From Kuala Lumpur we drove to Melaka (or Malacca in English), about a two hour drive south. Melaka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a charming town that Daren had visited before and recommended. It sounded like a great plan to us, so we hopped in his car and hit the road. Before we get going – did you fall behind on our adventure? If yes, you can catch Part I – our time in Kuala Lumpur – here.
We arrived in Melaka with a hotel reservation at Heeren House, a recommendation from Daren’s friend. It was awesome – great location, nice and clean, and great price. It wasn’t fancy but it certainly worked for one night and had air conditioning (the only real critical requirement). We were HUNGRY and quickly dropped our bags and left to explore the streets and find a bite to eat. We quickly discovered The Thing to Eat in Melaka is Chicken Rice Balls. Hmmmmmm??? We walked and wandered looking for a popular place and, at the same time, trying avoid the places overrun with tourist groups. We settled in to a courtyard in front of a fan and ordered. Daren got a stirfry, I got Thai rice served in a pineapple and, of course, Braden ordered Chicken Rice Balls. Somewhat unsure about his choice, Braden also ordered some chicken satay to accompany his dish. It was basically just sticky rice shaped in to balls and some flaccid chicken with a sauce. Not terrible, but definitely not worth trekking to Melaka to try (in our opinion).
The notable landmark in Melaka is the Christ Church, a landmark in the centre of town. The Church dates backs to a time of Dutch occupation of the area and was later taken over when the Portuguese came in. We didn’t need to know much more about the history of the area to enjoy it’s beauty. The bedazzled Disney parade-float bicycle cabs could not have been further from the historic influence of the church. Bizarre!
Up the hill from the red Christ Church is St Paul’s Church, originally built in 1512 by the Portuguese. It went through stages of transition, use and abandonment through the decades. In the 1800’s when the area was occupied by the British it was even used to store was supplies. It’s in considerable disrepair today, but still interesting to see, including several remaining crypts with inscriptions dating back hundreds of years.
There was a floating barge with a bizarre little diorama of the town stating that we would have an incomplete visit if we missed the river cruise. Alright, we decided, we’ll go on a river cruise. Braden bought the tickets and at the end of the money exchange they thrust a large paper shopping bag at him that had three bitter melon juice boxes and three packages of little mocha cookies. It was the strangest thing (but the cookies were good). Not up for bitter melon juice but in need of a cold drink, we found a bar nearby and purchased some bottles of beer, filled our shopping bag with ice from the restaurant, got a bottle opener from the bar, and boarded our little boat. It was a great little 40 minute cruise up and back with a minimal amount of information about the sites (primarily highlighting efforts of the government) and a very random playlist of 90’s music. Would our trip have been complete without this cruise? No. Was it fun? Yes.
After our cruise we ready to go for a bite and explore the town’s nightlife. We went out to Jonker Street, the main street with restaurants and shops, to check it out. We probably ended up spending four to five hours meandering through the street people watching, sampling all sorts of food from street carts, and shopping the tables of junk. We found an auction of carved Jade Buddhas, carnival-style games with terrible prizes, a stage and sound system for karaoke (which drew quite an audience despite the quality of talent) and hall filled with what I can only describe as Asian-style line dancing, which Braden got pulled in to join for a hot second. It was a really fun evening!