We made a quick stop in Melaka on our way through Peninsular Malaysia. Melaka is one of the three former large British ports – George Town, Melaka, and Singapore. According to the internet (and signs around town) it used to be the most important of the three due to its strategic location (it is located at the narrowest part) on the Straits of Melaka (the body of water between Malaysia and Sumatra).
We enjoyed our (brief) time here. In my mind, Melaka had a similar feel to Penang/George Town. A big negative – the food wasn’t as good as Penang. Yeah, there are a lot of items under the ‘Eat’ section below, but it still doesn’t compare to Penang. A big positive – the river walk. I loved the river walk. The center of old Melaka (the UNESCO area) straddles a river just before it meets the Straits of Melaka. Both sides of the river have a pedestrian-only walkway abutted by various businesses. Very pedestrian and tourist friendly. Fun area.
High level. Bus.
Detailed. We took the bus from Tanah Rata to Kuala Lumpur (TBS) and then, since we had already spent a few days in KL, we hopped on another bus from KL to Melaka. Lots of busing for one day, but that’ll happen from time to time. The KL to Melaka bus dropped us off at the Melaka Sentral bus terminal. From there we took the local bus to our lodging.
Travelers Homestay. AC, hot showers, private room, nice common area (though the common area was quite hot). Your standard quality accommodation. The owner really set this place apart, however. He was incredibly helpful in providing directions, recommendations, running paths, and general Melaka insights. Great guy.
Banana leaf dining. This was one of those ‘things you have to try’ in Malaysia. What is it? Well, instead of eating your dinner off of a normal plate you instead eat it off of a banana leaf. Supposedly, eating off of a banana leaf helps your digestion or something along those lines. Do I believe it? Eh. Sure. No. Doesn’t matter. We did it. Eating off of a banana leaf is an Indian tradition (here’s an answer on Quora), and we were at an Indian restaurant. Another Indian tradition – eating with your fingers instead of a fork/spoon. We attempted to do this too, but we only made it 5 minutes before switching to forks. You win some, you lose some.
Durian puff. This one requires some background information. Let’s start at a high level – what is a durian? Danielle and I had no idea durians existed before coming to Malaysia. When we first saw durians, we thought they were jackfruit (the fruit we learned to love in Thailand). Boy were we mistaken. Both jackfruit and durian are small yellow fleshed fruits found inside large, green fruit housing (my term for it). As we have learned, the green housing for durian is spikier than the jackfruit housing. The actual fruit portion of the jackfruit is a healthy yellow, has a pleasant smell, and tastes wonderful. The durian, on the other hand, is sickly yellow (durians need to get outside a bit more), smells like rotting fruit (disgusting with a hint of sweet), and tastes….well, it doesn’t taste good. When we bought the durian puff, however, we only knew it smelled bad and looked bad. We each had one bite of the durian puff and the rest went into the trash.
One final note on durians….every hostel we have been to in Malaysia has a sign saying “No durians allowed”. Seriously, the smell is that bad. Yet, people continue to eat them.
Kaya puff. Kaya is a coconut, pandan, margarine concoction that is popular in south Malaysia and Singapore. It is a jelly/jam replacement if you will. Consistency-wise, it reminds me a lot of apple butter. The flavor is very mild. Either way, there were several vendors in Melaka selling Kaya puffs. I had one and it was delicious.
Popiah. Yet another Malaysian food we tried for the first time in Melaka. Kind of like a spring roll, but warm and deliciously spicy. And it isn’t fried, so you feel a bit healthier.
Explored the city. Not much to write about here. We walked around town and took in the sites – waterfront, Jonker Street, UNESCO area. Once again, the riverwalk is wonderful.
One run. We ran to the waterfront and headed inland. Easy run. Close to town, the path is narrow, crowded, and unpredictable (random barriers, hidden entrances, and the like). Further out, the path is newer, wider, and deserted. We were able to go 2.5 miles out without finding the end of the path. We also had our first experience with potentially aggressive wild dogs. When we were running along the newer portion of the path, we saw a pack of 3 or 4 dogs maybe 50 yards away from the path (the closest building was another 50 yards beyond the dogs). When the dogs saw us they started barking and heading towards us. Using a trick our Canadian friends taught us, I bent down, pretended to pick up a rock, and pretended to throw my pretend rock at the dogs. It worked like a charm – the little buggers scattered. Strava file HERE.
Traveler’s Homestay. Good accommodation. Great owner.
Durian puffs. HOW ARE THESE A THING?
- Proper Malaysian coffee. I finally found Malaysian coffee without pre-added milk or sugar. The coffee itself is good, but even better is the serving style – the coffee is pre-ground in individual filters just like tea. I don’t know why this isn’t more popular. Just heat up water, throw in a coffee packet, steep, and enjoy. And no mess! Just toss that bugger in the trash (or compost) when you are finished.
- 100 Plus. This is a Asian soft drink we are beginning to enjoy. It is marketed as an isotonic sports drink. To us it is a carbonated and slightly less sugary version of Gatorade.
- Mango Ice! This is becoming a bit of an obsession for Danielle. Every town we go to, Danielle makes it her mission to find mango ice. For those of you who do not remember, we had mango ice for the first time in Penang. It is a dessert consisting of shaved ice topped with mango juice, slices of mango, condensed milk, mango jelly bits, and, if you are lucky, mango ice cream. We found a place in Melaka that sold it (Big Bowl Ice) and sold it well.