YQ Travelling About Me liau yun qing

I love train travel and you should too: Day 4 of #indie30

Prompt #4: What is your favorite method of overland travel and why?

I didn’t mind bus travelling a lot but after being violently car sick in Peru, I’ve decided that my favorite overland travel is by train.

With train travel you get to:

  • skip traffic jam
  • go at a slow pace with not as much sudden turns (so you won’t get motion sickness)
  • see cute babies
  • have more leg room than a plane or bus
  • eat train bentou (Japan and Taiwan have these)
  • sleep on beds (To be fair, China has long distance buses with beds too. I slept in a bunk next to the toilet before.)

It’s unfortunate that KTM (Malayan Railway Limited) has removed their private 2-bed bunk on their overnight train. I really wanted to try one.

 

This post is part of 30 Days of Indie Travel Art Project.

yq visits melaka

I’m going to Melaka for a weekend trip [Weekend Traveller Series Part 9]

Welcome back to the fortnightly Weekend Traveller series where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more using less work leave. You can find all of the previous posts for weekend end travel here.

Today’s post doesn’t have any travel planning tips. Instead, I want to share about my upcoming weekend travel. I will be going to Melaka for a 3-day trip next weekend.

Since my round-the-world trip, I’ve stopped most of my short-term (aka 2-day) trips because I do not have the budget and I already have too much free time.

However, my friend Debbie suggested that we take a trip overseas since she has an extra day of leave. We initially planned to head to Medan because of cheap plane tickets but there was volcano activity last month.

Check out the rest of the post…!

kuala terengganu

A street with two names in Kuala Terengganu’s Chinatown

[I haven’t written a lot about my last Visit Malaysia trip which I did with my friend Debbie. As a break from my past posts about my round-the-world trip, I’d like to take you to Kuala Terengganu.]

When I was in Kuala Terengganu, I was surprised to find that the street passing through Chinatown had two names: Jalan Bandar (City Street) and Jalan Kampung China (Chinese Village Street). If someone told me this sooner, I might have felt less anxiety when I was searching for a food outlet.

When preparing for our trip to the east coast of Malaysia, Debbie scouted a list of food places to check out. Among the eateries was Madam Bee’s Kitchen in Kuala Terengganu’s Chinatown which specializes in Peranakan food.

On Madam Bee’s website, her address was Jalan Kampung Cina so I set that location on my Google Map.

Detour from Madam Bee’s

When we arrived in Kuala Terengganu, we were famished so we decided to head to Madam Bee’s. All was well as we walked to the street, based on my Google Map app.

We decided to get of the map and turn into a very Chinese street. The whole road was over-the-top Chinese with many lanterns and colorful walls. It was already a month after Chinese New Year so I don’t think the deco were put up for the festival.

End of Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

End of Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

While on the street, I kept checking my Google Maps app to see if we were on the right street. The apps showed that we were on Jalan Bandar so I thought that we might run into Jalan Kampung Cina if we just keep on walking.

We walked and walked. It didn’t help that the only sign I looked at listed Jalan Bandar.

Sign with Jalan Bandar

Sign with Jalan Bandar

I was quite embarrassed that I’ve brought us to the wrong place.

Then suddenly, we saw Madam Bee’s Kitchen with its prominent sign. Hurray!

Madam Bee's Kitchen at Kuala Terengganu's Chinatown

Madam Bee’s Kitchen at Kuala Terengganu’s Chinatown

I also saw that one of the road signs kept the old name Jalan Kampung Cina.

Jalan Kampung Cina sign at Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

Jalan Kampung Cina sign at Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

Sights from Kuala Terengganu’s Chinatown

The only thing I knew about Terengganu was that it has a large Malay population so I was curious about Kuala Terengganu’s Chinatown.

The street had many Chinese-influenced shop houses but since it was a public holiday period, I didn’t see a lot of inhabitants.

Kuala Terengganu Chinatown shophouses

Kuala Terengganu Chinatown shophouses

Retro hair saloon sign at Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

Retro hair saloon sign at Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

Reflection of Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

Reflection of Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

Do you know any streets with two names?

