Malacca (Melaka in Malay) is such a compact but vibrant city. I love how everything is just walking distance.
After leaving our things in the room
, we freshened up a bit then headed to Jonker Street for lunch. We only had a few Ringgits left, and conveniently, a money changer is situated in the corner of the street. And just across it was Restoran A Famosa where we had lunch.
Restoran A Famosa is quite uhm…famous as evidenced by the queue. We had to wait a while to get a table. I’m guessing both locals and tourists flock here for their specialty: chicken rice balls. As soon as we got a table, one of the waitstaff handed us the menu. I think we ordered half roast chicken, a cup of rice each, and some rice balls just to see what the fuss was about. Sadly, the rice balls were nothing to write home about. Our very own puto is even better. It was filling nonetheless.
After filling our tummies, we wasted no time and started checking out the stores. Just across Restoran A Famosa is Jonker Gallery. This store is such a wasteland. I plunked down RM30.00 for souvenirs only to find more Jonker Gallery every 20 meters or so.
wasteland (n.) shop/store full of cool and cute stuff you have no use for but end up buying anyway, thus, wasting money.
I also find it amusing that some of these shops are renovated shophouses where you can enter from Jonker Street and exit on the other side of the block (Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock based on Google Maps).
Dutch Square or Red Square
Anyway, we finally dragged ourselves out of Jonker Street into The Dutch Square or more popularly known as the Red Square (for obvious reasons). Situated in the heart of Malacca/Melaka are: (clockwise) The Stadthuys or the Museum of History and Ethnography which is said to be the oldest remaining Dutch colonial building in Southeast Asia; Christ Church (arguably the most photographed); and the clock tower.
We immediately moved on to St. Paul’s Hill. For some reason, going up was reminiscent of Mt. Tapyas in Coron…only the steps are tiled. Nothing much to see here except the ruins of St. Paul’s Church with Dutch and Portuguese tombstones inside, and the statue of St. Francis Xavier outside.
Why must a church ruin be always named after St. Paul? If you’ve been to Macau
, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Google ‘St. Paul’s ruins’ and you’ll find that there’s also a monastery ruin in the United Kingdom. Clearly, someone’s got issues with structures named after the saint.
‘This church was originally a small chapel built by a Portuguese Captain called Duarto Coelho in 1521 A.D. and called “Nosa Senhora – Our Lady of the Hill”.
When the Dutch took over Melaka from the Portuguese, they changed its name to St. Paul’s Church and used it for 112 years until the Christ Church was completed in 1753.
Old tombstones found inside the ruins bear silent testimony to the final resting place of several Dutch and Portuguese nationals.’ – some excerpts from the stone marker outside the ruins.
Menara Taming Sari (revolving observation deck)
From St. Paul’s Hill, I could see the revolving observation deck and the galleon or the Maritime Museum (Muzium Sumadera; not in the picture). It looks kinda close but I figured it was quite a walk, so we went back to The Stadthuys and thought maybe we should hire a trishaw instead.
Frustrated sagalas :p
For a five-minute ride, the RM10.00 per head is unreasonable. But hey, it’s not every day you get a chance to ride a colorful trishaw with Ricky Martin songs blasting on the speakers.
Replica of Portuguese ship: Flor De La Mar
Maritime Museum (Muzium Samudera)
For a minimum admission fee, you could go inside the museum but we’re happy just taking its picture from outside. Our original agenda, anyway, is the Melaka River Cruise. The jetty (Muara Jetty) is just a few steps away from the Maritime Museum.
TIP: There’s an arcade (Medan Samudera) just across the museum which sell cheaper souvenir items than the ones in The Stadthuys. Malaysian snacks can be bought for 3 packs at RM10.00. Kids’ shirts are at RM10.00 a piece and of very good quality.
Melaka River Cruise at RM15.00
For me, the highlight of our Melaka tour was the Melaka River Cruise. The cruise starts either at Muara Jetty with a view of the posh Casa del Rio hotel
on the other side of the river bank or from Taman Rempah Jetty (other end of the river).
Jambatan Old Bus Station
The round trip cruise takes 45 minutes. As you go along, you get to listen to a recorded narration explaining the significance of each section of the river in Melaka’s history.
You’ll also pass by a modest amusement park aptly named Pirate Park.
The park consists of a Ferris wheel, swinging pirate ship, flying fox, rock climbing wall and trampoline.
Near the end of the river (if coming from Muara Jetty) is Kampung Morten which is a traditional Malay village and living museum (Villa Sentosa). Most of these houses are already hundreds of years old.
My favorite has got to be the murals along Melaka River
Melaka River Cruise at night as seen from our window
I would suggest doing the river cruise at night when the structures along the river (especially Pirate Park) are illuminated with colorful lights. Then the next morning, walk along the riverbanks so you can appreciate the murals up close like what we did.