Thursday, July 22, 2010
The Magnificent Malacca
Malacca is perhaps one of the many places which I personally feel I won’t ever get bored of visiting. I just love all the historical elements that are kept so beautifully amidst the huge developments that are happening in Malacca. The old and the new Malacca blend so well, making it one of the must-see and must-experience places in Malaysia. This historical city centre has also been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2008.
Malacca for me, besides being one of my favourite getaway places, is where my beautiful sister, Aida, is staying – hence, another reason why I should go there. Yup, my sister has been staying in Pantai Klebang (somewhere within the Tanjung Kling area) for more than 10 years now ever since she got married. Her lovely beachside home is always open for us to stopover. And on each visit, we would definitely run to the beach for a quick 'main air'. :-)
So, this time around, we made our way from Johor Bahru. It took us slightly more than 2 hours by car. We took the Ayer Keroh exit and headed straight to Tanjung Kling to see her. We had a BIG luncheon there (thanks to her) and a great get together before we checked in to our hotel, The Avillion.
The hotel is located at Jalan Tun Perak. With a rather majestic façade, the hotel looked great from the outside and the room was not that bad too. We booked a Family Room, hence, we had a huge space for ourselves. Even the kids (my son, together with my nieces and nephew who dropped by to chill out with us at the hotel) could play hide and seek in there. We then went to the pool for a dip. The kids really had a great swimming and playing session, which was later continued for another ‘water-play’ session in the bath tub in our bathroom. They had a whale of a time, literally. 4 persons in a tub… can you imagine? Haha… kids will always be kids!
The next morning, after our hearty breakfast at the hotel, we started to discover Malacca for God knows how many times already. Told you, I will never get enough of Malacca! There is always something new for us to see.
We decided to take a cruise at the Malacca River. It was really, really interesting, even for a 3rd timer like me! It took us approximately 45 minutes to complete the cruise. The ticket was at RM10 for adults and RM5 for kids. Cruising along the river will take you to 14 points of attractions. Those attractions were Taman Rempah, Kampung Morten (traditional Malay village), Pirate Park (small theme park), Kampung Jawa, Jalan Laksamana, Colonial shop houses, Kincir Air Melaka, and Flora De La Mar (Maritime Museum). There were also several old historical bridges such as Hang Tuah, Tan Kim Seng, Cathay, Market, and Kampung Jawa Bridge. Not to forget, look out for the commodore lizards and the mudskippers in the water or by the river banks. They can be seen everywhere as you cruise along the river and take note that some of the lizards are really huge!
Next was the Maritime Museum. My son was really excited to get into the Museum. It is a huge replica of an infamous Portuguese Ship (Flora De La Mar). You can get a closer look of the glorious days of Malacca in this museum as they have a few exhibits that briefly elaborate on the history of Malacca from the period of the Malacca Sultanate right through the Portuguese, Dutch and British era.
We then made our way on foot to the famous A Famosa fort, a prominent landmark synonymous with Malacca. It was a fortress built by the Portuguese admiral, Alfonso d' Albuquerque in 1511. It is among the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Asia. The Porta de Santiago, a small gate house, is the only remaining part of the fortress that is still standing. There were also some old cannons from the 16th century on display as you enter the compound. The site was just so amazingly great - a definitely must-see place if you happen to be in Malacca, because one thing I learnt from the visit - "You can’t say you have been to Malacca if you haven't visited the A' Famosa." :-)
The new Taming Sari Tower was our next stop. It was said that the tower was the first and only gyro revolving tower in Malaysia and the design was based on the famed Taming Sari Keris. From a height of 80 meters, the tower offered a spectacular and panoramic view of the historical Malacca city from above. Though it took only 7 minutes for us to experience the ride and the view, we truly enjoyed it.
We tried a ride on the ‘Beca’ (Trishaw) too, to get ourselves around the entire area of Banda Hilir. The ride was truly fun, especially to my son. He enjoyed it to bits. Our ‘Beca’ driver was very kind to us too as he took us around the famous sites and briefly enlightened us with some history about those places. The unique thing about the ‘Beca’ was that most of the ‘Becas’ were decorated with flowers and stuffed animals, and this ‘Beca’ driver also put on some Malay Old Songs for us too. A sight (and sound) you can only find in Malacca.
In the evening, we took a stroll along the Jonker’s Street. This is certainly our favourite place in Malacca! Jonker’s Street is really a horoscope of local cultures, delicacies, and souvenirs. The street is famous for its antique shops and outlets selling all sorts of knick-knacks and trinkets. The buildings were immaculately constructed with elaborate carvings on its pillars and walls. It is a living proof of Malacca's rich Baba-Nyonya (Straits Chinese) heritage. There were a lot of people that evening. It was on Saturday, so that could have explained why.
But one thing for sure, it was hard for us to search for a Halal Restaurant at this area. In the midst of the hustle and bustle, we managed to find one Café called Tranquerah Bistro. It was a nice, an old charm café that serves Halal food. We stopped by just to get ourselves some juices because we were not that hungry yet.
I bought some Nyonya Pineapple Tarts (Malacca ever-popular delicacies), it was all freshly baked from the oven and the aroma was really enticing. I also bought a couple of fridge magnets and a handbag from here. My hubby found a Chak-Tay (hope it’s the right spelling) – a small sporting equipment that enables one to play ‘sepak raga’ with and is made of colourful chicken feathers and rounded rubber pads. And we bought a ‘Pick-Up Sticks’ toy for my son. There were stalls selling some fresh Malacca Dodol that looked really tasty, so we bought a packet of it too.
I remembered, during one of my earlier visits, I used to buy a Nyonya Tiffin Carrier, a set of Angklung (a musical instrument made out of two bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame, similar to handbell choir) Chinese fans, Terompah (Wooden Slippers) and many other souvenirs from here. Somehow or rather, during this latest visit, I limited my purchase since I have most of the items already.
Oh well, for ‘makan-makan’, we went to Muara Sungai Duyung for a seafood feast on the first night. There were not many choices of seafood left when we arrived at 8.00pm. There were too many people on that night. It was a weekend, remember? The place was so crowded and so not conducive for kids. We had to wait for so long before getting ourselves a table. The food was just OK anyway, and because of the long-wait and the chaotic crowd there, I was not too pleased with the arrangement (sigh).
Anyway, I heard that Assam Pedas is one of Malacca’s signature dishes but tell you what, till now I didn’t get the chance to savour it. The many Hainanese Chicken Rice Shops along Jonker’s Street were all Non-Halal to us, and the only Halal restaurant we found at that area was the one next to Kincir Angin (Windmill), next to the Malacca River (didn’t quite get the name of the restaurant). It was actually quite a distance for us to walk from the streets of Jonker. We tried the food during our earlier visits to Malacca. It was just OK, nothing special. But the place was always full especially during weekends, where they had live bands playing some interesting number, pleasing to the ears of the local folks.
So, what did we eat in Malacca (on this trip) besides the great lunch we had at my sister’s and the seafood at Muara Sungai Duyung? We had McDonalds! Boo…! :-P