Related posts:

moving out with my luggage

I don’t think homestays are for me

My luggage and I moving out

I moved out of my homestay in Arequipa on Sunday. I realized that I was a lot more happy when I can make a huge mess of my hostel room without feeling embarrassed.

I’m not a very good homestay guest. I like to stay in my room when I get back. I like to shower twice in a day. I like to stay near the city center.

The other time I was in a homestay was in Japan.

All my homestays start off the same:

  1. Super excited before the homestay
  2. Awkward/shy introducing myself to host.
  3. Try not to be an obstacle to their lives
  4. Hosts are so hospitable I feel bad that I’m not as open and friendly
  5. Feel miserable not being able to live as I want
  6. Homestay ends

I do have a friend who did a homestay in France and loved her experience. She still contacts the host family and the little boys (now grown up). The difference between her and I is that she’s an extrovert who enjoys having active fun. My opinion of fun is the internet and books.

Have you been in a homestay? How was your experience?

The person didn't give me permission to take the photo so I gave him sunglasses.

FAQ Tips on taking train from Singapore to Malaysia

The original post Tips on taking train from Singapore to Malaysia brings the most search traffic to my post. It’s been more than a year since the post went up and thanks for your support.

Besides encouraging comments, I’ve also gotten A LOT of questions about this particular train route. Some questions were stuff I didn’t think about when I was writing the post while others were questions about stuff I’ve already mentioned in the post (this drives me nuts).

Instead of answering the repeated Qs, I’ve gathered the questions here.

1. Where can I book train tickets from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur?
2. My online booking didn’t go through. HELP!
3. I picked Kuala Lumpur as my destination, why isn’t there a night train?
4. Is it safe to travel on the Malaysian train?
5. How do I get to [location in Singapore]?
6. Where do I board the train at Johor?
7. Is there food at JB train station? (No one asked me this, actually.)
8. On the online booking, If I am coming to Singapore, which KTM train stop should I stop?
9. How do I get to JB’s train station from the rest of Singapore?
10. How much is the price of bed/seat/chamber/narnia’s closet?
11. How do I get to Bangkok on train?
12. Hey! Your post is about Singapore to Malaysia. But I’m in Malaysia, how do I get to Singapore by train?
13. Do they still give blankets for the common carriage?
14. I need to get to [location in Malaysia], can you help?

FAQ begins here! I hate the formatting too!

1. Where can I book train tickets from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur?
If you are booking online, the link is https://intranet.ktmb.com.my/e-ticket/Login.aspx Sign up for an account and you can check past reservations.
You can also visit the train stations to buy the tickets but I don’t recommend doing that for night trains.

2. My online booking didn’t go through. HELP!
Check your bookings in your account. I’m not sure what the phone number for KTMB is.

3. I picked Kuala Lumpur as my destination, why isn’t there a night train?
Pick Sentral Kuala Lumpur, not Kuala Lumpur (which is one stop after KL Sentral).

4. Is it safe to travel on the Malaysian train?
Have you watched too many wild wild west movies? I don’t think there are any robbers ambushing the trains. It’s safe.

5. How do I get to [location in Singapore]?
Check out http://gothere.sg/ or https://maps.google.com.sg/.

6. Where do I board the train at Johor?
Johor train station. Map here (click to enlarge):

7. Is there food at JB train station? (No one asked me this, actually.)
There is a 24-hour KFC. A Starbucks is open until 10pm (I think).

8. On the online booking, If I am coming to Singapore, which KTM train stop should I stop?
Pick Woodlands. This isn’t the Woodlands MRT, it’s a KTM train station near Woodlands MRT.

9. How do I get to JB’s train station from the rest of Singapore?
If you are at Bugis, you can head to the Queen Street terminal where there are buses to JB. There are also Causeway Link buses to JB from Kranji and Newton.

* Woodlands train station is at the checkpoint. It is different from Woodlands MRT.

