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!

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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!

Restaurant Congee Rice Noodles – Melaka

We had our late lunch at this restaurant today, just after it opened at 3pm. This was our first visit and we were happy to find somewhere air-conditioned, where we could eat in comfort shielded from the scorching heat outside. 
The prices of the dishes here are slightly more pricy than what we can find in the vicinity, but still reasonable as the portions are sizable. 

We ordered 6 dishes in total: Marmite Chicken (Rating: 8/10 a bit too much sauce), Cereal Prawns (8/10 not enough cereal), Kum Heong Lala (9/10 flavourful with good balance of spices), Gong Bao Frog Legs (8/10), Signature Toufu (8/10 simple but well executed), Seaweed Soup (7/10, decent but not outstanding).

There were so many other dishes we wanted to order, the food photos looked so tasty, but I guess we would have to come back another day to try. 

All in all, we think this is a great find. There is something here for everyone. Our kids were all raving about their respective dishes and they asked to come back!

Soupy Licious Restaurant – Melaka

This restaurant serves Chinese cuisine and is located at a convenient location along Jalan Merdeka, very near the Dataran Pahlawan shopping centre. This is one of our favorite haunts everytime we come to Melaka as it is very near the Novotel Melaka where we often stay, and it is less crowded than the nearby Nonya restaurants. 

The food here is excellent and the prices reasonable. The environment is also very clean and suitable for kids and family. There is also wifi available, which is a bonus!

We always love the guava appetizer and generally anything you order will be of a consistently high standard. Ironically, if there is any dish we have to complain about, it would be the soup dishes which we feel are not as good as when we first started coming here. 

Tonight, we ordered the Leek with Roasted Pork (Rating 9/10), Chicken in Dry Curry Sauce (9/10), Chicken with Chinese Sausage (8/10), and the Pork Rib Soup (5/10).

As you can see from my ratings, the dishes were all delicious, except the soup which was ordinary. 😛 The other dishes we like to order at this restaurant would be the Otah and the Minced Pork Patty with Salted Egg. 

For more information about this restaurant, you can visit their FB page by CLICKING HERE.

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 15 – Lata Iskandar Falls

Today, we packed our bags and checked out of our apartment homestay, and headed towards our next destination – Melaka. 

On the way out of Cameron Highlands, we like to take the Tapah route which is older and more winding. I wouldn’t recommend this route to newbies as it is more challenging and the road is much narrower with fewer opportunities to overtake slow vehicles. However, if you are up for the challenge, this is actually the more scenic route! 

Just a few tips when going down the mountain. If you have a manual or semi-manual transmission, stick your car in low gear (I recommend gear 3) and use the gear box to help brake your vehicle down the mountain. In this way, you will avoid wearing out your foot brake. There is nothing more scary than having worn out brakes as you hurtle down the mountain towards certain doom. Do also watch out for dogs as many of them like to hang out on the road and they don’t move even if you honk at them.
We also chose to go down on a Friday morning, setting off at around 9:45am after breakfast. This is the day we know most people will be coming up the mountain to enjoy the weekend festivities of the Brinchang night market. This means that most of the jam will be on the opposite side lf the road, and traffic will be smoother on our side. The downside is that we miss the entire Night Market experience. Ah well, we win some we lose some. 😛 

On the way down, the experience will be like you are driving through the heart of a forest as there will be lush greenery on both sides as well as overhanging branches arching over the road. Do lookout for the huts along the road where the Orang Asli live:

Look out also for the Lata Iskandar Falls where you really should stop your car at the side of the road and get out to take some photos. This is a really scenic spot, much nicer than the Parit Falls where I did my morming walk a few days back!

After Lata Iskandar, we proceeded on our 360km journey to Melaka, which thankfully went by uneventfully. We arrived at Novotel Melaka at around 4pm.

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Click to read the next installment of my 2017 SG-TH blog series where I review our Cameron Apartment and share how our daughter became the housekeeping service! 

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!