View from our room
Cooking with Chef Alfie
A little sugar will make it less hot
Prawns with pineapple
Trishaw ride of historical district
Bound feet shoe makers
Boat ride on the river
In 1998 we took a day trip from Singapore to Melaka. In 2005 we spent a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur, commonly known as KL, before visiting Taman Negara, a remote jungle area. We have fond memories of both trips. This year we decided to revisit Melaka on our way to KL to catch an inexpensive flight to Vietnam. What a difference a decade makes. Melaka is only a four-hour comfy bus trip from Singapore. On board they showed a low-budget American film released in 2008 that probably never made it to theaters. The film was so badly made it was embarrassing.
When the bus reached the Sing-Malaysia border everyone got off with their luggage, walked through passport control, and the bus was waiting on the other side – so smooth. Bus travel is not only cheaper but it is easier and sometimes faster than the airplane, plus we get to see some of the countryside.
We checked into the Holiday Inn Melaka where we had scheduled a cooking lesson on Paranakan foods. Paranakan, or Nonya, cuisine combines Chinese, Malay and other influences. It was developed by the early Chinese settlers on the Malay Peninsula who intermarried with the local Malays. They created fusion cuisine before the term fusion was popular. Chef Toney taught us to make Chicken Capitan, which was derived from the Portuguese, and Ayam Pongteh, a Malay favorite traditionally served during Chinese New Year. That evening we attended a Manager’s Reception, which is becoming a weekly practice in many hotels. It was a chance to meet other guests and tour the hotel.
The Holiday Inn has a great view of the Straits of Melaka and yet it is only a short walk to two large modern malls where we had Annie Anne’s pretzels with our Starbucks coffee! The mall is located between the hotel and the historic center so everything is convenient however the hotel offers shuttle connections to the malls and the historic center.
The beautiful brick-red Dutch church built in 1744 is still the center of the historic city, which was recently named an UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site. Unlike ten years ago, there are many tourists with a bevy of brightly decorated trishaws waiting to transport tourists to all the sites. While a trishaw ride is a must-do, everything is within easy walking distance. There are many new attractions including a narrated boat tour on the river, a revolving sky tower, and an Eye on Malaysia, which is a smaller version of the London Eye Ferris wheel. It seems every city wants a huge viewing Ferris wheel.
There are several churches, mosques, and museums to visit. We’ve been to a lot of museums but never one called The Museum of Enduring Beauty. It is on the third floor of the People’s Museum. On display are the many ways people have beautified themselves from tattoos to lip plugs to foot binding. Beauty is what our culture teaches us is beautiful and definitely in the eye of the beholder.
From Melaka we took another four-hour bus trip to KL where we checked into the Pan Pacific Hotel at the airport. The hotel is more like a resort than an airport hotel with plenty of greenery, a pool, and several restaurants. The hotel was offering a special for upgrading to Club Level, which included the Internet, breakfast, and cocktails in the afternoon so our stay became a wonderful rest stop.