10. How much is the price of bed/seat/chamber/narnia’s closet?
It’s best to check directly on the site. https://intranet.ktmb.com.my/e-ticket/Login.aspx

11.How do I get to Bangkok on train?
I’ve never taken the train from Singapore to Bangkok (but it’s on my wish list!) So check out the wonderful Seat61: http://www.seat61.com/Malaysia.htm#Singapore_-_Kuala_Lumpur_-_Penang_-_Bangkok

12. Hey! Your post is about Singapore to Malaysia. But I’m in Malaysia, how do I get to Singapore by train?

Just reverse engineer my tips for Singapore to KL. Pick Sentral Kuala Lumpur as your starting point and Woodlands as your destination.

13. Do they still give blankets for the common carriage?

They didn’t have the thin sheet the last time I was on the morning sleeper to Singapore.

14. I need to get to [location in Malaysia], can you help?

Unfortunately, I come from Sabah so I am clueless about travelling in Peninsula Malaysia (unless I did research on it for a trip). Please check out the rest of the internet.

Batu Caves

Too many stairs at Batu Caves

I finally crossed out Selangor on my Visit Malaysia list during February when I also visited Genting Highlands.

From Genting Highland’s cable car station, there is a bus to Gombak which is the nearest stop to Batu Caves. We caught a RM10 cab to Batu Caves. The driver was reluctant to drop us directly in front of the entrance so we had to cross the jammed streets.

The sun was blazing hot when we got to the entrance. The steep stairs to the main caves looked daunting. But since we were there, we had to trek up.

Before climbing the stairs, Lilian said her colleagues teased her for not visiting Batu Caves during Thaipusam. I gave her a look of horror. I do not want to be caught with the Thaipusam crowd of (an estimated) 1.3 million people.

Path to Batu Caves

Path to Batu Caves

I had wanted to count the 272 steps while I climbed. However, at halfway of the journey, my mind gave up and concentrated on breathing instead.

While we paused for breath, we saw many devotees with freshly shaved heads (is that the right description?). There were also those with tins of chilled milk carried on the top of their heads.

As soon as we reached the top, I requested that we stay on the spot and catch our breath. We were still carrying our backpacks from Genting Highland, so my felt like it was going to snap in half

TOO MANY STEPS! Batu Caves

TOO MANY STEPS! Batu Caves


After catching our breath, we checked out the Dark Caves. We were too stingy to pay for the 3-hour tour so we sat at the benches watching monkeys.

The monkeys at Batu Caves were not afraid of humans. One even slapped the water bottle out of a tourist’s hand and drank it like a human. Another monkey lapped up spilled water.

We also saw monkeys ignoring offerings of bananas and choosing cakes instead. I’m not sure how that would affect its diet. Are monkeys (or even humans) supposed to eat sugared cakes?

Monkeys at Batu Caves

Monkeys at Batu Caves


After all that resting, it was time to leave. Getting down 272 steps is easier than going up but we still had to wave through a sea of tourists. Help!
Batu Caves

Batu Caves

Nitty Gritty

Nearest station: Batu Caves Komuter station

Have you been to Batu Caves?

River seen from door of Jungle train

Heading to Malaysia’s East Coast

It’s been more than a year since I made the promise to visit all 13 Malaysian states. Now, I have only two states to conquer.

Can you believe it? I didn’t really think it was possible when I made the goals but here we are with only Pahang and Terengganu left on the list.

Good news is, I’ll be crossing out these two states very soon. D and I have made plans to head to the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia and visit the towns in the two states.

Next Friday night, I’ll be taking a night bus to Kuantan. The rest of the plans have not been confirmed but our general plan is to head to Kuala Terrenganu and back to Kota Bahru.

From Kota Bahru, we will take a morning train back to Singapore. The train route is known as the Jungle Line and has a great view. I’m looking forward to the magnificent view but not the 14 hour train ride on a seat.

I haven’t discussed the itinerary with D but I’ll list a few interesting places which I hope to check out.

