Thursday, 27 June 2019

Gokhon Guesthouse, TukTuk, Lake Toba

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a 4 days 3 nights trip to Lake Toba. When I was googling for places to stay around Lake Toba, most internet forum suggests staying over either at Parapat or TukTuk.

I finally settled on TukTuk because of the seemingly livelier F&B scene and more things to do. There were a plethora of affordable accommodations, but very little hotels - the accommodation are mostly family-run guest house in TukTuk.

I had a tough time deciding where to stay as most of the place looks really beautiful (almost all are by the lake!), the reviews were great, location ws awesome (because TukTuk isn't that big anyway! You can easily go around the whole ofTukTuk with a bike) and the price point was really affordable. 

In the end, I decided to stay at Gokhon Guest House because the reviews suggests that it has consistent hot water 24/7, WiFi seems to be OK, there are two gazebo outdoors for guests to chill out, it is close to some good restaurants and guests have direct access to the lake (Do take note that some accommodation are next to the lake, but there isn't a 'beach' so you can't access the lake easily).

As this property has its own landing point, the wooden ferry from Parapat could drop us off easily here! We were the first customer to be dropped off from that ferry, probably because Gokhon is located right in the heart of Tuk Tuk!
There are only eight rooms (I think) at Gokhon Guest House, four on the ground floor, and another four on the first floor. We read reviews on the internet and many recommended getting the rooms on the first floor for a better view, and a little "more privacy", as there are two gazebos on the ground floor, you would feel a little "less private".
The pathway leading from the landing point to the rooms
We were greeted by the staffs upon setting foot on Gokhon, who kindly showed us to our room. The main office is located opposite of the accommodation block, just across the road.
 There's a library for guests to use. Most of the books are for rent, and renters are require to pay the price of the book in full as a deposit. After you returned the book, you will then receive back a huge chunk (almost 80%) of the deposit back.
Our room on the first floor! It was a double room (IDR 275,000/RM80/23 USD per night) and there is space to add an extra bed (for an extra charge of IDR 100,00/RM30/10 USD per night). All rooms come with an en-suite toilet with hot water 24/7! A very important factor to consider in Lake Toba, as the weather can be quite chilly in the morning and at night.

I thought our room was extremely comfortable - there was no air-cond, only a wall fan but trust me, it gets pretty cold at night so it's alright. There were also plenty of storage & hanging space for your luggage and clothes. Electric kettle was provided upon request. It was pretty awkward using the electric kettles, as most of the plug points were far away from any table/counter top so we had to use the electric kettle in the bathroom. WiFi was acceptable, don't expect your typical smooth and fast connection. Time to time I couldn't connect to the internet, but it's ok, we're here to relax and disconnect anyway.
Our double room comes with a balcony with two sun chair. The views were stunning! The photos here do no do any justice to the view there - it was prettier than what we expected. The walls of the balcony were pretty low, so be careful while hanging around the balcony. We could peep over our next door neighbour easily too!

At night, guests are advised to keep their volume low, as sound travels easily. We could hear some of our Dutch neighbours chatter (but couldn't understand a single word of it LOL!)
View from our balcony on a foggy morning.
Views from our balcony on a sunny day.

There is no restaurant at Gokhon Guest House, hence, breakfast/lunch/dinner is not available. However, there are many restaurant just along the road where Gokhon is located so one will not be deprived of choice!

Gokhon Guest House
Jl. Lkr. Tuktuk No.26,
Tuktuk Siadong, Simanindo,
Kabupaten Samosir,
Sumatera Utara 22395, Indonesia

One of our favourite place for breakfast is Orari Restaurant!
My breakfast at Orari Restaurant just next door! Homemade bread and avocado (IDR 30,000/RM9/2 USD). To be honest, the menu of all the restaurants in TukTuk are almost the same. Price wise as well (there's probably just a disparity between IDR5,000-10,000). But Orari is definitely my favourite among all the place we've tried!

