The “Venice of the East” – Malacca, Malaysia

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Our last stop in Malaysia before heading south to Singapore was the old colonial city of Malacca (or as it is know these days, Melaka). Like Penang, this city was a strategic port for Malaysia’s colonial powers, first for the Dutch and later for the British.

The meandering Melaka River snakes through the city and splits off into a number of canals. This extensive network of waterways was an important feature to the old city, with most of the historic buildings located along it. Our hostel was conveniently located on the river, offering a tranquil view from its balcony and easy access to the riverside walkway.

Our Guest House, overlooking the Melaka River.Our Guest House, overlooking the Melaka River.
Our Guest House, overlooking the Melaka River.01-Aug-2011 16:51
 

The modern day population of Malacca is predominantly Chinese, and the city is renowned for its cuisine. It is probably most famous for its Hainese chicken rice balls – small chicken meatballs about the size of a ping pong. We tried a plate of them at one of the popular establishments on Jonkers Street the first night, I quite liked the chicken, but Erik was less than impressed.

Malacca's famous chicken rice balls.Malacca’s famous chicken rice balls.
Malacca's famous chicken rice balls.31-Jul-2011 20:09
 

After dinner, we headed to the Night Market. Here we found some tasty freshly fried potato chips they called “pagoda potatoes” that had just been carved from raw potatoes using this curly-Q type device. The potato chips come on a stick warm and you can ask for a variety of toppings (cheese, chili, salt, etc.). Why don’t they have these on the streets of New York? An idea for Erik and his ever-growing list of ideas of street-carts we should run when we get back to New York.

"Pagoda potatoes" - fried potato's on a stick. Brilliant!“Pagoda potatoes” – fried potato’s on a stick. Brilliant!
"Pagoda potatoes" – fried potato's on a stick. Brilliant!31-Jul-2011 20:38
 

After the blocks of food stalls, souvenirs and craft items, we stumbled upon what we took to be a huge karaoke competition, as an older gentleman belted out a familiar local tune in front of a huge audience.

Some sort of karaoke competition was taking place under the lit-up stage at center.Some sort of karaoke competition was taking place under the lit-up stage at center.
Some sort of karaoke competition was taking place under the lit-up stage at center.31-Jul-2011 21:58
 

We had been warned against taking one of the river boat tours up the Melaka River, but decided to give it a shot anyway. After boarding the boat, we soon realized the tour was entirely in Chinese. The tour guide tried to offer a few comments in English, but otherwise we were left trying to figure out what the rest of the boat was pointing at or laughing about. We did manage to spot some small turtles and a few lizards swimming in the water and lounging in the trees and on land. To make matters worse, the boat unexpectedly terminated a couple miles upstream instead of making a round trip as we had been told.

A tour boat passing under one of many bridges crossing the river.A tour boat passing under one of many bridges crossing the river.
A tour boat passing under one of many bridges crossing the river.01-Aug-2011 16:52
 

Alas, the best thing we did in Malacca was simply walk around. We found an old Lonely Planet with a suggested walking tour, and spent the better part of a day roaming the city.

Dutch Square and Christ Church showcase Malacca's colonial past.Dutch Square and Christ Church showcase Malacca’s colonial past.
Dutch Square and Christ Church showcase Malacca's colonial past.01-Aug-2011 14:08
 

Among the highlights were the old shopkeepers houses.

A traditional wooden house in top condition.A traditional wooden house in top condition.
A traditional wooden house in top condition.01-Aug-2011 15:07
 

Along with the colorful temples, mosques, and churches.

A Chinese temple on Temple Street, where temples, churches and mosques can all be found within a few feet of each other. For this reason, it's also known as Harmony Street.A Chinese temple on Temple Street, where temples, churches and mosques can all be found within a few feet of each other. For this reason, it’s also known as Harmony Street.
A Chinese temple on Temple Street, where temples, churches and mosques can all be found within a few feet of each other. For this reason, it's also known as Harmony Street.01-Aug-2011 15:12
 

And, of course, the ruins of the old fort that once secured Malacca’s place as an major Asian trading port.

The Porta de Santiago - a gate to the old A Famosa Portuguese Fort (now in ruins).The Porta de Santiago – a gate to the old A Famosa Portuguese Fort (now in ruins).
The Porta de Santiago – a gate to the old A Famosa Portuguese Fort (now in ruins).01-Aug-2011 17:30
 

Saying goodbye to Malaysia, we were excited to see what another large cosmopolitan city had in store for us – next stop Singapore!

About Heather

Heather and Erik set off on a round-the-world trip in April, 2010, travelling overland through Central and South America before getting engaged in Antarctica. In 2011-2012 they tackled Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

2 thoughts on “The “Venice of the East” – Malacca, Malaysia

    1. Heather Post author

      Thanks so much for reading, Lynn! We’re determined to catch up soon so we are blogging from where we actually are! Hope you’re well and thanks again for following along! 🙂

      Reply

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