Revisiting Melaka, August 2023

The last time that Aric and I have been on a touristic overnight trip, was in 2020. The Covid Lockdown started in Malaysia on 18 March 2020, but there were still limited options to travel. In July we made a trip to the Cameron Highlands and in August we visited Taiping.

In 2022 traveling became possible again, but Aric was busy with his laundry shop and could not take leave easily. Last week we finally managed to make a short 2D1N trip to Melaka. We have visited Melaka often, the last time was with our Chinese friend Dong Dong, in January 2020, before the pandemic started. So it was time to go again.

We left home on Friday 25 August at 5 pm, got caught on our way in a huge traffic jam and arrived in Melaka at 9 pm only. Not a very auspicious start πŸ˜‰ . We had booked a room in the Cheng Ho Residence and that was a very good decision, as the hotel was located in the center of the old town.

After dropping our luggage, we went out again to explore the Jonker Walk, the popular weekend market of Melaka. Not crowded, more pleasant than I expected.

Looking for a place to eat, we first had a snack,; Baked fried cuttlefish. Not everybody will like it, it’s an acquired taste πŸ˜‰

The tomb of Hang Kasturi is located along the Jonker street. He is one of the famous five Malay warriors, who lived in the 15th century and served the Sultan of Melaka. See below for the tomb of Hang Tuah, the most famous of them.

The entrance of the Jonker Walk, with the big stage, where often karaoke singing is performed.

There were still many hawker stalls open, although it was already past 10 pm. Aric selected a variety of dishes, stingray, scallops, oyster omelet and fried rice cake.

After our dinner we walked back, the pasar was starting to close. We passed the well-known Geographer bar (right picture), where I have enjoyed a beer several times in the past.

Melaka has a huge number of trishaws, their bright colors are almost painful to the eyes πŸ˜‰

River views from the bridge, in both directions, also an orgy of colors.

Before going back to our hotel, we had a dessert of “smelly tofu“, another acquired taste.

The restaurant where we wanted to have our breakfast the next morning was on walking distance from our hotel. On our way we passed the Kampung Kling Mosque. As I had visited Melaka so often, I had numerous photos of all the heritage buildings, so I was lazy and hardly took pictures this time.

We had our breakfast in the Pin Pin Hiong Restaurant with oyster mee sua and a prawn omelet. Nice food, friendly service.

The mural art tsunami has not yet reached Melaka, as far as I have noticed this time. Here is a nice one, quite unusual.

After our breakfast we walked back to the town center with the church and the Stadthuys.

Of course I had also my picture taken with a Dutch windmill and a not very Dutch cow. The other picture shows the Chung Wah restaurant, famous for its Hainanese Chicken Rice. We have queued there often, but now we have discovered an even better place, see below.

The Heeren House looks very attractive and has always been on my list of Melaka hotels to try out , but it seems that it is now mainly a restaurant, with negative reviews about the hotel.

Back to our hotel, where we checked out. We stayed on the second floor and our windows opened to the air well. The interiors of the Baba House and the Puri hotel, where we have stayed before, is more interesting, but the location of Cheng Ho is perfect.

Arc had brought his drone and we decided to visit Bukit Cina to take drone videos and pictures, Before we climbed up the hill we had a look at the cenotaph, a memorial for the Japanese occupation. The other picture shows the Hang Li Poh well (the King’s well), with an intriguing history.

A few details of the Sam Po Kong Temple at the foot of Bukit Cina. The right picture shows a statue of admiral Cheng Ho who visited Melaka many times in the 15th century.

Finally we climbed up to Bukit Cina. A Chinese cemetery, very quiet during our visit, maybe because it was the month of the Hungry Ghosts ;-). On the top of the hill a monumental, symbolic grave is well kept

Many other graves are in disrepair. It adds to the atmosphere of the cemetery.

While Aric was “droning”, I enjoyed an (alcohol-free) Heineken beer.

Here is a drone picture of the old town center, with the Christ Church and the Stadthuys..

And this is the old town, surrounded by modern buildings.

Before driving back home we visited the Makam Hang Tuah, in Tanjung Kling, about 10 km west of Melaka town.

Located inside a nice Muslim cemetery and well kept.

A giant grave. The signboards around the tomb tell the story of Hang Tuah .

On our way back home we had no real traffic jam. Hopefully many similar trips will follow, preferably a bit longer and better not during weekends.

Visit Dong Dong, 2020

Last year we came in contact, through WeChat, with Dong Dong, a Chinese from Guangzhou. This resulted in inviting him to visit us in Malaysia, from 8-14 January. How to communicate? For Aric of course no problem, either in Mandarin or in Teochew. I had to use Google Translate, because I don’t speak Chinese and Dong Dong only a little bit of English :-).

