2017 Drive from Singapore to Thailand – Concluding Thoughts

Today we completed the final leg of our 2017 road trip to Thailand. The whole trip- 3133km covered over 18 days, burning 191 litres of diesel at an economy of 16.4km/l with an average speed of 67km/h. It has been an utterly memorable and enjoyable time, although there were certainly some minor hiccups along the way. Here are some of my concluding thoughts about our journey:

(1) Time as a Family – Even though this was our 3rd road trip, this was the first time we embarked on this trip without a helper accompanying us. Throughout the 18 days (except for our time in Krabi where we had our brother-in-law’s family with us), it was just the 5 of us in the car, and we had to manage everything on our own. Although, this was more tiring on our part, it made for a more meaningful trip. Credit also goes to our daughter for stepping up her game to help take care of her two younger siblings.  She also helped with some of the housework at Cameron Highlands where we did not have housekeeping service.

(2) Official Theme Song – this year, the most requested and repeated song in our collection was 小宝贝, or “Little Precious One”. My wife and I first heard this song when we visited China’s Yunnan province last December, and all the shops were using this song as their in-house entertainment. The song is simple and catchy, even though it is in a minor modality. The kids kept asking for this song to be played when we were on our long drives, and we had to constantly put it on repeat mode! Click below to hear the song:

(3) Conflicting Feelings – Whenever we approach these long drives, I always ask myself if I’m crazy… Why in the world am I doing this? Why don’t we just book flights? But once we embark on our long road trip, I’m always like… this is amazing, I need to do this again next year!! It is a wonderful love-hate struggle. For me, I realise that the journey is more important than the destination. I love to see the sights and scenes along the way. I love that the drive gives me time to think, to reflect about my life.

(4) Bring Everything You Need – One of the best things about doing a road trip is that you can bring whatever you want without having to be restricted by baggage limits and aeroplane rules. Ok, almost anything. We are blessed that we have an MPV with the luxury of a big boot, and for this trip we really took advantage of it by throwing everything behind… diapers, inflated swimming floats, shopping, everything!

(5) Plans for Next Year’s Drive – After doing Phuket for the past three years, we have decided to aim for Bangkok next June. It should take only one extra day of driving. Anyone wants to join us??

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Click here to read from the beginning of my 2017 SG-TH blog series.

Click this link to read my three part blog post from 2016 where I detail everthing you need to know about preparing for a Singapore – Thailand road trip.

My wife and I enjoy having guests over at our place for fellowship and a nice home-cooked meal. So if you would like to drop by to try some of my wife’s wonderful cooking and to talk more about travel and life, do drop me a mail at lenniechua@gmail.com to arrange a dinner date! Everyone welcome!

2017 Drive from Singapore to Thailand – Novotel Melaka, Malaysia

Ever since this hotel opened, it has been our regular place to stay whenever we are in Melaka. We like it for many reasons:
(1) Location – the location at Melaka Raya is excellent, in close proximity to the main malls of Dataran Pahlawan and Plaza Mahkota. There are also plenty of delicious dining options in the shophouses around the hotel, as well as convenience stores and massage parlours. 

(2) Facilities – the rooms are well decorated and furnished, and the hotel has great swimming pools for adults and children. Beside the swimming pool there is a playgroud for the kids to enjoy. There is also a good fitness centre and a decent kids play room. The kids enjoy themselves here! The hotel environment is also tastefully done up and effort is put in to decorate the hotel premises for different festivals like Christmas or Hari Raya.

(3) Price – You can’t find another hotel in the vicinity this cheap with this level of service. Value for money, especially if you book your rooms during the regular Accor Hotel sales.

There are some things which can be improved:

(1) Breakfast – the quality of breakfast can be improved. It is also hard to find a table as the restaurant is perpetually packed during breakfast time. 

(2) Elevator management – the way the elevators are programmed is a little strange, and during peak periods it can be hard to find a vacant elevator to go up or down. 

(3) Maintenance – with the popularity of the hotel, some of the room furnishings and quickly showing signs of wear and tear. These issues need to be more carefully addressed by the management. 

Overall Rating – 8/10

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Click here to read from the beginning of my 2017 SG-TH blog series.

Click this link to read my three part blog post from 2016 where I detail everthing you need to know about preparing for a Singapore – Thailand road trip.

My wife and I enjoy having guests over at our place for fellowship and a nice home-cooked meal. So if you would like to drop by to try some of my wife’s wonderful cooking and to talk more about travel and life, do drop me a mail at lenniechua@gmail.com to arrange a dinner date! Everyone welcome!

When No Wifi and No Housekeeping Becomes a Plus – Dreamscape Apartments @ Cameron Highlands 

We booked this apartment homestay from the Agoda website after reading some favorable reviews about it online. 
The apartments are located in Barrington Square at the brand new Golden Hills neighbourhood which is only 3km out of Brinchang in the direction of Tanah Rata. This is also the new location of the famous Brinchang Night Market. However, we did not get a chance to experience this as the market is only in operation during the weekends, and we were there only from Monday to Thursday. 