Pahang

Kuantan

When I was in primary school, I did a project on Kuantan but I still get it mixed up with Kelantan because the name sounds so similar.

Kuantan is famous for its nature stuff like beaches and waterfalls. I’m not sure how much nature we would be seeing but it’s a good-to-know.

State Mosque, Kuantan

State Mosque, Kuantan

Image credit: Phalinn Ooi

Pekan

When I first found out about Pekan, I was very amused by its name. In Malay, “pekan” means town. And this town’s name is Pekan. Imagine a town called town. Haha!

After I calmed down, I read a little more about Pekan (on Wikipedia). Turns out, it’s the royal town of Pahang and the hometown of our current prime minister (which means this place gets a lot of perks!)

Masjid Sultan Abdullah, Pekan, Pahang

Masjid Sultan Abdullah, Pekan, Pahang

Image credit: Shamsul Liza

Terengganu

Poor Terengganu, despite having so much land, it is most famous for its islands and beaches (which isn’t too bad, I guess).

Kuala Terengganu

The state museum is said to be really good. (I’m still hurting from the not-that-awesome museum in Alor Setar.)

Terengganu State Museum

Terengganu State Museum

Image credit: macloo

I am interested in the Chinatown. Terengganu is one of the muslim dominant states, I’m curious how the Chinese community lives. (This brings back memories of the kopitiam in Perlis where the shopowner was Chinese and the stalls owner was muslim. I couldn’t figure out their living arrangements.)

Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

Kuala Terengganu Chinatown

Image credit: kayb_82

Jungle Rail

The train ride to end all train rides in Malaysia. (Is that how you use the phrase?)

River seen from door of Jungle train

River seen from door of Jungle train

You know what long train rides mean? PICNIC!!

Image credit: Albert Freeman

Have you been to Pahang and Terengganu? What do you recommend doing there?

changi staff canteen

Cheap eats: Changi Airport Staff Canteen (Terminal 1)

It’s Food Friday here at YQ Travelling. Today, I will share where you can find the staff canteen at Changi Airport Terminal 1.

Usually, food at airport is expensive. However, among all the airports that I have been, Singapore’s Changi Airport has the relatively cheapest food.

If you don’t fancy fast food or restaurants at Changi Airport, I suggest visiting the staff canteen. Today, I will introduce the staff canteen at Terminal 1 because this is where I usually leave when I take AirAsia.

I find that the canteen can only be accessed from the second floor’s lift. Somehow, I could not find the elevator on the first floor.

Sign to Changi Airport Staff Canteen Terminal 1

Look for the toilet nearest to the AirAsia counter. Around the corner, there is a set of elevators to the basement. Head to Basement 1.

You will reach a large staff canteen such as this.

Changi Staff Canteen

I find it surprising that many Indonesian tourists know of this relatively secret hideout for cheap eats. Every time I go, I see a table of tourists from Indonesians with their large luggage.

The food in the canteen is very similar to what you can find at normal hawker centers.

Duck stall at Changi Staff Canteen

For example, this bowl of duck porridge is S$4. The same price as at the food court.

Duck porridge at Changi Airport Staff Canteen

A normal cup of kopi (local coffee)

Have you been to the staff canteen at Changi Airport? Which is your favorite stall?

haw par dance class

Singapore’s most WTF: Haw Par Villa

[This blog post contains some photos not suitable for children as they include violent torture scenes. However, nipples of merpeople have been censored. You are welcomed]

I visited Haw Par Villa some Sundays ago with D and M. It was my third visit to the “historical theme park”.  I left with the same feeling I had the two other times I went: “What on earth did I just see?”

What is Haw Par Villa? Travel site Your Singapore has a nice description:

Haw Par Villa is like no other place in the world, with over 1,000 statues and 150 dioramas that dramatise Chinese legends and folklore. Founded on Chinese legends and values, this historical theme park has large, imposing statues from famous legends of old – featuring characters like Fu Lu Shou, Confucius and the Laughing Buddha.

