Malaysia

Melaka: A day away from the hustle

Pimped out trishaws of MelakaSit back and relax along the river while sipping on a cup of tea. Enjoy the breath taking scenery and visit the old Dutch buildings within the city center. And at night time, take a walk and go shopping along Jonker Walk. That and many other interesting things are in store for you when you visit the UNESCO Heritage city of Melaka (Melacca) in Southern Malaysia. The site of the colonial trading era and shipping center, this place is a historian’s dream come true, while its beauty could make a miserable person happy.

During my many months of sightseeing throughout Malaysia, I had the pleasure of spending a weekend in Melaka. I checked in at the Roof Top Guesthouse, where I felt extremely welcomed by the staff and was given some valuable information on places to visit in the city. Since Melaka City is easy to see via two feet or two wheels, I decided to rent a bike to take in the sights around town.

Although previously settled by the Dutch, and still home to some of its 'Dutch-ness' in terms of architecture, cycling paths here are not like they are in the Netherlands! Cyclists have to be on guard to avert disaster, as they share the roads with impatient motorbikes and cars. Nevertheless, hazards aside, Melaka dwellers are used to cyclists on the road and Melaka’s famous tri-shaws are seen everywhere. If you prefer seeing the city this way, the cost will be about 30 MYR [ed. At the time of publishing, around $9.55 USD]. I call these the pimp my ride of cycles!

At night time the city really comes to life. Jonker Walk, which is located near Chinatown, is not as big as the capital's Petaling Street, but it offers many of the same goodies and the prices are generally more fixed than in Kuala Lumpur. Haggling isn’t as popular there as it is in KL and some places will even have signs asking you not to haggle, since prices are already low enough. If art is what you're after, then this street and its surrounding areas will tickle your fancy. There are numerous art galleries in addition to stores, the wares of which would make the Mona Lisa’s smile grow wider!

Also at night, you can take a boat cruise along the river and learn even more about the city's historical past and its importance during the 18th century. As an central outpost for trading and colonial power, the preservation given to this city is seen throughout the breathtaking upkeep of many of the old buildings. The red painting of the Dutch days still adorns the old Stadhuys and the Christ Church, which still has Sunday masses for the masses.

If you're passing through or living in Malaysia, I highly recommend taking a weekend to visit this city. There are many culinary options, from Western to Asian and everything in between, and it is a great way to experience a different lifestyle while getting away from the hustle of KL. Finally, if you are interested in visiting Sumatra, there is a ferry that leaves from Melaka daily, weather permitting. Rainy season begins in August, so definitely check the forecast before you head out!  If history is your thing, then take a stroll around one or all of the museums that are located throughout the city, or visit the Portuguese settlement and hear an ancient form of Portuguese you may not hear anywhere else: the descendants of the Portuguese settlers still retain the language of their forefathers and are predominantly found in or around the settlement.


About the Traveller

Genevieve is an avid traveler and explorer. A native of Aruba, she has been globetrotting since she was 3 months old. When she is not travelling, Genevieve enjoys being with her friends, family, menagerie of animals, reading and shopping.


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 Full name: Malaysia

 Population: 29.2 million (CIA, 2012)

 Capital: Kuala Lumpur

 Largest city: Kuala Lumpur (by population)

 Area: 329,847 sq.km. (127,354 sq. mi.)

 Major languages: Bahasa Malaysia, English,  Chinese, Tamil, Several Others

 Major religions: Islam, Buddhist, Christian,  Hindu, Several Others

 Monetary unit: Ringgit

 GDP per capita: US $15,600

 Internet domain: .my

 International dialling code: +60

 Source: CIA World Factbook