Malacca, Malaysia

Malacca (Melaka in Malay) is located in the southern region of Malaysia. It can easily be covered in 2 days, making it a perfect place to spend the weekend and take a break from the hustle and bustle of Singapore.

Spent the first day taking in the culture, Malacca is a multi-religious society with numerous historical building, places and diverse cuisine.  We visited the Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum, Christ Church,  Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Jonker Walk in Chinatown and took a walk around the river.

In terms of food, we started off with chicken rice balls at the famous ‘Kedia Kopi Chung Wah’, then had the best brunch at ‘The Daily Fix’, and drinks at the much raved about ‘The Baboon House’. We continued with the famous and incredibly creamy ‘Hokkaido Icecream’ and had even more amazing dessert at ‘The Bikini Top’. The second day, started off with pandan pancakes at ‘The Daily Fix’, followed by some local food like cendol and nasi lemak. For dinner, we tried the amazing Indian food at ‘Pak Putra Tandoori & Naan Restaurant’. In the evening we visited the night market at Jonker Walk and tried a little of all the street food the market offered.

The city definitely has a charm and defies those who believe the city has nothing to offer. Though Malacca is very small, it has so much history, culture and amazing food which makes the city a must-visit.

Tips for a weekend trip in Malacca:

  • Be very aware of your surrounding and pay extra attention to your belongings (keeping your bag in front of you is always a good idea )
  • You can easily buy bus tickets online. Arrive early as buses from Singapore tend to leave early/right on time. A round trip is about 40 $SGD
  • It’s pretty hot all year round, pack light clothing
  • Food: The street food is a gem and must try – it is the perfect way to try different food the city has to offer. Do the night market at Jonker walk. I highly recommend the pandan pancakes with Gula Melaka at ‘The Daily Fix‘(anticipate the long wait for a table on weekends), ‘Sin See Tai’ and having the coconut ice cream at ‘Bikini Toppings‘ plus The Baboon House, and Pak Putra Tandoori & Naan Restaurant
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Beijing- 48 Hours in China’s capital city

explorationsbyabi_Tiananmen Squarebeijing china historical sitesGreat_wall_China

Beijing 北京

The capital of China is a very majestic city  filled with history and marvellous architecture.  The bustling city is China’s culture centre, well-known for its palaces,  Great Wall, gardens, and art. I only got to spend a weekend in Beijing and my aim was to visit all the ancient sites (I think that was an over-ambitious goal, haha, I only got to see a few). My favourite historic site is the Forbidden city, it was home to emperors and was off-limits to citizens and visitors for about 500 years. It is an architectural marvel and holds a lot of Beijing’s history. A trip to China is not complete without visiting the Forbidden city.

What to do with only 48hours in Beijing

Day 1

The Forbidden Palace–  was my favourite place to explore in Beijing because of the amount of history it holds. It is advisable to get an audio tour guide which costs about 40RMB (about £5). If you are a student make sure to take your ID with you for a student discount. The palace is very close to Tiananmen square so you can easily do both on one day

Tiananmen Square– is right across The Forbidden Palace and holds several notable sites such as the Monument to the People’s Heroes and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong.

Wander around Wangfujing– Wangfujing is the number 1 shopping street in Beijing. It is a 15minutes walk from Tian’anmen Square. I walked from Tiananmen to Wangfujing because I wanted to see as much of the city as possible (instead of walking, you can take the subway line 1 from Tiananmen to Wangfujing). In this famous area, you will find many shops(perfect to get Chinese snacks or gifts for family and friends) and the Wangfujing Snack Street where you would find the most authentic food ( you might want to head to Wangfujing after exploring Tiananmen)

Day 2

Great wall– I wish someone told me this, you would need a whole day if you really want to enjoy the Great Wall. It is one of the greatest wonders of the world and a trip to Beijing isn’t complete without hiking up the Great Wall. I recommend visiting the Mutianyu part of the Great Wall because it is the most preserved part  and has been reconstructed for a safer climb (not to mention the awesome cable carts that take up the wall before the hike and the amazing slides which bring you back down after it). Make sure to bring a lot of water with you and some snacks because you will need to stay hydrated and they are rather expensive to buy at the Great Wall.

Planning your trip to the Great Wall- you would need to plan your trip to the specific part of the wall which you want to visit (I highly recommend Mutianyu). It was very far from the Tiananmen area, I had to take a bus, coach and a minibus. You can ask the receptionist at your hostel/hotel as they were of great help to my friends and I when we were planning our trip.

 

Travel advice

I only spent 2 days in Beijing so I could only put together a little list;

Things to know before going to Beijing

VPN- you would need to download a VPN on your phone and laptop to use sites that are blocked in China such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

When to go

Beijing  gets very hot in the summer and really cold in the winter.  Make sure to bring really light clothes in the summer (it got up to 40°C this summer). Be ready to wrap up and have many layers  as it gets really cold and snows in the winter.

