Melaka (Jan 26-29): A Colourful City with a European Vibe

The trip to Melaka had the smoothest transitions that I think I’ve ever been a part of! We had the option of taking the quicker way from Taman Negara, which would cost 70 ringgit and would get us to Kuala Lumpur by 1 or 2pm, or we could do the cheaper way and apparently not get to Kuala Lumpur until after 5pm. Since none of us were in a hurry, we decided to go with the cheaper option (of course) so when we got to the bus just before 10am, we paid the driver 7 ringgit each ($2.21AUD) to go to Jerantut. We arrived at that terminal at 11:39, went to the ticket counter and found out that there was a direct bus to Kuala Lumpur at 11:45! We bought tickets for 18.40 ringgit ($6.01), put our bags on the bus, asked the driver if we could run to the bathroom, paid .30 ringgit (10 cents) to use the toilet, and ran onto the bus. We actually arrived in Kuala Lumpur at around 2pm, so we got there nearly just as quick as the “fast transportation” and paid 45 ringgit less! We had to get to the TBS station, so we bought metro tickets for 3.80 ringgit ($1.24). We then had to say goodbye to Alana, who was meeting back up with her boyfriend in Kuala Lumpur. Ros and I continued to the station and went to buy tickets to Melaka. Even though there was supposed to be a bus in the next 15 minutes, we decided to leave at 3:45 in order to give ourselves time to use the toilet and finally get some lunch. We paid 10.40 ringgit ($3.40) each for our bus tickets and then went to Subway, where I got a sub and drink for 11.20 ($3.66). My first sub in Asia – it was everything that I thought it would be! The bus ride to Melaka took exactly two hours so when we arrived, it was nearly 6pm. Then, we had to take a bus to the city centre. We were told to wait for bus #17 so we waited for quite awhile (at least 20-30 minutes) and it finally came. We paid 2 ringgit each ($0.65) and got on the packed bus for the 20-minute trip into town. Instantly, I loved all of the colours of the buildings – it had such a European vibe to it and I didn’t feel like I was in Asia anymore. Melaka was first found by a Sumatran prince back in the late 1300s, when it was named Malaka. The Portuguese took over the city in the 1500s and called it Malaca. Then the Dutch took over in the 1600s and called it Malakka or Malacka. Then the British took over in the 1700s and called it Malacca. This is why there are still a few spellings of the city. It’s really interesting seeing how each country has influenced the city, and how there are still Dutch and Portuguese areas. The walk to our hostel (Welcome Guesthouse) was only about ten minutes away and when we got there, we were greeted by a friendly lady from Turkey who was volunteering at the guesthouse. The place obviously didn’t have hostel vibes since it was a guesthouse, but it was kind of nice to be somewhere quiet. Plus it was only 18 ringgit per night ($5.88), so it was a steal! Plus it included breakfast (which was just toast and coffee, but still amazing)! However, the beds were extremely creaky (as in I couldn’t even lift my arm without it making a noise), and our window was facing a restaurant that was for some reason open from 5pm-5am, so we constantly heard running water and the clanging of pots and pans. We chatted for at least an hour and then decided to head to Jonker Street, where Melaka has its weekend night market. It was so crowded when we got there! We had to get into the stream of people and then were basically pushed the whole way through, not having much space to stop and look at anything. We stopped to try Popiah, which is a fresh spring roll that is cut up to look like sushi. I think it’s normally made with pork but this one was vegetarian.

It cost us 2 ringgit each (65 cents) so we didn’t lose much of our money, as both of us were expecting to have salmon or something of flavour inside. We walked through the market but I was having a really hard time deciding what I wanted to eat. I finally decided to just get three skewers of satay (2 chicken and 1 pork) for 11 ringgit ($3.59) and then we each got a mango shake for 5 ringgit ($1.63).

We found a place to sit down and people-watch while enjoying our mango shakes, and then headed back to the guesthouse. That night, Ros woke me up at about 3am and said that I was snoring really loud, which surprised me! I’m hoping that she’s not just the first person who’s actually told me.. however, when she woke me up, my nose was completely plugged so I hope I’m not coming down with something. She said that once she woke me up, I didn’t snore anymore so that’s good!

On Sunday morning, we got up and ready for the day. Ros was changing hostels because she’d be staying in Melaka for the entire week and was trying to find somewhere she liked (or trying to get away from my snoring!). I had to get my laundry done so I packed up my stuff and walked ten minutes to the nearest laundromat. It cost me 3 ringgit for a wash, 1.50 ringgit for laundry detergent, and 4 ringgit for a dry, so I paid $2.78 total. Plus it was a lot faster than what I was expecting – a half hour for the wash and 45 minutes for the dry, so I didn’t have to spend my entire day sitting in the laundromat – I just FaceTimed with my parents and the time went by faster. I dropped my stuff off at the hostel and then I met back up with Ros at about 2pm. We stopped at Chop Chung Wah for lunch because they’re known for their chicken and rice balls, which were actually quite good!

The rice balls are boiled in broth so it adds a lot of extra flavour. Ros and I shared a dish so it only cost us 5 ringgit each ($1.63). We then explored the city – went across the river to check out the bright pink buildings of city hall, Christ Church, and the Clock Tower.

It was another city of bright colours and charm! We walked to St. Paul’s Church, went to Porta de Santiago (a ruined fortress), and then walked through the MegaMall, which literally had every store – stores common in Australia, stores common in North America, and stores common in Europe – it seemed so weird!

