In an attempt to escape from the stress that comes from school and work and everything else, the family decided to go out of town. The destination, Malacca.
Yes, it isn’t a far-flung destination that required a lot of preparation (from where we are coming from anyway). Yes, it isn’t anything (oh so) glamorous nor a (selfish) social media magnet. It was an escape. We went out of our comfort zone. We took the coach from Singapore all the way to Malacca. It reminded me of one thing, that we needed to get Matthew’s finger prints on the Singapore immigration systems. Surely the automated gantries would have helped when crossing borders. Another thing that it reminded me of was that a paper bag of snacks and a drink would come in handy for those kinds of trips. So, hindsight aside, it was a good (albeit not very exciting) journey.
The Sterling accommodated us during our stay. We chose it because of the Jacuzzi in the room. Yes, there were literally dozens of hotels, hostels and apartments scattered within the main district. But because Matthew had a penchant for choosing hotels with a bathtub, this kind of became a criteria when looking for accommodation. We had to Google what a “boutique” hotel meant as this is only the second time we were holed up in one, and the definition was actually spot on. The Sterling is indeed a small but fashionable hotel that is situated in a fashionable urban location. It isn’t a five-star hotel, but the important thing for us was that it was clean, secure, accessible and that it had a bathtub (Jacuzzi) in it. Yes, bathtubs are important to us. In fact, if not for sleeping, Matthew spent more time in the tub than on the bed.
Just like our trip to Penang a few years ago, this was one of those trips that we decided to wing it. Sure, we read about some places of interest in Malacca. But we didn’t have a real itinerary. I bet even Lonely Planet had itineraries, but all we had were ideas and hope (that we don’t get lost). It has paid off before. Not without frustration or anger management practice, yes, but we survived.
The good thing about The Sterling is that it was at the heart of Malacca’s major tourist attractions. We only found out when we stepped out that night for a leisurely stroll to see what we could see. Just a few blocks and we already found ourselves at Dutch Square and everything else that it had to offer. Unfortunately, that was like saying we encountered Malacca in a night. But because we had just gotten there, we made sure that there were still places to go to the next day. And really, the maps are so frustratingly out of scale that we found places we weren’t expecting to find just yet. I guess it’s just one of the perks of having a family that likes to travel. Oh, and the really memorable bit of that first night was my first (and last) taste of the infamous Stinky Tofu. It can best be described as, well, its indescribable. Let’s just say that you have to experience it to know what it looks like, what it tastes like and what it smells like.
We had the next day all to ourselves with Jonker Street to end the day. We got perfectly lost that morning and we only found our way home because we followed the river. It was hot, but at least we had a laugh while finding our way about. The afternoon proved to be a bit better, although we missed going inside the Upside Down House because of the long queue. In exchange, we had another leisurely walk from Dataran Pahlawan Megamall all the way back to our hotel. We started off our walk from Megamall and went through some nooks and crannies. We may have passed through A’Famosa but I can’t be sure. What I can be sure of is the climb up to St. Paul’s church sitting on top of the aptly named St. Paul’s hill. What a climb, but what a sight. I love old churches like this one and St. Paul’s did not disappoint. While finding our way down, we passed by the Malacca Sultanate Palace but since we were on the other side of the fence, we weren’t able to go in. What we were able to trudge through was a Dutch graveyard. And given that it was turning dusk when we passed by, it kind of got a little creepy but nothing disconcerting at all.
When night stepped in, we walked towards Jonker. We expected to see a lot of things to buy and take home but luckily it wasn’t as much as we thought. We were tempted to taste just about everything that we saw but it proved futile because we wanted to come home alive and healthy. There were quite a few things that we did want to take home but we had to consider that we were only taking the bus. Things were considerably cheaper than in Singapore and quite a number of them I haven’t actually seen here. So, yes, Jonker Street is worth the wait, the heat and the noise. It was a culture, and that culture is a brilliant mix of people, barter and food. I wouldn’t mind driving all the way back to take home the things that we wanted to buy. It was a long street by the way, but there are items that can be bought early on from where the street starts. You don’t need to go from one end to the other, halfway seems to be just right.
After an exhausting night, we dipped and had a relaxing bath in our room’s Jacuzzi. It was an awesome way to end the day.
Our trip to Malacca ended meeting up with a friend, having lunch and shopping for groceries. We had a great time in Malacca. Plus the experience of crossing borders on a bus was another adventure all on its own.