Sunday, April 20, 2014

48 Hours in Malacca


 

 We decided to escape the bustling big city of KL for the more tranquil and smaller UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 2008) of Malacca (or the Malay spelling Melaka). It is known for its historical and cultural background from Portuguese, Dutch and British rule. It was an easy and comfortable bus journey of under two hours from KL. We made our way by cab to our accommodation – Hotel Hong (can be found on Facebook). It was only a small place, a hall of rooms, but we received a welcoming and friendly service. The cosy room was spotlessly clean with a new bathroom, fierce air con (required!) and brilliant, speedy Wi-Fi. We left our bags, armed with a map supplied from the front desk and via a well plotted short cut, we set off.
 

First, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, literally a stone’s throw away from our hotel. Apparently it’s the oldest Chinese Temple in Malaysia. Ornately decorated and fully of ambience, atmosphere and the essence of incense, it’s certainly worth a visit. Walking along the streets, we realised we were right in the centre of the old city and all the action! Most of the houses and shops are nearly a century old, built by Chinese traders.  Many have fantastic details, such as beautifully painted plaster reliefs. Definitely worth a photo or two.



 
We found Jonker Street easily, it’s the heart of the old city and crammed with shops, cafes, antique stores, as are most of streets leading off it. Along with mosques, temples and houses, there was so much to look at. We came across the river and the bridge and then saw the fabulous sight of Christ Church, red in colour with the Dutch square in front of it. There is a fountain and more or less opposite it, the Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower – also painted in red. It was very picturesque and bustling with people. It was also where the Trishaws congregated, and seeing is believing! They are decked out in bright colours, decorated with fake flowers, and a few stuffed soft toys! Hello Kitty seems to be most popular! They are hysterical and are certainly a hit with children and tour groups, as they cycle off for a city tour complete with loud music booming out of an attached speaker!

 
 

 



 

 


There is something for everyone here, a Maritime Museum with a huge ship docked near the river, the Peoples Museum, Islamic Museum and Naval Museum. We went with the Architecture Museum, as we like architecture. It was housed in a lovely old red building and it was free!

We wandered around, enjoying the ambience and the sun. Within minutes from the Christ Church, we found ourselves in the modern part of the city, full of shopping malls. After a quick visit to one to escape the humidity and have a cold drink, we wandered back to the old city!

We passed the Duck Boat (just like the one in London UK) and also the striking Taming Sari Revolving Tower that takes people up 110m and offers them 360 degree views of the historic city and the coastline. It looks futuristic, but somehow there’s something a little 1970’s about it!

Eventually we surrender to the sun and humidity and call it a day!

The following day was allocated as shopping day! Firstly, we went to the city’s Little India, full of colour and activity. We also visited Saint Paul’s Church. Not another church I hear you cry, but this one is on a hillside and gives us fantastic views of the city and the coastline – who needs to go up in a revolving tower! The church itself is actually a fabulous old relic, dating back as far as 1521 and then became a fortress - which makes sense considering its position. It is worth a wander around. A few local artists have set up shop up there, plus a few friendly stray cats and a few kittens too, always a bonus! And then the Masjid Kampung Hulu – the oldest functioning Mosque, built in 1728. Lovely white building.
 
 

And now to the shopping, and its plentiful. There is a thriving local artists’ scene, plus many antiques, even a few boutique shops and plenty of places to grab a drink if the heat gets too much.




 

We stopped at the Geographers Café for something to eat. It had a kind of funky ambience and was playing a real assortment of music from Celia Cruz to Manu Chanu to one of Ku’s favourites, Joni Mitchell! The little girl serving was smiley and efficient and we were treated to some fabulously tasty food, veggie curry, naan bread, chicken satay, rice and fresh spring rolls – yum! If in Malacca, definitely go! You can find them on Facebook.



 

















We had a fantastic time in Malacca, and it was worth staying for a couple of days. Hotel Hong’s owner even gave us a lift to the bus station, helped us buy our bus tickets and got someone to escort us to the correct terminal, all for free. It topped off a lovely a couple of days for us.