If you have been to Singapore multiple times and have seen almost all of the tourist attractions, you should visit Haw Par Villa.

Haw Par Villa gate

Previously, Haw Par Villa was in the middle of nowhere. Now has its own MRT stop, aptly named Haw Par Villa Station, so it’s very easy to get there.

You will definitely know if you’ve arrived at Haw Par Villa if you see concrete statues around. Yes, get yourself in there. Entrance is free!

After passing the gates, you will be guided by a bearded old man who points with two fingers. Further inside, a dancing Thai/Burmese person teaches a stance of Taichi.

Welcome to Haw Par Villa

Ten Courts of Hell

If you only have 10 minutes at Haw Par Villa, you must check out the Ten Courts of Hell so you know which court your worst enemy will go. (I now know which courts are reserved for me.)

It’s kind of funny how the crimes get repetitive but the torture scenes are always…fresh and creative.

Ten Courts of Hell

Ten Courts of Hell

Myths and legend

Besides the courts of hell, there are a lot of the statues in the villa is about Chinese folklore.

There is the usual Journey to the West (lower right) statues and also Legend of the White Snake (not in photo).

Haw Par Villa

The place has a few signs around explaining the scenes so don’t worry about not understanding them. Heck, even I don’t understand much of it.

For example, I have no idea where these topless mermaids, clammaids and crabmaids come from.

Considering how conservative we are, it’s surprising how these sea creatures have nipples. I mean, male manga characters do not have nipples but these merfolks do? That is just crazy weird. Oh, I’ve censored the nipples in case anyone gets offended by bare-breasted women sculptures with weird grins.

Modern family

Besides folklore, there are also strange statues of good-and-evil. Here are a few photos of sins and what happens to bad people (or something like that).

Haw Par Villa Modern family

(Click to enlarge)

The park/villa is quite big so be sure to have at least 45 minutes to look at everything. It’s also best to bring a few friends who can help you take photos.

Haw Par Villa

PS You are not supposed to do what I did. Hat tip to J for the giraffe pose.

To end the post, I should like to teach you the dance of my people and a bonus video!

Haw Par Villa dance class

Photo credit: Mel

[Video music credit: Also Sprach Zarathustra by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0]

Things to know about Haw Par Villa

Nitty gritty: Haw Par Villa
How to get there: Haw Par Villa MRT station
Opening time: 9 am to 7 pm (Ten courts of hell officially closes at 6 pm but caretaker wanted to be off at 5.40 pm)
Who to go with: Friends, family.
Free entrance!!!

Bukit Chandu

Singapore for museum lovers (Part 2)

Welcome to part 2 of Singapore for museum lovers. Last week I shared what I thought about the Asian Civilisation Museum, National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum and Peranakan Museum.

Today, I’ll be talking about three less visited museums: Reflections at Bukit Chandu, Memories at Ford Factory and Singapore Philatelic Museum.

The first two museums are dedicated to World War II so if you are a WWII fan, be sure to check those places out. The only down side about these two museums is that they are really far from other sights. Bummer.

Memories at Ford Factory

Memories at Old Ford Factory

Out of the three museums I will be talking about today, Memories at Old Ford Factory is my favorite. In its past life, the museum was the Old Ford  Motor Factory. I became interested in it because there were rumors that the place is haunted.

The museum was the location where the British signed its surrender contract (?) to the Japanese. The room where the signing is part of the museum collection. You can stand behind glass wall to see the room.

What I like the most about this museum is that it’s not full of artifacts (even though I do love reading). Instead, it has transcription of people telling their experience of what happened during the days of the Japanese occupation. [Or as the website says: “first-hand oral history accounts, archival records and primary documents”.]

Memories at Old Ford Factory

There’s also a theatrette at the museum (same as at Reflections at Bukit Chandu) and the film made me shed tears.

I like this museum a lot but just thinking about getting there gives me a headache. There are public buses to the museum but it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. If you do not have a lot of time in Singapore, I think you should skip this place.

