Warm Colors of Melaka

7:00AM, Singapore.

The bus was already along the West Coast highway going northwest up to the immigrations border near the Johor strait. I was lazily lying on my coach inside the bus enjoying the soft sunshine by my window. My malong served as my jacket from the chilly aircon. Enjoying this satisfying comfort, I didnt realize I fell asleep after going through the immigration border. The highways of Malaysia is the best I have travelled so far.

Welcome to Malacca
Welcome to Malacca

11:00AM. Touchdown in Melaka Central Bus Terminal. I grabbed a quick lunch at a hole-in-the-wall Malaysian restaurant. My first taste of Malaysian food. I rode a quick 15-minute bus ride going to the historical part of Malacca. The salmon colored buildings reminiscent of the Dutch influence in the city told us we’re already there. 

The salmon-colored buildings
The salmon-colored buildings
Christchurch Melaka
Christchurch Melaka

I got off in front of Christ Church and my spirit soared when I saw how lively the place is: Trishaws heavily accessorized and adorned with flowers are everywhere, In front of the church was a bridge cutting across the Melaka River where a small cruise boat carrying excited tourists zoomed past. On the opposite landing, there was a huge balloon of a water dragon suspended by wires hovering over, seemingly welcoming people. Going further past the dragon is the long and busy Jonker Street, home to various Chinese shops and establishents, the gateway to Melaka’s Peranakan (Straits Chinese) community.

The colorful white-washed cafes along Melaka River
The colorful white-washed cafes along Melaka River
Heavily accessorized trishaws
Heavily accessorized trishaws

After a quick nap, I had my start around 3pm. First stop was sampling Malaysia’s famous cold dessert, Cendol. It is composed of crushed ice, wormy jelly strands, boiled red beans and coconut milk, similar to Philippine’s Halu-Halo or Singapore’s Ais Kacang. There is variation with Durian meat in it which is sold at Discovery Cafe at the corner of Jonker Street and Lorong Hang Jebat. 

Durian Cendol at Discovery Cafe
Durian Cendol at Discovery Cafe
Preserved Sweets
Preserved Sweets

I continued my walk along Jonker street passing by several food stalls selling exotic refreshments, independent artists shops selling shirts and accessories and art-theme cafes and restaurants. What was memorable among these walks is passing by colorful Peranakan houses lined along the quieter Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock (Herren Street) and visiting the Baba and Nyonya Heritage.

Peranakan Houses
Peranakan Houses
Peranakan Houses
Peranakan Houses
Peranakan Houses
Peranakan Houses

At Jalan Hang Kasturi, I met a middle-aged woman who cheerfully let me watch and took pictures of her while shaving crushed ice to make cendol for her customers.

Encounter with the Cendol Lady
Encounter with the Cendol Lady

Later on, I visited the Melaka History Museum which used to be a Dutch establishment, the salmon-colored Stadthuys where we learned a comprehensive walk through Malacca’s history. Going further is the ruins of Fort A’Famosa atop St. Paul’s Hill.

Fort Famosa
Fort Famosa

The day ended by eating the dry and currified beef rendang, sampling Portuguese tarts and watching a local live talent show of some elderly Chinese.

Directions:

1. From Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, ride a bus/coach and disembark at Melaka Bus Central.

2. Take a short bus ride from Central Terminal to Melaka historic town.

3. When you start to see the salmon-colored buildings pass Little India, you’re already there.

Water Dragon welcomes you to Chinatown
Water Dragon welcomes you to Chinatown

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