Enjoying the food in Melaka
04.07.2011 - 06.07.2011 31 °C
We arrived in Melaka, our first stop in Malaysia, after an easy coach journey across the border. It was only around 3pm, earlier than we'd planned, and it felt more humid than Singapore. After dropping our bags off at the hostel, we had a wander around the town. Melaka is a small place and the centre is a World Heritage Site: there has been a port here since around 1400, and it has previously been under Portuguese, Dutch and British control.
After sweating around the centre of town for a couple of hours, we witnessed a spot of trishaw dancing. These tricycle taxis are a bit of a feature of Melaka, and are brightly decorated with gaudy flowers, lights and sometimes a pumping sound system. We caught them apparently rehearsing for a show, with carefully synchronised movements being choreographed by one of the drivers - serious stuff.
In the evening we sought out a local speciality for dinner. Satay Celup is like fondue in concept: you select a variety of meats, seafood and vegetables on sticks, then cook them yourself in a communal pot. The pot here is a spicy satay sauce, not as peanut heavy as we'd experienced before (to Clare's relief).
One thing we were looking forward to in Melaka was a decent night's sleep, as our dorm experience in Singapore had involved people coming and going in the small hours every night. We'd managed to get a private room so thought we'd avoid being woken by other residents this time. Sadly, a massive thunderstorm blew in right on cue and kept us awake for a while around 3-4am. The rain was pretty impressive.
A lazy morning to catch up on some sleep meant that we went searching for breakfast a little later than planned. We think we ended up with a Malaysian lunch instead, curry and rice, but it was very good. Afterwards we paid a visit to the Maritime Museum, mostly housed within a replica Portuguese Galleon. This wasn't the most interesting place going, but the cold air was welcome. One visitor was using a cool and dark corner of the museum to catch up on some sleep, snoring like a pig in the process. The highlight for us was the daring hairstyles modelled by the divers in one exhibit:
An attraction recommended in several places is Villa Sentosa, described as a "living museum". This is a traditional Malay house which welcomes visitors for a guided tour. Our host was very accommodating, if a little eccentric, showing us the features of his house and photographs of visits by various dignitaries over the years. He also insisted we have our photo taken quite a lot: it didn't feel as though we had much choice in this.
We'd heard that pohpiah were worth trying - like large spring rolls. We popped into a place wanting just to share one, but ended up with two and a plate of rojak (mixed veg and fruit with a sweet tamarind sauce) as well, due to communication misunderstandings. It was good but rather more food than we needed at the time.
In the evening we took a boat trip up the river; it was a relaxing way to see the town, aside from Boney M's greatest hits that blasted out from the CD player. On the way back we got an audio commentary that was very keen on the State Government - they are apparently responsible for all manner of excellent things.
Dinner was at Pak Putra, a tandoori restaurant that seemed a good bet due to the number of people eating outside. The naans and tandoori chicken were cooked to order in huge clay pots on the pavement.
Before catching our early morning bus to Kuala Lumpur for the next leg of our journey, we grabbed some dim sum at a place just up the road that is apparently well regarded across Malaysia; like many of these places the ordering process was a bit confusing to the first-timer, but the initial embarrassment was worth it for the tasty and authentic start to the day.