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Melaka Day 1 of 2

Melaka, Malaysia

8am was the meeting time p set up for us to meet at golden mile. 8am on a public holiday! horrendous.. luckily xl and I shared a cab there so we could afford to grab a few extra minutes of snooze time.

But if I thought reaching there at 8am was a feat in itself, well... p and family out-performed us.. they reached at 730am!

The bus left at around 830am. It was slow. Very slow. Factor in the short half hour break at Yong Peng and it was in all a very long 6 hour ride to Melaka. I've heard that it would have taken a bare 2 hours by car so I'm sure the bus driver was reeeeeaally taking his time.

Once at Equatorial hotel, only 1 out of 3 rooms was ready so without further ado, we dumped all our bags in P's parent's room and set out to take in the sights of Melaka.

P insisted on seeing the famous red building before she was satisfied so we ambled along using a rough cannot make it map taken from their tourist counter.

First stop: the Proclamationof Independence Memorial.
not much to mention.

Second stop: A' Famosa & St.Paul's Church
A long series of steps greeted us at A'Famosa. Erm.. and a strange man with an iguana, trying to earn $$, charging 3 ringgit per photo with him and the ig.
Photos taking, P's sis trying to race up the steps.. the steps eventually forked out to either St.Paul's Church and the Dutch Graveyard. No prizes for guessing which route we chose.
St.Paul's church was interesting. The infrastructure of the little church was interesting, there were many tombstones looking engravings lined up at the walls of the church. took some photos and walked around, along with the many tourists there.

Third stop: Christ Church (aka. The Red Building!!!)
We found it! The famous red building of Melaka. (anyway, many of the buildings in melaka were red I realised. Took a few photos. Regretted that I didn't go in to take a look. Could have made a comparison against the other churches (domo) I've seen in europe.

Fourth stop: Cendol! (across the street from the red building)
Small bowls of chendol.. or rather cendol as it was printed on the stall. Nice cold sweet coconutish dessert did much to neutralise the very hot and humid weather.
Following which we crossed the bridge to Lorong Hang Jebat.

Fifth Stop: Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock
No, this isn't exactly a venue. It was a street full of chendol, chicken rice balls stalls! In fact, the whole of melaka is full of chendol and chicken rice balls stalls.
We stopped to sample the chicken rice balls. One small pingpong sized ball for each of us since we were pretty full. Wasn't really impressive, but I guess you can't say you've been in melaka without tasting the chicken rice balls.
We saw one orangutan stall, not real orangutan! just a small shop selling unique nicely designed t-shirts. We later saw a few more similar stalls all belonging to the same orangutan.

Sixth Stop: Jalan Ong Kim Wee
Strangely, we started to encounter numerous pineapple, belachan and gula melaka stalls as we turned into Jalan Ong Kim Wee. The gals bought pineapple tarts from the very first stall they saw, which unfortunately didn't look as if they baked it themselves. We later encountered many stalls who actually baked the actual tarts themselves.

We were getting pretty hot and sticky by this time.. and we were walking further and further away from our hotel so we decided to turn back via another route.

Seventh Stop: Jonker Street
Many interesting shops here. There was also the famous jonker street dessert stall here, which will be elaborated further on day 2.
Many shops selling peranankan wear, beaded shoes, melaka foodstuffs and of cos the usual pineapple tarts and chendol (again!)
We had some pretty decent ondeh ondeh - with delicious gula melaka oozing out of it's sticky skin covered with coconut shavings. nice :)
Jonker street is famous for its night market, but unfortunately, it was only 5plus when we reached there so the shops were barely up. We decided to come back later at night for dinner. which, to jump the gun a bit, never materialised as it was drizzling and the sky was dark around 7pm.

Eighth Stop: Jalan quayside
We decided to walk a different route back to the hotel in order to cover as much ground as possible. Alongthe quayside was this Maritime Museum. Unfortunately, we need to pay to get in and it didn't really look that interesting, nor were there crowds of tourists waiting to get in so I decided to just admire the ship (where the maritime museum was housed) as we walked passed.

Of course, how can a trip be complete without shopping?

Ninth Stop: the MEGAMALL. (aka Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall)
They had quite a few international brands incl. Mango, Levis, FOS, just to name a few. P's mum bought something from Hush Puppies, the rest of us got stuffs at MANGO and FOS. It wasn't really mega.. probably the mega was by melaka standards. The mall only had one level with limited tenants. Oh, and did i forget to mention they had starbucks, macs, a foodcourt and some hk food place? Not bad at all, tho i heard the foodcourt sux.
by this time, it was drizzling so we decided to go back to the hotel, put down our stuffs and adjourn to the award winning nonya restaurant at level 3 for dinner.

