Malaysia: Meander in Melaka

Next morning, we were free to do some meandering of our own in Melaka. I answered some emails before going down for what I hoped would be a better, more enjoyable and more leisurely breakfast. Will I ever learn? At this time of the day, I’m used to muesli and unsweetened Greek yoghurt with fruit (prunes, apricots, peaches, blueberries) and maybe a crisp toasted piece of my own home made bread. So what was on offer today?

There was cereal, but just the same sugary stars that have been offered before;  a plate of sliced watermelon and honeydew, some pandanas flavoured cake and marbled chocolate cake; cold fried eggs, baked beans and two long-ago-past-their-best greasy sausages and warmed, but not browned, slices of toast; tea and coffee.  I made do with the fruit, ‘toast’ and coffee. Forgettable! But worth a grumble. I do like a healthy breakfast to start the day.

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Out and about… so what should I do? There were plenty of trishaws touting for business. I declined the offer of a ride and decided to walk and just see where my feet would lead me.

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In Melaka, you can’t help wandering by the canals that meander through the city.

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 At every bend there’s a picture just waiting to be taken.

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Some houses would benefit from a renovation job… but they do have LOCATION!

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I stopped to watch a fisherman who was casting a circular, weighted net into the canal.  He was very proud to show me his plastic bag of fish, already caught – some twenty or so.

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The main Catholic church is the Church of St. Francis Xavier which was built in 1849 in the European Gothic style at the site of an old Portuguese church. Once again, it is a symbol of the religious tolerance which pervades this old city which is also home to mosques and Hindu temples. Long may such tolerance of difference amongst its citizens remain!

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The foundation stone of this central Melakan church was laid in 1741 by Dutch burghers, the business men of the city, to commemorate a centenary since they wrested the city from the Portuguese. A hundred years later, Melaka was transferred to the control of the British East India Company after the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824. The church was then renamed as Christ Church and reconsecrated as an Anglican church and it has been so ever since… making it the oldest functioning protestant church in Malaysia.

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What has changed is the colour of these buildings… from white to red in 1911.

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In the nearby square there’s a fountain… a cooling sight on a hot day.

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Near the red church (Christ Church) is a small fort known as Middleburg Bastion.

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It was built by the Dutch after they took control of the city from the Portuguese in 1641. The Dutch were concerned about ongoing threats, so they fortified the existing walls still further, constructing this bastion strategically at the mouth of Malacca River.

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Beside the fort, on the banks of the river is a huge old watermill, the first and the largest watermill ever built in Malaysia. It’s quite a sight but is in need of some conservation.

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And in the shallows by the wheel, I saw this water dragon… not sure what kind. I eyed him (or her) and the stare was returned without so much as a flinch.

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Another fascinating sight along the banks of the river is this replica of the Portuguese Galleon Flor de la Mar… 34 metres high, 36 metres long and 8 metres wide. It’s the centre piece of a maritime museum that also houses exhibits, artifacts and documents from the golden era of the city of Melaka… the era of the spice trades.

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It’s amazing to think of the men who sailed this ship around the world. It looks so top heavy. Imagine being sent up those masts and out onto the rigging to unfurl or furl sails! And I don’t think I’d like the job of manning the crows nest. Not my kind of travel!

I could have gone on board but, it was so very hot and humid, I decided to begin to make my way back to the hotel keeping my eye out for interesting sights along the way.

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Back along the street, I walked by many a well kept building dating from the Dutch era.

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Most of this ‘wall art’ seemed to be graffiti with a purpose.

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Now, how could an Aussie walk past that bus without taking a photo?

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A peak through the gate of a rather palatial building near the docks.

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A peep through the door of what appears to be another temple. I don’t know it’s name.

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Some well kept, old time buildings in a street.

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I wandered into a narrow street and followed a trishaw… not hard to keep up. I had the chance to have a close up look at this one, the driver’s bright yellow shirt not in keeping with the trishaw’s decorations!  I guess that the only thing preventing the riders from being all dressed up too, must be the oppressive heat and humidity. Otherwise, I’m sure they would be as gaudy as their trikes!

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These narrow streets are not the best for pedestrians to navigate. No footpaths here.

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Not good for motorised traffic either!  A nightmare to drive here, I would think.

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Walking has its own rewards. You have time to take in some interesting sights. Hopefully, I would not need the services of this particular vendor!

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This green-leafed creeper growing on an overhead balcony, had amazing aerial roots.

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Eventually, I found myself back to the Jonker Street area… close to the temples we’d been to the day before. This is the main street of Chinatown, the central hub of activity, a lively area known for its antique markets, a place for bargain hunters.

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As I wandered along, I found a tee shirt that I rather liked… cost RM10 (a tad over AUD3). Another one to add to my collection of tees from places I have visited all over the world. In the future when this one comes to the top of the pile, I’ll wear it to the gym and it will remind me of my interesting, but very hot and sweaty walk around Melaka.

