Papa Loves Mambo at Jonker 88

Papa Loves Mambo at Jonker 88, originally uploaded by morphred.
21-22Aug, Malacca, Malaysia
The Straits Settlements Series – Part I

Despite not wanting to go anywhere over the weekend, I ended up joining KW, WQ, YQ and Al in driving up to Malacca. On a Sat night, while fasting. For less than 24hrs.

Driving with a GPS is a no-brainer. Just follow instructions blindly. And Malacca looks the same. A World Heritage site, plenty of peranakan-ness. Basically, i wilted in the heat, and watched everyone eat lovely chendol ice kachang in gula melaka. The company’s great though, and the 500km drive was worth it. 🙂

Visit: Jonker Street, Formosa, Mahkota Parade
Sleep: Kings Hotel Apartments
Eat: Nasi Kandar / McDonalds

Diving up in Weh.

Aug 6-9th 2010, Pulau Weh, Aceh, Indonesia

Booya! This is the 2nd time in two years I am up in Pulau Weh. And this post shall attempt to provide the reader, you with a detailed description of how to get to Weh. =)

First. Its a double flight from SG to Banda Aceh. Book the early flight from SG to KL (745am) to be safe, just in time for the 1155am AirAsia flight to B.Aceh. Return flights from SG to KL and then KL to B.Aceh should set you back no more than 250 SGD. with the KL to B.Aceh price fixed. The B.Aceh airport (bandara sultan iskandar muda) has been completed, compared to this time last year, and as far as Indonesian airports go, is one of the better ones, with a covered linkbridge from plane to the arrival area.

From B.Aceh airport to the Ulee Lheu harbour, its around 90,000 Rupiah per car (share 4 ways with whichever traveler you meet at the airport, no one else goes anywhere other than Weh) and the trip takes about 45 min. At the harbour, the fast ferry (single trip non-a/c at 55000 Rp, and a/c at 65000 Rp, about 1 hr travel time). There’s now a return tix option for 110 000 a/c usable for up to one month. Slow ferry is available too, but i think it takes an extra hour. Soz, i can’t be fcuked to find out prices.

Next from Balohan harbour on Weh, take the minivan or any other transport up to Gapang or Iboih beach. Lowest I’ve got was 40000 Rp per person on a minivan for a 45 min ride. Similarly, the return trip is done by taking the 7am van out of Gapang beach, reached Balohan harbout in time for the 8am fast ferry (slow sets off same time too). From the mainland Ulee Lheu harbour, its a taxi / minivan / kijang / becak ride to the airport. We arranged for a visit by becak to the Pasar Aceh market to look around for an hour before heading off to the airport for the 1245pm flight from Aceh to KL. Then you’re on way to home base, no problem with the KL to SG flight. Just factor in some buffer time when booking, since the KLCC budget terminal gets crowded sometimes.

Other variations to the itinerary is to fly from SG to Penang on AirAsia, then Penang to B.Aceh on Malaysia’s Fireflyz. Then on Weh itself, it makes sense to rent a motorbike so you can visit Sabang and landmarks like Kilometer 0, the easternmost point of Indonesia’s extensive trans-island road network.

Weh. Still a little haven unbeknownst to the multitude of 1st time divers from our fair island. Or more likely it is just the inconvenience of traveling there that keeps it pristine and undisturbed. Whatever the reason, this little secret gem of a place is the retreat of ang moh backpackers and dive enthusiasts.

I stayed at Gapang beach, where the day’s activities revolve around Lumba Lumba Diving Centre. Experienced crowd, with DMs and the peak period crowd going out for dives twice daily, Ton and Marjan’s place is well run, professional, from the BWRAF refresher, and the nice well maintained gear. And no, they didn’t pay me to promote the place. LOLOLOL. Other lovely quirks in the place are the great next door eatery (order BBQ fish/chicken dinner in the afternoon, for a sumptious dinner meal), the local fare up the hill at the local warung just at the junction of Gapang beach entrance, guaranteed to make your mouth water. And the mainstay that is Mama Donut, a local lady selling various sweet treats like jam doughnuts, coconut doughnuts, banana fritters amongst other goodies.

On Sunday, Gapang becomes a weekend family beach, with kids and youths filling up the place. Watch out for the ice cream man on his motorbike, announcing his arrival with “ice cream music”. LOL

Dives. The dives themselves bring up some fascinating animals. It is moray central, and ribbon eels, lionfishes, scorpionfishes are a common sight. Plenty of other critters like nudibranches, shrimps, octopii. I made a mental note to know my fish identification better. =) Here’s a sampling. More can be found at


Cockatoo waspfish

Crab and Clownfish in anemone

Leaf Scorpionfish

Blue spotted ray and remora suckerfish?

Twin Morays

Twin shrimps

Varicosa? nudibranch


(battlescar galactica?) nudibranch?



Hidden ray
Spot the scorpionfish

Razorfish School

Spot the Scorpionfish


Lionfish slumber party


Ribbon eel