On 8 January afternoon we picked him up from the airport. Our plan was to show him, during his short stay, as many tourist attractions as possible. And also to introduce him to as many Malaysian food specialities as we could πŸ™‚

We decided for Hokkien Mee, the first evening. There are two famous Hokkien Mee restaurants in Damansara Uptown, almost next to each other. Tiong was full, so we chose the other one.

We ordered four dishes, all very nice, huge serving of mee, we could not finish it πŸ™‚ . A good introduction to Chinese Malaysian cuisine.

In our chats I had told Dong Dong that I often went to IKEA for my RM 1 breakfast and to meet friends. He was interested , so the next morning we first went to IKEA.

After our breakfast I showed him the Curve shopping center. As CNY was approaching, there was already a festive atmosphere.

I am still not very experienced with taking selfies, but I am making progress.

Back home we waited for Aric, who had been busy in his shop. We had asked Rodney, a UK friends, to join us for a visit to KL. First we had lunch in restaurant Kin Kin, supposedly serving the best Pan Mee in KL. Spicy!

After our lunch we walked in the colonial district of Kuala Lumpur. In my blog KL Heritage I have written extensively about the many gems of architecture that can be found here. During this short walk we only had a look at a few.

Contrasts: from left to right an Art Deco detail of the Central Market, the beautiful “Islamic” Dayabumi building, and the Merdeka 118 tower, the world 2nd largest building when completed.

We visited the Kuala Lumpur gallery and this time were disappointed. The light show at the scale model of Kuala Lumpur was quite boring.

Getting more and more touristic. But there is a nice cafe with delicious (and expensive) durian cream puffs. In the left picture you can see how the future Merdeka 118 building will dwarf the Petronas twin towers.

In the afternoon we went to Ampang and from there we took the road to Ulu Langat. This road crosses the hills and has a viewpoint from where you have a beautiful view of the KL skyline.

Heavy rain at the horizon, but we kept it dry.

A bit farther than this viewpoint a side road leads to the Veg Fish Farm Thai Restaurant, where we had our dinner. Aric and I have been to this romantic place several times, the food is always nice and fresh, the restaurant is surrounded by fishponds.

Here some of the dishes we ordered. Left Thai mango salad, tilapia and lamb. Right sotong (cuttlefish).

There was toddy, one of my favourite drinks. A rewarding end of a successful day!

The next day we left for Melaka, where we arrived around lunchtime. One of the food specialties of Melaka is Hainanese Chicken Rice Balls. The famous shop in the center of town was closed during our last visit, but Aric had found a hidden gem in the outskirts of Melaka, Huang Chang.

We had booked rooms in the Puri Hotel, a Peranakan house in Heeren Street. The interior looks like a museum.

The Puri Hotel has a beautiful facade, and opposite is the even more posh Chee Ancestral Mansion, unfortunately not open to the public.

After checking in, we walked around in the historical center of Melaka, now a Unesco World Heritage site. First we had Cendol at the popular Jonker 88 shop.

Here are two tombs, the left one of Hang Kasturi, the right one of Syamsuddin Al-Sumatrani. Even many locals will not know where this second tomb is located πŸ™‚ .

This is the ruin of Saint Paul’s Church, originally built in 1521 by the Portuguese, the oldest church of Malaysia. Many tombstones, some of them dating back to the time that Melaka was a Dutch colony.

Christ Church and the Stadthuys are the center of the town. The gaudy trishaws are characteristic for Melaka. Always crowded with tourists.

Another food specialty of Melaka is the Satay Celup (Steamboat Satay) and the most famous restaurant for it is Capitol. Often we have been queueing here, waiting for a table. Therefore we decided to have an early dinner and that worked out well πŸ™‚ . You select your sticks from a buffet and dip them in the boiling satay sauce. You pay for the number of sticks used.

After our dinner we walked along the Melaka River. In the past the river was quite dirty and unkept, now it has been cleaned, promenades have been created at both banks of the river. Beautiful led lighting in the evening.

It was Friday evening, the popular Jonker Walk night market was busy with tourist. And, sad to say, getting less interesting every time we visit it. Being a Unesco WHS has its disadvantages. Blacksmith street used to be a street full of old-fashioned workshops. Rent increased, they had to leave and instead came boutique hotels and nyonya restaurants. You can see this all over the town. Pity.

The next morning we enjoyed our buffet breakfast in Puri and checked out.

Before leaving Melaka we visited a number of places of worship. Buddhist temples, a Hindu shrine and a Mosque are all located near each other in what is sometimes called Harmony street (mistakenly suggesting that there are no conflicts between the various religions in Malaysia).

The Straits of Melaka mosque is located a bit outside the historical center, you have to go by car, but it is worth the effort. Another example of what is called a floating mosque. A modern building, the opening ceremony was in 2006.

Then it was time to go back to Kuala Lumpur. It was a very short visit, I have written several times about Melaka, here is an earlier report: Melaka Minitrip March 2013.

