When I first moved to Singapore, I was full of grand ideas about how I would make the most of my days off, exploring this little corner of the world while I had the chance. Almost a year later, I have notched up an embarrassing 2 local trips, one to Langkawi back in February and finally last week I made the 4 hour trip to the historic port City of Malacca for a day of exploring.
After I had finished lunch (read my post on Long Fatt here….) I headed to the hotel I had booked (http://www.hotelpuri.com/) on the recommendation of my parents who had seen it when they visited Malacca earlier in the year, it was nicely located and had a beautiful courtyard garden where I was glad to escape from the afternoon heat and enjoy a Tiger or two and the rooms were well air conditioned which is always a relief.
The hotel itself is a little tired, stained carpets, ink stains on the bed linen but at $50 for a night, and with the added bonus of the courtyard garden I was more than prepared to overlook these little details, after all, I wasn’t expecting the Ritz!
Feeling rejuvenated after my shower (aided no doubt by the Tiger!) I set off again to have a better look at the river area, making a quick visit to the Stadhuays museum and the giant water wheel dominating the riverbank. The “Fort” I had been keen to visit was more of a ruin than I had expected, reduced simply to a pile of stones and some cannons still standing protectively on top. Jonker walk, a collection of old shop houses converted into antique shops and tourist traps was awarded Unesco world heritage site status back in 2008.
I didn’t particularly rate Jonker walk, Malacca holds more interest in it’s little side streets where you can watch day to day life continuing amongst the historic surroundings and it was here I enjoyed myself the most. Being a Monday, many of the restaurants were sadly closed and I ended up eating a bowl of wonton soup at Formosa chicken which was actually pretty decent but I was sorry not to find any Malay food. I woke surprisingly late the next morning, meaning I knew I had probably missed my chance for Laksa at any of the hawker stalls, so had a light breakfast in the hotel garden before heading down to the river for a river cruise.
The cruise was good as it helped me orient myself further and in parts (such as the Malay “village” along the banks) very interesting although it was also quite depressing, old, abandoned buildings lined the banks further down the river but I was pleased to notice a “Java bridge” as this sorted my plans out for the rest of the afternoon.
I had read another post on Asia Eating about a small bar called Sin Hiap Hin located on Java street still run by the great grand daughter of the initial owner who had emigrated from China at some point early last century. The tiny bar was like stepping back in time, bottles with colourful labels lined the bar shelves, antique drink jiggers rested in a bowl of water at the end of the counter and owner was a delight to chat to about her family, the bar and Malacca itself.
I tried a small half shot of a sweet lychee liqueur that she recommended to me which I was glad wasn’t too alcoholic as it was still afternoon and I am not (contrary to popular opinion) in the habit of drinking spirits in the afternoon! . I left Malacca inspired to pick up somewhat belatedly on my plans to explore more of South East Asia while I am here, Penang and Kuala Lumpur are next on my list with more to follow.
Apologies for the lack of photographs – these are from my Iphone only as I have temporarily misplaced the connecting lead for my camera to download the better photos (including Sin Hiap Hin) but I will update shortly.