The apartment itself is really good. Clean, spacious, with two bedrooms with a queen bed in each, a living cum dining room and a basic kitchenette with microwave oven, kettle, multipurpose cooker and refrigerator. There are also spare mattresses and pillows should there be a need. 

We also liked that there was a secure basement carpark with access only via a tap card. There was also a well stocked grocer just downstairs where prices were extremely reasonable. 

The downside was that there was no wifi provided and mobile data connection in the area was also very poor. So we basically had to survive without Internet access for our time there, which might actually be a good thing as it forced us to do things as a family and not to be glued to our devices all the time.

The other downside is that there is no daily housekeeping service here, which meant that everybody had to step up to make the beds and do the dishes, which might actually be a good thing! It gave us the opportunity to get our kids involved in making their own beds and sweeping the floor! I have to give our daughter credit, she was actually extremely enthusiastic about doing the daily chores!

(Rating 8/10, a real steal at SGD160 for 3 nights, no wifi, no housekeeping)

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Click here to read from the beginning of my 2017 SG-TH blog series.

Click this link to read my three part blog post from 2016 where I detail everthing you need to know about preparing for a Singapore – Thailand road trip.

My wife and I enjoy having guests over at our place for fellowship and a nice home-cooked meal. So if you would like to drop by to try some of my wife’s wonderful cooking and to talk more about travel and life, do drop me a mail at lenniechua@gmail.com to arrange a dinner date! Everyone welcome!

2017 Drive from Singapore to Thailand – Day 14 – Tea Paradise!

Cameron Highlands is the home of renowned tea companies such as Boh and Cameron Bharat. Everyone who comes here HAS to visit at least one of the plantations. If not, you are missing a big chunk of the Cameron Highland experience. 

Some of the plantations, like Cameron Bharat’s, are easily accessible along the main road of Route 59, but to get to the Boh Sungei Palas plantation, you will have to navigate a tricky narrow winding side road off the main road at the Kea Farm settlement. 

This side road is full of potholes and barely able to fit two cars side by side. At some parts, if you drift too wide while trying to clear the oncoming vehicles, you might be facing a sheer drop into the tea valley below. This is a scary proposition, especially for the first timer, but I assure you it is well worth it. The views along this side road are majestic. You just need to buckle up, go slow, and honk when you are approaching a blind corner to alert the oncoming vehicles of your presence. Look out for certain spots where the road widens and wait here while the oncoming vehicles clear your car, before proceeding ahead. There is no point risking damage to your vehicles by squeezing at the narrow parts of the road. 

One you reach the Boh Plantation Visitor Centre, do get some tea and scones and admire the magnificent views from the viewing platform of the tea valleys and the mountain peaks. You can also view the exhibits on display and take a free factory tour, which is actually rather enjoyable and informative.

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Click here to read the next installment of my 2017 SG-TH blog series where I share about our visit to the Lata Iskandar Falls on the way down from Cameron Highlands.

Click here to read from the beginning of my 2017 SG-TH blog series.

Click this link to read my three part blog post from 2016 where I detail everthing you need to know about preparing for a Singapore – Thailand road trip.

My wife and I enjoy having guests over at our place for fellowship and a nice home-cooked meal. So if you would like to drop by to try some of my wife’s wonderful cooking and to talk more about travel and life, do drop me a mail at lenniechua@gmail.com to arrange a dinner date! Everyone welcome!

2017 Drive from Singapore to Thailand – Day 10 – Extended Family Fellowship

Going on a road trip is fun, but having your extended family around to share the experience with you is double the fun!

Our previous two Thailand road trips were on our own, but this year, we managed to get my brother-in-law’s family to join in. Although they couldn’t be with us all the way, we arranged to meet them in Krabi for our three days here. 

We had a great time together! 

My brother-in-law was the person who inducted us into the joys of these long distance road trips. We have so many fond memories of our first road trip together 12 years ago when we tailed his car as we drove together as a convoy to Melaka. At that time, the 200km journey was an adventure to us. Fast forward 12 years, we have ventured on our own further and further north to satisfy our wanderlust, to KL, then Ipoh, then Cameron Highlands, then Penang and then to Phuket. 

This year, we finally did it together again as an extended family, and what a pleasure it has been! Two family units with a kindred spirit, both with a love for the sense of freedom that goes with the pleasure of the long drive. 

Yesterday, I went for a refreshing morning jog with my brother-in-law along the beach. It was great to spend that time with him against such a pretty backdrop of the ocean, the beach, the cliffs, and the islands. 

Today, we brought both our families to Tesco Lotus to shop and eat, and we came back for a nice swim and massage. We ended the day with a dinner in our hotel room, playing Uno, chatting and watching TV! Brings back memories of group chalet stays in our younger days. 🙂

This is truly an amazing way of bringing family and friends together, to give the time amd the platform for the young cousins to bond. Isn’t this what life should be all about? 