I even noticed that there was an A&W so I vowed that I’d try some A&W before I left Malaysia. After walking around for a few hours, we decided to part ways for a bit so that we could relax at our hostels before meeting up for dinner. On my way back to my hostel, I happened to walk by a big building that said “MAMEE” and had a familiar blue monster standing in front of it, taking pictures with kids. I instantly recognised it as the dry noodle snack that I would always have at my friend’s house when I was little. I’d beg my mom to buy me some but she said that they were too expensive, and I remember her buying them once and I was so happy! I had absolutely no idea that they originated from Malaysia, and specifically from this small city! I decided to return tomorrow, and continued back to the hostel. I relaxed for a couple of hours and then met back up with Ros and her friend at about 8pm. We decided to have dinner at her hostel (La Vie en Rose) since the hostel owner is Lebanese and he cooks seriously amazing food – the flavour was some of the best that I’ve had in Malaysia, even if it wasn’t Malaysian food. We shared baba ganoush with pita, and then I ordered a Philadelphia Beef wrap, which was so good!

I paid 13.50 ringgit ($4.41). The three of us then walked through the night market for a bit, which was much quieter since it was Sunday and then we finished the night by getting coconut shakes for 4 ringgit ($1.31) and sitting by the fountain across the river.

On Monday morning, I got up and FaceTimed my family before going downstairs for breakfast. I was originally just planning on spending two nights in Melaka, but I decided to stay for one more night so I still had another full day. A lot of the main restaurants close by 5pm and some stop serving main dishes by 1pm, so I found it really difficult figuring out where to go for dinner while I was there. I wanted to try out so many foods but a lot of the restaurants were closed on Monday, or would close before dinner. I went to East & West Rendez-vous, which is known for their Nyonya Chang, which is a part-blue dumpling filled with minced pork and sticky rice. I also had wanted to try one of the main desserts there called Cendol, which is an iced dessert with green rice flour jelly, coconut milk, palm sugar, and other various toppings. However, when they got there, I got a, “What do you want?” as an entire family was deep in conversation sitting at one of the tables. I asked if they had a menu and she said that all she had left were the dumplings, so I said that I’d get one. She grabbed a parcel wrapped in a banana leaf off of the table, unwrapped it, and set it on a plate for me.

Therefore, it wasn’t too warm when I ate it but it wasn’t too bad – it was somewhat sweet but then salty at the same time. It was kind of weird because as I was eating it, the family brought out all of this food from the kitchen and then started eating their lunch beside me. A guy came in just as I was finishing and got the same, “What do you want?” and got a dumpling as well. I paid my 7 ringgit ($2.29) and continued on my way, determined to find some Cendol. I walked along the river and found a little place across from the clock tower called Cendol Jam Besar. I got their ABC Cendol, which comes with shaved ice, and finally got to give it a try. Along with the ice cream and candy sprinkles added to it, it also had red beans and sweet corn.

It was definitely different! I don’t know if I liked it or not – I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to find some again but I might not turn it down either. There was just so much going on in the bowl and I didn’t know what half of it was! I paid 5 ringgit ($1.63) and then walked to the Mamee Museum. I went into the cafe first, since it was just after 2pm. I decided to try the curry laksa made with their Mamee noodles and get a grape pop to go with it – I felt like a kid again!

The curry laksa was so good – much better than the laksa that I tried in Penang (but I made sure to check if it was fishy or not first). It was quite spicy though! My meal cost me 13 ringgit ($4.24) so I paid and then checked out the museum, which was free (and I was the only person in it because they had it gated off so that no one could enter). It was a nice museum and had potential but I was confused as to why they weren’t regularly letting people in. I thought that I couldn’t go in and when I was staring at it, one of the staff members asked if I wanted to go inside and opened the gate for me.

It was interesting reading about the history and seeing how the products had changed over the years. I then explored the shops down Jonker Street and along the river before heading back to relax at the guesthouse for a couple of hours.

At about 7pm, I decided to go for dinner at a restaurant on the riverside called Wild Coriander. I got the Nasi Lemak, which is a combination of food including curry chicken, veggies, fried anchovies, and an egg, served on a banana leaf. The view beside the river was so nice and I was able to watch the colours of the sky change for the duration of my dinner.

It was a very nice way to spend my last night in Melaka. Plus the food was delicious! It looked like so much food but I somehow got through it all, and didn’t even feel completely full afterwards. My meal with a drink cost me 22 ringgit ($7.18) and for the amount of food I had, it was worth it! However, something didn’t agree with my stomach (which sometimes happens when I have curries, but it would be nice to know what the specific ingredient is so I could avoid it!). Anyway, after dinner, I headed back to the guesthouse to relax for the rest of the night, after taking a quick walk by the rover.

On Tuesday morning, I packed up all of my stuff and had a few pieces of toast before meeting up with Ros for coffee before I headed back to Kuala Lumpur. We went to a place called The Stolen Cup, which was a cute American-like cafe with lots of character. The coffee was a bit more expensive at 10 ringgit ($3.26), but it was nice to have some barista-made coffee rather than the instant coffee that I’ve usually been drinking. I stayed for just over an hour and then headed back across the river to wait for the bus in front of the clock tower. Melaka is a sweet city that has its own uniqueness compared to any of the other cities that I’ve been to in Malaysia! Love always

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