Orari Restaurant
Jl. Lkr. Tuktuk, Tuktuk Siadong,
Simanindo, Kabupaten Samosir,
Sumatera Utara 22395, Indonesia

We tried out another restaurant just next door called Popy's Restaurant & Guest House the other day and these are what we had!
Continental Breakfast - Toast with eggs and bacon, served with fresh fruit juice, and coffee/tea IDR55,000/RM15/USD3.5
Cheese and tomato toastie IDR 20,000/RM6/USD1.5
View at Poppy's

And one of the best thing of these restaurant is you get a picturesque view of the lake :)

Poppy's Restaurant & Guesthouse
Jl. Lkr. Tuktuk No.Kelurahan,
Tuktuk Siadong, Simanindo,
Kabupaten Samosir,
Sumatera Utara 22395, Indonesia
View at Orari

Friday, 21 June 2019

The Jiong Guesthouse, Melaka

When it comes to budget accommodation, Melaka does not fall short of choices - you can stay in many decent place for less than RM20 per pax. The Jiong House is one of the many budget accommodation in Melaka that did not disappoint us. We came across this place through, and we decided on The Jiong House because of its location and price! 
The Jiong Guesthouse is located next to the Melaka river, along the same row as The Old Merchant. We choose to stay here because of its close proximity to Jonker Street (about 5 minutes walk away), but away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets. There are no reserved parking for guests, but street parking is aplenty just outside The Jiong House. Don't forget to purchase and display your parking coupons on your car's dashboard on weekdays!
The interior was quirky and cute, with pastel colour being the main "theme" of the place. There are three stories guests and chill out at the common area on the ground or first floor. However, as the property is located next to the river, the mosquitoes can be a huge nuisance! The common areas are not air-conditioned, so the doors and windows are opened all the time. Though the management do burn mosquito repellent from time to time, it wasn't strong enough to keep all the pesky mosquitoes away.
Messages and notes from guests plastered the walls on the ground floor.
Guests can fill up their water at this little self-service coffee bar, and make coffee/tea.
The room rate of The Jiong House includes a simple breakfast in the morning - toast with kaya and margarine and a cup of coffee/tea. A simple and light breakfast is what we need in Melaka, as people tend to over-indulge themselves in the local delights in Melaka :P
View from the back entrance of The Jiong House.
We booked a quad room with air-conditioning for RM70 a night, which is only RM17.5 per person per night! It's definitely a steal (and we got a simple breakfast too!)! We were really satisfied with our room - it was clean and comfy, space was sufficient for us to maneuver around. They even provided us with a towel! Our room was facing the main road instead of the river side and we managed to get a good night rest.

Our room is located on the top floor, and the staircase is a little steep (bear in mind this is a traditional old-style house), so people with mobility difficulties might find it hard to travel up.
The only qualm I had about this place was the toilet. All rooms do not have an attached toilet/bathroom, and there were only one toilet and two bathrooms, which are located on the ground and first floor. So if the place is at full occupancy, there might be a wait during "peak hour". The toilets are kinda old too. It is clean, but....think about the toilet at your grandmother's place, that's what it feels like. :P There is hot water and a functioning (but not too efficient) toilet bowl, but, think grandma home's toilet. You'll know what I mean.

The Jiong House is definitely my go-to budget place in Melaka. If you don't mind sharing a (more traditional) toilet, and perhaps climbing up the stairs! There are dorm rooms, air-conditioned rooms, and fan rooms here at Jiong House, I'd really recommend getting the air-conditioned room as it gets rather hot and humid in Melaka!

