No one knew how long it took to get to Melaka. I looked on the internet but all the discussions were contradicting, I asked at reception and they weren’t sure, I asked in 3 travel agents…all answers were different…so it could take 4,5 or 6 hours- who knew.
It took me just nearly 11 hours! From the time i left the hostel to the time i arrived at my next hotel. It felt like forever.
I don’t mind long travel days but it’s just that I need to prepare myself and the not knowing just meant I was really tired when I finally arrived. But I do have to say the bus was very comfortable and totally covered in lime green and blue carpet…literally covered…the floor, the seats, around the windows and the ceiling of the bus – mmmm?
I stayed in the Hotel Hong. The reviews were great and it was cheap and near the centre of town.
During the following day, I explored all of what Melaka had to offer…Jong Walk was a main street or area in the chinese district at the end of it was a beautiful river with a massive Dragon peering over towards it. The Dragon squirts water out of its mouth every half an hour and across the river is the old Dutch quarter- a lot of Unesco buildings here!
All the Dutch quarter was painted red, which actually looked quite good and surrounding all these pretty buildings were lots of extremely bright trishaws. ( bicycles pulling a cart) These guys were all about having the loudest and proudest trishaw possible, they had massive flowers- plastic ones more like plants and streamers all decorating the tops and the inside of them and then on the back they all had huge speaker systems with loud booming dance music blaring out! I didn’t go in one, I would have been too embarrassed- talk about drawing attention to yourself…I’d rather walk and fall down a step into the oncoming traffic…( yes I did this) than be seen in one of those ha ha.
If there’s one thing I’m not embarrassed about its eating gorgeous food and Melaka is a foodies dream destination!
The chicken rice balls are famous and I saw ques to get into two of the most popular restaurants. I has one of the best pineapple juices ever here it was served in a big jar with a handle- freshly squeezed in front of me. Nothing better when you’re dripping with sweat and parched!
The street food was amazing too from chicken satay sticks to home made fruit tarts – delicious pastry bites. I did say no to ‘ Durian fruit’ though. They sold this everywhere and you could smell it before you saw it! Yuk but each to their own.
I stayed in Melaka over the weekend and it’s when the famous Jonker Street market is on.
I was changing to go and check it out and all I could here was drums banging and fireworks being set off…
I went to check it out. All the noise and activity was coming from the temple across the road. They were having a special celebration, Dragons dancing for guests on arrival with the massive drums being played to accompany them dancing and fireworks being set off on either side of the main entrance.
I had sneaked in the drive way and was just taking a few sneaky pics before I headed off to the market when a man approached me and said ” you like the Dragons Dance hey?” ” errr yes, I’m sorry, I’m just going” I said blushing. ” Oh no I’m not telling you off, just glad you like it, you can join us of you like?”
I couldn’t believe it. How totally random… But I assessed the situation and went with my gut. He seemed like a nice man in his 60′s and it was a huge temple with hundreds of people… “well if your sure, that would be lovely” I said.
The ceilings were really high and there were about 200 tables packed in and a stage at one end… Wow… I can’t believe I’m here…I thought to myself. I searched around for another westerner but I couldn’t see anyone. I was the only westerner in this massive room with over a 1000 people in and I was receiving the odd glance or smile to remind me so as William walked me to the table.
William was a jeweller, of which there seem to be many in Melaka and he was joined at the table by his closet friends. I’m afraid I didn’t get all their names but they were just lovely, 5 of them in total with the oldest being 81 yrs old!
It turns out a few of their gang couldn’t make it so they had a few spare seats so there was going to be a lot of food, ” I hope you’re hungry!” William said!
It turns out we were going to have an 8 course banquet! All washed down with Carlsberg! Yes Carlsberg had sponsored this event! I couldn’t believe it … But since I’ve started drinking beer…I could join in! I paced myself though as i quickly realised whenever your glass had a little bit of room in the top, a waitress would rush over and top it up! I forget how many times we said ‘ cheers’ that night… But it was a lot!
The food was gorgeous and I loved the way they all took it in turns to serve me first and tell me what it was and how it was cooked, always waiting for me to get a photo of each course! They were such gentlemen.
The event was to celebrate the Birthday of this temple. William told me that all the temples around are invited and you are to try and make an effort to attend to represent your temple. The thing is sometimes they have one every week, so no wonder some friends skip out once and a while!
During the evening there was an auction on stage were statues covered in fruit were auctioned off to raise money. ( I’m sure there is a better name for them than that to represent the significance…) Even though I couldn’t understand anything I could feel the excitement in the room when a table won one of the bids. There was also karaoke but all of the singers were good – unlike Penang! Not that I recognised any of the songs of course. It was an evening of true immersion into the local culture of Melaka, not a single western influence crept in and it was brilliant…I felt like the luckiest traveller in Malaysia!
I left my new friends after a few photos and hugs – I’d had such a good night but I still wanted to pop and see this market for myself….and the first thing I saw as I turned the corner to the market…’Wayne Rooney! ‘ yes Wayne Rooney! He was on a massive advertising board on the back of the stage set up in the centre of Jonker Street…it sort of sobered me up a touch!
The night market was still heaving and I enjoyed just people watching and taking it all in. What a night I’d had! I still couldn’t quite believe it. I decided to buy myself a memento, not that I think I’ll ever forget but…well you know…
I brought myself a little silver charm for my bracelet. It symbolised the year of the rabbit, the year I was born. Earlier in the night I had chatted about Chinese astrology and it’s significance to them so I thought it was quite fitting…
On my last morning I decided to go on a river cruise. The banks of the river were charming and quaint. Lots of little houses, bars and galleries dotted along. Some of the bigger walls were painted with beautiful murals in all bright colours that seemed to tell the story of the history of Melaka. Again I was the only westerner on board and I loved it.
My bus was leaving to take me back to Kuala Lumper late afternoon and the owner of the Hotel had offered to drop me at the main coach station as the public bus system in Malaysia is unreliable to say the least.He suggested meeting early and he would show me a few sights on the way. Brilliant. How friendly and nice are the people here I thought!
Mr H took me to see the Portuguese settlement in Melaka, famous for its fish restaurants and distinct architecture. We also went up to the highest point in Melaka to a fort that sits pretty much undiscovered by tourism. We then stopped on the side of the road at a stall to try Codrol. I made the mistake of telling him I hadn’t tried it and he insisted that I try. It’s a local drink made with coconut, crushed ice and lots of green things made from flour whisked up into a white looking liquid served in a bowl with a spoon. It didn’t smell good but of course I tried it and actually managed to drink about a quarter of it…but it was not one of my foodie highlights in Melaka!
Mr H dropped me at the coach station and said ” it will be on time, everything runs just as it should do here” ahh what a lovely man and a lovely family I thought and how right he was. Melaka had been amazing for me, I felt so lucky for my experiences there and the decisions I made that led me to meeting so many lovely people…fate I thought…just as it should be…