Last night, we wandered up to a Night Hawkers food market to sample the local food. We had Rojak (a sort of pineapple salad with peanuts and lots of other goodies) and pork and chicken satays with extra chillies. It was cooked by a young man who was smoking and served to us by his 7 year old sister. It was delicious. Cost was 7RM and 3.20RM for lime iced drinks. We wandered around a housing area and observed the same terraced type of housing we had seen in Ipoh.
On the way back along the waterfront, we looked at the Casa Del Rio Hotel and serviced apartments. This development was done around 2012 and seemed to fit in really well. It is a five star hotel and if that is your bag, it would be a most suitable place to stay in Maleka. The apartments sold for from 1.5Million RM to about 4Million RM and the position is great. Opposite side of the Melaka River is a Hotel that is a well-executed conversion of the Old Customs Warehouse. The nightly prices for both these pads stated at around 400RM for a room facing away from the river.
As our wonderful Artists Suite has a balcony overlooking the river, we decided on return from dinner at the hawkers market as we should not waste it. An executive decision was made to eschew Muslim values and purloin a bottle of red wine to enjoy on the said balcony.
In a 66% Muslim town this proved rather more difficult than one would have expected. As the full moon rose over The Melaka Straits, we embarked on our mission. Eventually we were pointed towards an Indian Café nearby where we approached a man, mentioned wine, and to our surprise he asked “Red or white?”. Our spirits lifted as he disappeared into a back room and reappeared with 2 bottles of red wine to choose from. One an Australian one was 128RM and an Italian one was 69RM.We were a little taken aback by the price but bootleggers are hard to find and the full moon was rising so we coughed up 69RM.
Back on our balcony the full moon glowed through the tropical haze and the romance of this exotic place was in the air. As we sipped our wine the tourist boats cruised by looking up with envy and we felt quite smug! One poor soul with camera in hand was even taking photos of us!
If ever you get to Melaka you must stay at The Wayfarer Guest House in The Artists Suite room number 6. Unfortunately it is not available for the next 4 nights so we move to an internal room. This old Shop House was originally a Rubber Traders Shop House and the Rubber was loaded onto barges from what is now the ground floor living area and taken to sailing ships waiting in the Melaka Straits at the mouth of the river to be taken to the four corners of the world. One can feel the history here.
As a keen observer, honed by years of Zoo keeping I noticed that The Church of St Francis Xavier directly opposite our balcony has a distinct list to the right. It was built in 1849. I must contact the Archbishop on the morrow to let him know!
Another walk down Jonker Street last night was a big improvement on the previous night, Most of the Saturday tourists had gone home and strolling down the street took on a distinctly better mood. Lesson - avoid Jonker Street on Saturday Nights.
Got a taxi to bus station early to get tickets for Friday’ trip to Kuala Lumpur. I returned to find that Erica had used her not inconsiderable charms on our host and had managed to get The Artist’s Suite assigned to us for our last 2 nights here! Wow I am a happy man!
Set off to visit the three maritime museums. The first one, the replica Portuguese Sailing Ship was a real eye opener. It made me realise my earlier history prognostications were all wrong. History reads the Portuguese held Melaka from 1511 until the Dutch in 1641 and both did well taxing all passing vessels. The British took over in 1795 and Melaka languished as ships were taking a different route and the colony produced little revenue. Black pepper was the backbone of the spice trade until 1880 when rubber took over. That is when our current abode was used to warehouse rubber. The second Museum addressed the environmental problems affecting Malaysia, namely overfishing and un environmentally friendly development of the coastline. More than 60% of Malaysia‘s Coastline has been modified. The third Museum of The Navy was not worth a visit and focussed mainly on great Malaysian Naval Officers (as boring as watching paint dry!)
Off to ruins of earliest fort and reproduction of Sultans Palace. All historied out as I suppose you my reader are!
We then took the Taming Sari Tower which is a circular glass walled donut that slides up a large steel pole to a height of 110 metres whilst rotating slowly. You get wonderful views of Melaka including right out into the Straits. It becomes clear from this height how much land has and is still being reclaimed. We could see 100’s of acres in progress.
Now to Shopping Centres. After last night’s brush with a bootlegger we set off to find legitimate wine for our last 2 days here (on the balcony). We journeyed through vast Mega Malls some with up to date western shops but several with about 20% vacancies (Dataran Pahlawan Mega Mall). Last one was Mahkota Parade and we hit gold. A Giant brand supermarket was selling wine amongst other things edible. Decided to try the little (unknown to us) known Malaysian wine from Sarawak. Will report in when it is consumed. The description on the label is full of promise!
Still in tourist mode an ice cream shop hove into view and on Erica’s suggestion we succumbed. Headed back to our guest house clutching the spoils of our expedition.