“Who goes to Melaka to eat chicken satay?”
I headed down to Melaka last weekend with Jennifer and Michael. Jennifer is from Melaka and kindly offered to bring me around the place so I picked her and Mike up from Ampang and drove down really early on Saturday.
Melaka is not very far from KL actually, it takes about 2 hours if you maintain a decent cruising speed. You might be able to reach there in an hour if you have very little regard for life and limb though. ;)
We headed straight for the old market to grab a cold glass of coconut juice as soon as we got there (the heat is oppressive in Melaka)…
…and indulge in some durians (from a roadside stall). It just tastes better that way. :)
It was around lunchtime by the time we were done so we headed to Jenn’s favorite place for Melaka style char siew rice. I like this place – the patrons come in and either sit on makeshift tables and chairs, or place their plates down on an empty stall nearby and start eating. It’s a very unpretentious and homely environment.
We checked into the hotel after that – we actually went to several hotels before finding one which is not fully booked. Our first choice was Baba House, an authentic Baba/Nyonya (Peranakan) hotel which is set in a converted shop house that harks back to the days where they roamed the streets.
Melaka is the Peranakan capital of Malaysia, due to some convoluted history of intermarriage between Chinese traders (from China) and local Malays. Unfortunately, Melaka seems to attract a lot of Singaporeans over the weekends so it was full.
Actually, on hindsight (only saw this later that evening), if you’re just heading there for an overnight stay and you want to try something different, check out the Maritime Museum. There’s an activity packed tour (river cruise, night hiking etc) and you get to spend a night on board the ship for just RM 95. I’m so going for this option on my next trip.
Anyway, after checking in and dumping our bags, we headed out to try the pork satay in Melaka.
This place is called Ming Sate Hut and it serves satay and satay only. They have pork satay, intestine satay and liver satay (as well as the usual fare, but like Jenn said, who goes to Melaka to eat chicken satay?). The strange thing (strange to me ok :p) is that you order what you want and they serve it up. You eat the amount you want (you don’t have to finish everything) and they just count the sticks when you’re done.
The leftovers are probably reheated and served again. ;)
I also went for a crash course in Peranakan culture at Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum. The tour was fascinating, mostly coz I’ve forgotten most things I learned about Malaysian history in high school. Heh! Apparently Straits Chinese eat with their hands, so they have small soup bowls with individual soup spoons for the obligatory soup dish at meals (coz you can’t very well drink soup with your hands).
We headed to Christ Church after that. It’s affectionately dubbed the Red Church due to its fire engine red façade and is probably the most photographed structure in Melaka after A Farmosa.
Christ Church, Melaka is actually a still functional place of worship (of the Anglican denomination) and comes with a beautiful square (not the shape, the place people gather) complete with an antique clock circa 1886. The Red Square was teeming with tourists when I was there, which contributes to the gaiety-charged atmosphere. It looked like almost every other person was lugging a dSLR around!
Next stop: St. Paul’s Church!
The pilgrimage to the top…
St. Paul’s Church is not a cathedral per se, but rather grim looking ruins used as a burial ground for the Dutch. There are a lot of tombstones, so if you’re into stuff like that, you’ll feel right at home!
The path we went through is actually a walk that brings you to the Big 3 in Melaka – Christ Church, St. Paul and Fort A Farmosa. Our journey ends right at A Farmosa, which is not as impressive as I had imagined…
Fort A Farmosa looks exactly like what a fort built in 1511 should look like – crumbly and worn. It’s nice to stand beside this ½ millennia structure though…and you can’t say you’ve been to Melaka until you’ve been to A Farmosa.
Come to think of it, you’ve probably seen A Farmosa in Melaka…but you’ve never experienced it until you’ve done the Ah Beng squat in front of A Farmosa! ;)
You can opt to take a scenic stroll to the many excavation sites after that…there’s a huge excavation going on around the city to unearth the old fortress walls around Melaka. Take a peek.
Other not-to-be-missed stuff:
Jonker Street. Jonker Walk is only open on the weekends and it’s like a huge pasar malam (bazaar) on the streets. It’s festive, it’s crowded, and it’s a lot of fun!
Chicken rice balls
Menara Taming Sari
This gyro tower ride is much better than the overrated Eye On Malaysia. Enjoy the 360 degree view of Melaka from 80 meters up for just RM 10.
The Tan Kim Hock dodol shop – just so you can get some souvenirs home. ;)