Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Malacca: Getting There

R in the taxi: no seatbelts required
After taking my parents around Singapore, the five of us traveled to Malacca, which is a historic city in Malaysia (once a sultanate, then conquered by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British in succession, it came under Asian leadership again with Malaysia's independence in the 1950s). We took a taxi there.

Wait, what? Yes, because Singapore is tiny, you can actually hire a taxi to drive you to another country: I was told it is the only place in the world where this is true. We thought about taking a bus, but the taxi was both cheaper (given that we had four adults in our party) and more convenient (most of the buses leave early in the morning, which given B and my night-owl tendencies, was NOT going to happen).

It's really easy: you order the taxi over the phone (not all taxis are allowed to cross borders, so you can't flag one down on the street), they pick you up at your house, and then drive you across the border to a grubby bus station/transit center. There you catch another taxi to anywhere in Malaysia that you feel like going. In Singapore, there is no problem with haggling or cheating (since it's Singapore); in Malaysia, it's slightly more complicated and using the meter might not be possible. It's still really easy though: for instance, all the taxi drivers have at least basic English. (Malaysia is very similar to Mexico, with better English, to give North Americans an idea of its development level.)
My mom loves her first grandchild
The taxi ride was around 5 hours, which was slightly unpleasant due to R's dislike of sitting still. But since it was our own private transportation, and there were four adults to amuse her, it was mostly pretty pleasant. The main issue was the taxi within Malaysia, which seemed to be on its last legs. I was worried it would break down before we got there. Luckily this didn't happen.
R hug! (she's not really that cuddly in general, sadly)
We arrived late at night (around 9 pm), so proceeded directly to the hotel, checked in, and then ate nearby (I was worried about R's bedtime). Sadly the restaurant was designed to serve large groups of Asian tourists, so the food was not good. But with an exhausted baby your options are limited. Oh well, at least the rest of the food on the trip was delicious.


  1. Can't believe that you're not required to have the kid in the car seat!
    There were no car seats, for the record, in Russia and there is this story about me as a kid almost flying through the windshield and my mom catching me.
    Here, kid=car seat. No options. No seat belts. Car seat. including taxi - weird?!

    1. It sounds really troublesome to take a taxi in that case because car seats are so bulky! I guess hardly anyone in the US does, though (outside of NYC or whatever) so maybe it doesn't matter as much?

  2. When we visited Iguassu Falls, we caught a taxi from our hotel on the Brazilian side over to the Argentinian side. The whole thing was so casual, we almost forgot our passports! The taxi driver had to remind us.

    1. This is very interesting to hear! I wondered about the "only country" claim but didn't have any information otherwise. Did you need a special taxi as well? (In Singapore you do if you are actually crossing the border by taxi; just going up to the border is a different case).

    2. It was a few years back so I can't quite remember, but I think they were regular cabs. This may just been an arrangement at this particular border crossing since Iguassu is SO touristy.

      As a side note, I am a Canadian expat living in Jakarta at the moment and I love following your story in Singapore! I had every intention of blogging my time over here and it just hasn't quite happened yet.

    3. If you decide to blog, I would certainly be interested to read! Jakarta must be quite a different experience from Singapore given the differences in economic development (I haven't been there yet but hope to someday...).