Our second day in Melaka began with a meandering stroll along the river that cuts circuitously through the center of town.
My husband and I chose walking over boating, but for many visitors, a river cruise is a must-do on the Melaka itinerary.
We headed to what is sometimes called “Harmony Street,” where we were lucky to find two major religious festivals underway. The first originated at Sri Poyyatha Vinayaga Moorthy Temple, the oldest Chitty Temple in the country (sometimes called Indian Peranakans, the Chitty are Hindu descendants of Tamil traders who intermarried with Malay and Straits Chinese women).
We never did figure out what the festival was called, but we know that it involves the granting of blessings, a chariot pulled by highly decorated cows…
… and devotees who carry jars of milk on their heads while walking barefoot for five kilometers to a local Chitty village.
Above, you’ll see that the festival passes right in front of Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, the oldest functioning Buddhist Temple in the country.
We happened to be there on Vesak Day, the Buddha’s birthday. Among other rituals, followers celebrate by making prayers and spooning holy water over statues of the baby Buddha.
Just up the street and much quieter (until the call to prayer rang out) was Kampong Kling mosque:
With English and Portuguese tiles, a Chinese pagoda, a Malay-style porch, Corinthian columns, and Hindu carvings, this is a fascinating structure.
Leaving the world of religion behind, I wandered along Heeren Street, once the most upscale address in the city. You can still see remnants of elaborate homes here …
… along with interesting shophouse styling:
A walk back along the river took us to Kampung Morten, an old Malay-style village right in town where you can visit living museums (if you’re lucky enough to find them open — we were not) …
… spend the night in home-stays …
… and see (and smell — yikes!) belacan — a fermented shrimp paste — drying in the sun.
We stopped once again to have cendol at Mahkota Ice Kacang [Dessert Village].
I could sing the praises of this place all day long — it’s dessert happiness and perfection, and Auntie Jenny, the proprietress, is absolutely lovely.
Other culinary adventures of the day included these totally spectacular fried things …
… and drinking a watermelon through a straw.
To prepare this, a gentleman cuts a hole in the watermelon and then smooshes the watermelon fruit inside with a hand blender. This is not, as it turns out, something that should ever happen to a watermelon, but I was so thirsty that I hardly cared.
For our final outing of the day, we decided to follow the river all the way from our hotel down to the beach (hint for anyone else who wants to try this: the river walk is blocked off at least six blocks short of the shoreline, so you have to do a bunch of walking along the road). It’s not a particularly lovely beach, but it felt great to put my feet in the water!
All of this walking (it was a 20,000+ steps day) took us past yet more wonderful street art — much of which, unfortunately, is starting to give way to the ravages of the tropics. But I love it nonetheless.
You never know what you’ll find as you wander around. I wouldn’t say that you come to Melaka to cross particular attractions off your bucket list, but it’s a great place to make endless small discoveries.