It was an earlier start for us as we had booked a coach tour to Malacca. After breakfast we were picked up from our hotel by minibus and taken to KLCC where we transferred to a full size coach.
There were only 10 of us on the trip to Malacca, 4 Australians, 2 Taiwanese, 2 Filipinos and ourselves from the UK so we had plenty of room to spread out. The journey to Malacca took two hours, it’s located 150 km south of Kuala Lumpur. Simon, our tour guide for the day explained the background history of Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage site to us as we travelled towards the city.
Our first stop was at St. Peter’s Church, built in 1710 which is the oldest Christian church still in use in Malaysia with some of its original stained glass windows still intact. We then drove past the largest 17th century Chinese cemetery outside of China, located at Bukit China (Chinese Hill).
Our lunch was included in the tour price and we weren’t expecting much, but we were in for a surprise. We were taken to a smart restaurant specialising in Nonya cusine. This originates from the Peranakans descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Malacca. Nonya cooking involves blending Chinese ingredients with spices used by the Malay / Indonesian community. The ten of us sat around a large circular table with a wooden revolving centre portion onto which a selection of dishes were placed. Everyone was very friendly and we all enjoyed chatting together over our lunch.
Leaving the restaurant in heavy rain, we returned to the coach and were taken to the famous gateway, the Porto de Santiago.
Sheltering beneath umbrellas we climbed the steps to the Ruins of St Paul’s . From the hilltop we could also see the former Governor’s residence with one of his cars parked outside, this now forms a museum complex. Another downward path led us to the iconic Red Square .
The beautiful salmon pink building was the Dutch Administrative building and is now the Malacca museum. Christ Church, next door, is an 18th century building, built by the Dutch during their occupation of Malacca from the Portuguese.
It’s a red brick building featuring a huge white cross at the top. Across from there lies Stadhuis, Dutch meaning city hall, constructed by the Dutch occupants in 1650 as the office of the Dutch governor. It is believed to be the oldest remaining Dutch building in South East Asia and is now the Museum of History and Ethnography. This much photographed square also contains Queen Victoria’s fountain, and a Dutch windmill.
Across the road lies Jonker Street, the main road of Malacca’s Chinatown. Along there are a collection of gift shops and restaurants. Nearby we visited Cheng Hoom Temple, the oldest Chinese temple in the country, translated it means The Abode of the Merciful Clouds.
Continuing a short distance we came to the Kampunghulu Mosque which opened in 1728 and is the oldest mosque in Malacca. The design of the mosque is a cross between Sumatran, Chinese, Hindu and Malay. The minaret, ablution pool and entrànce arch are of an exquisite design whilst the minaret resembles a pagoda.
It was 6.00 pm when we returned to our hotel after a very interesting day trip. Although we don’t usually opt for organised tours, on this occasion it worked well as the main attractions were spread over a wide area and it would have been difficult to see them all in one day without organised transport between sites. We also enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with our fellow travellers who were all really nice people.
If you are planning a holiday in Malaysia and considering some organised trips, it’s best to book them once you have arrived there rather than at home before departure. We paid RM126 each (£19.30) for the full day excursion including lunch.
Three of the Australians had prebooked before arrival and paid almost three times as much, and I checked on UK websites and it’s priced at £58.50 per person, so a huge markup. Don’t worry about the tours being full, as there were 40 empty seats on our coach and tours run daily.
Later in the evening we wandered around to Jalan Alor, eating in typical Asian fashion at a street cafe amongst the hustle and bustle of traffic, crowds, musicians and hawkers. It certainly can’t be beaten for atmosphere.
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