Another day dawns in exotic Melaka Town. Last night following a thunderstorm we again dined on the edge of the river. This time we tried the Melaka Laksa which is thickened with coconut milk. Yummy! Off to explore Little India this morning which is very near our lodgings.
Have been pondering why one falls in love with some places and would want to live there and merely enjoys other.
I think the key is in the human condition. In personal relationships one falls for someone in the first rush of enthusiasm just seeing their good points and brushes aside the negatives. After the first flush of a relationship one realises that the recipient of your attention is not perfect. It is at this turning point that relationships take on an enduring quality or implodes. If you choose to overlook the imperfections it will blossom and thrive. If one chooses to focus on the negatives implosion is assured.
This translates to places we visit like Melaka. Our first flush of enthusiasm was tempered by the negative of vast crowds of tourists. Now that we have brushed that aside and have embraced the charm of this exotic town our love affair with it can begin!
I sadly think of the less adventurous poor souls of our age languishing in caravan parks and cheap lodgings while we traverse South East Asia for less money than they expend each day. Thank you Colleen and Stephen for being the catalyst for us To “Sell Up Pack Up and Move Out”.
Enough philosophising for today, on with the affair!
Our host has pointed us in the direction of an old Barber Shop nearby and a great Satay stall so we will commence our day of discovery.
One of Melaka’s good point is the open space. Erica has drawn my attention to this and it appears this space has been made possible by the land reclamation and it gives the town a less cramped fell.
Erica (The Shop House Addict) has found her perfect abode. It is a restored Shop House for just 8.5 Million RM (2.33M US$) It has plenty of room for guests, is in a good position, and is available now. Only the money is not!
As they say “the best laid plans of Mice and Men”. Everything changed when our local Indian Taxi driver rang me to see if we needed him. We made a snap decision to take a tour of the outer town north westwards towards Penang for a few hours.
We have just returned from the most revealing taxi ride of our lives. Peter our driver first took us towards the Melaka Straits to the north west of The Old Town arriving at what at present is the Shipping Terminal. A tent is used to get passengers through migration. Ferries also depart daily from a nearby wharf to Dumai in Indonesia, about a 2.5 hour trip.
As we looked seaward the water was littered with dredge/barges and there was lots of sand heaps everywhere. Peter explained that for the last 15 years or so Malaysia has been bringing sand from Indonesia to be used in land reclamation works. At this spot alone massive areas were being reclaimed. As we drove along there were literally thousands of new 3 storey shops stretching on forever. Almost too hard to comprehend. They are building at a frenzied pace on this bonanza of reclaimed land. All of these buildings are vacant and serviced by a perfect road system in pristine condition.
Now we are in the Lokasamama area and we see large bungalows being constructed behind the shops. Passing through the Limbongan locality that was reclaimed 6 years ago and we see signs of life again.
Appearing out of nowhere what seemed to be a white mirage shimmering on more reclaimed land was the vast and brand new Oriental Melaka Straits Hospital and Medical Centre. We felt as though we were on a movie set! Peter our ever knowledgeable driver told us it was a Chinese Private Hospital owned by the founder of Boonsieu Motors (Malaysia’s largest motorcycle importer and dealer) 90% of the patients at present are Indonesians. Apparently it is a little cheaper than the other three in town.
As we follow the ever changing coastline we find huge bungalows and many high rise condominiums that had been built on the waterfront. Since their construction the land in front of them has been reclaimed for about a kilometre out to sea. The properties have dropped by half or more in value and there are a lot of angry owners but it seems that in Melaka a waterfront property is only waterfront until someone reclaims the sea in front of you.
Many Indonesian Chinese have bought in this area Peter informs us. He then took us to a small access point to the water where the government had built a café food outlet centre for the local Malay Muslims. That is what I call looking after the locals! Next we spotted a Submarine seemingly floating on the sand. Peter explained that the government purchased it from the French to add to their fleet and not knowing how to operate a submarine turned it into a museum instead.
The next surprise of our life was a row of about 50 old style buses parked along the esplanade of a pristine white beach with azure waters. Peter (who seems to know everything) told us that when the government took control of inner city bus routes they took all the old buses, parked them out here and gave them to the local Malay Muslims. They have utilised them as food vans, toilets and even one red one as a BusTel! The toilet one was charging just 0.3RM for a pee and 1RM for a bath. When we spotted these 2 old bus’s we almost died laughing. They are very busy at weekends when the beach is full of families swimming.
Journeying onwards we reached the Tanjong Kling area and a 30 store twin tower called Ocean Palms. Peter who is friends with the security man drove us in for a look. He explained that it is the most favoured abode of expats as although it is older the condominiums are spacious. We wandered around to see the pool and facilities and could not believe how much cooler the Melaka Straits sea breeze made us feel. If we choose to base ourselves in Melaka this would be high up on the list.
This journey showed us a side of Melaka that we had no idea existed. The only other place on earth reclaiming to this extent is probably Dubai although historically the Dutch have been pretty good at it. I suggest you Google Earth Melaka and look along the coastline to the right of the river mouth to see that I am not exaggerating. The Hospital and the 50 buses on the beach are clearly visible although even more building has occurred since the latest image. We are both truly amazed at what we saw on our drive today.
Returning to base took about 25 minutes and we walked up to Nancy’s Kitchen, reputed to have best Nyonya food in Melaka. She was closed until 4.30pm so we stooped to try the famous Chicken rice balls and Pork Char Sui at another place. The Chicken rice is cooked in chicken stock, compressed into balls and eaten with a little chilli sauce. They tasted wonderful. The Pork Char Sui was equally delectable and we also consumed a water spinach sambal with chili and garlic. Cost 22RM
Our affair with Melaka seems to be progressing at a remarkable pace!