Tenth stop: The Nonya restaurant.
Not fantastic food. Service was slow and mediocre. The manager managed to ignore our many requests for photo taking, delivery of food and water with a mere glance to show that he was paying attention at the most. The food was quite alright but.. they charged us for belachan! 3 ringgit per small bowl. We had 2 bowls cos we thought it was free. those idiots! No wonder they stop winning awards in 2004,5 and 6. I was telling P that no way were they going to win an award in 2007 if that's the kind of service they were providing!

Eleventh stop: the swimming pool
very serene, very quiet place at night. Didn't swim. the pool was closed after 9pm.

Twelth stop: bed and much needed rest.

permalink written by  karyote on April 6, 2007 from Melaka, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Malaysia - Melaka
tagged Malaysia and Melaka

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Day 2 of 2

Melaka, Malaysia

Woke up early for breakfast. It was an international spread of cuisine. They had porridge, cereals, omelettes, local cuisine, breads... etcetc.

Had a light breakfast before splitting up to 2 groups. The swimming group of two and the walking group of 6. We walked around the hotel via Jalan Chan Koon Cheng, which was longer before reaching the same bridge as yesterday's to cross over to Lorong Hang Jebat. Not much interesting things along the way. A pretty boring stretch.

We walked along Jalan Hang Jebat this time, and also a few smaller roads which are not documented in my lousy map. We passed by the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, supposedly the oldest temple in the country. P's parents and I went in for a while. There's just something about places of worship that manage to radiate peace and serenity.

There was also this old shop where this old man was doing this extremely old way of welding aluminum cans. He was probably in his 80s, very scrawny looking. His is really a dying trade. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of it. It was sad the way he carried on his welding, without acknowledgment of the gawking ppl (us) watching his every move.

Went past Jonker street again. This time, we stopped at the famous Jonker dessert stall for very very nice dessert, nonya asam laksa and ondeh ondeh. The shaved ice simply melted in our mouths. The viscous gula melaka drizzled on the shaved ice.. simply heavenly! We took away fruit juices which were the real stuff. No added sugar water like in singapore. 3 apples and a lemon juice means just that. A refreshing change from the fruit stalls who frequently managed to short change us with watered down juices.

Met the gang back at the hotel, showered, packed, checked out before heading to the megamall again. This time, mj, xl and I managed to depart the Levi's store S$100 lesser. I bought my first pair of Levis, supposedly quite a good investment cos it was cheaper than in sg. I guess so. still a little skeptical at spending a 3 figure sum on clothes.

Had the HK styled baked rice with chicken. Not bad at all! Good choice by mj. By then, it was time to head back to the hotel and await the arrival of the F ive Stars bus.

Bus arrived at 230pm, bigger, newer and muchmuch faster than the previous bus. We took only 2.5 hours to reach Yong Peng and another 1.5 hours to reach SG customs. A total of 4 hours as compared to the 6 hours there.

Glad the trip was so hassle free. Total damage done to wallet - Around S$ 300. Enjoyment Level: 3stars out of 5. It was the company that made the difference :) Other than that, melaka was just that, a small town with a few historical buildings and limited sights and shopping.

permalink written by  karyote on April 7, 2007 from Melaka, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Malaysia - Melaka
tagged Malaysia and Melaka

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Malaysia, the fool's story

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

It's quiet, too quiet...our entry into Malaysia was disconcerting. There was something wrong, something missing...the trip from the airport was lacking in some way; the car was fine, the driver was nice, we had our bags but still there was something absent. We finally realised halfway to the hotel, no-one was beeping their horn. Nothing. Just people driving. After 3 months of constant noise in India the sudden calm had an unnerving effect , like the calm before the storm. Lucky for us we had booked 5 star, the Swish Gardens awaited us.

On our arrival the air conditioning hit us like a slap in the face from the angel of Fonzie, it was cool, ayyyyyee! Backpacking realigns the values: the beds were firm, the pillows were soft, the sheets were smooth...and clean; something we'd not had for months. It was expensive but it was worth it. We spent our 5 star week lounging, and we even saw a bit of the city, not much admitedly, we knew we were coming back, how many times we didn't know, but we knew we would return...

We had been planning to do some serious planning in Kuala Lumpur, the conditions were perfect. We had maps, we had books, we had a buffet breakfast, there was nothing on TV...the conditions were perfect. There was only one flaw in the plan, Delaney's. The staff were friendly and the bean-tastic snacks were plentiful, but we digress...and we did. After 2 days they knew our faces, after 3 they knew our order, after 5 they knew the songs we wanted the band to play. Luckily we had one more valid distraction, Thaipusam.

