From Kuala Lumpur we decided to head south and make Malacca (or Melaka, in Malay), with its impressive history, the next stop on our Malaysia itinerary.
After some challenging bus rides in Indonesia we were pleased that Malacca was just a couple of hours away, on what was a straightforward, smooth and comfortable journey. We departed from Kuala Lumpur's Terminal Bersepadu Selatan and arrived into Malacca Central station (Melaka Sentral), then jumped on the local no.17 bus to reach our guesthouse.
Malacca has a rich history and, along with Georgetown in Penang (which we would visit later in our trip), became listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
Without going into too much detail (I've never been a huge history buff, aye Dad), Malacca was founded around the year 1400 by a dude called Parameswara. The city grew quickly, becoming a bustling international trading port before being conquered by the Portuguese in 1511. In 1641 the Dutch captured Malacca, then a couple of hundred years later traded it for a Sumatran province with the British. The city remained under British control through to the 1940's when it became part of the Malayan Union, which developed into the Malaysia we know today. Phew!
With Portuguese, Dutch, British and Malay influence, combined with the Indian and Chinese elements of Malaysian culture, you can begin to imagine what a cultural melting pot Malacca is.
We arrived on the weekend so were sure to check out the popular Jonker Street Night Market for something to nibble on (the market is on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights). We began by discovering the diversity of the food, enjoying some portuguese egg tarts, stuffed pancakes and a deliciously salty fried-potato-swirl-on-a-stick-thing, before sitting down to some sizzling Chinese wontons and pork.
Next up on the agenda in Malacca was the obligatory river cruise. I remember doing this as a kid so it was like reliving a memory for me - though from my recollections, Malacca's riverfront is a lot more developed now!
It was Malaysia Day a couple of weeks before we arrived, so there were patriotic flags everywhere!
It was exceptionally hot and sticky while we were in Malacca, the kind of humid air that requires frequent stops for ice-cold
drinks mango smoothies and a couple of strolls through the nearby shopping mall for air-conditioning relief! However, we still managed to spend plenty of time wandering the central city, admiring the colonial architecture and diverse history. Here's a few snaps...
Malacca's cycle rickshaws are certainly something to write home about! One of my favourite memories from my Malaysia holiday at seven, was being carried through the city streets on one of the few that had a stereo, loud music blaring out - I remember thinking I was so cool!
But since 1997, the city's rickshaws have had a makeover - these days most are heavily decorated with flowers, and, uh, Hello Kitty merchandise. We even saw a rickshaw that had a "Free Wifi" sign, I couldn't quite believe it!
The riverfront is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat in the evening. Despite the Malaysian flags everywhere, I almost felt like we were somewhere in Europe!
We had a lovely couple of days in Malacca, though we weren't too fussed on our guesthouse and were eager to move on fairly quickly. After all, we had Singapore (and Universal Studios) in our sights!
P.S. Malacca was the place where we first discovered this is a thing. After my incident with durian I'm not sure if I'm game...are you?