Sunday, 11 August 2013

To Lah or to not Lah in Melaka

On Wednesday morning, we were faced with a small predicament. James and I both woke up at 10; James was ill and I couldn't fall asleep until 3am. Our plan was to wake up early as we can and leave for Melaka around 9ish ish (after having rotai canai at our favourite local cafe). The town is 2 hour bus journey away and we were planning to see as much of it in one day. Do we still go to Melaka or do we give it a miss? The city wasn't a priority at all (in fact James did ask if we *had* to go) but we didn't really have anything productive planned for KL (we had a great tour saved for tomorrow). However, the place is full of museums, restaurants and sites which meant we needed a whole day. We decided to go for it.

Melaka has undergone many transitions in its history and development which makes it the popular tourist spot it is now. Originally founded by a Sultan, it was invaded by the Portuguese in the 16th century. The Dutch then forced themselves into the town after they successfully destroyed the fort protecting the town and took over. They used Melaka as a port town even when it became too silted up (they just used smaller boats to transport things from the bigger ships). They also had the biggest influence especially in terms of the colonial style architecture that gave Melaka its UNESCO world heritage status. The Brits then took over Malaysia but saw Singapore as a more efficient port town hence why Melaka declined in terms of economic importance.
 Melaka today is a very pretty town. First you are met by the pretty and colourful architecture. The Chinese style against the Dutch. It's not just the buildings though, the trees and flowers are all shaped perfectly. The stadhuys, which is the highlight of Melaka, was being renovated (d'oh) so it was covered up but we could see through the green nets clearly enough. The riversides were lined with decorative lamps that lit up romantically at night. Add in a small windmill and I felt like I was almost transported back to the Netherlands:
'I know what this place reminds me of... Holland!'
'Oh wow Nuz, are you saying a Dutch colony reminds you of... Dutch?'
'That comment sounded smarter in my head...'
We walked down Jonkers Walk, Chinatown which brought in the coastal town feel. Two things I can tell you about Jonker road: the obvious love of durian and too many cute shops. James had to start pulling me down the street (for the latter reason, not because of durians) so that we would have enough time to see everything. Thai clothes store, accessories and handicrafts alternating with durian dessert stores. Plenty of restaurants too! We stopped at Nancy's kitchen for popiah (healthiest spring rolls you can get) and a Chinese lunch.
Melaka has a layer of quirkiness on top of its prettiness. Streets have very cute graffiti, which I think are mainly from the shops to attract customers and Chinatown is lit up by only red lights at night (quite scary if you're on your own). However, the best thing about Melaka is the trishaws. You know the typical rickshaws. Well, trishaws are only for the manliest of all men. Decked out with plastic flowers, soft toys and a roof which may be a butterfly or flower, these things carry you out in style. At night, you don't have to worry about safety because they light up with neon lights so you can be seen miles away. If you are worried that you aren't catching enough attention, they would gladly blast away remixes of Gangam Style, Fly like a G6 or any latest pop tunes.
So I'm glad we went to Melaka in the end. Very beautiful but quirky town!

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