Thaipusam (yet another Hindu festival) is either a show of great devotion or a parade of masochism, depending on your point of view. For the faithful it involves piercing the back, face, cheeks (facial cheeks that is) tongue and anywhere else you fancy with some vicious, and to our unenlightened eyes, frankly unsanitory hooks and spikes and carrying pandals and urns filled with milk for the 13km from Kuala central and up the 272 steps to the shrines held within the Batu Caves. Our main reason for leaving India at the time we did was to see this and film it with our brand new spanky video camera, however, our stupidity prevailed and we hadn't charged the battery so it cut out after 5 minutes of dreary, uneventful footage moments before the gruesome spectacle unfolded. This thing is actually banned in India, not exactly the most health and safety conscious country on the planet, so how it's allowed in Malaysia is a mystery.

We decided that we had had enough of the five star life and the hotel agreed so after dragging us kicking and screaming from the buffet we headed South to the cleanest place on the planet, Singapore. Afetr a rigorous customs check to ensure that we had no illegal substances (like drugs, daggers and chewing gum) we breezed our way into the city, as did the monsoon rain. Seeking refuge from the torrential downpour we dived into the nearest bar (always our favourite kind of refuge) before diving out again when we saw the price of the beer. 2 hours later we had finally found a bar within our budget, a hawker centre (surpisingly bereft of birds of prey, but full of canny locals) so we settled down to enjoy our Tiger and watch the city boys splashing the cash at the more upmarket venues on the street opposite. Though concerned for our cash we did manage to prise our wallets open long enough (and wide enough) to catch some live Jazz @ Southbridge, a bar full of cool, black-clad beatniks clicking fingers and nodding to the music. We even managed to get a song played, dedicated to a 'lovely couple', as we couldn't see one behind us we figured they had made the all too common mistake and thought that we were a pair. We are considering getting some T-Shirts printed to avoid the confusion - we figure "I'm not with stupid" should do the trick.

After 3 enjoyable but costly rain and jazz filled days we headed back up to the peninsular to Melaka (if you speak Greek you may find that funny). Our hotel had a midnight curfew which we almost missed on our first night. After dashing through the streets we arrived with seconds to spare to be greeted by the amused looking owner, Mister Yen. When we explained that we had run back to avoid being locked out he laughed and promptly took us out around the town's seedier bars for an all night drinking, pool and karaoke session. Mr Yen is well known in the area and we were treated with the upmost respect, despite Will's singing and Becca's distinct lack of pool skills. Back at the hotel at 5am for a night cap we found out that this was partly due to the fact that he is a kung-fu master and he regaled us with stories of his training and various arse-kickings he had administered in his younger days. We managed to prise ourselves away some time after dawn broke and spent our first full day sleeping off the effects. When we finally rose, desperate for sustenance, we made our way to the mall for some traditional Malaysian Burger King. After filling our stomachs we headed back into the air conditioning inside and stumbled accross a promotional stand for massage chairs. As we relaxed into our 30 minute free pummelling session we smiled and lied to the staff about our intentions to buy, even checking import costs for the UK and New Zealand. To be honest we were actually seriously considering the possibility but the 8000 Ringit (about £1200) price tag snapped us out of it and we headed off to find a disguise to get another free trial.

A couple of days later it was time for the main attraction in Melaka (as far as we were concerned) Intrudu, a water throwing festival held every year, which involves alot of water...being thrown. We had checked on the Melaka tourist information site for times and they had insisted that last years festival (no mention of this year's) started at high (not dry) noon. We rocked up in swim gear, with a change clothes and everything wrapped in special waterproof bags to find a big, wet, empty square where the event was supposed to take place. After wandering around we were somewhat disappointed to learn that the festival does in fact start at 9am and finish at 12, a big round of applause to the tourist board there. In our experience this is a common problem in Malaysia, they have a big tourist industry but don't bother to tell anyone about it. There is infuriatingly little information in the country about what is going on, where it's going on and even if it's going on. But we did know about one thing which was definitely coming up, Chinese New Year - Gong Xi Fa Cai!!

Where better for Chinese New Year than the capital? Well, apparently nearly everywhere except the capital where people celebrate by closing all the businesses and going to their home provinces, namely Melaka. Foiled again! We did manage to catch a big street festival involving dragon and lion dances followed by speeches (in Bahasa Malayan) by the Prime Minister, the minister for culture and the head of the Chinese community in Malaysia - party time! All the time in the city had made us eager to get somewhere a bit more natural and we soon headed off to the oldest rainforest in the world, Taman Negara.

We decided on an early night on our first day there as we were eager to hit the jungle trail early the next morning. Instead of sleeping we had to spend the night cowering under multiple mosquito nets to avoid the barrage of outsized insect life intent on sharing our blankets. Undeterred we headed out into the forest the next day and after a couple of hours eager to explore and spot the wildlife which is so abundant, but not so apparent. Also not apparent were fellow travellers to make up the minimum numbers for the various tours and activities in the park. We're not sure but Taman Negara may translate as minimum 4 persons. We had to settle for some gruelling self guided treks up a couple of Bukits - that's hills to you folks back home. After reaching the top and resting for a few minutes to avoid the impending heart attacks we looked out from the lookout. You can see for miles from the top of the Bukit, miles and miles of trees, they're everywhere. If you like trees, you'll love Taman Negara - as long as there are at least 3 other people with you. We took the scenic route back to the bus. 60kms on a boat looking at yet more trees, and torrents of other travellers who'd obviously been in hiding or on the tours we had tried and failed to get on.

