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Malaysia: Melaka

sunny 33 °C
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We had one night's stay in a hotel near to KL airport after arriving back from Borneo. The hotel is called YOUniq (clever I know) and we were in the female dorm. Unusually (and brilliantly) the dorm was empty so we had the whole area, as well as the shared bathroom to ourselves. We were a little gutted we only had a few hours in there. Taking advantage of the privacy I enjoyed prancing around naked until Lauren mentioned that there may be security cameras. What a kill-joy.
At breakfast we got chatting to a nice Kiwi guy who was travelling around Malaysia. He later told us that he is 86 years old and his eldest son is 63. What a hero.

We got a shuttle bus back to the airport where we got on our coach to Melaka (aka Melacca); our last stop in Malaysia. Melaka is a state on the Malaysian peninsula and another UNESCO world heritage site, Just like our dorm room, the bus was also empty; just us and a Chinese girl. On top of us having free range of the seats we also discovered that the chairs had inbuilt massaging features. We could fully recline AND have our backs gently vibrated.

During the 2 hour journey the heavens opened and an almighty grey cloud took over the sky. There was actually something quite nice and cosy about being on the bus and watching the rain drip down the windows. It also helps that the Malaysian drivers seem to be quite safe.
We made it to Old Town guesthouse and were welcomed by the lovely host Chua who had loads of tips and advice for us. The guesthouse is on the first floor sandwiched between a closed vegetarian restaurant (damn) and a Chinese duck place. It's a huge, open-plan accommodation with around 20 rooms and a massive kitchen//dining/lounge area. There are paintings of Melaka all over the walls and ceilings and paintings of different cities around the world for each of the rooms. We got the Tokyo room. Chua told us we were the only guests so we had the run of the place.
After settling in and swinging on the hanging rattan chairs we toddled up the road for lunch at Hui Yuan restaurant; which turned out to be one of the, if not the best vegetarian buffet we've ever had. We knew we'd definitely be back there.

Walking around Melaka we are both reminded of Penang; the lack of pavements, the two-storey old colonial buildings with shutters and archways at the front and the Little India and Chinatown. Unlike Penang though, Melaka is very quiet; there aren't many people walking or driving around and it's certainly nowhere near as gentrified - which is nice.

That night (it being a Sunday), we walked to the weekend night market for a wander around. There were plenty of stalls selling the usual rubbish; fake toys, cheap jewellery, clothes that would never fit a Westerner and street food and drinks. Some of the more interesting street food included turnip cake (law bok gow), durian puffs (and durian everything), hash browns made of stuck-together fries and rolls of ice cream.
Towards the end of Jonker Street was a big stage with clunky instrumental backing tracks playing loudly out to the shoppers and nearby residents. This it seems is where elderly Malay and Chinese tourists sing their favourite songs on karaoke.

We didn't buy anything at the market (besides some fried snacks but that goes without saying) but we did enjoy soaking up the weekly event along with the locals and Asian tourists, especially when it started raining and everyone scurried away as quick as cockroaches while we enjoyed the cooling-affect. To end the night we treated ourselves with a Guinness, beer and a Skype with mummy Una.

For our first full day we woke up hungry for breakfast (as per) and realised we'd left our food bag on the coach from Kuala Lumpur. Not only did it have our precious oats and seeds in it, but also a box of Malaysian black tea, Vitamin C tablets AND the pink princess bowl I've been carrying around with me since India. We were a little saddened at our loss but in the grand scheme of things we've been incredibly lucky with bags thus far so we really should count our blessings. Rather some chia seeds than our passports - even if it does affect our regularity.
We managed to find some oats in a shop nearby fairly easily and after filling up we walked into Melaka town to the Maritime museum. The museum was within a replica of the old 16th century Portuguese ship Flor de La Mar. It was moderately interesting but to be honest I just wasn't in the mood for maritime history stories and artefacts. There were some hilarious uses of clip-art on show though which kept me entertained.
Saturated in sweat we leisurely strolled around a bit more of the town looking at the old semi-crumbled fort and the few churches.

Later in the afternoon, on a recommendation from Chua, we made our way to Restoran Capitol Satay which was around the corner form our guesthouse. There's only one thing you can get at this restaurant; satay celup. Basically you're sat at a metal table-come-stove that has a huge pot of satay sauce/gravy in the middle of it. The restaurant is self-serve so you have to pick your 'stick' of goodies (there's all sorts including bok choi, plenty of meat, tofu, mushrooms and quail eggs), bring them back to your table and plop them into your satay pot for cooking. Periodically a worker comes over to stir and re-season your gravy with crushed nuts, spices and chilli. You also get a plate of cucumber and white bread cubes (for soaking up excess gravy) as standard. Each stick cost approx. 20p so as you can imagine we piled our trays pretty high.
I bloody LOVE nuts and anything nut-flavoured so satay has always been a big favourite of mine. Needless to say the satay celup satisfied almost every fibre of my being (just not my waistline).
Apparently this type of cuisine can only be found in Melaka so we felt pretty lucky to have had the experience (as it's not always open), even if there was some confusion about what we were supposed to do because to the language barrier.

For a little pre-bed snack later on we popped to the hawker stall opposite us to get one of our Malaysian favourites; popiah. It was by far the best popiah we've ever had - but we think this might have been because of the deep-fried chicken skin we discovered near the end of our consumption - whoops.

Creatures of habit (especially when it comes to eating), we returned to Hui Yuan veggie café to buy food for our long-ish bus ride to Singapore the following day. I also treated myself to a chlorophyll juice that I was expecting to taste like swamp weeds but was actually surprisingly yummy.
We spent the rest of our final day walking along Melaka's river; checking out the street art and watching the empty cruise-boats go by. We stopped at a few places including a closed mini-theme park and a mall and took plenty of pretty pictures. It could have been Cambridge.
On our way back we browsed some independent shops most notably a little antique store where we didn't make any purchases but did have a laugh chatting with the shopkeeper and his mates about England and of course, football.

That evening we found another veggie restaurant close by and stuffed our faces with soup and wontons; contemplating the end of our Asian adventure and the inevitable sadness that will ensue as a result. But there's one last (brief) stop before the land of the kangaroos; Singapore.

Posted by advensha 02:23 Archived in Malaysia Tagged jonker_street unique river malaysia beautiful penang karaoke street_art colonial maritime_museum river_cruise hotpot southeast_asia melaka steamboat riverside picturesque malay durian night_market street_food melacca old_town_guesthouse lost_bag flor_de_la_mar satay_celup capitol_satay popiah melaka_river

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