When I finally  arrived back at the hotel, just short of three hours from my starting time, I was absolutely, totally wringing wet from perspiration. So all of my clothes joined me in a cooling, washing shower. It was then time for a well earned snooze.

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Later, with some of the rest of the group, I returned to Jonkers Road to the night market that starts about 18.00.  It really was a fun visit with thousands of people, locals and tourists alike, all milling around, taking in the atmosphere, smells and some street food. We ended up at the Geographica Cafe where I chose to have a curry chicken soup that came with noodles and a beer. I was feeling so hot, the first beer didn’t even hit the sides, so a second was quickly ordered. This cafe is mentioned by Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet so it was quite over-priced for what it was. We should probably have settled for hot, fresh cooked street food.

In fact, later, I bought a Taiwanese egg which I’d seen at the very beginning of the market street. The concoction is cooked in small shallow, straight-sided pans about the size of a rissole. The egg is broken into the pan and gently stirred to break the yolk and to let it run up the sides of the pan. Various fillings, such as octopus, chicken and the like, are then placed in the eggy well in the centre of the pan. Once cooked enough to hold its shape, it’s flipped over to cook the top. I decided to try the one with the Taiwanese sausage filling. It was absolutely delicious and, yes, I wished I’d chosen this in the first place instead of going to an overpriced tourist filled cafe. I’d also loved to have tried some of many different varieties of dumplings I saw being cooked. Oh, to be wise after the event.

Before our meal, I’d spotted some cheap glasses at one of the stores, so I wandered back and bought a pair for RM5 (AUD1.60). Having used them to read the menu at the cafe, I decided they were a pretty good buy so went back to the store for another couple of pairs. Why not?

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Walking back to the hotel was rather special with lights reflected in the canals.

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And those trishaws really do come to life at night with dozens of LED lights, pulsing and flashing in every colour. And as this day drew to a close, so does our visit to the city of Melaka. I’d recommend this enchanting destination to anyone travelling to Malaysia.

David

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China #3 Beijing Night Markets

After our delightful walk in Jingshan Park it was back onto the bus and a return to our hotel, well at least as close as our bus could get to the hotel, a walk of about 400m away. That was OK. We walked by a 7 ELEVEN store which meant a chance to stock up on provisions like milk, a couple of cans of beer and a packet of peanuts. It was time to put the feet up.

My 950ml carton of pasteurised Whole Milk had this interesting set of words on it, “More nutritious and healthier come from purity, fashion and new technology”.  Even so, it tasted OK in tea and coffee.

After drinks with a few of the group in my room at 17h00, we set off for dinner at 18h00. The plan was to visit a local restaurant mentioned by our Chinese guide called Hero – will he be a hero or won’t he be? Only time will tell! He appeared to be a very likeable chap with a good command of English and an accent easily understood. He told us that if we went to this restaurant, we would have to point to what we wanted on the menu as this was a VERY Chinese part of town. Sounded good to me. 

Just four of us went for this walk… others chose to sleep after their long plane flight. It’s always interesting to take a walk in city streets… observing life is one of the joys of travel. 

Lady with dog! DSC00193 ; © DY of jtdytravels

Lady with dog! DSC00193 ; © DY of jtdytravels

This white pooch had just been picked up from a grooming place right opposite our hotel.  All fluffed up, and no doubt smelling like a garden full of roses, it was placed on the owner’s three-wheeled battery powered trike to be taken home.  Cute!

Door locks DSC00285 © DY of jtdytravels

Door locks DSC00285 © DY of jtdytravels

Everywhere you wander there are interesting doors and their locks.

Peeking through doors! DSC00194 © DY of jtdytravels

Peeking through doors! DSC00194 © DY of jtdytravels

Some doors are open and its always good to peek through doorways… it’s sometimes very revealing about local life. In here there were lots of scooters… not sure why!

There are still many bikes and scooters in Beijing all of which are battery-powered nowadays – cuts down on pollution. They are a faster, cheaper and cleaner way of getting around the the often grid-locked streets than by car or bus.

And while we’re talking traffic, its important for Australians abroad in a Chinese city to remember that the traffic here in China travels on the opposite side of the road to the way we drive. So we must remember to look the ‘right’ way first. And what is another trap for the unwary visitor, is the plethora of electric vehicles. They make for some heart-stopping moments. Cars, bikes, scooters, three-wheeled delivery vehicles etc. sneak up behind you without any noise what-so-ever. Before you know it a rear-view mirror sails past your elbow. And of course, vehicles can come at you from any direction. Road markings seem to be there to keep the paint manufactures in business… and as our lovely guide Hero said, traffic signals are there just as a minor distraction, on many occasions not to be taken any notice of. This is not good for an Aussie visitor’s calm demeanour. I know!

