Express getaway

BY Joel Tam

Haven’t had time to plan for a break this December and need a quick getaway? Here’s something you can easily do over the weekend with friends or your loved ones

Photos by Joel Tam

Old shophouses, authentic Peranakan food, Chendol and the night market at Jonker Street. These are some things that come to mind when anyone mentions Melaka. But the bustling town is quickly growing into an overcrowded venue with thousands of locals and foreigners flocking to it - especially over the weekend.

But there are still a few things you can discover without having to jostle with the masses at. We pick a few spots and share them with you here. Most of them require a car to get around, but otherwise GRAB is huge in Malaysia and you’ll be fine moving around with the app service.

Our transport up to Melaka came in the form of the Hyundai Tucson 1.6 Turbo. An admirable SUV with a D-CVVT Turbocharged power plant producing 175 bhp. It was well-equipped with features like remote tailgate, large boot space (513-litres), cruise control for ease of covering long distances and much more.

A drive up to Melaka would take you about two and a half hours. But if it’s your first time, do allocate half an hour more for time taken at the customs on both countries. Traffic is usually light before 7:00 am and starts to build up around 8:00am. Weekdays tend to be less crowded for obvious reasons.

Our first stop was to head to our hotel. For this trip, we chose The Sterling Boutique Hotel Melaka. It’s just 10 mins away from Jonker Street and offers a fusion of modern and colonial vibes. The highlight of the stay was an in-room jacuzzi bath which the kids loved. The hotel also offers ample free parking.

We then headed to the Pulau Melaka, a man-made island formed during the reclamation of land around the shores of Melaka. Here you’ll find the Melaka Straits Mosque, a floating mosque that was constructed in 2006. Find your way there by 6pm and wait for the sun to set for a simply stunning view of the Melaka straits.

After that, you can brave the crowd at Jonker Walk if it’s your first visit to Melaka. If not, resist the temptation and kick back at Pak Putra Tandoori and Naan. It’s usually a long wait but it’s worth it. Located at 56, Jalan Taman Kota Laksamana, the eatery is really popular and serves up the best Tandoori in West Malaysia.

After some local food, you might want to try some yummy hipster cafe grub. Kaya-kaya Cafe near the outskirts of Jonker has great coffee and an array of western cafe dishes. It’s usually not crowded in the morning, so brunch here is perfect.

Time to do a bit more driving! Head out to the beach area at Pantai Klebang where the famous coconut shakes are made. In this area, you’ll find sections of the beach where you can drive right up to the edge of the shore.

There’s also a submarine museum that will allow you to tour the interior of a submarine used by the Royal Malaysian Navy and French Navy in July 2009. After that, head down the main road and look for the one and only Caltex station. Nope, you’re not looking to refuel your car - but your thirst instead. Because beside it is the famous Klebang Original Coconut Shake, where blended coconut flesh and water with vanilla ice cream await you!

Fancy some bird watching? Melaka’s bird park offers and experience most bird parks can’t compare. Instead of birds in a cage, the venue puts you in an aviary with the birds. Get up close and personal with some feathered friends on a high canopy walk and feed them with your bare hands. Be warned, they’re really friendly and won’t hesitate to land on your shoulders and clothes. Located at 75450 Durian Tunggal, it might be a good idea to plan this stop on your way back as it’s along the route back out.

So there, an eventful but relaxing 2 to 3 day stop without breaking the bank - it’s time to embark on your own express getaway!