Family ties in food heaven

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Jun 18, 2011

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Flag of Malaysia  , Melaka,
Thursday, February 10, 2011

Once our time in Bali came to an end we flew back over to Singapore for one night. Going back to Singapore kind of felt like a bit of a homecoming, and considering that we don't really have a house to call our home at the moment, I guess it’s the closest thing we have to a base for the time being. It felt really nice to know exactly where we were going, where the streets lead to, how to take the metro, what our hostel would be like and, most importantly, where to get some nice food. Whilst it is exciting going to new places all the time, it was great to go somewhere familiar for a change.

After our night in Singapore we got up early to catch our coach over the border into Malaysia. We never planned on visiting Malaysia originally and only decided to go when we were leaving Australia about a month ago, so we were really excited and a bit nervous to see what our new destination had to hold. It was also our first overland border crossing, but luckily everything went fine and we were allowed into Malaysia with no problems. Having only recently decided to visit Malaysia we really had no preconceptions of what it would be like, however I was really surprised with my first impressions of it. We were driving along a huge modern motorway which cut straight through the middle of the jungle. There were palm trees and coconut trees as far as the eye could see, rolling hills and deep gorges filled with raging rivers. I don’t know what I thought Malaysia would look like, but it certainly wasn’t like this! The jungle canopy spread out like a blanket across the horizon and the sun was blazing hot, making the tarmac on the road steam and refract in the sunlight. It was glorious! We drove through the jungle for about 4 hours before we reached our destination of Melaka. Melaka is an old colonial port which is an amalgamation of Malaysian, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese and British heritage and we are planning on staying here for about 4 days. There is also another very special reason for us coming to Melaka; my brother-in-law Mark was born here! It sounds like a strange reason to come here, but we really want to see where Mark was born and to be able to take some photos and show him and his family what his birthplace looks like and how it will have changed since he was last here.

We arrived in the outskirts of Melaka and caught a local bus into the town center; I think we must be getting more accustomed to traveling in Asia because we weren’t fazed at the prospect of getting on a bus where no-one speaks English, and we even ended having a nice 'sign-language’ chat with two girls who kept tapping me on the shoulder and then just smiling at me because they couldn’t speak English. The guesthouse we are staying at was recommended to us by a couple from Canada who we met in Bali; it’s set in an old Chinese house and while it was very basic (humble is a much better word) it was clean and had a really nice atmosphere.

To be honest, there isn’t much to do in Melaka. Despite this, after 4 days here, Melaka turned out to be a highlight of our time in Asia so far. It is just lovely here! It is so relaxed and friendly; we spent days wandering the streets, chatting to locals, soaking up the atmosphere and browsing the amazing antique and trinket shops. As I said earlier, we don’t really feel like we have much of a home at the moment, so it meant a lot to us to know that my brother had been born here and everywhere we went, we kept saying to each other:  "I wonder if Mark ever came here when he was a baby?". It felt like we had a family tie to Melaka even though neither of us had ever been there before. There was a huge night market down the main street for three nights running and we spent all night long wandering through the stalls and looking at all the pretty Chinese lanterns and flags which are still up from the New Year celebrations. There was also entertainment on each night at a big open-air stage in Chinatown and we were lucky enough to see a talent show by the local teenagers which was brilliant; there were girls performing traditional Chinese dances, singers, comedians (who made us laugh even though we didn’t understand what they said), an amazing martial artist, a local drama group and a Chinese teenager version of Ant and Dec who did the presenting. It was a really great night. The following nights there was a karaoke competition for the locals; this wasn’t like karaoke back in the UK though, there were hundreds of people watching and the singers had proper outfits and some even had backing dancers. We had a real giggle! The next day we even managed to stumble across a huge Indian film crew filming in the middle of the town square! We haven’t got a clue what they were filming, we think it might have been a Bollywood movie or a TV advert, but we seem to have a real knack when it comes to finding these kind of unplanned for moment.