We arrived back in KL around 3 pm, Aric was busy that afternoon, he dropped us at the Kelana Jaya LRT station, from where we took a train to KLCC.

A visit to Malaysia is not complete without the Petronas Twin Towers πŸ™‚ . I chose the most impressive approach, walking through the shopping center, taking the exit to the park and the lake, then asking Dong Dong to turn around and look up.

The towers are so high that from that location it is difficult to take good pictures. We walked around the lake to take better shots

We walked to the wading pool, only for children, but refreshing to watch.

Of course everything was already in Chinese New Year mood. In front of KLCC a Chinese pagoda was constructed with the signs of the Chinese zodiac. We are both Monkeys and asked a friendly gentleman to take our picture with our sign πŸ™‚

Lots of decorations inside the shopping center, of course with images of the Rat (Mouse) everywhere, the sign of the coming New Year.

From the top floor you have a beautiful view of the park, the lake and the skyline of Kuala Lumpur.

We did not stay long, as we were both tired, and took public transport back, first the LRT, then the MRT and finally a feeder bus to our condo. Dong Dong was happy to experience the various forms of transport.

That evening we had Claypot Chicken Rice in a food court near our condo, and the next morning Roti Canai, both Malaysian specialties.

The next day, after our breakfast, we drove to Penang. With a short stop for a light lunch, we arrived at 2:30 pm at the Airbnb Aric had booked for two nights. And what an Airbnb it was! A complete house, two floors, on each floor a bedroom, lots of antique stuff. One of the best Airbnb’s we have ever stayed in.

After a small rest we went out for a first exploration. Same as in Melaka, the three major religions of Malaysia have their houses of worship in the same street, but the name of the street is here not Harmony Street, but Β Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, which may be more appropriate for the actual relation between the three religions πŸ™‚ . By the way, Keling (Kling) is the old-fashioned name for an Indian Muslim and nowadays considered derogatory πŸ™‚ .

One of the major tourist attractions in Penang are the murals created in 2012 by Zacharevic, see my report Penang Street Art. With our limited time we could only visit a few.

Before taking our dinner we visited the Tan Jetty, one of our favourites.

We had dinner in the Jetty Food Court, a popular place with a large variety of food.

We continued after our dinner and visited the modern Hean Boo Thean temple, another temple dedicated to Guan Yin, the goddess of mercy. If the access route to the temple was not so clearly signposted, it would have been difficult to find.

Views of the waterfront are spectacular and unobstructed. We stayed a considerable time, relaxing and enjoying the views

After sunset everything becomes even more scenic. It was the first time we visited this temple, it was opened only in 2012. We will promote it to our friends and guests.

Walking back to our Airbnb, we passed a few colonial buildings. For more info about Penang’s colonial heritage, see my report Penang Colonial Architecture.

The next day we had breakfast at the  Roti Bakar in Hutton Lane. I had Roti Goyang which translates as shaking toast (because of the half-boiled eggs on top of the toast)

The weather was perfect, we walked around a bit. The KOMTAR tower is still the highest skyscraper in Penang. The minaret of the Lebuh Aceh mosque looks even more beautiful with the surrounding Chinese New Year decorations.

We passed another Zacharevic mural and decided to visit the Khoo Kongsi, the most elaborate and grand Chinese clan house of Georgetown. I have been there many times, my last visit was in July 2019, here is a report.

For lunch we went to Hong Xiang, where we had Bak Kut Teh. Another famous Malaysian dish. Usually the different pork parts are put together in the herbal soup, but here your order the ingredients separately. Not a bad idea. We took pork ribs, pork soft bone, tofu, two kinds of mushrooms and veggie. All very tasty.

In the afternoon we drove around the island, stopping for a while at the beach near Batu Ferringhi.

We skipped some other locations we had in mind. Not enough time, winding roads, and we wanted to visit the Kek Lok Si temple before it closed at 5:30 pm. This main Guan Yin temple of Penang is a huge complex of halls, gardens, pagodas etc.

We walked up as high as we could.

A few more pictures.

We climbed the pagoda (right picture), I counted the steps, ~ 190 .

I kept taking pictures πŸ™‚

We stayed until closing time and then drove to the Super Tanker food court in Bayan Lepas for our dinner.

The next day we drove back. In the afternoon Dong Dong was flying back from KLIA, we didn’t want to take risks with traffic jams on the Penang bridges, so we woke up early and started before the rush hour.

Good plan, traffic was smooth. It gave us enough spare time to have breakfast in Taiping, my 2nd hometown :-). I showed Dong Dong the Lake Gardens and he liked the atmosphere very much.

We arrived at KLIA 2 in time, he checked in for his flight back to Guangzhou and we had a farewell lunch at Nando’s. More South African than Malaysian, but the alternative would have been McDonalds πŸ™‚ .

A very successful visit, only too short. Hopefully we will meet again in the future, for example in Guangzhou!