A Weekend in Melaka: Day 1

There is plenty to see and do in the old port town of Melaka (or Malacca, if you prefer the old British spelling), but you can fit most of the major attractions into a single weekend if you’re willing to walk a lot. We started out by visiting several colonial historic sites, including the remains of a Portuguese fort (which the Dutch took to pieces in 1641) …

… the 1650 Stadthyus, said to be the oldest Dutch building still standing in this part of the world …

… Christ Church, constructed in 1753 …

… and this short length of the Middleburg Fort (most likely rebuilt), which the Dutch constructed to shore up Melaka’s defenses after they wrested it from the Portuguese in the 1640s.

Our next stop was just across the street, at this kitschy homage to Melaka’s Dutch heritage (in truth, the Dutch colonizers did not do much to ensure Melaka’s prosperity, but I guess everyone loves a windmill):

For those of you who are wondering what happened to the Dutch in Melaka, they ceded it to the British in the 1820s — and then the British were pretty much content to leave the city as a backwater until its independence in the 1950s.

The rotary at the center of town has this homage to the city’s founding:

A nearby plague explains that a gentleman named Parameswara, the founder of the city, was sitting under a melaka tree in the 1400s when one of his hunting dogs was “thrown into the river after being vivaciously kicked by a white mouse deer.” I just love the thought of a vivacious kick from a mouse deer. I’m sure it’s a typo, but still.

While you’re in town, it’s impossible to miss the radio-blasting, Hello Kitty/Spiderman/Baby Shark-bedecked tuktuks!

After taking in this somewhat overwhelming scene, we wandered into the warren of streets that make up the old Chinese part of town. This took us past great shophouses …

… which now play host to everything from boutique hotels and restaurants (try The Coffee Jar if you need an excellent beverage)…

… to galleries and shops of all sorts.

There’s also lots of fun street art nearly everywhere you look:

For lunch, we had spectacular soup at Alice Wan Tan Mee, followed by the very best cendol (a shaved ice dessert) I have ever had at Mahkota Ice Kacang. The gula melaka was absolutely perfect … yum!

Both of these were at a food centre near the beautiful Majestic Hotel — not quite at the center of town, but worth the journey.

For the afternoon, we headed back into the town’s historic center and paid a visit to the Baba Nonya Museum.

If you want a glimpse into what the life of high Peranakan society would have looked like a hundred years ago, this mansion is the place to do it.

Our next adventure took us over to the Menara Taming Sari, a 110-meter tower that rotates slowly as it ferries its passengers up, up up in the air for a 360 view out over the city.

It’s a leisurely ride, but a fun thing to do if you want to see all the places you’ve been from up high.

For our last activity, we went to the ever-popular, ever-crowded Jonker Street night market. While we didn’t find much that we needed to buy, it offered a good glimpse into a shopping experience that appears to be popular with tourists and locals alike.

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