The thing I love most about being a part of South East Asia is the plethora of affordable travelling destinations; all within a few hours reach from sunny Singapore. Just last weekend, a girlfriend and I made last minute plans to visit Malacca for a 2 day 1 night trip. I didn’t have much expectations of the trip considering that I had been there before and we were just expecting to eat our way through the 2 days. But I ended up taking away a lot more than I expected on the culture and history of the place.
We started our day at 8am where we took a bus from Queen Street Bus Interchange. The interior was a terrible mess of green velvet but that’s ok since the ride was pretty comfy.
We arrived at Hatten Hotel at 12.30pm where we proceeded to check-in first. Since the room wasn’t ready, we dropped off our stuff at the concierge and left to start our day.
Our first stop was lunch and what better things to eat than the famous Chicken Rice Balls. There are a few stalls that contend for the top spot but the most famous of all has to be Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball.
Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball
I queued for almost 45 minutes to get a seat but food was served promptly. You don’t even need to order since their popularity apparently allows them to make the decision for you. I asked for a one person’s share since we wanted to save our stomachs for other foods, but was rewarded with a death stare from the server who proceeded to serve us a 2 persons share anyway.
The two of us ate half a chicken, along with 6 rice balls and 2 drinks which totaled up to about RM27. The chicken is poached so the meat was tender which I enjoyed. However, taste wise it was rather plain and there seems to be no added value to the chicken rice being in a ball shape and it just feels stickier than normal rice. I don’t eat chili, but my friend says that it is pretty good and very spicy.
Would I come back again? Not in the near future I think. The food is considered rather pricey by Malaysian standards and service was poor. But I can see how tourists, hankering for food reminiscent of their childhood, might enjoy the simple fare and ambiance of the eatery which has been in existence since the 60s.
Open: Daily 07:30 – 15:00
Address: 18, Jalan Hang Jebat, Malacca
Tel: +606 286 0121
After filling up our stomachs with the Asian staple of rice, we headed down Heeren Street for dessert at Orang Belanda Art Cafe.
Orang Belanda Art Cafe
The cafe is run by a Dutch and French couple (which explains the good coffee) with a menu that capitalises on Malacca’s history as a Dutch settlement. You can order a variety of sweet or savoury Pannekoek which reminded me of my recent trip to Amsterdam. However, aside from that, the rest of the menu (Main course) seems pretty asian. As mentioned, their French coffee is strong and fragrant even when made into a frappe for an unbearably hot afternoon.
Open: Daily 10:00 – 17:00
Address: 32 Tun Tan Cheng Lock (Heerenstreet), Melaka 75200
Tel: +60 6-284 2184
Just a few steps down the road is the Baba& Nyonya House Museum where you can find out more about the Peranakans of Malacca.
Baba & Nyonya House Museum *Photos not allowed inside the Museum*
South East Asian is home to a unique culture built on unions between the Chinese and Malays. In the 1600s, many Chinese businessmen who settled down in popular trading port cities such as Malacca and Penang married local malay women. Their mixed-raced descendants are referred to as Baba and Nyonyas.
These group of people adopted a mix of cultural elements from both sides and developed their own customs and even aspecial dialect known as Baba Malay. Every year, they pray to their ancestors on Qing Ming Day like the Chinese but follow habits such as eating with only their right hand like the Malays.
A society modernized, many of these wealthy Peranakans pursued education in foreign countries, the most popular being the UK. So, they started to develop taste for Western design and art in their homes.
The museum belongs to the 4th generation of Peranakans who bought the house back in the 1700s. You can join their hourly free tour in English to learn more about the family that has lived in Malacca for generations. Walking through the house, you will notice many contrasting artifacts that show how diverse the Peranakan culture is.
Open: Daily 10:00 – 13:00, 14:00 – 17:00 (Last tour at 16:00)
Address: Nos. 48 & 50 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Tel: +606-283 1273
In the early evening, we took a walk around the historical part of Malacca (Church Street) which consists of places such as:
- Christ Church Melaka – One of the Oldest Protestant Church in Malacca
- The Stadhury’s – A.k.a The Red Square was originally the City Hall of Malacca
- A Famosa Ruins and St Paul’s Hills – A 16th century Dutch fort and church
Being well-situated made Malacca a popular choice for colonization over the centuries. It was first a Portuguese Colony in the 1500s and was taken over by the Dutch in the middle of the 1600s. It became a British Colony in the 1800s like most of South East Asia and endured Japanese rule during WWII. It was finally returned to Malaya after the war.
Do take a walk around to find out more about how Malacca’s different periods affected the architecture and growth of Melaka Town.
If you need a break from sight-seeing, Malacca is now home to 3 huge malls situated conveniently next to my hotel. You can find a mix of international brands such as Mango and H&M, or shop cheap at local retailers. For Singaporeans, you will be happy to know that there is a A&W nearby as well!
At night, we joined the throngs of tourists at Jonker Street for the night market. There you can find shopping selling EVERYTHING and so it is the best place for affordable souvenir shopping. Of course, like in every night market across South East Asia, do remember to bargain especially if you are purchasing more than one item.
So this concludes our first day 🙂 More to be up soon!