CURRENT LOCATION: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
After our smooth as silk bus ride, we arrived in Melaka in the mid-afternoon. We checked into our guest house in Chinatown, the heart of the heritage zone, and were pleased to check into an enormous room with an ensuite, fan and air conditioning. Not wanting to waste any time in this picturesque little town, we headed out exploring.
Much like its sister city, Georgetown, Chinatown in Melaka was filled with crumbling shop houses, narrow alley ways and super cool cafes. Its history of occupation by the Portuguese, then Dutch, then English, then Japanese, as well as the influence of the Chinese and Indians as part of trading routes make for a melting pot of architecture and culture. We spent the afternoon exploring the Baba and Nonya Museum (again, sister to the one we visited in Georgetown), the Cheng Hoong Teng Temple, Jonker Street (the Main street in Chinatown), Christ Church, the Queen Elizabeth Fountain, Stadthuys and the riverfront. Not bad for an afternoon stroll! Tired from our walk, we grabbed some dinner and headed back to the accommodation. It was at this point that I met my two new favourite friends. A ginger kitten, that was probably 6 months old, and a little tabby kitten, that was more like 10 weeks old. These two little kitties stole my heart, and took up a fair bit of my time in Melaka. Serious kitty cuddle time was had by all.
We started our day the next day with pancakes at the Daily Fix. They were amazing. Used to an order of pancakes consisting of a single pancake, Zev ordered two orders. When they turned up and there were five, he regretted his decision. Luckily, the waiter hadn't understood him, so only one order turned up. Although I'm sure we could have polished off a second order if need be....
From there, we returned to the Stadthuys, or town hall and governor's residence, now the History and Ethnography Museum. I'm ashamed (not really) to admit that the highlight for me was when one of the animal dioramas started moving, and I realised an actual cat had snuck in. Cue more kitty cuddles. It was a pretty great museum though, with large displays and excellent signage, taking you through the history of Melaka and its people and culture. Melaka was founded in the 14th century by Parameswara, a Hindu prince from Sumatra, became protected by the Chinese in 1405, then dominated by the Portuguese in 1511, then the Dutch in 1641 and then finally ceded to the British in 1795. The intermingling of peoples created the Peranakan people (also called Baba Nonya), who are descended from Chinese settlers; the Chitties, who are of mixed Indian and Malay heritage; and Eurasians born of Malay and Portuguese love affairs.
Next on our museum tour was the People's Museum, with exhibits about body modifications (awesome), meteorites (also awesome), and kites, including a display of a kite from New Zealand, and a poster from the 1990 New Zealand Kite Flying Expo (apparently that was a thing).
And the highlight of our day: The Melaka Stamp Museum. We even saw a display of a replica of the world's first stamp!!!
Exhausted from the excitement of the stamp museum, we decided to have some outside fun at A Famosa Fort, a Portuguese fortress which are among the oldest European remains in South East Asia. There isn't much left, so that took about ten minutes, and then we headed up the hill to St Paul's Church, built in 1521 by a Portuguese sea captain.
On our way onto find an afternoon snack, we stopped in at the Architecture Museum, which did a great job of showing the history of architecture in Malaysia. By now I'm sure you're thrilled with the details of our day in museums, so I'll leave it at that.
We stopped in for a quick snack at the super funky Mod Cafe. Inside was a VW kombi van, which contained the coffee machine and till, with lots of cool stuff dotted around the walls to keep us entertained. Two very delicious drinks later, we headed back to the guest house by way of some chicken nuggets for some down time before heading out to the night market.
The night market took place on Jonker Street, the Main Street in Chinatown. The whole street came alive with stalls selling delicious food and sweets, as well as the usual shit that floods night markets - cell phone covers, tee shirts, cheap plastic kid's toys etc etc. One stall was even selling sugar gliders and hamsters (which I'm not sure is legal), but Zev wouldn't let me buy them all and set them free. We had great fun wandering the stalls and sampling the local delicacies!
The next morning saw us at The Daily Fix for round two of pancakes... I'm pleased to report they're still delicious. After a little admin time, we headed to Bukit China, a 25 hectare cemetary on a hill, containing more than 12,500 graves. While it may sound a little creepy, it was a beautiful spot to wander in the sun, and we very much enjoyed the peace and quiet that came along with it. We also stopped to check out Poh San Teng Temple, and the King's Well.
That night for dinner, we tried Satay Celup. Basically, they put a giant bowl of satay on a burner in the middle of the table, and you go to the fridge and select skewers of your choice (chicken, pork, beef, vegetables etc), and cook them in the satay sauce, fondue style. At the end of the meal, they count the satay sticks, which are colour coded to denote price, and use that to figure out your bill. It was every bit as amazing as it sounds. It's not every day you get to eat bacon that's been deep fried in satay sauce.
The following morning was our last in Melaka, and it was a doozy. We woke to POURING rain, which we headed out in to find breakfast. Sadly, nothing in Melaka opens before lunch time, so we returned, soaked and hungry. Instead, we headed directly to the bus station, bought our tickets back to Kuala Lumpur, and treated ourselves to some McDonalds, eaten quickly at the bus station before the bus left.
A few hours later, we were checking into our hotel in Kuala Lumpur, close to the central train station to make it easier to get to the airport the following day. As we left in search of dinner that night, Zev noticed a lot of suspicious looking men sitting on chairs outside doors with remarkably red lights shining out underneath... And here I was, wondering why our hotel listed their prices by the hour, as well as the night...
Our flight to Borneo the next day didn't leave until 7pm, so the hotel kindly looked after our bags for the day. We decided to spend the day ten pin bowling. For the record, Zev won all three games, but I definitely improved. We headed to the airport in the middle of the afternoon, giving ourselves plenty of time to check in. We caught the train from the main station, which cost 35MR (~$12NZD), and took 35 minutes. Take note Auckland... Naturally, our flight was delayed, but despite leaving 45 minutes late, we only landed in Kota Kinabalu 20 minutes late.
A quick taxi ride dropped us off at Lucy's Homestay, where we were spending the night before heading off to climb Mt Kinabalu. Within seconds of opening the door to our room, a cute little kitty had made himself at home on our pillows. To get to our leaving point in the morning to start our climb on time, we had to be on the 7am bus, so we put ourselves to bed without new furry friend, excited about our upcoming adventure with Jungle Jack!!
Lots of love,
S & Z
(Original post date: 13th May 2015)