Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Melaka Trip '08 – Day 01 : Getting The Iwannatravellitis Itch Scratched

This trip started with a plan for the gang to get together after a few months that we have not done so due to scheduling conflicts. At first we were planning to go on an island excursion to Pulau Pangkor but it turned out that we would be spending more time on the road getting there relative to the time we actually get to spend on the island. Our alternate plan of spending a weekend amongst nature at the Sekeping Serendah Retreat in Rawang also hit a snag when we were told that the glass cabin there was fully booked all the way till the end of October. Considering that one of us has an apartment in Melaka that could accommodate us, we decided to take this opportuinity to spend sometime there over the past weekend.

We left sometime around 10am from KL as the plan was for all of us to meet up in Melaka for lunch. I got a ride with one of the guys and the traffic from KL to Melaka was fairly smooth that morning. After a short break at the Ayer Keroh R&R area, we reached Bandar Melaka sometime around 12:30pm where the rest of the gang were already there waiting for us. First thing on the list of things to do for the day was naturally to have some lunch and our host in Melaka had already lined up a lunch appointment at a chicken rice ball place in town. Chicken rice balls is definitely one of the signature dishes of the town and I have never actually had any before this trip so I was definitely looking forward to lunch. Host’s choice of venue didn’t disappoint as it was quite a filling lunch although somehow I had it in my head that the chicken rice balls would be larger than the golf sized balls that we had.

During lunch, we all learned about a nearby shelter (halfway house?) for children displaced by the conflict in Timor Leste from one of the gang. Since we did not have anything firm planned yet for the afternoon, we decided that we would all go to the shelter as a groups and see how we could also help out. We all drove to a nearby school where the shelter was located and unloaded the books and stationeries that one of us had bought with him to give to the children. We met with the children with their guardian who told us about what the shelter was all about and why it was needed. We spent a little more than an hour talking to them to see how we might help them out. One of the things that we promised to do was to put the word out about them so that other who might be interested to help would be able to contact them. I’m planning a separate entry for them on the blog which should be posted in a few days.

(The children at the shelter - Photo credit :

After the impromptu visit to the shelter, we left for a cendol break at one of the shops near the main market in Melaka town. While the portions were a bit on the small side, the freshness and richness of the ingredients more than made up for the shortcoming. The original plan was to do a walkabout in the area before dinner but everyone was already feeling a bit overwhelmed by the heat and was looking forward for a nice cooling dip. We decided to proceed straight to the apartment where we were going to spend the night and spend the rest of the afternoon before dinner soaking in the pool at the apartment. It turned out to be a really good idea as the afternoon heat was really unrelenting that day and the cooling respite of the pool was exactly what we all needed.

Dinner on the first night was suppose to be to a nearby inn where they served a halal version of “sate celup” which is another distinctive dish of Melaka. We were all looking forward for it only to discover that the promotion was not available on the night that we were in town. Being denied the experience, we decided to switch venues and have dinner at a restaurant that served Nyonya style dishes instead. There were not many patrons at the restaurant when we arrived which meant that we got served fairly quickly. This was good as all of us devoured each plate of food as fast as they could bring them to the table which is understandable considering the healthy appetite that we all had. By that time, we were well on our way of making our weekend getaway in Melaka all about trying to eat the different dishes that she has to offer.

After dinner, we proceeded to the night market at Jonker’s Street to absorb the local color as well as work off the dinner that we had. This was my first time being at Jonker’s, having missed it the last time I was in Melaka 18 years ago, and it was as I imagined it. The color of the night market was further enhanced for me by the restored facades of the old shops that lined both sides of the road. As we walked amongst the crowd, we stopped to peek into the many clan houses that was also located at the road to see some of the visitors there dancing and singing the evening away. At the end of Jonker’s St, they even had set up a permanent stage where people could watch public karaoke performance which added to the festive setting. We stopped awhile at the area to buy some locally made pineapple tarts and rice cakes from one of the stores there before we retraced our way back down the street to were our cars were parked.

(Scenes from Jonker's St)

(Clan house at Jonker's St)

(Night market scene at Jonker's)

(Public performance space on stage at the end of Jonker's St)

After the long day of food and walking, we returned back to the apartment to watch a little TV before turning in for the night. We were all tired by then but still looking forward for the following day.

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