Melaka

Melaka

The drive from T6 to Melaka went smoothly but we ended up driving to the wrong place after following the gps’ directions. Apparently there are more than one Jalan Masjid in the city… So after making a u -turn and checking the gps a bit more closely we ended up at Hotel Hong, about 5 minutes walk from Jonker Street and smack in the middle of the old part of Melaka. Excellent location, free parking, friendly staff and very clean. Only drawback was the lack of a fridge and an elevator. Heavy luggage does not get any lighter when there are only stairs to get your room. Once again we have overpacked, strange how we never seem to learn.

The children wanted to revisit the Oceanarium at The Shore and we all enjoyed it. I found these shrimps that were colourful and looked funny. Camel shrimps, a fitting name when you look at their backsides.

My husband and I left the children with my mother one evening and went to the Pak Putra restaurant. They are well known for their tandoori chicken and I understand why. It was delicious!

We enjoyed our three days in Melaka but felt that it is not really our kind of place. The inner city is so crowded and getting more and more touristy, but it is still worth a visit. Three days were enough for us as it was our second visit. The market on Jonker Street was as usual packed and busy and after an hour I was exhausted. My mother was overwhelmed and when she realised the market is EVERY Friday and Saturday she just shook her head.
We packed up and headed north to Ipoh.

Escaping winter once again.

We have been back in Sweden for one year, 4 months and 6 days… but who’s counting?!? I miss Malaysia every single day. The food, the sun, the food, the people, the food, the warm rain, the food. Did I mention the food? Don’t get me wrong, it is great to be back home, to  hang out with my friends, the children are playing with their friends, see my mother, the big family we have here and so on but I miss Malaysia a lot. That is why we are going on a vacation this winter, we will leave the dreary winter cold Sweden for some weeks in Asia. We will arrive in Singapore on the 13th of December and fly back home from KL on the 19th of January. During that time we will visit Singapore, Johor Bahru, Kluang, T6, Muar, Melaka, Ipoh, KL and also Lombok (Indonesia). Some of those places are revisited; others are brand new locations for us.

This time, my mother is coming with us and for her everything will be a first as she has never been outside of Europe. The children are already looking forward to guiding her around at their favourite spots and eating dinner at Musa’s in T6. His satay is missed, and also the ayam soup which is to die for. They are also planning a trip to Legoland in JB and apparently there is a new water park in JB called Austin Heights something. My husband and I are mostly excited about not having to put on heavy winter clothes for at least part of that horrid season called winter. And the food, always the food.

So if there are any readers left, you can look forward to a new escape from winter and some ideas about where to travel in Malaysia- and Indonesia!

Melaka, so much to eat!

As you might have guessed by now, we like food in this family. One might even go so far as saying we are obsessed with finding new things to eat, but I am not so fond of that word. Passionate, that is a word I like, we are passionate about food.

So this is a post about what and where we ate in Melaka. I will start with the most boring and bland experience. After finishing our visit at the Oceanarium we were starving. That is not good as we all get really bad tempered when we are hungry. Sadly, the food court at the Shore (the Oceanarium is located in a shopping mall) was still under construction. It looks promising but you never know with those shopping mall food courts. In any case, we ended up having lunch at Starbuck’s. My spicy chicken pocket was actually pretty good and the ice tea, or “iced shaken lemon tea”, was lemony and no too sweet. I still think RM 62.20 for a lunch is just ridiculous when all we had were drinks and sandwiches. But sometimes you grab what you can to avoid the family imploding!

The food in Melaka is amazing, if you like seafood you will have so much to choose from it will make your head spin. Be sure to try a Nyonya restaurant, it is an interesting version of Chinese food going back to the first Chinese immigrants in the city. I had a laksa that had so many layers of flavour it was more than yummy. My youngest daughter loved it too, she ate nearly half of it, spicy as it was. My husband had pineapple prawns that tasted sweet, sour and of the sea. So good! The Nyonya pineapple tart is also worth trying. It is a small, somewhat dry cookie with a soft and sweet centre of pineapple. It is sold almost everywhere in the city. We bought ours at LW Nyonya Pineapple Tarts House on Jonker Street, if you’re lucky you get to see them make the cookies.

One day we had lunch in the Portuguese Settlement. The Portuguese came to Melaka centuries ago and their descendants are still living there and keeping the traditional cooking alive. The grilled fish we had was so good I forgot to eat my rice. Simple flavours like garlic, lime and oyster sauce blended into bliss. Yum. The restaurant was called the Lisbon and was one of the few that was open for lunch. During the evening there are plenty of restaurants to choose between and you can sit near the ocean and eat while watching the sunset.