Spring (March – May) or Autumn (September – October)

Getting around

Metro: you can buy a metro card at the metro station which you can top up for your transport(it works like an oyster card). The metro will take you to historical sites like Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The metro is affordable and costs about 3RMB per trip, it takes a bit of getting used but if I could use it you sure can!!.

Taxi: the taxis in Beijing are affordable  and convenient way to get around

Visiting areas around Beijing and Shanghai

Bullet Trains: bullet trains are a great way to travel to different cities in mainland China. I visited Suzhou (Venice of the East) and Hangzhou which were very close to Shanghai using them (I recommend planning day trips to Suzhou and Hangzhou).  You can buy tickets from Shanghai to Suzhou, Hangzhou and Beijing from the Ctrips website

Here- http://english.ctrip.com/?Allianceid=14883&SID=429443&ouid=brand&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=ctrips&utm_campaign=Brand_CN&gclid=CLXEitbQ_8kCFRQTGwodz-MIYA

Abi’s Shanghai travel journal: My addictive discovery and some travel advice

My addictive discovery – Milk Tea

I never heard of  bubble tea or milk tea before coming to China. I noticed that many locals and most of my friends really liked it so I decided to try it. I got the pudding milk tea from CoCo and literally had it almost every day after.  It was the perfect drink for the hot summer days in the city.

1

A Taiwanese chain which sells very nice tea. I liked the flexibility of this stall where you could choose a specific level of sweetness. I had countless ice green fruit teas from 1 on the hot summer days. The green milk tea is also worth ordering.

Website: http://www.alittle-tea.com/stores.asp?VF=1

CoCo

A famous chain of tea stalls which serves up some of the best milk tea in the city.  If like me you are new to bubble tea and milk tea I recommend trying the ‘pudding milk tea’  at CoCo. I absolutely loved it.   I now understand why I see many people with coco cups around the city.


 

Travel advice

Things to know before going to Shanghai

VPN- you would need to download a VPN on your phone and laptop to access sites that are blocked in China such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

Phone: you can buy a China mobile sim and top it up as desired(Pay as you go). To top up your sim, buy credit from a convenience store and follow the simple instructions to top it up. After topping up, all you need to do to activate 4G is to turn it on(on iPhones: settings>mobile data>4G)

When to go

Shanghai is usually humid and gets very hot in the summer and really cold in the winter.  Make sure to bring really light clothes in the summer. There is no central heating in Shanghai, be prepared to wrap up and have many layers  as the humidity makes it feel colder in the winter. Make sure to always have an umbrella in your bag because it pours especially in the summer(June – September), the showers are usually lighter in spring.

Spring (March – May) – This is the best time to visit Shanghai as the average temperature is a pleasant 20°C. (68° F)

Getting around

  • Taxi: are relatively affordable in Shanghai. Avoid dark blue cabs and opt for lighter blue ones as they are cheaper. The taxi drivers in Shanghai don’t understand English so make sure you always have the Chinese address of your destination before getting in a cab. It is also a good idea to always keep the Chinese address of your hotel on you  in case you get lost.
  • Metro: You can buy a metro card at the metro station which you can top up for your transport(it works like an oyster card). You can download the Shanghai metro map on your phone and it will help you navigate your way around town with the metro. The metro closes by 10:30 so you would need to use a Taxi if you are staying out late.
  • Bus: The buses are the cheapest mode of transport and cost about 2RMB per journey. The buses arrive at frequent intervals and you can use your metro cards on them

Travel tips

  • Shanghai is very populated and like with every big city you have to be extra careful and cautious about pickpockets. Always make sure your bag is zipped and held in front of you with your hand over it. China is generally a safe place.
  • Tap water is not safe to drink in China so make sure to drink only bottled water.
  • Fake alcohol is common in China, be very wary about this on nights out. If the drinks are free or rather cheap they could very well be fake.
  • Spitting in public and starring are both very common in China. People stare just because they are curious about the physical differences. Don’t take offence to any of the differences in the culture, rather be very open and adaptable.
  • Getting around is cheap and easy by metro( 3 – 5 RMB). The taxis (starting from 14 RMB)in shanghai are relatively affordable though the cost can add up. I recommend downloading the Shanghai metro map as it is interactive and works without internet connection
  • Websites like  Smartshanghai are very helpful when looking for Chinese addresses to show taxi drivers

Shanghai, China.

 

 


It is such a difficult task to fit my description of Shanghai into a few words.  The ‘Paris of the East’ as it’s referred to- leaves up to the name. It is a cosmopolitan metropolis, famed for its beautiful skyline, modern architecture and buzzing nightlife. Not to mention, Shanghai is perfect for the adventurous at heart and foodies alike. There is so much to explore!  Never a dull moment with numerous activities and places to visit.

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