Lost in Malacca-Weekend Adventures
Updated: Mar 21
One year of pandemic and month 'don't even remember anymore' of lockdown. Despite lightening the regime, here in Malaysia, the prospect of travelling and discovering new places still seems far and distant. Therefore my natural coping mechanism has turned on the 'reminisce' regime. And yes, while some of my friends are making fun of my 'reflection' habits, I strongly believe that this is a good strategy for me to stay sane and live through the current questionable times.
Today I wanted to look back to Malacca, a picturesque town, not too far from my current residence Johor Bahru. I visited Malacca sometime last year, even filmed a big part of my adventure, but unfortunately lost all the files (RIP non-existent Malacca vlog).
Malacca city or Melaka in Malay is the capital of Malacca state, the smallest state of Malaysia, yet a truly authentic place and a must-visit tourist destination. The historical city centre has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 7 July 2008, conserving rich culture and offering a unique walk down memory lane, or else said historical timeline. Malacca is known to be a location of one of the earliest Malay sultanates, however, it has also been conquered by the Portuguese in 1511. About a century later, the state was taken over by the Dutch and ruled until 1798. Later Malacca was under the rule of the British, first by the British East India Company and then as a crown colony. The history lesson above is just to show you how diverse, abundant and truly mesmerizing this place can be and totally worth spending a few days exploring.
I spent a weekend only, and dare to say the time was not enough, really wish to return as soon as the states are open and travel is allowed once again. So fingers crossed for new Malaccan adventures very soon.
Where to stay?
There are probably many cool places to stay in, but one that I can personally recommend is the Courtyard @ Heeren Boutique Hotel. It is located in the very heart of Melaka’s Chinatown, down the ‘rich man’s street’ or where the old Chinese and Peranakan merchants built their homes. They left their mark on the area—in its style, in the beauty of the buildings and ornamented facades, and the atmosphere of luxury glimpsed through open doors and windows.
All these rich elements inspired the Courtyard @ Heeren Boutique Hotel, which now offers its guests a flavour of the old traditions with a bit of a modern twist.
What to do?
In a true gipsy/nomad nature I would say-walk around, explore and then walk and explore some more. The thing I loved most about Malacca is that I could actually exercise my legs while strolling down the colourful streets. Despite the heat, I would always prefer to get to know a city on foot, get lost and discover its hidden gems. So my first recommendation is Walk! There's so much to see, so many hidden alleys, overgrown courtyards, varied facades and creative street art.
If you however are looking for specific suggestions for exciting places to visit, and ones that are not the usual tourist attraction keep reading.
Zoo Melaka Lebuh Ayer Keroh, Hang Tuah Jaya, 75450 Ayer Keroh, Melaka
Honestly, I am not a huge fan of zoos. But considering I have not been to a zoo since I was 10 years old, decided to give it a chance. Malacca zoo is the second largest zoo in Malaysia, covering roughly 54 acres of land. As mentioned previously Malaysia is not very open to pedestrians, so if you are someone like me, then use the visit as an opportunity to move your legs and tire your feet. Bring water, a hat and a fan! And don't miss the chance to feed the giraffes.
The Clay House - Home Made Pottery
18, Jalan Tukang Emas, 75200 Melaka
Now, this is a very creative way to spend your time in the city. I have always dreamt of trying pottery and ever since the visit I envision myself in my little studio, spinning the wheel all day long and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. The joke on the side, pottery is indeed a very relaxing mindful practice, you learn something new and end up going home with a creation of your own. The teacher Mr Leong is incredibly patient and happy to help and advice. Once your piece is completed it takes about a month to be glazed and baked, therefore you need to allow yourself a bit of time if you want to collect it, which I absolutely recommend-best possible souvenir is one you made yourself.
