We have a solid night’s sleep under our belt to start our weekend in Melaka, interrupted only by waking up to what I assumed was another day on my trek to the south pole, but which transpired to be merely aircon set too low.
The stark realisation of our cell like existence dawns on us and we are irritable and ready for a quick breakfast. Just as well I’ve chosen a place that is 15 minutes walk away and you need to queue for 20 minutes to get a table.
The Most Important Meal of the Day is today hosted by The Daily Fix on Jalan Hang Jebat.
Located at the back of a souvenir shop, this is a modern cafe set in a beautiful colonial building, getting the balance right between rustic, ‘rustic’, and charming. This is (by Malaysian standards) an expensive place to breakfast (around 14RM for a plate of pancakes), and after we wait for a table, we order coffee and pancakes. One of the breakfasts appeared to have been forgotten about, but I’ll save the TripAdvisor whingeing for another time, because the pancakes were exceptional.
I had ‘espresso pancakes’; a stack of fresh pancakes, with a scoop of ice cream on top, accompanies by an espresso. If there’s a better breakfast to start a weekend in Melaka, I’d be stunned.
HPY had banana pancakes served with banana and syrup, and the children had the same, shared.
Everybody was delighted. The pancakes were light and fluffy, the portions good, and the coffee was wonderfully smooth and aromatic. A triumph of a breakfast.
Refueled and revitalised, we all start to feel a bit better. With this newly-found energy, we bimble up to Dutch Square, to have a selfie with the ‘I Love Melaka’ sign and to admire the impressive terracotta-red colonial Dutch buildings from the 1660s. This is one of the oldest part of Melaka and it sports an ornate Victorian marble fountain at it’s heart (to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee).
The Stadthuys commands the south side of the square and is reportedly the oldest Dutch building in the east. We admire the impressive Christ Church and decide to go in to have a look around. It’s not that interesting inside, truth be told. The beams in the ceiling are each cut from a single tree, which was interesting, but we struggled to get excited otherwise. We leave and pass many ‘trishaws’ as they congregate, looking for fares.
The trishaws are (for better or worse) a key part of the atmosphere of Melaka. They are bicycle-powered rickshaws which will transport you around the city giving a commentary of the sights. A traditional mode of transportation, the trishaws have moved with the times and are decorated with all manner of decorations including lights, soft toys, flowers, and some sport large speakers playing ‘colourful’ music. A busy weekend in Melaka means lots of trishaws.
Many have specific themes, including Pokemon, Hello Kitty, and other cartoon characters. The trishaws split opinion. Some see them as a fun way of preserving a tradition in a way that has transcended tacky and cheap, and others see them as just that: tacky, loud and cheap. Whatever your thoughts, they’re colourful and add a smile to the face of visitors who like them, and vomit in the mouth of visitors who don’t.
We walk away from Christ Church and round to the left, passing the police station and hotel Aldy. Everything is quieter here. It’s a sort-of pedestrianised area, with historic buildings on the left, and green spaces on the left. The only disturbances are the birds, chatting couples, and the auditory assault of trishaws blaring some god-awful music into the atmosphere as they complete circuits of the historic centre.
It’s pretty hot and we stop by a shady playpark. It’s literally shady, not figuratively.
The children play then we head further round further, to admire A Famosa, a former Portuguese fortress, reputedly one of the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Southeast Asia.
It’s increasingly mid day sun time so we seek solace from the extreme heat in the mall. As we enter, my auditory exhalation of joy reduces a passing resident to fits of giggles. I don’t care. It’s cool here and I’m not leaving for at least 45 minutes.
There’s no elevators (a recurring theme) so we continue to hone our pushchair-on-the-escalator skills (child removed). We cool off, get some bits of shopping, and grab some food (delicious asam laksa, a very spicy, tangy noodle broth) and rehydrate.
There’s some sort of kids club display on in the central area, which my two quickly destroy, and we swiftly exit. I get a takeaway coffee and we settle in another large, green area next to the mall which is shaded by large, old trees, and which has lots of play equipment for little people.
Plenty of shade
It’s cooler here, and we enjoy the wildlife, including some beautiful, brightly-coloured birds, and a rather large monitor lizard. Ice lollies are purchased.
After heading back to get refreshed, we go in search of a speciality of Melaka: chicken rice balls. This is a traditional Haianese dish, adapted slightly to become a classic food of this UNESCO World Heritage site city. The rice is cooked in a chicken broth, then shaped into balls and steamed, before being served with steamed or roasted chicken.
We wander through the Jonker street market, taking in the sights and sounds. It’s a really vibrant, busy place selling seemingly everything. There is the usual collection of tat but the crafty things, and particularly the FOOD, are really impressive. Unlike the Petaling Street market in KL, we are not hassled at all here. There’s a really nice atmosphere. Thoughts return to dinner. After an aborted visit to one restaurant (they’d run out of the signature dish), we settled in ‘Malacca Jonker Street Chicken Rice Balls’ restaurant. The name could do with a bit of work but it was busy so we headed in.
Roast and steamed chicken
The service was quick and the food was pretty good. The chicken was tender and tasty, while the rice balls were soft and delicious. One gripe would be that the rice balls could probably have been a bit bigger or a bit cheaper; we needed more than ten to meet our appetite. All in all though, a success. PY Jr Jr woke up just as we were leaving, so we got some rice balls to go, which were wolfed down.
the end of our weekend in melaka: chores
Our last night of our weekend in Melaka the city, we did some washing at the launderette, then sat with the laptop trying to make either head or tail of the bus situation and how we get to Cherating. It appears that during ramadan the buses are much less regular, only maybe one per hour into Melaka Sentral, and they don’t start until 9am or so. That’s what we were told by the bar staff at the hotel. But then a different bar staff told us differently, then the web told us something else still. Confused and a bit stressed, we weigh up various options, including sacking off Cherating all together. The best option seems to be to not book the cross-country bus from Melaka Sentral, and to get up at stupid o’clock tomorrow morning, trek half and hour to a bus stop I’ve read about on an old TripAdvisor forum, HOPE for a bus to Melaka Sentral, then HOPE we can get on a cross-country bus to Kemaman (5 hours or so) and HOPE that the bus driver lets us off in Cherating (it’s not a scheduled stop).
Tomorrow is going to be FUUUUUUUN.
I head out down the Jonker street market and pick up some of another Melaka speciality; little pineapple tarts, as well as some miscellaneous treats I can’t quite identify, for breakfast. Some of them may be meat. Meat surprise. We’ll find out tomorrow. Another unknown to lol about further down the line, no doubt.
Today’s spend: 481RM (£90). We bought a new portable speaker, some bits at the pharmacy, food for the bus tomorrow, and had a beer at the bar, so high spend today!
Ready for more? Read day 8 here, where we travel across the country, to Cherating!