Monday Travel Memories: From the streets of Melaka in Malaysia.
Welcome to the series on my blog called Monday Travel Memories where I flip through old travel photos and memories from the last 10 years. I’ll talk a bit about the location (or what I can remember) and share some tips.
Stay tuned for the next Monday Travel Memories post. See you on Monday but not every Monday.
From the streets of Melaka in Malaysia
While Nepal and Sri Lanka are tied in first place when it comes to favourite countries, Malaysia – without a doubt – falls under the top three with its vibrant and modern capital to small islands, green tea-growing highlands and arty towns.
And thanks to diverse and colourful architecture – with Chinese, Indian, Arab and European influences – I fell hook, line, pillar and tile for one of those artsy towns, Melaka.
How beautiful are these floor tiles?
Melaka (or Melacca) is known as the historic state and before it became such a big favourite among tourists, and a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2008, it served as one of Southeast Asia’s greatest trading posts in the 15th century along the spice-route.
In the 14th century it was merely a fishing village, but then came the colonial control from the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English. The influence is still visible in the city’s street names and the iconic red architecture of the Stadthuys and Christ Church of Melaka in the red square as well as the ruins of St Paul Church.
And it is no wonder that Malaysia’s only architecture museum is located in Melaka. The museum is in the Dutch Square, in a building dating from the 18th century which was built during the period of the Dutch occupation in Melaka.
Things to do in Melaka
The fascinating history, architecture and quirkiness of the shops and street art can easily be explored on foot (or by bicycle). But if you are in need of transport, then opt for a ride in some of the most colourful trishaws you’ll ever lay eyes on.
Here are some of the things you can do while visiting Melaka. The streets are easily navigable; during my visit I just walked aimlessly up and down but always found points of interest and good photo opportunities along the way. If you are visiting, schedule some time for a bit of mindless yet mindful wandering.
Menara Taming Sari: Go up the Sky Tower (Menara Taming Sari) and enjoy a 360 degree bird’s eye view in the revolving structure with glass windows and floor, from a height of 80 meters. Cost is RM13 (R72) per person.
Maritime Museum: Take a step back in time and visit the Maritime Museum which focuses on Melaka’s maritime history and the golden ages of Melaka’s Sultanate as the Emporium of the East. And don’t worry about locating the museum, you will easily spot it thanks to the Flora de Lamar, a Portuguese ship replica, standing outside that is 34 meters in height and 8 meters in width. Cost is RM10 (R31) per person.
River Cruise: Go on a river cruise and spot monitor lizards as well as some incredible graffiti on the riverfront buildings. Boat cruises usually last just under an hour, and is RM18 (R56) per person. It departs from different jetties, but if you visit the Maritime Museum you are just a step away from the Muara Jetty.
River Stroll: While on the river cruise you’ll see colourful mural upon colourful mural on the riverfront buildings. Stroll along the river to get up close and personal to the graffiti that tells the stories of the city’s past and spot monitor lizards along the way.
Jonker Street: The centre street of Melaka’s Chinatown was once known for its antique shops but now it it is filled with clothing and craft stores. Over the weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) there is a night market and the street gets packed with visitors looking for a bite to eat, some souvenirs or a few knick knacks. Go early to avoid the masses.
Dutch Square: Here you don’t have to paint the town red, it is already red! The buildings in the Dutch Square reflects Melaka’s history; there is the Stadthuys and Christ Church (Dutch administration), Queen Victoria’s Fountain (British colonisation) and Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower (Chinese settlers).
St. Paul’s Church, Museums and A’Formosa: Visit the ruins of St. Paul’s Church (built in 1521) that sits atop a hill which was known as the Melaka hill, then the St. Paul’s Hill and then Mary’s Hill (Portuguese). Along the way to the hill you can stop by at the Architecture Museum, Islamic Museum and the Stamp Museum. Close by you’ll also find remains of A’Formasa, a fortress which was built to maintain the Portuguese stronghold across the Far East.
Also visit: Cheng Hoong Teng Temple (built in 1645 and the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia), Villa Sentosa (a Malay living museum), Melaka Straits Mosque and the Kampung Kling Mosque.
How to get to Melaka and around Melaka
There is no airport in Melaka; a bus from Kuala Lumpur will take about 2-3 hours and is roughly around RM13 (R72). Click here to see schedule. The bus will arrive at Melaka Sentral from where you can take a taxi or bus to your hotel.
You’ll see trishaws like you’ve never seen it before.
You can get around the attractions by foot, bicycle or rent a trishaw and negotiate a rate with the trishaw ‘driver’. The Panorama public bus covers various destinations in Melaka, click here to find out more. Taxis are also readily available to flag down if you are covering longer distances or unsure of bus route.
Where to stay in Melaka
There are numerous budget accommodation options in the city but during my visit I stayed at River Song Residence which has private rooms with shared and private bathrooms; it is located on the river, has a common area and the majority of attractions are a 5-10 walk from the budget hotel. Room rates starting at R215 (for 2 people).
* South Africans don’t need a visa for Malaysia, so go discover Malaysia, truly Asia!
Other blog posts about Malaysia:
This is not River Song Residence, just three blue window shutters.
Orangutans are apes native to the rain forests of Borneo and Sumatra of Malaysia and Indonesia but do you know the meaning of the word ‘Orangutan’? In Indonesian and Malay (Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malay) the word ‘orang’ means person and ‘hutan’ means forest.
Have you visited Melaka/Malacca? Comment below and tell me about your experience.
Disclaimer: Entrance fees and exchange rates are subject to change. It was correct at time of writing (January 2018).