Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cultural Melacca

We made arrangements to take a bus from Melacca to Singapore. The late afternoon bus gave us an opportunity to walk around the area where our hotel was and we decided to visit a large hill area where the oldest Chinese cemetery outside of China is located.The cemetery dates back to the Ming dynasty and we figured it would at least provide us with a great view of the city. Little did we know the gravesites were unlike any we have ever seen. Tucked into the hillside the tombs were fascinating.And we were right about the view from the top of the cemetery hill, providing a commanding view of Little India part of Malacca.Equally as interesting was the Islamic/Muslim cemetery at the bottom of the hill, a complete contrast to the ancient Chinese cemetery.We soon made our way down to Little India for a little shopping before we headed to Singapore and one last glimpse of this unique city and country.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Colonial Melacca

On our last day in Melacca we decided to see the historical sites of the town. First up was St. Paul’s Hill and St. Paul’s Church.Originally built as a Portuguese Catholic Church, a century later the Dutch turned the area into a burial ground for Dutch nobility.Perched on top of a hill providing a much needed breeze from the ocean and views of Melacca below.The church is extremely well preserved with only the walls and entrance remaining. It was a beautiful and serene historic site to visit.Even more impressive was the ruins of the Portuguese fortress A’Famosa. Severely destroyed by the Dutch, the remaining building is incredibly well preserved example of the once dominant Portuguese architecture in the area.All the hill climbing in high humidity made us hungry, so we headed towards a hawker’s center on the other side of the hill.Hawkers’ centers are like open-air food courts and are more organized and governed in Malaysia and Singapore than in Thailand or Vietnam. Our goal was to try some Portuguese/Malay cuisine, in particular a dish called Debal Curry or Devil’s Curry. We unfortunately arrived late in the day and many food stalls were closed.We were even more disappointed when we found a food stall which offered the uniquely local dish.We did find a vendor selling beverages and we ordered something refreshing before perusing the rest of the food stalls.We found a vendor who sold curry laksa, a spicy/sweet coconut curry soup with rice noodles, tofu, shrimp, and fish patties.We aren’t as fond of sweet coconut milk based soups as much as the clear broth based soups, but the coconut milk in this dish enhanced and made the curry more aromatic adding a complexity we hadn’t found in other coconut milk based dishes, a testiment to the unique history of Malacca.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Melacca Love

Since we only had a few days in Malacca we checked into our hotel and headed straight out to see what Melacca had to offer. Armed only with a small map the wonderful staff at our hotel in Penang, we headed towards old town. Immediately we were completely charmed. The colonial times of Portuguese, British, and Dutch rule left its mark on the town’s layout and buildings.With Chinese Lunar New Year coming to an end, the streets of old town were still decorated with red lanterns and Year of the Ox propaganda.Scattered throughout the old town area were beautiful Buddhist temples.We soon found ourselves along the riverfront.We found an outdoor cafĂ© selling Malay specialties, and more importantly beers and an assortment of beverages.This fresh kiwi drink was one of the best fresh juices concoctions we had the whole trip, made with fresh kiwis and soda water it was delicious.As the evening got dark we made our way home completely mesmerized by the quaint city of Melacca.We soon came upon a scene that reminded us we are still in SE Asia. A group of motorscooter riders and various shopkeepers in the Little India part of Melacca had all gathered at the local video store to watch the latest release. We sat and watched in amusement at the simplicity of the scene and how lucky we were to be here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Melacca Bling

We really like Melaka, no scratch that, we REALLY like Melaka.
Going off a suggestion from an Australian tourist, luring us with tales of great food we left Kuala Lumpur and made our way south. Melaka or Melacca was occupied by the Portuguese, Dutch, and British, with influences that can seen in its cuisine, architecture, and people.

Post colonial/WWII Melacca has turned into a charming tourist town since its once thriving shipping and port business moved to Kuala Lumpur just north and Singapore to the south. Named after the famous melaka trees in the area by a Sultan Prince, Melacca is a designated world heritage city with a charming riverfront area, an old town area, and the most blinged-out cyclos we’ve ever seen.