When you have a blogger moment, guess the effect lingers for way more than you can think of. Guess my experiences in Malaysia will keep resurfacing in my blog from time to time. Reason - If you travel to a place that feels almost like home and is a history geek’s travel paradise with pinch of modern life and culture, the trip is got to be special. So here I am again, back with the Malaysia ‘Post Rain’ because I have so much to talk about this beautiful country!
I visited the old and the new both in Malaysia. The grandeur and vibrancy of Kuala Lumpur is the heart of Malaysia for sure, but Melaka/Malacca is its soul. The first ruling Sultan of Malaysia was from Melaka and so was Hang Tuah – the most celebrated hero of the Malay history. Melaka was not only one of the most important ports of the world in past but it was the port that lured Merchants from Gujrat to Muscat to Japan to Spain. Post the Portuguese invasion, the Royal Palace was burnt down and since then Melaka has never had a sultan. With time Melaka has lost its elite status after being exploited time and again by different forces (read about it HERE), but its historical aura still is hypnotic to any traveler. Here are the 10 things one must do when in Melaka.
1. Heritage Walk
Melaka is a UNESCO heritage city and heritage walk is a must when in Melaka. The walk starts from Independence Memorial next to which is Porta de Santiago - the only remaining part of the Portuguese Fort of Melaka. Then the climb to St. Paul’s hill leads to the first church of South East Asia and from there you reach the Dutch square (also called the Red Square or Stadthuys) with the British made Victoria Fountain. For the walk – Do Wake Early, cause the sun won’t have mercy on you later.
2. Visit Flora de la Mar Maritime Museum
Flora de la Mar was a 16th century Portuguese Merchant ship that was lost to sea near Sumatra after its conquest of Melacca (the reason of the sinking is rumored to be overloading of the ship with goods from Melacca). A replica of the ship now stands in the city and has been made a museum that tells you tons about the port’s history.
3. The Trishaw Ride
The best way to reach Flora de la Mar is to take a colourful trishaw from the Stadthuys. It is not like trishaws are not common in India, but to take a ride in a super decked up trishaw with joyous drivers and very loud Bollywood music –you do get the picture right? By the way, Salman Khan Songs are loved even in this Malay Town.
4. Experience Royalty
Muzium Kebudayaan aka Melaka Sultanate Palace is a wooden replica of Sultan Mansur Shah’s 15th-century palace. It was constructed in 1985 based on accounts of Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals) text and like the original Palace, this replica too is constructed without nails and supported with carved wooden pillars and features copper and zinc roof. The interior of the structure takes you back in time as it has palace furniture replicas, weapons, jewelry, traditional attires, paintings and installations that let you experience the Malay Royalty. One of the 8 chambers of the palace is dedicated to the tales of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat.
5. Walk the lazy lanes of China, set in Malaysia.
Jonker walk – officially recognized and set in 2010, is the oldest Chinese settlement of Melaka and as of today the most famous shopping center of the area too. The sleepy lanes bordered by traditional Peranakan and Chinese houses, Chinese temples, and cozy cafes, is a must visit! And yes shopping – need I say more? Weekdays the street goes into slumber by 5:30 in the evening, but weekends are when one can actually pull a night out there. The whole area beams up with life and Jonker Night Walk Market it the cheapest market with quality you wouldn’t want to miss.
6. Feel the cultures
Next to Jonker, are Heeran street and Harmony street which if you do not visit when in Melaka, would be criminal! These two lanes are the true glimpse of Malaysia truly Asia. From a Mosque to Chinese temple to a Hindu temple in one lane, to a Perankan House Museum and Chinese House Shop in another, these lanes are the essence of the cultural diversity Malaysia flaunts. And for the European touch be sure to take the river cruise.
7. Be a Bird
Menara Taming Sari is an 80M high tower with a moving, rotating glass cabin that gives a 360 deg. bird’s eye view of the whole town. And the panoramic view of the Straits of Melaka is the best part. The whole tower trip is totally worth the entry fees.
8. Explore the straits of Melaka
Take the Duck Tower to explore the turquoise Straits of Melaka. Duck tour is a land water vehicle that was a war machine during the world wars but later was modified to let the visitors get close to the waters that are not ‘fit for a dip’ (that is what we were told and I am still wondering why cause the water is so Clear!)
9. Have Indian Lunch on Banana Leaf
In Little India – another corner of the town – is a little restaurant called Selvam. This restaurant is neither air conditioned nor does it have the 5 star feel but still is listed as the best authentic restaurant of Melaka in tripadvisor. Guess that says plenty about the place. So if you love indian food be sure to have lunch here!
10. Shop till you drop!
Melaka has 2 Megamalls – Dataran Pahlawan and Makhota Parade, right next to each other and they are mega not only in variety but in size too. One would imagine a mall to have high end expensive stuff but don’t worry these have something for everyone just be sure your heels don’t bother you or visit with sport shoes on. To explore the malls it would take you 3 to 5 hours atleast 2:30 if you are not a shopping person at all. Lucky for me, my hotel was right next to Dataran Pahlawan Megamall so the 2 days in Melaka meant 2 visits to the malls!
This was ofcourse my list, you can explore beyond this list if you have time. Melaka is a laid back town that wouldn't disappoint your explorer alter ego I am sure.