Wandering around as if in a sauna, the humidity is so high, eating cake because? Well, because it’s so utterly delicious, so, yes, getting fatter by the second.
Head has totally turned to cotton wool because we have seen so much in the past few weeks, I literally have sensory overload.
In Greek, malaka is not a very nice word. However Malacca (or Melaka as it’s sometimes spelled) is wonderful. It’s all Penang should have been. The shophouses are neither crumbling nor have they been developed to have no character left. They have been restored beautifully. And style is oozing here. The Baba-Nyonya museum (the equivalent of the Green Mansion in Penang) is utterly beautiful; full of gorgeous things. Who said Peranakan style is not Maroulla style? Now I can be more specific. Malaccan Perenakan style IS Maroulla style.
We left our paradise island, Pangkor Laut yesterday, the jetty was filled with waving, smiling staff and guests as we sped off in our boat. We made so many friends in just a week. Then the long drive to Malacca.
We are staying at the Majestic, which is wonderfully old fashioned. It reminds me bizarrely of a St Leonards hotel I stayed in with my family when I was a child.
The street art here is different from Penang in that they take a whole row of houses as an entire canvas. Little painted bridges take you from one side to the other. The streets are filled with red lanterns in preparation for Chinese New Year.
Last night we drank Malaccan gin which we assumed was the local speciality. Imagine our shock when our bill for six doubles came to £200. We went to the 1825 Gallery Hotel for a delicious dinner with desert (of course) and wine and the whole bill there only amounted to about £55. Hmmmmmmm.
Today we went on a heritage walk (like Penang, pizza and baguettes Malacca is a Unesco Heritage thingy). I was utterly entranced. Beautiful, sedate temples and mosques, exquisite craft shops, beaded shoe and bag shops, shops selling ancient Chinese remedies and some selling spirits of every flavour. My absolute highlight was a signage shop; Fwu Chang Design which featured beautifully hand carved Chinese hieroglyphics and furniture that would not have been out of place in a Scandinavian design museum. Absolutely took my breath away.
I walked around the streets openmouthed. I am in love with Malacca.
And if you are wondering why the title – it means prosperity in this magical feng shui world.
Well, last April in Myanmar we met a man who lives in Singapore and who knows the Far East very well. When he heard we’d be going to Malaysia his first response was: “You MUST visit Malacca!” So we immediately inserted a 3-night Malacca stay into our itinerary.
So we arrive in Malaysia on 13 January and at the mere mention of the word ‘Malacca’ people start crinkling their noses in disdain or uttering an “It’s ok, but…”, coming down heavily on the side of George Town (Penang), the other city that was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008. It’s all George Town, George Town, George Town!
But I think it should all be Malacca, Malacca, Malacca!!!!!!
In my opinion, the China Town district of the city, which is the main heritage site, is much more of an entity than George Town. In George Town you get the feeling that UNESCO are, with huge effort, attempting to turn back the clock, but the ugly high-rise office buildings were already there and hardly likely to be dismantled. It really is a large sticking plaster on a very large wound. Take that famous, Blue Mansion. It stands isolated, cramped and throttled by the ugly modern edifices that sandwich it.
No such intrusion has occurred here. Here the UNESCO effort feels more like a caress or embrace, gently retaining and nurturing all that has existed for years. There is one huge, rather impressive, stripy high-rise building, but it is on the periphery of the ancient district and forms a stunning backdrop, highlighting its quaintness and beauty.
What to do in Malacca? Walk. Discover.
Old four- or five-generation shops with tiny wooden drawers packed with herbal remedies or shelves of potent rice-based liquors.
at the exquisite beauty of the hand-carved shop signs and adornments on roofs or porches.
There’s something calming and heartening about just being here.
Even modern Malacca is making valiant efforts. The riverside has been given attractive waterfront walks, and there are a multitude of street mural projects that make the walk from the old town to the hotel a joy in itself.
Yes, definitely – Malacca, Malacca, Malacca!