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(Note: This was the first article which I had put up in a website in 2001 which had closed down long ago. I had spent endless hours doing it but with tremendous satisfaction. Article on Malacca 2010 is below. All photos were taken in 2010).
As early as one week before our departure, I went up to Lankin, Johor to purchase the coach tickets to Malacca. I expect it is going to be very crowded as it is the public holiday followed by weekends. A good timing for a short trip without taking any leave. I was right. Most of the favourite departure time tickets were sold out. Fortunately, I managed to get 3 tickets from Mayang Sari(non-stop) at RM12.30 and RM6.50 respectively for adult and child. It was a 10.45am departure.
Come Friday the 13th, we were all set to go. My daughter, Jia Hwei was looking forward to the trip. We took a cab. Towards the end of BKE, there was a traffic jam. As expected, many Singaporeans, like myself, are taking the advantage of the 3 days off. Very slowly, we moved along. About 45 minutes later, we arrived at Woodland Checkpoint.
First, there was traffic jam. Now, it was the human jam. What a long queue of people waiting for SBS 170 at the bus stop. We decided to walk across the causeway. There were many people walking too.
About 20 minutes later, we arrived at Johor immigration office. We were simply ‘crushed’. The queue had already snailed out of the office. It was growing with loads of people getting out of the buses joining in. It was already 10.15 am. We were still very far outside the office. Discussing with my wife, Joy, we decided to turn back. We were never able to make it to the 10.45 am departure. I could see the disappointment in Jia Hwei’s face. Do we have other choice ? Hey, wait a minute.. there was a turn of event coming.
There were many others turning back too. As we were walking dejectedly toward Singapore, I heard a car horning at me. Lifted my head, I saw my colleague, Chew Kong Choi and his wife waving at me. Good samaritan he was, he fetched us across the abhorrent jam and all the way to Lankin. Thanks, Chew. We almost could not make it to Malacca without you.
It was almost 12pm. The coach had long left. What to do now ? Well, someone was shouting “Melaka -sekarang”. He was the ticket seller, trying to make a quick buck for last minute passengers. The price of the ticket was RM25. More than double the normal ticket.
About 4.30 pm, we reached Malacca. Since my last visit 4 years ago, literally speaking, Malacca has not changed. The many potholes of the road are still there; the metal and rusty bridge across the river still stands; the same old and cramped bus station….
Very quickly, I went around to purchase our return tickets on Sunday. With that done, we proceeded to Hotel Renaissance(HR) where I had booked for 2 nights stay @ RM195 per night. It was just a 15 minutes walk from where we alighted. HR is ideally located at the heart of Malacca town. Many of the Malacca’s famous tourist spots are within walking distance from this hotel.
Checking with the concierge to where could we find steamboat dinner, we were told to go a place near Jalan Temenggong(Mill Road). After enquiring on the route, we walked along Jalan Bendahara. The famous Tan Kim Hock Product Centre where candies and coconut goodies are sold was about 5 minutes walk from HR. Somewhere at another stretch of Jalan Bendahara, we came across ‘Little India’ where you can find many Indian shops and eateries. The first stretch was ‘Chinatown’, so to speak. Very interesting.
Walking around a while, we found the place that sold steamboat. It is a small coffee shop without name or signboard. It is just at the junction of Jalan Temenggong. To our disappointment, it was mutton steamboat. Should we adventurous enough to try it ? I backed out. Personally, I do not like mutton. Since we were already there, we ordered noodle, fried rice, slice fish and belachan kang kong. We did not regret it. The food was superb and cheap. I made a mental wish to patronise them again for my next visit.
We had a whole day the next day. After buffet breakfast at Summerfield Cafe, we walked to our first destination. This is along Jalan Kota, the historical landmarks of Malacca . The distinctive red building is called The Stadthuys, ChristChurch, St Paul’s Church built by a Portuguese captain in 1521. Do not miss the History and Ethnography where you will learn more about Malacca’s colourful history. I know more about Malacca after visiting it. Just below St Paul’s hill is the magnificent MalaccaSultanatePalace. Walking further down about 10 minutes later, is the modern and upmaket Mahkota Parade, a shopping paradise.
Around St Paul’s Church area, there are few stalls selling souvenir and paintings. At one of the stalls, I saw a young man drawing earnestly. Apparently, he was also selling his paintings. I started a conversation with him. Within one day, he could finish 2 paintings. This is his full time job and he has been doing this for 18 years ! Amazing, Daniel.
