How You Can Find The Best Place To Stay in Melaka or Anywhere… On A Shoestring

November 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

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Eight Jalan Tukang Emas might easily be overlooked by passer-bys and tourists visiting Chinatown in Melaka. The one attraction why people come here is for the food. Old Melaka is a food haven. Chicken rice balls: Rice spheres which are a variation of the famous Hainanese dish, and the local take on the ever-popular curry noodle dish: Laksa. As such, most of the traditional shophouses in the Chinatown area have in some way or another profited from the throngs of visitors who want a taste of Melaka’s culinary delights. The antique stores that stock junk from the town’s colonial past, Chinese temples, and budget hostels, all share the same architecture as 8 Jalan Tukang Emas.

Eight Jalan Tukang Emas looks just like yet another shophouse along this street, apart from its periwinkle blue painted shutters. Its fame and recognition amongst budget travelers as one of the best hostels in Melaka should remain visually obscured by every other shophouse in Chinatown is indeed a curiosity. For fame and success amongst these little businesses in Chinatown seems to always have to do with spectacular neon lighted displays, ridiculously long queues that somehow signify shop popularity, and painstakingly restored multicolor Peranakan decor.

As it happens, I spent two days and a night at 8 Jalan Tukang Emas, better known as the “Jalan Jalan” guesthouse.  I seemed to have spent more time enjoying its home-away-from home comforts, rather than exploring the streets of Melaka’s old quarter. I am fascinated by its tranquil inner garden courtyard, and the rows of bicycles lined up in front of its front shutters, ready for rent at RM 6 per day…

The hostel was rather relaxing. It took me a long time to remove myself from the feeling of being at home, and on the most basic level, I never have, and never will. There is no homely hostel like one that is a home, no garden like a garden an inner garden that entices you with the sound of trickling water that seemed to bring a hot day down to a cool one. I have never experienced any  hostel atmosphere as welcoming, that will always be facilitated by its hostel-keeper Sam.

What are some of the resources I used to find this home away from home?

If buying a copy of Lonely Planet for a weekend shoestring budget getaway makes no sense for you, there are plenty of resources online.

http://www.tripadvisor.com

Trip advisor is possibly the most user-friendly travel resource search engine available, and that’s how many fellow travelers in Melaka found Jalan Jalan.

http://www.hostelworld.com/

Hostelworld gives annual awards to the best hostels around the world, and have been visited by its staff that does personal reviews of the places. Jalan Jalan has won awards for “best staff” and “best cleanliness”.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree

If you’ve got questions about a destination, chances are someone might have already asked, and gotten answers about it on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum. Great for checking out transport options, and potential scams in specific locations too.

http://delicious.com/

Crowdsourcing at its best. The most popular social-bookmarking site can give you the best options for cheap and popular lodgings. See what others have favored in the cities you wish to visit.

http://www.couchsurfing.org/

Apart from surfing on other’s couches, CSers can provide good information about the best hostels in their area. Sign up and ask around!

A combination of the results from the websites above should give you some of the best hostels available in a city. Do you have any other resources to recommend?

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