We were up bright and early as we didn’t want to have to rush our breakfast as we’d arranged to be picked up from the hotel at approximately 8.45 a.m. for a day trip to Malacca. Although we usually travel independently, getting to Malacca and seeing all the main sights scattered around the city isn’t easy so it seemed sensible to opt for a coach excursion.
We booked with Tour 51 and were collected from outside our hotel just after 9.00 a.m. The coaches are clearly marked with the company’s logo making them easily identifiable which is useful if like us you are staying at a large hotel with tour buses arriving constantly. Once on board it was explained that this was in fact just a feeder coach to take us to their central bus station from where we quickly transferred to the coach destined for Malacca. Our coach was comfortable with ample leg room and as there were only nine passengers on board there was lots of room to spread out with Abdul, our tour guide providing us with helpful information along the way.
It took approximately two hours to reach Malacca, making our first stop at St. Peter’s church. The Portuguese occupation of Malacca had ended in 1641 when Malacca fell to the Dutch with this distinctive white church being built in 1710 in Dutch baroque style. It continues to function as the oldest Catholic church in Malaysia. We were able to look inside and a member of the church was on hand to give us more detailed information.
Hopping back on the coach it was just a short ride to our next stop, a viewpoint of the Malacca Strait. Here, we spent a few minutes taking photos and admiring the view. Next it was time for a traditional Malaysian lunch which was included in the price of the tour. Our coach driver took us to a pleasant local restaurant where a large selection of dishes were freshly prepared and placed in the middle of a big circular table for us to share. As we were all sitting together this was an opportunity to chat and learn a little about our travel companions who were from as far afield as the USA, Australia and Japan.
Cendol, a local iced dessert was served which I enjoyed but found it to be a little too sweet for my taste. I later discovered that it contains green rice flour jelly, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup. After cups of refreshing green tea we were then ready to set off again, this time to view the King’s Well.
This is the oldest well in Malaysia and was built in 1459 as the main water source for the town. It fell into disrepair during British rule and is now just used as a wishing well. Near the well stands the Poh San Teng Temple so we had a little look inside there before continuing our tour onto the Al Famosa Fortress.
The coach dropped us off at the base of a small hill near the fortress where we viewed the Porta de Santiago which is a small gatehouse and the only part of the fortress still surviving. It is the oldest surviving European architectural remains in South East Asia.
We then clambered up several flights of stone steps to the hill-top vantage point. It was the hottest day of our holiday so far and we tried as much as possible to keep in the shade where we reached the ruins of St. Paul’s church, the oldest Catholic church in south east Asia.
There were some far reaching views from the hill top and after taking a few photos we all made our way slowly down the steps on the other side of the hill towards Dutch Square with its windmill and terracotta buildings.
A central fountain dominates the square which was erected to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1904. The most prominent building is the Stadhuys, completed in 1660 and said to be the oldest Dutch building in the east.
We then had some free time to explore the area ourselves so we decided to visit Christ Church, a red church with a huge white cross on its top. Built in 1753 to celebrate a century of Dutch occupation, it features 200 year old hand made pews and plaques honouring Dutch soldiers and local citizens.
I liked the architecture of Dutch Square but felt the area was very touristy and thought it would be better without the gaudy rickshaws polluting the atmosphere with their loud music.
Away from the crowded square we had a short walk along the riverside before ending our trip along Jonker Street which comes to life each evening with its street food. We glanced in one or two of its handicraft shops and our guide showed us around the Temple of Chen Hoon which is unusual as it is a combination of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.
Our coach was waiting for us just around the corner and we all enjoyed a couple of hour’s rest before being dropped off at our hotels around 5.15 p.m. We were so pleased that we had decided to participate in this tour and would wholeheartedly recommend it for a sightseeing trip to Malacca if you are spending a few days in Kuala Lumpur.
As we were back at the hotel a little earlier than previous days we had a walk around the shopping areas of Imbi, Times Square and Bukit Bintang after dinner. We were tempted into buying some green tea ice creams but in the high temperature mine started to drip before I had finished it, creating a bit of a mess so we had to pop into a branch of Watson’s chemists for a pack of wet wipes to clean up properly!
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