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!

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 11 – Crossing back into Malaysia

Alas, how time flies. It is time to pack our bags and make our return trip back into Malaysia. 
Time for one final group photo for memories sake, and we set off on our 400km journey from Krabi back to the Thai Malaysia border. 

Thank God for good weather and a smooth drive, except for having to emergency break and swerve to avoid hitting a dog who decided to have a sudden dash across the highway.  

The border crossing was also straightforward. Just drive your vehicle directly to the immigration booths:

Slip in a one ringgit “tip” into every passport. After getting your passports stamped, proceed to the next booth to sign and return your vehicle import form. 

After clearing the Thai side, drive up to the Malaysia immigration where each adult might be required to place two index fingers on the biometric scanner for identification. There is also the payment of RM3.60 via the Touch N Go card. Thankfully, no RM20 entry fee required here.

After successfully clearing the customs, we said goodbye to my brother-in-law’s family- They will be headed back to Singapore while we will extend our stay for a few more nights at Cameron Highlands and Melaka.

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Click here to read the next installment of my 2017 SG-TH blog series where I share about my leaking tyre experience halfway on the drive up 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 8 – Phuket to Krabi

Today’s drive was a comfortable 150km journey from Phuket Mai Khao Beach to Krabi Ao Nang. This felt so leisurely compared to our other legs and we were able to thoroughly enjoy the wonderful scenery around us. Take a look at the video we took of part of our journey : Video Footage of Drive from Phuket to Krabi

We stopped for lunch at KFC at a petrol kiosk in Phang Nga, and after that it was an hour long drive to Krabi.

The rocky hills in this area come in such weird and wacky shapes and sizes and very different to what we see elsewhere.

The route is also much improved from last year. Although some portions were still under construction, all the devastating potholes were gone and we had a comfortable smooth ride the whole way through, mostly on dual carriageways.

Upon arriving at the outskirts of Krabi, we dropped by the Tesco Lotus outlet for some shopping. I bought myself some disposable contact lenses to replace the spectacles I lost yesterday because of my waltz with the waves at the beach. We also replenished our supplies of groceries.

We then arrived at our hotel the Ibis Styles Krabi Ao Nang at around 3.30pm.

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Click here for the next installment of my 2017 SG-TH Blog Series where I share about our adventures at the famous Tiger Cave Temple.

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 3 – Jitra to Phuket

For all of our long road trips to Thailand, the entry into Thailand via the Sadao border crossing has always been the most harrowing part of the journey. This year proved to be the most frustrating year, even though it was our 3rd time. 

We set off from Jitra at around 8.30am and even though there was rain, we had a smooth journey to the Malaysia half off the border crossing at Bukit Kayu Hitam. As in previous trips, we made a short stop to settle our Thailand 3rd party vehicle insurance at the Duty Free Complex at “No Man’s Land” in between the two immigration complexes. We paid RM33 for 19 days coverage. 

Similar to last year, we parked our car on the left hand side of the road just before the Sadao immigration complex. There is no more big carpark as they are building the new immigration complex where the big carpark used to be. (After one year, they are STILL building?!?) 

We then got the empty immigration cards as usual from the first office on the building on the left. Filled them up and lined up to get our passports processed. After lining up for 20 minutes, we finally reached the front of the queue. However, the immigration officer refused to attend to us as we lined up at the “VAN / BUS” queue instead of the “CAR” queue. Even with three kids in tow, he insisted that we line up on the other side where the “CAR” passengers were supposed to queue up. The past two years, we never had this problem, I’m not sure why this year they were so particular about this. 

Without a choice, we went to queue up again on the right hand side at counters 7 and 8. There were only 2 queues, and ours unfortunately took an eternity to clear. It must have taken us another hour and 20 minutes standing there. In the mean time, on the “VAN / BUS” side, there were empty counters with immigration officers waiting there without people to attend two. I’m not sure why they didn’t open up more counters for the “CAR” people. Thankfully, the vehicle customs clearance was more straightforward. 

All in all, it took us 2 hours to clear the Sadao border crossing. CRAZY. 😛 

Once into Thailand, we proceeded to our normal lunch spot at Tesco Lotus Sadao, where the delicious food at the Pizza Company undid the damage of our lousy Pizza Hut dinner the previous night at Jitra. We did some grocery shopping and changed currency, and set off for Phuket.

This year, we took a slightly different route, following the Number 4 road turning left towards Trang, then Krabi, taking a coffee break at the outskirts of Krabi town at an Amazon Coffee outlet at one of the Petrol Stations. The great thing about this route was that it was a much smoother drive with dual carriageways for almost the entire journey and not that many rough country roads.

Making good progress, we then proceeded towards Phang Nga and crossed into Phuket Island at 6:30pm Malaysia time (5:30pm Thailand time).

Not surprisingly, the kids were extremely happy to finally arrive at the Phuket Marriott Beach Club. It is going to be a great week here as a family!  

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Click here to read the next installment of my 2017 SG-TH blog series about our time at the Phuket Marriott Beach Club.

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!