Its been a while since I was in Malaysia and the details are kind of hazy. However, I do have some lovely memories and I wanted to put them down here. Malacca or Melaka, as they call it, is located around both sides of the Malacca River and is a lovely city to walk around in.
Malacca was ruled by both the Portuguese and the Dutch for long periods of time and the colonists have left their mark on the city. The beautiful city centre which has now been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site has the Christ Church and the Clock Tower which were constructed by the Dutch. I also remember wandering around the Portuguese forts with their pillboxes and canons and the older St. Paul’s Church which was where the body of St. Francis Xavier was interred before being taken to Goa.
However, even though I love exploring historic places, the best part of my wanderings in the city was spent in the streets. I remember the streets in old Malacca vividly. Walking along the river from the City Centre one would reach Little India. This area is strangely reminiscent of some areas of South India. There are shops selling incense and flowers, all the while playing Tamil and Hindi Bollywood music. Trishaws (which are the colourful, flower adorned version of the Indian rickshaw) cycle past and posters of Priyanka Chopra are all over the place. No one should miss the little ‘restorans’ selling fantastic South Indian food and the unique Indo-Malay fusion food like ‘Roti Canai’ which is a ‘chana’ (chick-pea) curry served with a flatbread akin to the Malabari Parotta. The curry is occasionally topped with prawns.
Walking out of Little India, there are several cafes like the Discovery Cafe overlooking the river. Here, you can just sit and unwind for a bit before moving along to Jonker’s Street in the Chinese Quarter of Malacca. This is where you walk through lovely red-lanterned alleyways past temples, tea shops, pawn shops, live pythons and iguana; and a million different tiny curio shops which stock some really weird and pretty objects. Most are owned by friendly and helpful Chinese people who love to talk and tell you various myths and histories, discuss Feng Shui and opium and show you beaded lizards, jade pendants, opium pipes, old coins and beautiful tea pots and compasses (both of which we could not resist buying). Everything is priced rather highly because the buyer is expected to bargain but the process is almost always fun.
If you walk out of the Chinese quarter and walk aimlessly along the river (as we did), you wind up in a small settlement of incredibly charming stilt houses. Unfortunately, since we were walking around aimlessly, and to be quite honest since we were lost, I don’t really know what this place is called. However, once you figure out where you are make your way to Maura Jetty next to the Quayside Heritage Centre and get on a boat to cruise the Malacca River. I seem to recall them playing Boney M songs loudly. Cruising along, looking at Malacca, listening to Rasputin and Ma Baker, is a lovely way to wind up a day of wandering the streets.