After leaving the comfortable confines of Singapore, my next destination was just a few hours up the coast, in that of Melaka, Malaysia. Formerly a historically significant port in the region, Melaka now has the feel of a sleepy, rural town that – whether due to its relatively small size or the growing presence of nearby cities such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur — time seems to have bypassed, leaving the colonial atmosphere that once existed still intact. And much like the rest of the surrounding area, the city’s population is a representative mix of the various Asian and European cultural influences that have taken root here over the last few hundred years, with the Nonya being the most noticeable (a mixed heritage resulting from the blending of Malay and Chinese immigrants).
The shipping trade is still a big part of the city (as the Strait of Melaka is one of the world’s busiest waterways), and tourism has started to creep into the picture, but the most apparent aspects of Melaka that’ll you notice immediately upon arriving are the brilliant flashes of color splashed all over the face of the city. Whether you’re taking a ride in one of the famous tricked-out rickshaws, checking out wares at the weekend night market, or simply strolling the mural-lined riverside of the Melaka River, the vivid hues of the beautiful city will stay with you long after you leave.
Come nightfall, the vibrancy of the city not only doesn’t diminish, but actually appears to be heightened — a fact also enhanced by the many decorations that are currently in place for the Chinese New Year festivities. Additionally, if you happen to find yourself here on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll be treated to a bustling night market on Jonker Street (the main drag of the dense Chinatown area):
Although it is virtually impossible to top the culinary scene in Singapore, the eating in Melaka is still nothing to bat an eye at. Besides the Malay cuisine, you’ll also find quite a few restaurants, stalls, and street vendors serving Chinese, Indian, and Nonyan delights — here are a few of the local specialties:
After my time Melaka comes to an end, I’m going to continue my trek northwards, with the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur up next on the docket. Until then, Sorakan from Melaka!