Car clamps DSC00284 © DY of jtdytravels

Car clamps DSC00284 © DY of jtdytravels

In one street I saw this car with somewhat unusual clamps attached to its wheels… not the normal sorts of clamps put on by parking police.  So why are they there? Well it seems that they are there because there are still quite a lot of dogs wandering the streets of Beijing… and these boards protect the car’s tyres from being peed upon! Believe it or not! Up to you.

We walked on. Eventually, we came to the aforementioned restaurant…  and then walked straight past. We really didn’t like the look of the place when we saw it up close. Looked a bit grubby! Not a good idea to start our trip with upset tummies! So what now?

Christian Church in Beijing; DSC00195 © DY of jtdytravels

Christian Church in Beijing; DSC00195 © DY of jtdytravels

We ended up walking about 2 km all the way back to where we had made a stop earlier in the day opposite a lovely building that was a Christian Church.

There we found a noodle house which had been spotted across the road from the church earlier. I don’t really think it was much, if any, cleaner. The vegetable noodles I ordered had a layer of nondescript grey vegetables floating on top of a dark brown broth. In the broth I found a few noodles – doesn’t sound very exciting does it? And, it wasn’t. The least said the better particularly after our wonderful lunch.

Mops! DSC00196 © DY of jtdytravels

Mops! DSC00196 © DY of jtdytravels

As we wandered out into the streets again I noticed these mops leaning against a tree. Seems like some things in the neighbourhood must at least get a bit of a lick and a clean! Or was it a clever sculpture?

Dancer; DSC00207 © DY of jtdytravels

Dancer; DSC00207 © DY of jtdytravels

This dancer, a male, was performing on a small stage in the Night Market just a short distance from where we’d just eaten.  He put on quite a show.

Night Market; DSC00197 © DY of jtdytravels

Night Market; DSC00197 © DY of jtdytravels

What a hive of industry the Night Market was. Great ambience and fun to be there. And here, there were all kinds of little food stalls selling things to eat… some we recognised and some we didn’t.

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Of particular interest were the scorpions impaled on skewers… see video clip. Many of them were still waving their little legs around; legs that were never going to take them anywhere except to the grill. I felt a bit sorry for them, but not so sorry that I wanted to put a skewer’s worth out of their misery. No. I’ll try a lot of things but I can’t quite come at scorpions.

There was a lot of paraphernalia on sale including lasers, brass door knockers, hats.. you name it, it was there somewhere. I’ll just add some photos to give you a feel for the place.

Night Market ; DSC00200 © DY of jtdytravels

Night Market ; DSC00200 © DY of jtdytravels

Night Market; DSC00202 © DY of jtdytravels

Night Market; DSC00202 © DY of jtdytravels

Night Market; DSC00204 © DY of jtdytravels

Night Market; DSC00204 © DY of jtdytravels

 

Night Market; DSC00205 © DY of jtdytravels

Night Market; DSC00205 © DY of jtdytravels

Night Market; DSC00206 © DY of jtdytravels

Night Market; DSC00206 © DY of jtdytravels

Yes, indeed, it was a very busy place. But then Beijing is a very populous city. Coming from small cities like Canberra and Newcastle, we were not quite used to having to make our way through so many people. It was difficult not to lose your friends in the throng.

At last we began a slow wander back to the hotel, retracing the road we had come, but this time with a Daagen Haas ice-cream to help us on our way. Very good it was, too.

Light Sculpture; DSC00208 © DY of jtdytravels

Light Sculpture (pink); DSC00208  © DY of jtdytravels

There was a rather good light sculpture in the street outside the Crown Plaza Hotel.

Light sculpture (green) ; DSC00209 © DY of jtdytravels

Light sculpture (green) ; DSC00209 © DY of jtdytravels

A closer inspection as the sculpture changed colours.

And just before I finish for this musing… another observation. I’m a bit of a tram/trolley buff and am always interested in seeing how this form of transport works in a city.

So, of interest to me here in Beijing were some of the trolley buses that trundle around the streets, particularly when one realises they are running around without attachment to any overhead wires. These buses must have storage batteries that allow them to do this. On our walk back to the hotel I noticed a cowling arrangement suspended above the roadway at the beginning of a section of the usual double wire overhead. Sure enough, the next trolley bus that came along stopped under the cowling and up went its contact poles and away it went on its merry way, again connected to a ‘proper’ power source. The section without wires was in a posh area, so I can only assume that overhead wires wouldn’t look ‘nice’… so they aren’t there!

Electric wires! DSC00287 © DY of jtdytravels

Electric wires and co-axial cabling! DSC00287 © DY of jtdytravels

Electric cabling tells a lot about a place…. and sometimes they are not very pretty! Electric light poles in many places around Beijing look like the ones in India – a complete tangle of wires. The Chinese must work on the same principle as the Indians … that if something goes wrong with a connection, it is easier to string a new line than to find the fault in the existing line. There’s black spaghetti everywhere.

And that’s it for this musing.  More anon

David

All photography copyright ©  David Young of jtdytravels

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