Mooching Around In Malacca (Part 1)

My personal experiences with Malacca has always been a little off-kilter for a Malaysian, I think. I mean, I learnt all about it in school, all about how Parameswara came over and set up camp on the peninsular, and all that. And how Hang Li Poh and friends came down from China as a gift. And how the Hangs (ie Hang Jebat and Hang Tuah) protected the little kingdom etc. And how the Portuguese came, then the Dutch, then the British etc. 

However, I have never felt a personal desire to explore the town. When I was younger, really young, I must have visited the place, and my impression was that it was a little messy. During my undergraduate years, we did a visit to Malacca as guests of the UKM law faculty (yes, I’m a law grad), and I remembered that the town had been ‘Central Market’-fied, all pink and pastel colours. Again, I must have left with an impression that the place was a little bit messy and congested.

When a friend asked me to keep him company down to Malacca for a wedding, I agreed to go. I was in dire need of a holiday, and I was interested to see if the place had changed any since I had been there last.

It was to my surprise that Malacca wasn’t congested. Well, perhaps it could have been a weekend when traffic wasn’t bad, but I think it’s likely also because Malacca now has a one-way system practically throughout the entire city. For those of you thinking to yourself that the one-way system has been in practice for ages, then it goes to show how often I head down to Malacca!

Anyway, we headed down after dinner one Friday evening, and reached Malacca after eleven pm. As with all kinds of travel, I was upbeat, even though tremendously tired. We followed the hotel receptionist’s instructions and found the hotel easily enough, basically turn into Malacca off the North-South highway and follow the road all the way down.

After chucking our stuff in our room (which was fair for the price we were paying – or so I thought), we headed out to get something to eat. Of course, finding something to eat wasn’t that easy. What struck me was that the roads were broad and clean, motorists actually paid heed to traffic lights, there was a cool evening sea breeze with hardly any dust or pollution (compared to KL), and that it was really quite pleasant.

Eventually, we found a food court stall-type place to eat. I can’t remember what I ate, but I remember it was a good experience, just the ambience, the coolness, the lack of density, which is something you get in a lot of night eateries anywhere in KL on a Friday night. I must be getting old…

Anyway, the next day was pretty good. I had a relaxing morning, reading a book called “Pontianak – With Survival Guide”. I have to say, visiting such a historical town, and reading the book, occasionally gave me the shivers. But the book wasn’t all that scary, and as a writer and editor, I was appalled at the number of grammatical mistakes, almost every story had one or two! Don’t people sub-edit and copy edit before publication?

Anyway, we headed down to town in the afternoon, looking for lunch. What did we find? Only Chicken Rice Balls! Like… What???? Everywhere, all they seemed to serve in the old quarters of Malacca were balls of chicken rice! Everywhere! So guess what my lunch was that day? And… my verdict = overrated.

But the old part of Malacca really is nice. It just has so much character and personality. I especially love the old temples and mosques and shrines and cemeteries. Funnily enough, what spooked me out the most were those small tiny shoes to bind your feet! Ugh!!

Of course, I was kicking myself for having forgotten my camera, hence these not-so-clear pictures from my Sony Ericsson K300…

Then came the evening, and I got hoisted for the wedding too. Good wedding, and the food was good. After dinner, I joined friends down in old town again, but this time at two (apparently famous) karaoke/live band pubs. It was really good fun, and reminded me a bit of Madrid or Sohon, London in the summer. But after all that wine and beer, it took us two whole hours to get back to the hotel… Silly one way system!