The Jiong House
76, Jalan Kampung Pantai,
75200 Malacca

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Tipsy Bridge Authentic Street Cafe, Melaka

My latest bar hopping venture in Melaka brought me to this cute little bar that serves affordable drinks, Tipsy Bridge. It is located just a stone throw away from The Old Merchant.
Why Tipsy Bridge? (My personal assumption is) Perhaps because The Tipsy Bridge is located along this charming lorong that leads to a bridge? In fact, the name of this street is Lorong Jambatan! Took this picture during the day time when it is still bright.
By night time, the shutters of the shops are pushed aside, and the street was adorned with high stools and tables. 90s music filled the quiet streets, bringing some live to the area. It feels as if we got transported back in time!
We arrived here just slightly after 8pm, and the place was still relatively empty. There's a bar area inside the compound, but it was very limited as the compound was rather small. It somehow reminded me of the bars in Spain, where the indoor compound of the bars tend to be smaller and 'open', and most patron would be sipping their sangria outside, "el-fresco" style.
We decided to go 'el-fresco' as well and enjoy the cool night breeze. We noticed that each table has one of this record disc. Flip it over and tadaa!
Here's the menu!
Price wise is really affordable, especially during happy hour (7pm-10pm)!

Every day, Tipsy Bridge has a special offer, which changes every month. Do refer to their Facebook page for the daily offers!
It was Mojito night during our visit (RM15 for a Mojito, all-night long) so I decided to roll with Mojito (RM15), and my friend opted for Tipsy Frog (RM12 Happy Hour, RM15, Normal Rate).
Drinks are pretty decent, not ratio of alcohol to non-alcohol was fine despite the price tag. I was worried that the drinks would be watered down because of the affordable price tag but they proved me wrong! Don't expect sophisticated drinks like the ones at The Old Merchant though!
If you're looking for an affordable place to grab a drink and chill with your friends in Melaka, I'd highly recommend Tipsy Bridge. Extra brownie points if you're a fan of 90s music too! Really, the vibe was awesome. There are live bands too on certain nights I heard.

Only qualm is...I went there once at 7pm and it wasn't open yet huhu :((((

Tipsy Bridge Authentic Street Cafe
No 14, Lorong Jambatan,
Kampung Pantai, Melaka


Business Hours:

Other bars in Melaka
1. The Old Merchant

Sunday, 16 June 2019

The Old Merchant, Melaka

The Old Merchant is Malacca's first speakeasy bar, located along the quaint riverside of the Malacca river, which is just 3 minutes walk from Jonker Street.
The back alley of The Old Merchant - truly picturesque!

I stumbled upon this place on Facebook (thank you AI and algorithm for the advert) and I was hooked by their happy hour promo (RM55 for a jug of cocktail), which seems like a pretty good deal.

There are two entrance to The Old Merchant, one is from the main road of Jalan Kampung Pantai, the other is from the river side.
The riverside entrance. You'll have to enter through the toilet! You will see a few tables and rattan chair set-up by the riverbank. You can enjoy your drinks there too, if you don't mind the humidity!

I was dazzled by the charming interior of The Old Merchant. It was a mix of traditional and modern design - which really bedazzled me.
The Old Merchant's signature backdrop - the Chinese characters literally translate to "White People's Herbal Tea" LOL!
 Happy hour menu.
The Old Merchant serves creative cocktails with a local twist and quirky names - there are more drinks choices which I did not take a picture of, but you can sort of get a gist of what the menu entails! According to the server, the drinks priced at RM30 are the "easy drinks" (ie lower alcohol content, sweeter taste). 

I decided to settle on the Made for Nyonya (RM30) as recommended by the server for a sweet, fruity & refreshing drink.
Made for Nyonya (RM30)
Three words - I love it. I've always been a fan of passion fruit so this drink was perfect for my taste buds. It was what I expected - sweet, fruity & refreshing! The kaffir lime was an interesting addition that gave the drink a truly Malaysian finish.
I dropped by The Old Merchant some time again with another friend to try out their RM55 Happy Hour promo. This was The East India Company if I am not mistaken. It was a fruity drink as well (sorry my memory was fuzzy for this drink) but I remember really enjoying it as well.

My verdict? The Old Merchant is definitely a place I'd drop by if I am ever at Melaka for a drink to cool myself down. I am keen on trying more of their drinks the next time I drop by!

The Old Merchant
88, Jalan Kampung Pantai, 
75200 Melaka

Business Hours:
Tuesdays - Sundays 6pm-1am
Closed on Mondays

Other bars in Melaka: 
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