|Michael Sullivan Online|
SINGAPORE - 11 July 2003 - We arrived in Melaka at about 12:30 in the afternoon. From the bus terminal area, we found our way to the Hotel Puri. It's a nice boutique hotel formerly owned by a wealthy plantation owner. After checking in, we walked to the main historic area. On the way there, we had the famous chicken rice ball at Famosa Chicken Rice Ball. We saw Christ Church, a 250 year old Anglican church. It's architecture is superb. It has handmade pews and ceiling beams without joints. Next door is the Stadthuys, once the official residence of the Dutch governors. There's a museum in of History and Ethnography there that we skipped. From there, we climbed the hill to St. Paul's Church that offered a great view of the city and to the ocean. This church was visited many times by St. Francis Xavier. It has huge (tall as me) tombstones spread throughout the uncovered church. There were people selling handicrafts especially reproductions of malay photos that are hand painted with color. After spending some time enjoying the breeze up there, we made our way down the hill to the A'Famosa. The A'Famosa was part of a fortress built by the Dutch in 1511. There are cannons out front pointing to the distant sea. Just next door is the Sultanate Palace, a wooden replica house with a museum. It is well worth the RM2 ($USD 0.50) entry that they charge. Inside there are displays of traditional Malay dress and more broadly malay culture.
We were quite thirsty and pretty tired so we headed to the local shopping mall. Did I mention that it was air conditioned? After a Coke at McDonald's, we did a bit of shopping. The Reject Shop had some cool stuff. Nothing like Tommy Hilfigger stuff with the inside tag cut out.
Afterwards, we wanted to go on a river cruise but we couldn't get enough people to go so it was cancelled. We went back to the hotel for a badly needed shower and a rest. For supper, we walked passed St. Francis Xavier Church to this little local place. WE went to the best known and first satay chelop plac. They have peanut oil with peanuts cooking in a pot in the table. You pick out meat and veggies from a cooler and bring them back to your table (pork, chicken, shrimp, etc.) and cook them in the pot. Later, they brought out some full-sized prawns. It was all so good and we were absolutely stuffed after 25 sticks.
We went back to the hotel and read the history of the city and the hotel in a little museum room in the hotel. We went up to the room to relax and have a cold beer. Sadly, we didn't have a bottle opener and couldn't find anything strong enough to open it off of. Finally, we put the keychain on the table and popped that top off. MMmmmm beer.
The next morning, we took it easy having a leisurely breakfast at the open air courtyard of the hotel; brunch was included in the price of the room. It wasn't too bad. We went back to the room to hang around and waste time mostly by watching TV. We checked out around noon wandered around the China town area near the hotel.
We went to the Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese Temple, which is over 300 years old and is the oldest in the country. It had beautiful ornaments along the roofline as well as on the walls. It had been recently restored and looked great. Down the road was the Kampong Kling Mosque. It has a mixture of influences and is one of the oldest in the country. From the outside, it seemed impressive. Inside was a bit more plain and the lime green carpet didn't help. In any case, it was quite interesting. We walked by the Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple, a Hindu temple. The architecture was pretty interesting from the outside as it was closed. Along the way, we'd stopped in little shops that sold things like art, bound-feet shoes (for displaying), souvenirs, etc.
We went to Nancy's Kitchen for lunch. They serve very good Nyonya food. (Nyonya food is a cross of Malay and Chinese food.) We had a full meal of various dishes that filled us up. In addition, we got 2 boxes of pineapple tarts for the road that were absolutely fabulous. The last thing we did in Melaka was visit the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum. It's a private museum owned by a family that had lived there for a LONG time. They've left all their heirlooms in there that made it look like it did around 1900. There some exquiste furniture from all around the world. Things like mother of pearl inlaid wood chair set and embroidery that is so fine that it looks like a painting. They even had 100 year old scotch. The house is huge. The cooking are was so big; I can't imagine needing so much space for cooking a meal. Overall, it was well worth the visit. It included a guided tour that was a bit robotic at times. Afterwards, we walked back to our hotel (just down the street) to pick up our luggage and then walked back to catch our bus. We took a Supercoach back to Singapore. It was much nicer than the other bus and had lots more room.