Nitty gritty: Memories at Old Ford Factory
Website: http://moff.nas.sg/moff/public/html/
Where: 351 Upper Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 588192
Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays, 9.00am to 5.30pm; Sundays, 12.00pm to 5.30pm
Entrance: S$3 for adults

Reflections of Bukit Chandu

Reflections at Bukit Chandu

Another museum focused on World War II. This time, it’s more about how the Malay community help defend Singapore against the Japanese army.

The museum is located at the top of Bukit Chandu (or Opium Hill). If you are walking, be prepared for the very hilly walk from the Pasir Panjang MRT station. On breezy days, it’s very relaxing to walk uphill since most of the route is shaded.

The museum is very small. A old mansion “close to the former battle site – the Battle of Pasir Panjang, where 1,400 brave soldiers from the Malay Regiment heroically defended the last stand against a 13,000-strong Japanese army”.

The best part about this museum is the little theater where they have great sound and light effects to show how it was like when the Japanese invaded. Be prepared to shed plenty of tears (more tears than Old Ford Factory).

Reflections at Bukit Chandu

The museum was different from the rest since it focused a lot on how the Malay Regiment defended Singapore. In other museums, it seemed like it was mostly the British work (and terrible work at that).

It’s also rather interesting since in the Peninsula Malaysia, Malay gave their bicycles to the Japanese army, giving them a chance to reach Singapore from a direction that wasn’t expected by the British.

One of the artifacts of the museum is drawings by a local Chinese who survived the war. It showed how cruel the Japanese soldiers were during the period.

A large part of the museum is dedicated to Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi who was portrayed as a hero who never gave up. Honestly, I haven’t heard of Lieutenant Adnan until the visit, I hope he would be upgraded to the position of national hero in other places and not just this museum.

More photos and detail of Reflections at Bukit Chandu can be found at remembersingapore blog.

Nitty gritty: Reflections at Bukit Chandu
Website: http://www.nhb.gov.sg/NHBPortal/Museums/ReflectionsatBukitChandu
Where: 31-K Pepys Road S(118458)
Opening hours: Close on Mondays (except public holidays) Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9.00am to 5.00pm
Entrance: S$2 for adults

Singapore Philatelic Museum

Singapore Philatelic Museum

I’ve collected stamps when I was in primary school. The only reason I did it was because in the books I read, stamp collecting was a good hobby. The books never told me that watching TV, playing video games or reading can be considered hobbies.

My mom was writing to my grandfather back in Taiwan so we had many pretty stamps with the words “Republic of China”. I never knew then why they didn’t just write Taiwan but I accepted it and filed it in my stamp book.

But I’ve never really liked stamp collecting. It was most boring to me since the stamps just sat there and did nothing. At least books told me stories and running around makes my heart beat faster. I pretty much gave up stamp collecting when I was older.

Oh, where was I? Ah, the Singapore Philatelic Museum. The reason I gave a short history of my liaison with stamps is to tell you that I really do not like stamp collecting.

My introduction of the Singapore Philatelic Museum will be marred by my experience with stamp collecting.

Singapore Philatelic Museum

I visited the museum as part of the Free Museum Entrance Month. My head was already full of other exhibits in the other museums so the exhibition at the stamp museum was rather disappointing.

There is a room on how stamps are made. To me, a room showing how cookies are made is a lot more interesting.

There are blown up stamps for different occasions. I saw the Olympic Games stamp when I was there.

Surprisingly, there is a room about different cultures in Singapore. They must have ran out of stamp-related artifacts.

I was quite bored out of my mind at the museum. So I will stop here.

Nitty gritty: Singapore Philatelic Museum
Website: http://www.spm.org.sg/
Where:  23-B Coleman Street S(179807)
Opening hours: Mondays 1.00pm to 7.00pm; Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9.00am to 5.00pm
Entrance: S$6 for adults  (Seriously? I would rather take a bus to Old Ford Factory than pay this price for entrance.)

Have you been to the three museums I talked about? How was your experience?