Melaka (20th to 25th March)

Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
Trip End Dec 29, 2008

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Just like many Malays and Singaporeans, we headed for Melaka for the long Easter Weekend.  4 nights here,  2 in  Baba House an old traditional house which looked great, but turned out to be awful, so we then moved to Heerens Inn, on the same road, but nicer with a really helpful owner and much better value.  

We had arrived by bus from KL but decline the offers of the taxi touts at the bus station for a trip into town for 15 RM and instead got the local bus for 80 cents.  

Melaka was once a thriving colonial port  -  at times under Portuguese, Dutch and the British (is there anywhere we didn't once control??), who gave it back to the Malaysians in 1957 (when Clive was 3 years old!).   The colonial history is still very evident in the architecture of the old town with old shop-houses and temples dotted along the streets.    The culture and food here is Nyonya  (from when Chinese maidens in the 15th century  married Malay mens).  The Nyonya food is a bit different from the usual Asian food and we have tried some new things here, but describing them is not easy.   There are lots of green veggies that are not like anything else and some strange spring rolls that are wrapped in a very thin pancake with unknown fillings (but very tasty).  Most famous are the rice balls, which is usually served with roast duck or boiled chicken.   

Although the locals promote the Nyonya culture being so important, to us the main culture here seems to be much more laid back and liberal than many parts of Asia -  particularly when it comes to temples.      The rickshaws here are also by far the most fun.   Decorated with flowers and tinsel and playing music  -  we often heard some "rapping rickshaws" peddling up the road, with 50 Cent at high volume on the p.a (yes, I too am amazed that Clive new who it was!!).   The owners also had a sense of humour  -  one asked Clive if he could take us to London.    

Friday night seems to be the ultimate Karaoke night.  Walking along Jonker Street, which is the major and most of historical street in the old quarter and is closed to traffic at night at weekends, we found an old Chinese temple which for the night had been set up as an open-mike evening for Chinese karaoke (tempted to give it ago, but thought better of it!  Another temple was open for dancing lessons to Ricky Martins'  "LLiving La Vida Loca" - something we could have done without!.  At the end of the street was a large public stage erected for the Easter celebrations -  and another open-mike night  (yet more Chinese songs, this time with one of the worst vi\voices ever!).  

For a change of culture we paid a visit to the local bowling alley where we had a change of musical tempo.  This time, Rock'n'Roll. As soon as the music started, all the bowlers suddenly started jiggling and wiggling in time to Elvis?Chuck berry and Little Richard, which did nothing for our concentration (or our scores - Clive's excuse!)Have you ever seen a hip swiveling bowler ?  

The weather here is hot and sunny in the morning and then usually, monsoon rain the afternoon once the humidity has got up to really high levels. 

In keeping with the everywhere is closed theme,  many restaurants were closed for at least some of the Easter  weekend  (despite the large number of visitors).  We did find a great Indian restaurant open though, which server amazing chicken and nan bread cooked in the tan-door.  So delicious, we return a further two nights.   Walking the short distance to this place through a residential area, we found a mechanics yard converted for evening use  into a venue for yet more karaoke  -  the stage was the back of a truck, parked sideways on. By this time, we have started singing Chinese karaoke songs ourselves!  (the chin chin chong song??).  

Just 3 ringgits  (about 50p) buys an entrance ticket to the three museums in Melaka.  They quite easily qualify for the worst  museums ever, anywhere in the world.  One contains painted beach scenery with plastic turtles placed in front (the key exhibit was an extra large plastic turtle with ping-pong balls for eggs), one is a fake galleon (made of old floorboards), and the other contains some disused naval machinery to look at.    If only we had paid attention to a guidebook in we found in KL before we left on Melaka. It was pretty scathing about the town , but it did say the museums were the main draw.........

Having had enough of the colonial culture, we got the bus back to KL. 

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