Friday November 13

0900 taxi pick up and we were joined by Ben & Bell off Ocean Jaywalker. The taxi ride was fast and furious with an occasional jarring in the back as the worn out shockers bottomed out. One and a half hours later we were dropped off at Hotel Puri. Lea had already booked us in and Ben & Bell got the last room. The hotel was originally a wealthy Chinese Merchants family house, right in the centre of the old part of town and beautifully converted into a hotel.

The Chinese Mansion over the road from the hotel was also pretty impressive.

It was a bit hard to reconcile the Malacca of today to the thriving port it used to be for hundreds of years. The harbour is now all silted up and land reclaimation work is rapidly changing the coastline. I expected more of a medieval flavour to the streets and buildings but preservation work did not really start happening until 2008 when UNESCO listed it as a heritage site. Much has been lost but the place still has a great feel to it and the museums are excellent.

Coffee was first on the agenda and we were surprised to find our nearby little coffee shop (Calanthe Art Cafe) had an incredible selection of different coffees and blends. The food was also irresistible so we enjoyed banana on toasted French stick slices covered in syrup and served with homemade vanilla ice cream.

It took awhile to get our bearings and find Chen Hoon Teng Temple, which is the oldest remaining Chinese Temple in the country, built in 1646.

There were many alters inside to family ancestors and all were spectacular in their decoration.

The detail in the architecture is amazing.

Then we made our way to the old Dutch Town Hall and Admin centre called “Stadthuys”, built in 1650. The old building has been much renovated and surrounding gardens were lovely with a little Dutch Windmill.

From there we climbed up to the remains of St Pauls Church.

Then down to one of the only remnants of the original fort that protected the harbourfront and the hill.

Nearby were the Independence Memorial and the Sultans Palace.

So much history and changing rulers.

Portuguese 1511 – 1641

Dutch 1641 – 1795, 1818 – 1824

English 1824 – 1941

Japanese 1941 – 1945

All makes the place a bit quirky as demonstrated by their chosen mode of tourist transport.

After lunch in a local restaurant we visited the Maritime Museum. The main displays were held in a replica of a Portuguese Caravell.

The displays inside on many deck levels were very well done and we all enjoyed the history lesson. The aircon was a welcome respite as well.

Back along the riverfront a waterwheel has been recreated as a symbol of both the past and the present. Near the original river entrance are more remains of the old fort wall.

It was time to head back to the hotel for a quick siesta before heading out into the famous night markets of Malacca.

At dusk we headed out and the assault on the senses was immediate as we turned into Jonkers Street. So many things to look at, so many different smells from all different types of food and cooking styles. We made our way through the jostling crowds of locals and tourists from all over the world. We bought small serves from numerous food vendors to experience the variety. I got left with a plate of chilli octopus that none of the others would eat. At least it banished my cold for a while.

We caught up for drink with Carlos and Sarah and the kids plus grandma off Sea Monkey at the Geography Cafe. They had anchored just off the River entrance and left their dinghy at the Customs dock. I think we will do this next year as there is just so much to see in Malacca.

While the whole Night Market was very touristy it had a great vibe with stages for Karaoke and live music and people everywhere.

Saturday November 14

Comfy bed, great shower, good aircon and a little balcony overlooking the courtyard garden.

All for $61.00 per night in the centre of a UNESCO world heritage city.

The Baba and Nyonya heritage museum was booked out for the 1000 session so we went around to the Cheng Ho museum that covers the Chinese Treasure Fleets. These fleets were sent out on goodwill and trade missions with the world in the early 1400's. Great museum displaying well the artefacts and evidence for this nearly forgotten time in China's history. Recent DNA studies have identified Chinese genes in NZ Maoris and Australian Aborigines and many other parts of Africa and Europe.

28000 people made up the fleet and the museum shows models of the fleet including many specialist boats carrying water, food, horses as well as people transports.

We made it back to the privately owned Baba and Noyonya museum. The name represents a blended Malay Chinese family. They were a wealthy merchant family and the house is magnificent but no photography is allowed.

Found a local food court for lunch which Ben gave the thumbs up.

Took the River Cruise though the old town up into the new section. The riverfront is very attractive with boardwalks, bars and cafes. Murals adorned the walls of industrial looking buildings. Shame the monorail running around the city appears defunct.

They even have their own Venetian Rialto Bridge.

Not quite Venice but a great city.