was it breinn that did? anyway, so off we went as if we knew the way by heart.

i was keen to catch a local bus because aside that it was much cheaper than hiring a cab, i wanted to experience on how locals go around malacca. it was literally a decision of whether to go from either left or right, the right for the local bus and the left for the taxi. our dear fellow passengers went towards the direction for the taxi and breinn persuaded me to go likewise since it was really hot outside. right then, that reminded me on how breinn could be a little picky and he'd likely choose convenience over price.

The Baba House
begrudgingly, i heeded his advice and proceeded to the taxi counter at the end of the hall. getting a taxi did not really follow a certain workflow because i only conversed with one of the many men surrounding the counter. i'm used to this kind of scene anyway where everything seems to be here and there and you won't get to anywhere unless you ask someone outright. so after i told the man of baba house, he told me in somewhat questioning tone that it would be 20RM (6.5USD) to which i-didn't-know-what-came-over-me, i agreed. that moment, i wanted to kick myself but anyway, that was the rate quoted by our hotel when i asked them through email on how we can get to their place from melaka sentral. i was originally asking them for the local bus but they replied me about the taxi. i was tired to insist on the local bus so i didn't email again. in my mind, i could have haggled 5RM less and that would be like worth a meal already!

but i was more than happy that we could then be on our way. the man then sort of logged into the taxi counter and ushered us outside. while we were halfway towards the parking lot, he hollered another man who was conveniently lounging near the exit and with a flurry of conversation in malay, we presumed that the other man would take us to our destination instead.

when breinn and i finally took the back seat of the taxi, we momentarily lurched up because the leather seat was like in fire, indicating the many hours the taxi had been turned into an oven by the melakan sun. the driver that we had wasn't that much of a talker because he left us, taking in malacca on our own, through the sedan's windows as we were speeding away. halfway through, i was glad the aircon finally had its effect and cooled us at the back seat.

after about 15 minutes, we were then snaking through the narrow streets in the city center and it seemed that what i had been looking at the pictures online had suddenly come to life and they were now in front of my eyes! even in my preparation, i had countlessly toured malacca through my mouse pointer with the help of google map and that was finally the real thing!

it took us 30 minutes in total to reach the baba house and 20RM less on our pockets. the local bus is a lot cheaper with rates at less than 5RM each but the thing is, you won't be dropped in front of your hotel's door step.


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