A Brief Visit to Melaka

After several days in Kuala Lumpur, our next stop was in the historical port town of Melaka (Malacca), which can be reached by a short two hour bus journey from the capital. 

We were still getting used to carrying our huge bags around, after the luxury of leaving them in the campervan for most of our time in New Zealand. This was made worse by the now useless coats and other warm clothes that we had to pack for the first leg of our travels.

Despite this, the journey proved very straightforward. The bus terminal was easy to navigate while the bus itself was great, and despite the tickets costing very little, the seats were more business class than economy.

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We arrived into Melaka Old Town by taxi, and as we travelled through the narrow streets we could clearly see the colonial influences, with the city having been at various times under Portuguese, Dutch and British rule during its long history.

Due to some slightly poor planning by myself, we arrived several hours before we could check into our hostel, and we therefore decided to check out some of the Old Town’s many cafes and restaurants, which hidden amongst the colonial-era houses . After some delicious coffees from Calanthe Art Cafe, we stopped for lunch at the Baboon House. While the western style burgers were very enjoyable, the courtyard that we were seated in stole the show, and it was like eating in a tropical oasis.

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The historical area of the city is centred around the Dutch Square, with the bright red buildings including the landmark Christ Church and Clock Tower. It is also home to a slightly less historic Hard Rock Cafe, which seemed to be equally popular with the swarms of tourists.

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Melaka is a popular holiday destination for Malaysians and Singaporeans, with the small city state just a few hours drive away, and the area around the square was packed with coach tours. We were surprised by just how busy it was, but we later discovered that our visit coincided with the first Saturday of a weeklong school holiday.

After wandering around the square, we decided to take a walk along the Melaka River which runs through the city.

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It was nice to escape the crowds but it was the hottest day of the trip so far, and the heat was almost unbearable. We found ourselves stopping for a rest every time we found any shade, and even taking photos became a massive effort.

There are several small cafes along the river, and we stopped at Idler’s Corner for some well earned cold drinks. We managed to find some seats overlooking the river and more importantly underneath a large fan.

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We found lots of street art both along the river and hidden away within the narrow laneways.  Most popular of these was the colourful Kiehl’s Wall mural, with a large crowd all trying to get that perfect Instagram photo.

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As darkness fell, the city seemed to get even busier with a huge street market appearing on Jonker Street, the central street of Chinatown. The roads were crowded with tourists being ferried round on the city’s trademark rickshaws, which are decorated with an assortment of flowers, flags and flashing lights. These also play an assortment of terrible music at very high volumes, with Gangnam Style clearly a favourite.

We found this side of the city to be a little tacky, and such a contrast to the beautiful historic streets that we had been wandering around earlier in the day.

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Despite having no intention of purchasing anything, by the time we had reached the end of the market we had acquired a dress for Rachael and some flip-flops/thongs/jandals (not sure which is correct anymore) for me. Happy with our purchases, we returned to the safety of our air-conditioned room in preparation for another early start the following morning.

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