Melaka - charming historical center of trade

Trip Start Feb 18, 2011
Trip End Feb 17, 2012

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Where I stayed
Apa kaba homestay

Flag of Malaysia  , Melaka State,
Saturday, July 30, 2011

A "short" 4 hour bus-ride from Singapore away lies the historical city Melaka. It was one of the most important trade-centers in the world for sea-merchants trading goods between Asia, Europe and the middle east.

This significant position was quite a temptation to the naval forces of that time, and soon it was occupied by the Portuguese, later the Dutch, the British and during WW2 even the Japanese attacked the province.

Although (or maybe because) it doesn't have this key-role anymore today and I guess also thanks to the UNESCO world heritage site that was established in the historical center, the city has kept its atmosphere with the old colonial style buildings, markets and little shops – much to our delight.

During our stay in Singapore, Sayo already organized a meetup with Elaine – a lovely Chinese/Malay girl – who met us the first morning to show us around the most important restaurants to try the famous Melaka Chicken Rice Balls, Melaka Cendol (shaved ice with crazy colors and flavors) and much more.

We really enjoyed and appreciated the effort and wish her good luck for her dream of opening an own guesthouse soon.

For the whole week in Melaka, we stayed at Apakaba homestay. Many places call themselves “homestay”, but that was the first time for us, that we really felt like living with a local family. A big three generation family with uncles, aunts, children and grandparents was always around, treating us with real local breakfast, BBQ and tropical fruits from the trees in their garden.

The grandpa took us on an unexpected 3.5 hour afternoon-walk to a Sikh-temple, viewpoint, tiny museum in a traditional malay-style house and a food stall alongside the river where locals were having a serious chess tournament.

So many things a tourist would usually not see - we felt really lucky.

Oh, and also quite unexpected for us was the fact, that the Malaysians are really fluent in English. As a lot of the people are a mix of Chinese, Malays and Indians, two languages are usually the minimum, often with Chinese or Indian dialects as third. (Elaine was talking with us in very good English, talking with a Chinese Malay waitress in Cantonese then with others in Malay!)

The most famous spot in Melaka is the weekend night market of “Jonker Street”. It was really nice to have a look around the shops and to try local food, so we went there almost every day.

Most of the tourists are from Singapore and just visit over the weekend for the market – so from Monday on, most of the shops stayed closed at night and there were considerably less foreigners around.

We also visited the maritime museum (appropriately located inside a real-sized replica of an ancient ship) and the history museum inside the sultan’s palace, which both were very informative and recommendable.

Luckily we had some sunny days, so we rented two bicycles and spent a whole day cruising around the city and along the riverbanks.

…also FYI: Melaka is known for its vividly decorated rikschas (see pictures), where the drivers tune the vehicle with heaps of colorful flowers, beads, flags, dolls and umbrellas. They also use car-hifi-systems and you can choose what song you (and everyone around you) wanna hear on your slow ride to your destination. Funny to look at J

Next stop: Kuala Lumpur (KL)
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