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Click here to read the next installment of my 2017 SG-TH blog series where I share about the journey from Krabi back to Malaysia.

Click here to read from the beginning of my 2017 SG-TH blog series.

Click this link to read my three part blog post from 2016 where I detail everthing you need to know about preparing for a Singapore – Thailand road trip.

My wife and I enjoy having guests over at our place for fellowship and a nice home-cooked meal. So if you would like to drop by to try some of my wife’s wonderful cooking and to talk more about travel and life, do drop me a mail at lenniechua@gmail.com to arrange a dinner date! Everyone welcome!

2017 Drive from Singapore to Thailand – Day 9 – Tiger Cave Temple, Krabi

Today, we set off to the famous Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi to climb the 1237 steps to the summit of the hill where the golden Buddha sits. This hill is unique in that the steps, with railings on both sides, make the climb accessible and doable for all people young and old. However, the steps are steep at certain points, and there are just SO MANY of them, that you underestimate the difficulty of this ascent at your own peril. This climb is tough even for the fittest!

The advice is to bring loads of water, and believe me, you will need it as you will be sweating bucketloads because of the physical exertion and the 35 degrees Celsius heat. 

I’m proud to say my 7 year old girl conquered the whole flight of steps on her own steam without having to be carried. She was bouncing around, talking non-stop with her cousins and uncle, full of energy and optimism, proud of her own achievement, and rightly so!

My 5 year old boy on the other hand, made it to the 900 step mark by himself and then started to exhibit signs of emotional distress. He complained and started to cry,  grousing about how he didn’t like the climb and that “this was the worst day of his life”. Yes, slightly over the top I know, but he is a 5 year old boy after all. I had to then play the role of a counselor, coach and cheerleader, telling him how life isn’t always a cakewalk and that we needed to learn to overcome our own emotions and fears to grow in character and strength. 

I also asked him to pray to God for strength in his weakness. Amazingly, he did exactly that, saying a prayer out loud in the midst of his tears, and even more amazingly, the prayer seemed to work! He slowly but surely transitioned from negativity to positivity and from being mired in despair to being filled with hope and confidence. He even insisted on taking the last 30 steps on his own without my assistance! God truly has a soft spot for these little ones and rewards their little mustard seed of faith!

The view from the top of the hill is absolutely incredible, with a 360 degree panoramic view for miles and miles in all directions. The effort we put in was truly worth it. Video of Panoramic View on Hilltop

The route down, while physically less tiring, was a lot more heavy on the knees. The frontal view of the steep descent of steps can also be very daunting and scary, especially for those who are fearful of heights.

Despite all the physical challenges and exertion, I would highly recommend the climb as the views you get are well worth it! What I also love is the cameraderie between all the fellow climbers as you pass them. There is always that friendly tired smile, the encouragement that it is only a short climb left etc. Challenges like these really bring people, even strangers, together as you work towards a common goal. 

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Click here to read the next installment of my 2017 SG-TH blog series where I share about the joys of having family with you on a long road trip.

Click here to read from the beginning of my 2017 SG-TH blog series.

Click this link to read my three part blog post from 2016 where I detail everthing you need to know about preparing for a Singapore – Thailand road trip.

My wife and I enjoy having guests over at our place for fellowship and a nice home-cooked meal. So if you would like to drop by to try some of my wife’s wonderful cooking and to talk more about travel and life, do drop me a mail at lenniechua@gmail.com to arrange a dinner date! Everyone welcome!

2017 Drive from Singapore to Thailand – Day 7 – Respect the Ocean

We finally had a day of sunny weather and We took advantage of that to bring the kids to the beach. They had been asking for a few days now to go. Even though we forgot to pack their sandcastle building tools, they improvised and made do. We all had a good time, just enjoying the feeling of being splashed by the waves, which are pretty strong at this time of the year. Mai Khao beach is so pristine, beautiful, and quiet!

My youngest son went from being scared to really enjoying the feeling of the seawater caressing his toes. I had to be extra alert though to make sure that none of the kids get swept away by the waves.

My kids all lived to tell the story, but my spectacles didn’t. I ended up the morning without my glasses after they got washed out to sea after we were hit by a big wave. I was left wondering how I was going to survive the rest of the trip half blind. Thankfully I still had my sunglasses. 😛

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Click here for the next installment of my 2017 SG-TH blog series where I share about the drive from Phuket to Krabi.

Click here to read from the beginning of my 2017 SG-TH blog series.

Click this link to read my three part blog post from 2016 where I detail everthing you need to know about preparing for a Singapore – Thailand road trip.

My wife and I enjoy having guests over at our place for fellowship and a nice home-cooked meal. So if you would like to drop by to try some of my wife’s wonderful cooking and to talk more about travel and life, do drop me a mail at lenniechua@gmail.com to arrange a dinner date! Everyone welcome!