Being Tourists in Melaka 2017 – Part 1

Melaka, or Malacca to some of us, is my father’s hometown. All the relatives from his side of the family are from there, most of them still stay there. When I was little, every weekend we’d drive up from Muar to spend the day in Malacca. During the long school holidays, my parents would leave all three of us (me, my brother and sister) to stay in Malacca, together with my grandmother and my cousin (she is the same age as my brother). Those were great times with many wonderful memories. We’d play card games and children games. Sometimes I’d hang out with the neighbor Jimmy. Sometime’s all 4 of us would take the bus into town to catch a movie or walk around Bunga Raya. So, really, Malacca can be considered my second hometown.

Malacca to me was a bigger town than my own hometown, but it was still a sleepy and quiet town. We hardly ever went out to eat anywhere in town (except if one of my cousins had a wedding dinner). On Fridays I’d follow my dad to HSBC in Banda Hilir (now turned into a museum) for his banking (kids, this was long before the days of internet banking. Heck, the ATM wasn’t even invented yet). Nothing much ever happened in sleepy Malacca, except sometimes we’d see foreign tourists talking pictures at the Stadhuys. Whenever we passed by them in the car, my dad would always say ‘Click-click-click-click!’ (mimicking the camera sound).

After my grandmother passed away in 1990, we kinda stopped going to Malacca anymore.

In the intervening 27 years, I’ve been back to Malacca a handful of times, a few times due to work, and a few times with friends. I’ve seen it grow from the sleepy hollow into the tourist destination it is now. But of late, though, I haven’t really gone back there for many years. The last time we stayed more than a day there was 2010, probably.

Anyway, recently we decided to take a few days holiday there, to really be a tourist in own hometown. Our own kids were away for camp, so husband and wife packed up the car and drove down the PLUS Highway.

But first stop, though, was to Seremban to eat our favourite beef noodles for brunch. We wanted to try another shop, but unfortunately it wasn’t open. So we went back to our usual joint, in the wet market. After that, we couldn’t resist buying siew pau and curry puffs.

Anyway, back on the road. Nearing Melaka, we made another last minute decision to drop by Freeport A’Famosa Outlet. This newly opened premium outlet is about 4km off the Simpang Ampat highway exit. It’s rather small compared to JPO or Mitsui, and the range of shops are in the more affordable range.

Upstairs, though, there’s a huge hall where a jumble sale was ongoing. Prices here are cheaper. Got a cool fidget spinner for RM10.

After the 2-hour detour, we drove onward to Klebang to try the original coconut shake. I used to associate Klebang with the nice beach and my grand-aunt’s house, which we visited every year during Chinese New Year. Now it is famous for this coconut shake. Its basically ice blended fresh coconut water mixed with vanilla ice cream. This stall beside the main road is for takeaway. Inside there’s a huge restaurant for dining in, with ample parking.

After many detours, we finally made it to the city. Our hotel is Courtyard @ Heeren, a boutique hotel in a refurbished traditional home on Heeren Street (now called Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock). One of my cousins still stay somewhere here, although I really can’t remember which one.

My father used to tell me in the old tradition, the main hall at the front is for the master of the house and for entertaining guests. This is the second hall, for concubines and servants.

This was our room, very spacious and impressive.

After checking in, time for a walkabout around town. we wanted to try the Melaka River cruise. If you’re going to be a tourist in Malacca, might as well go all the way and do the most tourist-y thing, right?

Walking en route to the river dock, we passed by this Hard Rock Café. This has been here awhile, but man, if you were to tell my when I was a kid that HRC would open in Malacca… the poshest thing I ever had back then was a burger in Ramada Renaissance which cost my parent about RM4. It was a big, big sum back then.

That famous clock tower and church.

We got our tickets from the booth outside the tourist centre. You can get tickets at the docks, it is the same price. Make sure you have your MyKad ready.

boat tickets

This is the river cruise. Don’t worry about not getting a place, they have many, many boats and they run continuously whenever there are enough passengers. On a related note, they have a Sid’s Pub in Melaka now?!

The cruise itself takes about 45 minutes. Was it worth it? I suppose if you haven’t tried it, it is a cheap and enjoyable to see Melaka. Try going in the evening at sunset, so you can still see it daytime and enjoy the night lights on the way back. The bilingual commentary will come on during the return trip.

On the way I saw this building, used to be Cathay cinema. I watched a lot of movies here back in the day.

Cathay cinema

After the cruise, we took a walk along the river. St Francis Xavier church looks beautiful in the evening light.

Someone trapped a giant monitor lizard in their backyard.

We decided to have dinner right beside the river. There wasn’t much choice in terms of restaurants, so we ended in this place that was rather pricey and so-so food.

On the way back to the hotel, we dropped by San Su Gong.

To be continued.

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