Before stepping foot in Melaka, I envisioned old buildings, old buildings, and more old buildings. It was only when I actually stepped foot into the city that I realized my research was not as in-depth as I thought it was because (1) I forgot Malacca is actually one of the states of Malaysia, and (2) I didn’t realize it is a city, a modern city, a really modern city.
1. Melaka is an old port city. The history of Melaka is well-documented and pre-dates the time the Portuguese set foot in Melakan soil. Melaka is facing the Strait of Malacca and the island of Indonesia. Because it is bordered by the sea at one side, trading is bountiful. This also explains why Melaka is a multi-cultural city. There are Chinese/Peranakans, Malays, Indians. I also saw lots of Koreans, including Korean students, and Western foreigners and probably Australians and Africans too. I, however, was not able to meet any Pinoys.
This was “early” in the morning. Early would mean 8AM. The streets in the old city are narrow and cars are parked on one side, which means only one car can pass through. Their streets though are one-way streets so no fear of collision.
We were staying at Jalan Tukang Besi (formerly Blacksmith Street) and it is part of their Chinatown so do not be surprised if you would see many stores selling Chinese products. There were in fact many stalls in the area where we walked by.
2. Every corner is photo-worthy. Maybe it was because it was my first time to be in the Malaysia peninsula and in Melaka in particular, but I found each and every corner of the old city picture-worthy. In fact, my sense of sight was in orgasmic heaven that I barely lifted my camera so that my anatomical memory can capture it all.
My type of vintage — minimal and white. I think this was also a guest house. Could be our next accommodation but Layang-Layang was a wonderful guest house.
I know this is a house but I am not sure what this house is, whether this is still being used or for display.
3. Food is also in every corner. While our food trip in Melaka was limited, I saw that there were places to eat in almost every corner. Must-tries are the famous chicken rice balls. Food is also inexpensive, which means you won’t be scrimping just to eat well.
A plant-based cafe that I would have wanted to try. Grrr. Next time!
4. Shopping is cheap. I found that apparel and bags are cheaper in Melaka compared to Singapore and the Philippines. I think it is because there many garments manufacturing companies in the country, which means many of these goods were not imported and not subjected to duties and taxes.
5. Walk or take the teksi. The guesthouse said there is a bus from the bus terminal to the city square, Bus No. 17, but we were not able to experience this. We just walked and/or took the taxi.
Everything is near each other. And when I mean near, it’s walking distance. And by walking distance I meant walking that will not make you sweat or lose your normal breathing pattern. It was ignorant of me to think that Melaka was an unmodernized city. Because I felt like I was transported “back in time,” I could not feel “modernization” in Melaka even when we were shopping one whole afternoon. In fact, I felt the opening of the new H&M store near Jonker Street out of place. The city was so laid back I was thinking all the while it is just like Dumaguete. But it isn’t. It could not be, after all, Melaka figures prominently in the spice trade route. Magellan got lost in his search for Malacca, the spice islands, and landed in our shores instead.
Transported “back in time” is actually not the proper language because these Melakans are not putting up a show. Yes, the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, but this is their way of life and they have been doing this for how many hundreds of years. I was in awe and still in awe of how they did all of this.
Our leisurely night walk in streets we do not know as a perfect night cap. Actually, I invited my companions to go to Jonker Street and we did find the famous Jonker Street because it was the street next to the street where we were staying. Unfortunately, there was no Jonker Street night market because it was a Wednesday. The time we were there they were celebrating (or commemorating) ghost month and many were burning papers and putting food outside. I think it is like our All Soul’s Day when my family would put biko (sticky rice) and nilat-ang manok nga walay asin (boiled chicken without salt because they say ghosts do not eat salted food). The streets were not deserted but it was very peaceful (maybe because it was a Wednesday and maybe because most people were hunting for Pokemons).
This ends my Melakan posts. It was a wonderful experience and we have agreed we can’t wait to go back. We brought with us not just tons of photos and bags of coffee and wonderful memories, but also awakenings and practical lessons on how hospitality and service should be done.
Selamat detang, Melaka!