Our second tour day and as with yesterday we had to be up early to meet our tour collection bus. This tour was chosen by Gallowe, given he had been given some very high recommendations about this historical heritage city.
Melaka (English)/ Malacca (Bahasa Malaysian)
Location: Two hours south-west of Kuala Lumpur in the state of Malacca.
Language: Bahasa Malaysian
Size & Population: 280 km square and 503 000-ish people
What is so special about it? It has a rich mixed cultural history given the settlement of many significantly different explorers over many hundred and thousands of years. Going back to original settlement by the Malays, who established it as a trading location. In the last eight hundred to thousand or so years the Chinese took control for a long time, until the Portuguese and the Dutch, at various times encroached and overpowered the resident leader. With so much alternation in culture, the city of Melaka is now officially a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as you move throughout the town, seeing the buildings, engaging with the locals and discovering the history behind some of the sites that are now accessible, it is easy to see why.
Travelling along a highway was interesting. I was very prepared for the two hour trip and had my writing and a book to keep me occupied. Gallowe slept for much of it and just took in the view of the changing countryside. We left Kuala Lumpur in a thunderstorm, passed down the highway in another one and were expecting to arrive in yet more. It is the monsoon season in Malaysia ta present, in case you had wondered at the high rate of storms we had been experiencing. Having been in the alternate time of year prior I can’t say it really struck me as much different, simply because the country has a higher humidity than Australia, regardless of the time of year. The rain didn’t really interrupt our touring either, so that was good.
Once in the town we stopped at Saint Peter’s Cathedral, which is mostly in its original condition, except for having been maintained so as not to fall apart. From here we walked to a neighbouring Chinese Temple. They are referred to as Temples because the Chinese hold beliefs with a range of faiths and these sacred erections are sites for the worshipping of all of these beliefs. Taoists, Buddhists, Confucians and the like can all approach the altars here and make their prayers, atonements, sacrifices and givings to their deities, gods and spirits. There are statues, altars, flowers, candles, sweet buns, essence sticks and more things I did not understand that were all placed at what I can only assume are strategically selected positions around the Temple.
The bus took us to a banquet lunch at a Chinese restaurant. We were given plates to share with our fellow tourists, all were wonderful of course. In the afternoon the bus took us to what I will loosely call ‘the touristy section of town’. We passed men on tuk-tuk things and many historical cannons, ships, battlements, tombs and plaques. This long and extremely hot walk lead us to inevitably to Jonker Walk, which is a must-see, according to many. Interestingly enough I purchased a few Christmas gifts on Jonker Walk. Of course I cannot say what as it isn’t time to give them yet!
Gallowe had bought a local paper that was printed in English for the ride back, but he spent much time interrogating the tour guide for information. They were both asleep by the time we entered the city though. Dinner was a quiet affair. We had to pack our stuff as we were relocating in the morning to somewhere closer to where the wedding would be. Dinner was across from the hotel at a traditional Sri Lankan restaurant that allowed us to go crazy with a buffet.
I love buffets where I have no idea what the food is! AND I got to put it on my plate myself so you can imagine what a mess I made!