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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Quaint Old Town of Melaka


Melaka 1
"I see trees of green, red roses too.
I see them bloom for me and you.
And I think to myself what a wonderful world'
- Amazing musician at St. Paul's Church


After the Kota Kinabalu Trip with my girls, I had an option to whether go back to Manila and wait eight more days before flying to Kuala Lumpur to catch our flight to India. Or fly straight to Kuala Lumpur and make my way down to Singapore to visit my childhood friends. I did the latter, the first one just seemed too anti-climactic. 

I had eight days to kill, spending them on cities like Kuala Lumpur and Singapore may be too expensive. So I looked for other cheaper places to go to in Malaysia, until I stumbled upon a travel blog entry on Melaka. I’ve never heard Melaka ever, only Kuala Lumpur or Penang or Cameron Highlands. I read that it has a small town which is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, very laid-back and historic, plus the hostels are quite cheap. So I decided to spend four days there. Not really knowing what to expect or what to do. I seem to be liking this way of traveling. 

Melaka 2
Christ Church

After a 2-hour bus ride from Kuala Lumpur, I rode a small local bus from KL Sentral to Ocean Mall which is near the Heritage Town. From Ocean Mall, it’s just a 3-minute walk to the quaint and charming Melaka Town.

Melaka 3

Once you enter the Town Proper, you’ll walk along small narrow streets, lined-up with boutique shops and small restaurants. But the nicest part of it all are the buildings with various influences – Portuguese, Malay, and Chinese. Which very much tells its history – a small fishing village inhabited by Malays until discovered by the last Raja of Singapura. He established it as an international trading port, opening up the state to Chinese traders. It was also colonized by the Portuguese in the 1500’s.

Melaka 4
Near Maritime Museum

Melaka 6
St. Paul's Church

Melaka 5 Ruins of St. Paul's Church

Melaka 7
Dutch Square

Another charm of this small town is the river. It’s so nice to have dinner there and wait for the sunset. Which is what I did accidentally on my first night, you can read it here

Melaka River

What I also like about Melaka is its openness to different cultures and religion. In this town you can see Chinese temples, churches, and mosques. You can hear the church bells ringing, or prayer chants from the mosques. 

Melaka 8
Cheng Hoon Heng Temple

Melaka Sunset 2
Masjid Kumpung Hulu Mosque outside our hostel

Melaka 9
Church of St. Francis Xavier

I wasn’t able to take photos, but there’s a night market along Jonker Walk to Chinatown during Fridays and Saturdays. There you’ll find clothes, accessories, artworks, and lots of delicious streetfood.

Another highlight of my trip to Melaka is my stay in L’Armada Guesthouse. It’s relatively new and cheap. It’s clean and has a nice view of the river. It has a homey feel where you can just hangout in the common area with the other backpackers. The receptionists are really nice, thoughtful (buying fruits for us and milk for my coffee), and helpful. :)

L'Armada Guesthouse
L' Armada Guesthouse

Melaka 10
Sunrise and River View in the Common Area

If you're the type who travels to see places and famous sights, or the type who likes partying and busy places, a 2-day stay in this town may be enough. Because the town is really really small and sin products are expensive. But if you're the type who travels not just to see the sights, who likes laid-back places, and likes to include a few days of relaxation into traveling, you will love Melaka. I did. It is in this small town where I discovered that I prefer traveling slow. And that traveling is not only about the places you see,it's having enough time to observe their daily life and discover its charm and soul. 

Melaka 11

Melaka 12

Melaka is colorful not only because of its various influences - but because it makes its differences work, making it a multi-cultural place. Melaka is where you go to relax and appreciate life outside the big cities. Melaka is where you learn to take care of yourself - eat good food, rest, and sleep. Melaka is where you can have a nice good meal along the river. And I loved this quaint and charming old town.