Now we're back in KL (for the fourth time!) but getting ready to leave for Thailand. Malaysia is nice, it's clean, it's safe, it has a rollercoaster inside a shopping centre and the 'best bar in Asia' amongst many other distractions making it a very easy place to waste time, and because of the high price of beer (especially after India!) a very easy place to waste money, but we're not wasters (stop laughing!) so now we are going to go do something more challenging, more adventurous, more dangerous, we're off to the beach!

permalink written by  BecnWill on February 17, 2008 from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
from the travel blog: The World By Knight
tagged Singapore, KualaLumpur, Melaka, Lion, TamanNegara, ChineseNewYear, Dragon and Thaipusam

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Melaka we like you!

Melaka, Malaysia

Before we fly back from Kuala Lumpur on the 3rd March we found time for one more stop and interestingly it has been one of our favourites! Melaka is half-way between Singapore and our final destination in Asia, KL. The city is both very important and diverse due to its history as a principal trade port between East and West. The moment we entered the historical centre we understood that Chinese, Indian and everything in-between that modern Malaysia has become to resemble was mixed there. This mixture was furthered by a vintage European influence due to the Portuguese, Dutch and British all making this city a focal point of there Asiatic ventures. It is a really fascinating place to be and completely different to other places along our journey.

Avant de rejoindre KL pour le grand depart vers l'Europe, une derniere decouverte, celle de la ville de Malacca. Nous avons particulierement apprecie cette ville qui est riche en histoire. L'architecture de la ville s'est faconnee en fonction des diverses colonisations (portuguaise, hollandaise et anglaise). Le point fort de cette ville est sa position geographique entre l'est et l'ouest, en faisant naturellement un port important depuis le 15eme siecle dans le fameux detroit de Malacca. Singapour ayant pris le relais, Malacca est devenue une petite ville touristique tranquille.

Our liking of Melaka was made better by the fact that everything is quite calm but at the same time something is always happening. As you stroll the streets you are almost invited to look into the lives of people who live and work along the roads. There are a great number of places to eat and drink while the quality of almost all has been exceptional! We have been spoiled with choice as the night markets bring the Chinese New Year to a close and the streets are filled with things to see, try and sometimes... buy. The sight of the streets when filled at night is quite something and a real effort seems to have been made here to decorate the town as you can see. What else is there to do? Well, the river cruise, visiting the various temples to various religions [often next door to each other],walking off dinner and generally relaxing!

Enfin pas si tranquille que ca puisqu'il y a toujours quelque chose qui s'y passe. Les maisons et magasins sont ouverts sur la rue, ce qui cree une certaine proximite avec les gens. Le jour, il y a la ville a decouvrir avec ses eglises, ses temples, sa tour panoramique, sa replique de galion et bien d'autres monuments, tous tres anciens. Au detour d'une rue nous sommes tombes sur le plus vieux temple chinois de Malaisie. Le soir, nous avons profite du marche de nuit, de la ballade en bateau sur la riviere et des celebrations du nouvel an chinois (qui se termine, ca y est!). Malacca est une ville agreable et interessante qui s'impose lors d'un voyage en Malaisie!

Another thing to mention is our guesthouse 'SAMA SAMA' because in terms of what we needed it is superb! Its not the Hilton but its full of powerful reminders of the historic location and essentially its just a place i for one would love to help inspire my future home. An added bonus to our guesthouse is that we were openly welcomed to the live music night in the place where we originally checked-in. It just happens to be the coolest bar that we have been to on the trip - see pictures! So how was the music? Superb, an innocent Chinese/Malay girl who had a magnificently moving voice and a guitar that has obviously been by her side wherever she goes. We bought her CD and are itching to try it out! So, if you ever visit Malaysia make Melaka a certainty, it has been a marvelous little surprise to us.

Au detour d'une rue, c'est aussi comme cela qu'on a trouve notre guest house "Sama-sama" (qui veut dire "de rien" en malais), un endroit ou l'on se sent bien. Le soir il y a de la musique live, nous avons ecoute Ika, une jeune chinoise/malaise jouant acoustique avec sa guitare. L'air innoncent, elle envoute son public avec une voix tres douce. Et envoutes, nous avons achete son CD! Un moment de detente, c'etait ce qu'il nous fallait avant d'affronter nos derniers jours dans la capitale, dont le rythme est un peu plus soutenu!

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on February 27, 2010 from Melaka, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Malaysia and Melaka

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