27, Jalan Taman Asean, Taman Asean, 75250 Melaka
I'm sure you've heard of cat cafes before. Well, this is similar but not quite. Huskitory is a unique place that provides a one in a lifetime experience for all dog lovers. And not any dogs, but huskies! For someone coming from the north and quite frankly struggling with the heat sometimes, I could not imagine how those beautiful creatures survive in a country like Malaysia, but I guess when you're born and bred here, you kind of 'adapt'. But anyway, the café, is not really a café in the traditional sense of the word, but more a place to play with about 20 dogs for an hour in return for a reasonable price. All the dogs are trained and happy to play, cuddle and smooch your face. Warning: you might die of cuteness overload.
Cooking School Melaka
29, Jalan Tukang Besi, 75200 Melaka
Another fun activity you can try with your friends and family. The small family business offers cooking classes usually for about 3 people at a time and by appointment only. The course takes about 4 hours, including the time it takes to eat the final dishes. The visitors are taught to cook 3 main Malay local style dishes using simple recipes and freshly sourced ingredient, handpicked on the day of the course. the best part is one gets to hold on to the recipe after they leave, meaning they've taken with them another great souvenir to remember their adventures.
Where to coffee/brunch?
Anywhere you direct your eyes there's a place to sit down, cool down from the heat and enjoy a wholesome dish, but my absolute favourite place was one, I kept returning to it again and again.
No. 89, Jlan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Taman Kota Laksamana, 75200 Melaka
A wonderland of a café! Taken straight out of the fairytales, The Baboon House offers mouth-watering food, unique cooling drinks and freshly ground coffee in a relaxed garden atmosphere. Totally laidback and in complete contrast to the busy Jonker Street outside. Space flows through intimate interior rooms and open courtyards overgrown with plants and bushes. The café is not short on personality, quirky furnishings and at times creepy decorations are scattered throughout, adding to the serene, yet mysterious feel. The walls are covered with unique artworks, typical for this part of the city. The jungle experience is captivating and probably further encouraged by the fact the coffee shop is pet friendly, so there are usually some furry friends wondering about, waiting to greet you and play with you (or simply beg for your delicious-looking food).
From the menu, I recommend the Mama Baboon Homemade special lemongrass drink and Oriental red, made with dates and longan fruit. the burgers are their specialty, the salads are filling and yummy too.
13, Jalan Bunga Raya, Kampung Jawa, 75200 Melaka
The Vintage Green Cafe @ The Daughter is another unique and filled with character place, literally. The place is charming and reminds me of an old English vintage shop that also happens to sell food and coffee. Bury yourself in the millions and millions of postcards and black and white photographs or simply pick an old dusty book while chilling on the soft sofa while sipping a refreshing lemonade, this place offers once again an unforgettable experience in a very welcoming shabby chic interior.
Some other places you might want to check out:
Where to shop?
If you want to buy souvenirs the best place is probably somewhere close to the historical landmarks and main tourist attractions-St. Paul Church or Christ Church Melaka or the famouse Jonker street. But personally, I would recommend you buy local. If making your own pots, or bringing with you a tested culinary book is not enough, I'd say walk around the little streets and pass the artists' ateliers and workshops. Malacca has many of these and you can find something authentic that has Malaysia written all over it.
Some 'Insta' Spots
Street art is a big attraction in Malacca (not as major, as in Penang) one that has taken over the streets for a few years now, resulting in colourful murals sprawled across facades that would otherwise look run-down and neglected. the best way to see the works of art is simply by wandering the little cobbled streets. A very special mural, one that you can not miss, however, it was commissioned by the popular cosmetic brand Kiehl’s, as a celebration of Malaysia’s rich heritage. Bright colours and curious shapes now take over a huge façade of Jonker Street, the work of the artist Fritilldea.
More street art can be seen down the Malacca River until the stretch of buildings brightly painted from top to bottom in murals. Many of these buildings have apparently been turned into guesthouses.
Jalan Tukang Besi
Jalan Kampung Kuli
Jalan Hang Kasturi
Look around, look up and look down, these streets are the centre of heritage Malacca. The architecture is abundant of colours and decorative motifs, emblematic for the baba Nyonya culture. Charge your camera and prepare yourself to be fascinated and enchanted by all the beauty this city has to offer. Happy exploring!
More of Malacca, here.