RENDANG is available in abundance throughout the month of Hari Raya celebrations. With lots of open houses, some of us are left to de...
KL was giving me a splitting headache and I needed to get out pretty fast - just for a day. I didn’t want to go far, but far enough so I could get a different perspective and clear my head. So Melaka, the next town over was a good choice for this quick getaway.
The Melaka River is 10 kilometres long. It flows through Melaka town and was a vital trade route during the heydays of Melaka Sultanate in the 15th century. Now, you can take a leisurely stroll along the river on the boardwalk and stop by the many restaurants for delicious local delicacies and beverages. The Melaka River Cruise is also another new popular tourist attraction.
So, what do you do in Melaka for just one night? Well, I checked into a boutique hotel by the river and then took a short walk along Jonker Street in search of dinner. Curious, I surveyed the street vendors and absorbed the sights and sounds of a busy and hot Melaka night.
A man selling dried fruit tea tried to explain to me the benefits of each and every one of his products - lemon for weight loss, ginger for an upset tummy and so on. There were so many he had to give me a pamphlet so I would remember it all. Impressed by his efforts, and trying to support local products, I bought a few flavours I figured I would brew them later at home.
Jonker Night Market is full of handicraft and souvenir items. As a Malaysian, I find these commonplace and walked past most stalls. Tourists, however, will find that these items will be great to take home as gifts.
When Jonker Night Market winds down, vendors hurry to pack up as the street, closed to cars during market hours, opens up for vehicles once again. This is when the crowd starts to gather at the many bars opened until the late. Tourists and locals congregate, buzzing with talk and laughter, while music emanates from each establishment. I went back to sleep.
The next day was a bright and sunny day in Melaka. I didn’t drive out as everywhere I needed to go was within walking distance. Present day Jonker is now home to antique shops, handicraft stores, restaurants and colourful trishaws. Be prepared for a flurry of activities and bring lots of small change for titbits while you explore.
Melaka is modern and old merged into one. Take a turn up an alley and you could be transported to historic Melaka with its still existing original architecture. Take another turn, a modern establishment such as Hard Rock Café might greet you. With delicious food and incredible sights, Melaka is by far one of my favourite states.
What are you waiting for? Get in your car and drive to Melaka now.
Melaka Water Wheel
The Melaka Malay Sultanate Water Wheel: This replica wheels was completed in 2008 and serves to represent the glory of Melaka. This grand tourist hotspot is a favourite backdrop for holiday goers.
Jalan Hang Jebat
Jonker Walk, or Jalan Hang Jebat, is a street in the historical Chinatown. It is situated right across the river and on both sides of the road stand heritage houses that date all the way back to the 17th century.
Melaka architecture is not as loud as the grand structures of the world. However, its magic lies the details. It is a tasteful blend of Dutch architecture and Asian sensitivities. Even these old window panes exude the charm and history of years gone by.
Gi Kiat Huat Melaka
Walk through the narrow doors at Gi Kiat Huat and you will find throngs of people waiting in line with barely a seat in the house. But once you try their noodles and desserts, you will understand that sharing a table with a complete stranger adds to the experience of this quaint restaurant. Look out for the old US hundred dollar bills on the wall!
Cendol Gula Melaka
Glorious cendol! A bowlful of shaved ice, green jelly noodles, thick delicious coconut milk and gooey palm sugar (or known to most Malaysias as Gula Melaka) poured generously over the shaved ice. Try this at Gi Kiat Huat. It’s guaranteed you’d want to come back for more.
This strange looking metal contraption is actually a popsicle-maker. It turns sugared water into ice-lollies. The vendor puts the lid on and shakes the contents back and forth. When she unveils the lid - voila! – the popsicles are ready.
Peranakan Chinese shop
The Peranakan Chinese - also known as Baba Nyonyas - are descendants of 15th century Chinese immigrants who assimilated into the local culture. They used to ply their trade on this street. Now, there are still a few quaint shops in the area. However, certain parts of Jonker Street has not escaped the effects ofmodernization.
Sotong Bakar Melaka
Don’t forget to sample the sotong bakar (roasted dried squid) at this stall. Let your nose lead you to this friendly seller who will let you sample many of his wares. The sweet and smoky taste of the roasted dried squid is a favourite among Malaysians. But beware, the smell can be a bit overpowering. So take the challenge, and taste it!
Love Lock Jonker Street
Jonker Street is filled with so many surprises around every corner. This is a small and local version of the ‘love lock’ where sweethearts place their padlocks and make wishes. Travelling alone, I guess I’ll skip this goodie and proceed to the next surprise.
Take a ride down Jonker Street on a multi-coloured trishaw and let your tired feet rest. This is a favourite among lovebirds as they take in the romance of Melaka from the comfort of the trishaw’s seat.
Pickled Mangoes Melaka
For those who feel a little puckish, you can try these pickled mangoes. Slightly sweet with just the right the amount of tartness, these will satisfy almost any craving for a quick fresh snack.
Kedai Kopi Chung Wah
The Chicken Rice Ball is highly recommended. Many who visit the town make it a point seek out famous Melaka delicacy. This delicacy is the traditional Chicken Rice with a twist. Savoury bite-sized balls of rice are served with a side of steamed or boiled chicken. Fair warning to all: the size of a ball of rice is quite deceiving. A little goes a long way. Queues get long so bring a parasol to provide you with some shade from the sun while you wait.
Chicken Rice Ball Melaka Lunch
Chicken Rice Balls: these flavourful balls of rice cooked in rich chicken stock can also be enjoyed with side dishes such as chili salted squid and local fresh sautéed vegetables.
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