Melaka, it sounds exotic. If you’ve never travelled to Malaysia, you’ve probably never even heard of it.
The beauty of travelling is it affords you the luxury of choosing how little or long to spend at any one location. We decided this would be a flying visit ( one night, two day thingy).
We invited a couple of our friends – Eduardo and Valeria. They were surprisingly brave and agreed to join us. We were self-aware that a lively 8 year old and a very chatty husband could easily sway the decision to a polite – NO THANKS.
There are a number of ways you can reach Melaka, your choice will probably depend on the location that you are travelling from. We chose the 2 hour bus ride from KL. It was cheap – 4 bucks each way to be exact. The air -con was pumping and we’re happy to report that our reclined seats flipped almost horizontally.
We consider ourselves to be backpackers, flash-packers, and almost slightly bohemian. Sometimes it is nice to splurge, we decided to splash way above our usual pay grade.
Hello Casa Del Rio.
We received a stark reminder.
Five star cost = five star service.
The hotel we booked looked more like a overgrown hacienda than an Asian hotel. Nearly all of the rooms had glorious views of this delightful river town.
The staff spoke perfect English and made great effort to accommodate us. The ice cold cloths on arrival were the perfect tonic for the searing heat.
Thank the Lord for dippy husbands, mine suddenly realised his iPhone had been left on the bus. Their efforts to successfully retrieve it were pretty astonishing.
After checking out our cruisy room, sleek rooftop pool and exquisite garden pond, we all realised our stomachs were rumbling in chorus; it was time to partake in Malaysia’s favourite pastime.
A focal point of Melaka is Jonker Street, a never ending heaven ( or hell depending on your point of view) of shops, stalls and restaurants. We found a restaurant, it was decadent, decaying and splendid. It was supposedly one of the oldest buildings in the region (an old converted railway station) .We sat, scoffed, and people watched, while aiming to put the world to rights.
We’ve probably experienced too many Asian night markets and shopping areas. Jonker was refreshingly different. Not ever stall was the same, and there was enough to keep the whole family pleasantly amused.
For the claustrophobic, Jonker street could feel slightly suffocating. Our visit fell on the last day of Chinese New Year. Yes you guessed it, there were processions, dragon dancing and firecrackers everywhere. It was noisy and slightly chaotic. To the parents it added to the excitement but our 8 year found it a little over bearing. Melt downs ensued.
What adds to the charm of Melaka, is it’s steeped history that’s been forged through British, Dutch and Portuguese occupation.
Early evening, we took a leisurely stroll around the river. Minus the H&M store and a couple of other eye sores, the scenery is quite memorising. Littered around the banks, you will discover a host of makeshift bars, each one carries a unique, endearing quality.
If wildlife is your thing (our boys love it), the river is home to some interesting water life – giant lizards. When I say lizards, they had the demeanour of lazy dinosaurs. They were oblivious to our shrieks of excitement and continuous camera clicks – basking on rocks can be serious business.
The next day, we slipped into lazy holiday mode, Our initial plan was to go on a temple tour, We opted for a gentle stroll and a history lesson on board a beautifully restored Portuguese sailing ship.
The afternoon was spent eating the kind of tapas food that wouldn’t go amiss in a rural Spanish café. We washed our patatas bravas down with snappy sangria and tarty virgin mojitos.
And like that, it was time to keep moving.
We ended up hiring a taxi cab for the long drive back to KL. The Sunday night traffic was cumbersome. But we all agreed that Melaka was a lovely break. One we should have explored more, but it doesn’t always work like that.