However the best thing about Melaka was, without a shadow of a doubt, the food! We had the best food of the trip so in Melaka. We got to try a really diverse range of foods, most of which we had never tasted before. We didn’t stop eating for the whole four days we were there and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever eaten food like it before in my life. I became addicted to a Malaysian desert called Cendol, which is a bowl of shaved ice, palm sugar syrup, sweet coconut milk, little green wiggly bits of rice and red kidney beans. I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it is one of the best deserts imaginable. We also tried another Malaysian dish called a pohpiah, which is like a huge spring roll that is made out of a crepe and has a hoisin sauce mixture inside; they were bloody incredible. Some of the other weird and wonderful foods we tried included: fried radish cake (which is actually made out of Chinese turnips), pandol sponge cakes (pandol is a green sweet gooey filling), sugar cane juice, pineapple tarts, lemon and prune juice, laksa (a really hot and sour curry) and fresh coconut milk (not actually very nice). However, the highlight of our Melakan food adventure was a Chinese dim sum café just three doors down from our guest house. Our guidebook had recommended this café as it is famous all over Malaysia for its sticky pork buns (which Tom became addicted to when we were in Hong Kong). We decided to give it a go, but when we tried to get in we realised that it wasn’t really a place for tourists; the place was packed with locals, there wasn’t a word of English in sight, we didn’t understand what any of the food was or how to order it and everyone was staring at us like we had just landed from another planet.  We were just about to walk away when I plucked up the courage to go in and speak to the guy cooking at the bamboo steamers and the next thing we knew we had been invited back behind the counter so he could talk us through all the dim sum that was being cooked! It was amazing! He then took us over to a table and we ended up eating the most incredible breakfast of dim sum, pork buns, veggie lotus buns and Chinese tea. Everyone was staring and giggling at us because we had no idea what was going on, but we didn’t mind and we ended up laughing along with all the other customers after a while. The whole experience was amazing and we felt very lucky to get the chance to eat in a real dim sum café… needless to say we went back the next day and did it all over again!        
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caz&co on

wow sounds like meleka was absolutely lovely, and wot a bonus.............Great food lol, theres so much on ur blog i avent had chance to look at, but i promise wen u get back u can av a photo frenzy at mums and il be there 2 see them ha ha
Not sure if u know but date 4 inducement is 24th, but fingers crossed this lil 1 decides 2 make an appearence b4 that! im happy tho, the end is in sight, and paul will be able to stop shouting at my belly and tellin baby 2 hurry the hell up ha ha we av decided 2 put off christening lil man and new baby til u get both get back!! theres so much u have both missed out on whilst being away, so we gna go 4 the end of june (mom sed ur back on the 20th) so will plan accordingly lol avin the whole family 2gether 4 such a special occassion is gna be a day 2 remember!!!! ok thats enough from me and bump, wen it all does happen mom will keep u up 2 date (hope thats ok), luv to u both, speak soon xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

tomandhayley on

Hi Caz, thank you soooooo much for your message! I had a little cry when I read about the Christening, we would love to be there for it, that is so sweet of you. I think that mum or Rach might have already explained that the 20th June was a provisional date that we had to give the airline in order to get our ticket issued. To be honest, we don't know when we are coming back! It will be sometime in the summer and hopefully we will know more once we've been through Thailand. As soon as we know the date you'll be the first person to know :) Hoping you and bump are doing well.... and that they won't be a bump for much longer ;) Take care and I'll speak to you soon xxxxxx

rach on

hi ya both , hope your flight to thailand was a good one x hope you are both well , and remember to go to the fish spa where ther eat the dead skin off your feet !! its not so much of a novelty here they have got fish shops in chester and one has just opened in llandudno !but will be much better to have the real thing where they are in ponds and not fish tanks , ok i am waffeling now !! stay safe and have loads a fun there ,speak soon , lota a love as allways ,rach mark and smee xxx
ps mark thought the pix of malacka were great ,even tho he doesnt remember anything of his time there !!!! pimped tuk tuks !! WTF !lol xx

mum & dad k on

Hi. So happy you both look so fantastically relaxed and in good health. We got your message that you have safely arrived in Thailand, thanks. Can dad text you on that number and what's the code?

lisa xxx on

miss u loads at the mo xxxxx the kids all say hi too and send big hugs and kisses xxx holly has an appointment at rhyl college on wednesday to see if she can get a place on a hair dressing course - dunno where her hairdressing passion has come from , i thought she wanted to be a fashion designer. meg and sam are off on holiday on tuesday with their dad to disneyland paris, so they should have loads of fun, i will miss them loads but i have to think wots best for them and put my feelings to one side. its bloody hard but i try not to think about it too much. oh well have fun and u look fab on all of ur photos see you soon xxxxxx lisa xxx

lisa on

ive just spent over an hour reading your blog, ive not had access to a laptop in ages, mine is soooooooo slow, and holly is always on hers. and i only have face-book connection on my blackberry..... so i have hijacked hollys laptop and had a good old read of your adventures....... miss you loads..... take care , thinking of you always xxxxxx

rach on

hello , hope your feeling a bit happier today , its horrible whats been going on in nz but i were all glad that your safe in thailand xxx speak soon xx

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