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Published: April 15th 2015
My Melaka bus left from KL's new intergrated transport terminal, Bersepadu Selatan, situated 30 minutes south of the city centre. It's connected to Bandar Tasik Selatan LRT station via a covered walkway, and was only three stops from the closest station to my accomodation. So it made perfect sense to me to use the train to get there, which I did.
The trip to Melaka passed quickly in another comfortable coach. Two hours later I stepped out at the Bus Terminal and caught a taxi to my accomodation for the next 2 nights, Heeren House. This guesthouse is situated in the heart of the Old Town, in Heeren Street, a street of traditional shophouses beside the Melaka River.
Melaka is the capital of the state of Malacca and is conveniently situated on the west coast of the Malaysia peninsular, 2 hours south of KL and 4 hours north of Singapore. The old town area was listed by USESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the same time as Georgetown. It has a rich historical and cultural background from previous Portuguese, Dutch and British rule.
I was able to check into my room early then headed out to
explore. The narrow streets of the old town area were very interesting to wander through and reminded me of Georgetown. The tumbledown shophouses were in various stages of disrepair, some of them being renovated and others housing fascinating little antique, art and clothing shops. Then, of course, there are the souvenir shops, spilling out onto the footpaths and overstocked with what I call 'tourist tat', a cheap selection of tee shirts, fridge magnets, coffee mugs and the usual array of themed imported rubbish that nobody wants once they get home. Lots of small eateries and restaurants too, of course, and very handy places for people watching.
I crossed the bridge over the Malacca River which looks more like a canal these days with boardwalks along each side, fronted by the old shophouses. On the other side lies Dutch Square which is distinguished by a group of bright, terracotta-red colonial Dutch buildings, built between 1660 and 1700 and Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower which was built in 1886.
An ornate fountain dominates the area, a Victorian marble addition, erected in 1904 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Dutch Square’s most prominent building is Stadthuys, said to be the oldest
existing Dutch building in the East and now housing museums.
A short walk up St Pauls Hill, behind Dutch Square, is the ruins of St Pauls Church. The church is renowned as the place where the body of Francis Xavier, the pioneering Catholic missionary of SE Asia, was kept for eight months after his death at sea in 1553. He was eventually laid to rest permanently in Goa, India.
The next day (Friday) I decided to take a riverboat trip with Melaka River Tours. Departure point was Muara Jetty, close to the Maritime Museum which is easily recognisable by the replica of the Portuguese ship Flor De la Mar. From here the cruise takes you upstream as far as Taman Rempah jetty where the boat turns around and brings you back to the starting point. I was excited to see street art from the boat and decided to walk back and take a closer look after docking. I love street art, it adds character and individuality to the old buildings, and is one of the reasons I visited Georgetown.
Later that afternoon I had a meal and a couple of drinks at the Geographer Cafe whilst indulging
in some people watching and waiting for the famous Jonker Street Night Markets to set up. Jonker Street is closed to traffic every Friday and Saturday night
and transforms into a huge street market, full of food and souvenir stalls. Personally, I was disappointed with the quality and variety of goods on offer here. Most stands were merely an extension of the shops selling tourist junk. Lin called Jonker Street Junk Street in her blog and sadly, I have to agree. Saturday morning
I'm on the move again and have another bus to catch to my last destination - Singapore. Only a day and a half here before heading home.
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