There weren’t too many domestic spots left on our travel list, but Malacca was glaring at us from the top of the pile.  It was the travel that was daunting to us.  With direct flights from Penang currently on hold, we would have to brave the 6-hour highway ride to enjoy what we felt promised to be little more than a mini-Penang.  Last week, the stars aligned (Tim & Miles were out of pages in their passports so a trip to KL was in order, plus grandma Linda was in Penang to babysit kids, plus a random Tuesday public holiday) and we (Tim and I only) got in the car at 5am on Monday and headed south. We drove four hours to the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and by 1pm we were back in the car for the quick 1.5 hour skip to Malacca.

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We were right on one count, Malacca is small.  The main drag is about 2 miles long and caters mostly to tourists.  The city can be best explored on foot, and Tim and I revisited our past travel lives by spending our time walking walking walking. Down the main Jonker Street and through the little alleys full of homestays and shops selling flip flops and batik clothing; up along the muraled river walk that extended way beyond where the 2008 Lonely Planet said it ended; down to the coast and then an entire morning up and around the old forts on the south of the city.  Lanes were narrow and the weather was perfect.

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Good thing walking makes one hungry because the other thing to do in Malacca is eat!  We had two very notable meals: the best ever tandoori chicken at road-side unassuming Pak Putra and a Nyonya meal at Nancy’s that left me with dreams of spicy lady’s fingers…and that Popiah!  We filled in the gaps with the famous chicken rice ball, pineapple tarts and cendol, cendol, cendol.  Kid-free, we booked a very nice room with a very big jacuzzi (then proceeded to talk about how much the kids would have loved the bath tub).  We had total relaxation under the mosquito net at Courtyard @ Heeren.

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While the food did impress even us foodie Penangites, what’s most striking about Malacca is its rich history and role in the development of Malaysia.  The port city changed hands from Hindus to Chinese Muslims (building the Baba Nyonya heritage) to Portuguese to Dutch to British and finally hosted the Merdeka celebrations for Malaysia’s independence in the 1950s.  Each culture left their ruins, developments, culture and cuisine making it a truly interesting destination.  We loved Malacca and are so glad to have gotten a chance to experience it!

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