Another place that we visited was Jonker Street, opposite The Stadthuys. You have to explore this place by foot in order to enjoy the uniqueness of this little street where many antique shops are found. The road is very narrow, so watch out for the incessant flow of traffic. We tried the chicken rice balls at one of eateries found here. The best red bean agar-agar was sold here at a roadside stall. Aother mental wish – yes..must visit this place when I am back the next time. Beside food, I also saw a coffin shop here. I reckon it is not for tourists but local.
When I say HR is ideally located, I really mean. Nearby across the street is the Pizza Hut. The Hawk Rent-a-car is also there. A little up the street is a 80 years old shop called Bulldog Cafe. A place where you will find bicycle hanging on the wall; newspaper cutting dated 1954 and many other decorations. What most intriguing about this palce is – a small pond is found in the middle of this cafe ! Water theraphy for the customers ? We tried their nyonya chendol. Not very nice but worth a visit for the the environment.
Very quickly, our short holidays are over. I just dread to think of the jam at the causeway…..
(30 Nov to 3 Dec 2010 and 27 to 30 Dec 2010)
The last time I visited Malacca was in 2001. When I went back with my family in 2010, I noticed there were no much major changes except in the tourist belt.
The bus station was moved to a very much bigger area but quite far away from town. It is now called Melaka Sentral. Restaurant Lee and Bulldog Café are still at the same place. The coffee shop we ate at Jalan Temenggon is still standing.
Jonker Walk is as busy as before, being the centre of attraction. Mahkota Parade shopping centre is showing sign of aging. Next to it is the Dataran Pahlawan megamall. Noticed Jusco and Tesco are also joining the shopping fray. Both are situated near Melaka Sentral.
In Malacca, you just cannot miss the various types of food. Food was also the main reason why we went back the second time in such a short break. We liked the tandoori chicken and nan from Pak Putra very much. We enjoyed our afternoon coffee at Calanthe Art Café with its quaint and beautiful decor. Geograher Café, a lovely sidewalk watering hole in the heart of Jonker Walk, was also one of our favourite food haunts.
We liked Malacca so much that when I offered to bring my wife back to celebrate her birthday on the last week of the year, she readily agreed. On our second trip, we stayed at Tang House at RM55 for twin sharing with simple breakfast. Not a bad deal, indeed. For our first trip, we stayed at Café 1511. It was a warm and homely guesthouse. RM100 for triple sharing with breakfast and free coffee and tea. Very worth it.
The Stadhuys also known as the Red Square with its distinctive clock tower, is located in the heart of the city. Every tourist to Malacca will visit this historical structure, the legacy of the Dutch. Another nearby Dutch structure built in 1753 is the Christ Church. St Paul’s Church built in 1521 and A’ Formosa ruins are also located in close proximity.
Opposite the river is the ever busy Jonker Street. 10 minutes walk from here will bring you to the shopping belt of Mahkota Parade and Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall.
I have always enjoyed strolling around the streets to admire the historical buildings from its mix of Peranakan shop houses, Portuguese and Dutch architecture and Victorian vestiges. Sadly as in progress of modernization, some of these old buildings are being torn down or being altered resulting in loss of the old world charm.
The Malacca River scene in Malacca has been transformed over the years. This is the point where the history of Malacca began. Once, it was where major trade and commerce activities took place, it is now a tourist attraction. Though we did not take a 45 minutes river cruise, it must be popular with the tourists judging from the many cruises passing by incessantly.
Jonker Walk – a must see for first time visitor to Malacca. Some have criticize it as overrated. Some complain it as overpriced. Some dislike it as overcrowded. I humbly agree to it. Like in most attractions where crowds start to arrive, the price to pay is commercialism. However, whether you like it or not, this is the tourist place where you can find guesthouses, restaurants, cafes, souvenir, temple, mosque in the mix of Malaccan flavor.
We also made a day trip to Kuala Lumpur which took about 2 hours coach ride. RM12.20 per head. Plenty of coach service to KL from Melaka Sentral.
For those going to town (Jonker Street) from Melaka Sentral, take the town bus no 17 (green). Fare is RM1. We also took the new bus service Panorama bus to town(RM1). The best is to ask the driver before boarding, that is what I always do