Long bus rides aren’t that bad. Waiting in customs for hours is. After the wonderful experience of going through the customs in Singapore and then doing it again in Malaysia, after 5-ish hours we were in Melaka. The first thing we noticed was how truly expensive Singapore was when comparing it to Malaysia. Once we got over the fact that a plate of food could cost a couple dollars (or less as we found out later) we made our way to the Guesthouse.
Weekend Night Market
Lucky for us we arrived in Melaka on a Saturday night, the perfect night to experience the Night Market. We dropped our stuff and quickly head out. Describing any market in Southeast Asia is probably very similar – overwhelming, but in the best kind of way. This market is probably comparatively small to those we will see in Thailand, but nonetheless it seemed huge to us. We did the market the right way and bought every kind of food that seemed good as we walked. While we did experience some great food and enjoyed the simple pleasure of drinking watermelon from a watermelon, it is way more fun to talk about the one thing we tried that made Shannon jump up and run to find something else to put in her mouth. Oh the Durian. Did you really go to Malaysia if you didn’t eat Durian? First thing that hits you when you see the fruit is the smell. And it hits you. Hard. But plenty of things smell bad but end up tasting bad…right? As Collin repeatedly said; “its like brussel sprouts, those smell bad but taste great.” Durian are not that. To not offend those that might love Durian, maybe its an acquired taste that has to grow on you… Anyway, we tried it in Ice Cream form because how bad can ice cream be? Instead of me trying to describe the taste, I’ll let everyone experience it for themselves one day. The one thing I regret is not filming Shannon as she ate it and having video of her face of disgust mixed with hate for us making her try it. Maybe our next frog porridge or chicken feet adventure will work out better.
Walking around the city
We started our day with some history and culture courtesy of the Baba and Nyonya Heritage House. We took a guided tour of this house turned into museum and learned more about this culture than I could’ve imagined. Unfortunately, pictures were not permitted in the house but if you ever catch yourself in Melaka it is a must see. A cool fun fact is that they did not use nails in any of their architecture because nails were only for coffins and therefore implied death. After finally understanding what Nyonya is (I was seeing that word everywhere) we picked a lunch place on the street based on what place had the most people. We did not know what we were ordering or what we were eating but ended up with this soup. I seemed to be the only one that enjoyed it but everyone found something in this sour, spicy, seafood concoction that they liked. After pondering why the hottest places in the world love spicy food (specifically spicy soup) so much we made our way to the Dutch square and St. Paul Church.
Both were interesting but not cool enough to hold our short attention spans. Instead we held a photo shoot next to some cannons, one of which was strategically aimed away from the river and towards the city. At this point we still had half the day in front of us so what else could we do but rent a bike and just go.
Bikes are the way to do Melaka
We grabbed our bikes and headed to the Portuguese settlement, a 20 minute bike ride out of the city centre. Expecting a cool, vibrant little town we ended up with a ghost of a town. It had potential but there was barely any signs of life when we got there. We later found out that a Sunday at 3pm is not the best time to go to a Catholic centered neighborhood. However, with no people comes great possibilities. We took full advantage and wandered out to a wooden structure that definitely could’ve fallen with any step and then found some puppies under a car where the Dad was kind of close to biting and attacking us by the end. Regardless, the wooden house was cool and the puppies were adorable. After biking through all the streets we made our way to a mosque on a little island (connected by bridge). This was after stopping at a random food place and having our lives changed by Kopi (magic coffee) and simple chicken and rice (with magic hot sauce) for ~2 dollars each. The mosque was beautiful. We planned this perfectly, because now we got to ride back to town on practically highways while it was getting dark! All the while trying to figure out how to get back. Collin and I were having a blast trying to navigate the streets, not so sure about Shannon though because every time I looked back to check she had seemed to be a little (read as a lot) worried. She claims that’s her “focus face”. Anyway, the local people on scooters and motorcycles seemed to think we were either crazy or awesome, cause they were always laughing and saying hi to us! We ended the night with an Indian restaurant where they made the Tandoori Chicken and Naan in clay ovens in front of us. I don’t think I need to describe how amazing that was.
Melaka in a Durianshell
Melaka absolutely deserves a full day and ideally a night at the market. Spending another day would have had us twiddling our thumbs or trying to play chess with only basic knowledge (i.e. How the pieces move). Starting out with a cultural and historical reference and then ending the day taking bikes outside the city center was the perfect way to do it.