Its coming to that time again. Time that I face in each place I visit. The calendar starts showing the last weekend in a place. Now it’s Melaka. I made the call to spend two weeks here because in looking at the city, what there was to see, and wanting to sample a bit of it by walking, I wanted to allow time to see things. Melaka is a UNESCO world heritage site and has over 10 museums and many districts to go see that are all walking distance from the town. There is food to try, places to go shopping, chocolate shops and so many other small and big things to tempt you.
All of that and there is the size of Melaka and how easy it is to get around on foot. You simply do not need a cab or GRAB t get to a place unless its back to the bus terminal called Melaka Sentral.
One can see by looking that the city area is concentrated along both sides of the Malacca River and the roads generate out from both sides to allow access to various points of interest like Chinatown, Jonker Street, the historic districts where the Dutch and Portuguese once built, and then the restaurants and shopping centers if you have that in mind. You can also see the districts like Chinatown and Little India on either side of the river. The riverfront on either side is imminently walkable with beautiful sidewalks and numerous bridges that really tempt the photographer in you to just capture it all.
Weather here is warm. Sometimes late afternoon it clouds up and some rain is produced. My first day here it rained pretty well as I was eating some chicken tandoori down the street. The cook told me only a few days does it do that and he has been right. We only had one day where it really rained. You can tell when the rain will come not only by cloudy skies but the wind picks up beforehand. It gets blustery out and the sky darkens and then it can start. It lasts perhaps 30 minutes at the most here and then will stop. Since it most likely happens late afternoon and early evening, its easy to plan the day out walking or just take refuge in a nice pub with a beer and let it go.
If you are like me and like walking to see a city, you can walk the east side of the river almost a long ways down but when you get to that big bridge in the southwest corner of the map, the sidewalk is blocked and you cannot go further.
Another thing that is very handy for the pedestrian tourist is that all museums are concentrated in one spot and often one admission ticket which will cost about $2.50 US will get you in a whole bunch of them. Its probably reasonable to plan a few days to see them. I will end up spending tomorrow at a few and then on Tuesday will go to the last one in Chinatown and do any last minute shopping for the things I may want or need. To me, the Jonker Street market is more of a trade fair type thing than a market. If something is going to be called a market to me, it looks like Central or Russian Market in Phnom Penh, the Old Market in Siem Reap, or Ben Thanh Market in Saigon. Its a rush of stalls, multiple shops lined up in dark walkways where a latte works to keep you going. This is not like that. So you can shop easily on Jonker Street for the T shirts or trinkets or small doodads you crave but its not stalls upon stalls with a wet market lined up too.
Another thing is eating here. The food here is incredible. You can find complete dinners with a lot of food for about $2.50 with a drink or you can find a nice pub and spend a lot more and have a beer. Beer is kinda difficult to find at times, but look for and find a Chinese restaurant. Expect to pay more for the beer than the food. This was the same in KL and Singapore too. The dinner will be cheap. I went to a nice Halal place for dinner two nights ago and got 5 sticks of satay chicken and curry noodles and a iced lemon tea for about $3.50. You can simply find places on foot. Food is all over the place.
Finally, the thing is the hotels themselves. Spread out across all the districts or locations its easy to get from hotel to where you are going. Its a hell of a lot easier if you have google maps working but a good tourist map from the tourist center downtown I suppose can help too. I personally do not like paper maps. If I wanted to use a paper map, I would not have 4G service in Malaysia. My expectation is in places like Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam is to have really good 4G service and I have had really good cell signals. Especially I must say in Vietnam using Viettel. Viettel is government owned so one can see why the 4G service would be rock solid. I would not imagine the Vietnamese government putting up with bad 4g services.
Anyways, that’s where I’m with three days left here. I have a plan to see a few more places before Tuesday when I’m finished and then head out Wednesday morning by 930 or so for the bus. Its been a really great time here. I think I spent just the sweet spot of time to walk the city in many directions. Exemplary had to be the walk in Chinatown and the museum walks I have done but merely strolling by the Malacca River is peaceful, calming, and the colors of the buildings are a riot to the senses at the same time :-).
You should visit. Don’t plan too much. Just go. You will be rewarded with sights and sounds and food that will captivate you.