As I watched the scenery go by on the bus ride back to Kuala Lumpur, I saw a monkey sitting alongside the highway. He seemed to be contemplating something deep and profound or maybe he was hoping that a banana delivery truck would overturn nearby. Whatever it was that occupied his mind, seeing him/her was the highlight for me of our trip to Melaka (Malacca, if you happen to be living in the British colonial period). If challenged to write the typical travel blog about “The Top 10 Things to Do in Melaka,” I would fail utterly. Getting past number 2 would be a task. This comment is not intended to be disparaging of the town because it seems quite a nice place to visit and we enjoyed the time we spent there but there just is not a lot for a visitor to see or do that commends the place.
The Jonker Walk along (no surprise) Jonker Street is an interesting stroll in Melaka’s Chinatown. The buildings that flank the street are occupied by shops of all sorts: blacksmiths, baristas, antique dealers and even sellers of Buddha relics tout their wares and tourists poke around in the shops looking for treasures to take home. Street food vendors hawk Malaysian and Chinese dishes and the aromas waft up and down the street. Begin the Jonker Walk at the river end, near the inexplicably-red-painted Christ Church. An option to hoofing it is to take one of the garishly decorated trishaws. Pick one with a boombox attached and you can hip hop your way down Jonker Street.
What else? Well, we highly recommend the Melaka River Cruise. Why? Because it will consume about a half-hour of your stay in Melaka. Actually, we enjoyed the river cruise. The folk of Melaka have dressed the buildings along the river with artworks, many of which are representative of the cultural heritage of the town. As we passed by the locals going about their daily business in the river shores, we noted that they all smiled and waved at us, a reminder of the friendliness of the Malaysian people. While the river walk allows one to take the same tour on foot, the historical narration provided on the boat (in Bahasa and English) is a help to understand the context of the waterway. In case you’re interested, the weekday cost is a measly RM17 (about US$4).
The dearth of open eateries in the town led us to Sid’s Pub, an English-style place that sits right on the river. It was only recently opened so the menu was its “soft-opening,” temporary offering. The sandwiches were very good, however, and the brews were plentiful. We can also recommend the coffee served in Melaka, particularly at Mod’s Café. In fact, the sign on the door suggests that the place is for “serious coffee drinkers” only. My mocha was superb and Jessica savored her cappuccino.
We were told that (1) Melaka is more active on weekends than on weekdays; (2) most people go there to eat; (3) the night market is an interesting sight. Well, we were there on a Tuesday and most of the restaurants and many of the shops were shut up tight and we did not stay long enough to experience the night market so, perhaps we did not get to see Melaka at its best and, while it was worth the two-hour bus ride, our expectations of Melaka were a bit higher than it delivered.
On the way back to the bus station for our ride home, our driver remarked that we had not spent enough time in Melaka to discover its merits. Point taken. When he asked where we had eaten lunch, our answer took him aback. “Sid’s Pub?! But that’s owned by white people.” Point taken again.
Nonetheless, Jessica captured the essence of Melaka and you can find her photos at http://www.jessicacoup.com/Malaysia/Melaka-Malayasia/.This entry was posted in Asia, Malaysia, Uncategorized