You can find nasi ayam (chicken and rice) everywhere in Malaysia and in Melaka they have it too. But here they have rolled the rice into balls and somehow that adds a new dimension to the dish. Be sure to try it! There are plenty of chicken rice ball restaurants to choose from, pick one that looks busy and clean. Next to the Hard Rock Cafe you will find Kedai Kopi Chung Wah where people stand in line for quite some time to have lunch. You will not be able to choose a table, you are ushered in and placed. They only serve chicken and rice balls so they just look at how many you are and food will arrive on the table. Don’t expect any smiles or friendly gestures from the staff, but the food is good.

As the nightmarket on Jonker Street goes on for three nights in a row (every weekend) we browsed around, looking for stuff to eat. There are plenty of food stalls to choose from, just grab what looks good and try it. Everything is cooked in front of you and is super fresh. Dive in!

Melaka, so much to do!

So we went on vacation from the vacation again. This time we went to Melacka, or Melaka, or Melacca. There is always at least two ways to spell anything in this country. We booked three nights at Swiss Heritage Hotel, thinking that would be enough. We ended up staying five nights and leaving already thinking about returning.

Melaka is great! It’s quite a big city, one taxi driver said 800 000 inhabitants, another said 650 000. Anyway, it feels like a much smaller city in a very positive way. The hotel we chose lay just off Jonker Street in the UNESCO protected area. This is the old city, packed with tiny shops, wonderful museums, hotels and restaurants.street Christ chuchIt is a beautiful part of Melaka, everything is within walking distance. We parked the car at the hotel on Thursday and didn’t use it again until Monday. Only time we used a taxi was going to Oceanarium at the Shore, a new aquarium located in a shopping mall about ten minutes drive from Jonker. Our children loved it, and we enjoyed it too. Entrance fee is RM 28 for adults, RM 18 for children over 3 years. There is a petting pool where you can touch different sea creatures, nicely lit and maintained displays and lots of interesting information written in Bahasa Melayu and English. There is a small Shell Museum and a Mangrove display. The gift shop is not huge and actually offers some cool stuff that isn’t too costly. Our oldest bought a paper mache turtle with watercolours and a brush for RM 5.90. The place is worth a visit if you like fish and other sea animals, you can easily spend an hour or two there.

We went to the Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum which was really good. The entrance fee is RM 15 for adults, children free. They give a guided tour of the upper floor and on the lower floor you are free to look around and take pictures. The museum shows the history of the first Chinese immigrants and their descendants, the men called Baba and women Nyonya. The displays are filled with jewellery and there are clothes and furniture to look at. The guide we had, Julia, was really good and could answer any question we had. She showed the children the smaller statues that they could sit on and the fish in the big bowl and so on, making it a nice visit for the whole family.

We went up the hill to Saint Paul’s Church, or the ruins of it. Half way up, with lungs on fire, I felt that maybe it wasn’t the best decision to climb all those stairs at 3 pm. Even after four months in Malaysia we got knocked off our feet by the heat and humidity in Melaka. Apparently this February has been unusually hot and humid due to lack of rain earlier months. That being said, it is a warm city anytime of the year so be sure to drink a lot and by that I mean water and juice, not beer. A lot of tourists make the mistake of drinking a nice, cold beer at lunch and forgetting to add some other kind of fluid like WATER that actually hydrates your body. It is so easy to get dehydrated if you forget to drink enough. And make sure to keep out of the sun during the middle of the day, walk in the shade and wear a hat. They sell lovely sunhats in almost every shop in Melaka, mine cost RM 10 and looked really nice. st paul

There is a night market on Jonker Street every weekend, so three evenings in a row you can wander around, looking at things and people. The market is almost too crowded and there are a lot of plastic toys and knick knacks on sale but overall it is a nice market with lots of local food and snacks.

Unfortunately some of the museums we wanted to visit were closed due to renovation. The signs said they should be open again in January 2015… Being Malaysia they will open when they open, forget what the signs say. I had wanted to visit the Anthropological museum and the Literature one but both were closed. But the Melaka Sultanate Palace was opened and I’m glad we went there. I think we paid RM 2 per adult and nothing for the children. It has interesting dioramas showing the history of Melaka and traditional clothing and more. Outside the museum they are recreating a garden and it will be beautiful, when and if it gets finished.

We also visited the Melaka Straits Mosque that is located on the island Pulau Melaka a short distance from the old city. It is a beautiful mosque with a stunning view of the ocean. moskeAs a non Muslim woman you will have to cover your hair and dress appropriately. Don’t worry, there are veils and robes that you can borrow and the people working at the mosque are happy to help if you are unsure of how to dress. At the entrance a woman will offer you some perfume to put on your hand, please accept this. It smells lovely and it is part of the custom in the country you are visiting. If you have issues with the veil and robe, don’t visit the mosque or just have a look from the outside. If you do go inside, don’t forget to remove your shoes!

Even though we stayed two extra nights I still feel Melaka is a city I want to visit again. My husband saw this revolving thing that took you way up high to view the city. Apparently we need to go back so we can go up that thing. Hm, yes and no. Heights are for other people.