It took a good couple years for me and the fam to start traveling on the Malaysian peninsula. Always too busy, too tired, or too in a rush to go any farther than the bustling city we found ourselves in. It was only in May that we ventured out to discover the smaller towns and dense tropical woodlands that were only a some few hours away each.
We first drove to Melaka (which can also be spelled as Malacca) – a state with rich historical background located on the southwest coast of the peninsula. It therefore has numerous historical buildings, museums, and preserved sites that remind visitors of the fight for independence against the Dutch and Portugese. We stayed around the Red [Dutch] Square for the most part and followed a tour guide to be as fully immersed in the history as possible. It also provided us with the opportunity to see Christ Church as well as admire the stadthuys, the Dutch clocktower from 1650. Of course, the area is no rarity to tourists, so it was full of small stores selling cheap souvenirs, such as magnets, keychains, and so forth, which can be nice if you’re looking to bring something back, or a small destruction if you’re more interested in discovering the culture than shopping. Other historic stops we made were at the A Famosa Portugese fortress, St. Paul’s Church ruins, and St. Francis Xavier Statue.
We of course had to stop by the Strait of Malacca. The sun was out and the skies were of a beautiful blue, making a very pretty scenery for a few photos. Some locals were out fishing and a group of men were playing cards on the shore. The water was unfortunately quite polluted, which is to be expected seeing the number of ships that pass each day. So, aside from being a nice place to simply see, there was not much else to it. Although we left the shore shortly after arriving, we did go on a river cruise on the Malacca River. If I’m not mistaken, the cruise can be done during anytime of the day, but we boarded the boat as the sun was setting, which was easily the best time to go on the cruise. The boat took us down the river, and back, in about an hour. The sky was beautifully lit with the setting sun’s orange and red luminescence as we went about floating past the riverside cafes and handmade murals on the walls of old homes. These were some of my personal favorite sightings. We also past by many bridges and the Eye on Melaka ferris wheel. Seeing as the sun had set by this time and it was dark, the ferris wheel, as well as the many buildings around it, were fluorescent. Both enjoyable and interesting, the cruise was well worth our time and money.
Another activity we took part in was walking through the Jonker Street night market filled with stalls and activity. Plenty is sold there, everything from souvenirs shirts and hats to handmade cards to delicious local food. It’s an adventure for all five of your senses, and there’s surely something for everyone. I’ve always liked night markets, because there’s always a lot to do and much to discover. Plus, by then the weather had cooled down and we could thoroughly enjoy everything by night. One thing that stood out particularly during the darker hours were the crazy tourist rickshaws. These kitschy rickshaws are colorful, decorated with stuffed animals, make noise and music, and light up a million colors during the night.
Before leaving, we did do a few quick last visits. We stopped at several historic churches as well as a Buddhist temple and a small mueseum. Our guide also brought us hiking to Bukit Cina, an old and very large Chinese cemetery. Unfortunately, there were a lot of mosquitoes in the area and because I’m allergic, the hike did not last long.
There are many things we did not see and places we did not go, but I feel that for the short time we were there, we saw much more than I could have hoped for. It was definitely a trip worth our time, and highly recommended if you’re fascinated by East Asian history!