Monday, April 02, 2012

Malacca, Malaysia

Melaka in Malay or as the Colonialists called it; Malacca..

So just back from the Christmas break and just before the Chinese New Year Rush (which, believe it or not Is a big thing in Asia....) me and Cindy decided to go to the wonderful city of Malacca on the west (well it’s central west-ish) of Peninsula Malaysia.

This was to be my third city visited in Malaysia, the 1st being Cindy’s current place of residence Johor Bahru or JB as the locals call it and the 2nd being Kuala Lumpur although we didn’t really go to Kuala Lumpur we kind of went to this weird Bermuda triangle of Kuala Lumpur only known to civilization as “The Curve”…will tell you all about that trip another time..
On the morning (well early afternoon) of Saturday 13th January 2012 we jumped in her Civic, that’s right folks a Honda Civic and a nice one it is too, with the 2 Litre V-Tec engine, even has flappy paddles but she won’t use them because of the fuel consumption; doing her bit for the environment I suspect. On paper it was 2 hours or so to Malacca but as it always is the case with these type of car journeys it always takes longer than planned. Nevertheless the sun was shining, we had a full tank of fuel and wallets full of Ringgit, nothing was spoiling.

On the road to Malacca..
After the joyous road trip and getting slight lost in the early meters of the city centre we finally reached Malacca. Cindy had booked us a fantastically located hotel right on the main street in Malacca “Jonker Walk” and we were both in need of a bit of a break, those post Christmas Blues one gets when they realize they have to wait another 365 days for those festivities. Malacca is a rich city; I don’t mean rich in the context of wealth but in the context of culture, cuisine and history. This is where Stamford Raffles negotiated and acquired the Island of Singapura (Lion City) now known as Singapore in 1819. The Baba Nyonya’s (15th and 16th century Chinese immigrants in Indonesian Archipelago of Nusantara and Malacca] it also has elements of other colonialists such as those efforts of the Dutch and especially the Portuguese.

Originally built in 1521 as simply a chapel known as Nossa Senhora da Annunciada (Our Lady of Grace) or the Nossa Senhora da Annunciada (Our Lady of the Hill). The chapel was built by a Portuguese fidalgo or nobleman, Duarte Coelho, as an act of gratitude following his escape from a storm in the South China Sea.
The City is also known (as many Malaysian cities are) for their wonderful variety of food on offer, the variety and diversity in cuisine here also stems from the several invasions the Malaccans experienced by the Colonialists but also by the heavy Chinese populations inhabiting Malaysia. I did nothing but eat from the minute I arrived in Malacca to the minute I left, the calories consumed in 48 hours was simply   unquantifiable and thank fuck for that; I really do not want to know!  Below is a selection of some of the wonderful dishes I got to sample during the weekend:

Pai Tee - Seafood, Turnip, Chili Sauce in a crispy Nacho like cup
Baba Curry Mee
Cendol - Malaysian Brown Sugar based iced dessert dish
Portugese Egg Tart
After you have been in Johor Bahru it’s evident that Malaysia is made up of many nationalities, many , races, creeds, colours and religions but the three that stand out most are the Malays the Chinese and Indians. The Chinese have a huge influence across Asia and no less in the City of Malacca.

Chinese Pots in Jonker Street
Not only was it my first time in the wonderful little City of Malacca but it was also my first Chinese New Year since my move to Asia in August last year. For 2012 it was the year of the Dragon and a year of prosperity. I witnessed a spectacular show of the Dragon chasing the ball of prosperity through Jonker Walk right through the middle of the bustling night market; I also got to witness a display of Chinese musical accolade only moments after the passing of the Dragon which was also very beautiful and special to see.

Serenaded by a wonderful Chinese Orchestra - not the blurry face of death in the background :)
In the main stretch of Malacca (Jonker Walk) was a woman with no arms (lost below elbow) doing calligraphy. Yes, that's right no arms and yes doing calligraphy. She was doing customized pieces for passers by without a fixed price, cheap Singaporeans giving her 5 Ringgit for work. When I saw her in action and the amount of effort and human love she put into her work I had to get one done; I gave her 40 Ringgit for my piece.. To be honest, I don't exactly know what it says, my Chinese could do with improving somewhat but here it is in progress below:

I now have this piece framed on my wall
The current marketing and advertising slogan of the tourist board of Malaysia is “Malaysia Truly Asia” and from what I’ve seen so far it seems very similar to Singapore, notably less developed yes but similar in the sense it is a conglobation of cultures living together in harmony each bringing their own diversity to the nation; there are a few gems I saw in Malacca from Jonker Walk itself which contains some amazing food, colours and people, to the Mr. Malay statues, the Cavanthe Art Café, the Geographer Café, the beautiful and unique architecture 

Jonker Walk @ Chinese New Year
If anyone is visiting Malaysia, especially either the Johor Bahru or Kuala Lumpur areas you need to set aside a day or two to see and sample Malacca; what a wonderful place.

Just before I sign off I’d like to formally introduce all readers of this Blog to the lady in my life; the beautiful Malaysian Miss Cindy Ng:

Cindy in the centre of Malacca
In November last year while working for the Big D at our Tuas site in the west of Singapore close to the Malaysian Border a girl used to walk back and forth from the office of our 3PL and WMS company IDS past the entrance for the Diageo employees, I thought she was very pretty but thought also she had one of those faces, the boys will understand if I say one of those faces with “fuck off” written on it. Being the shy boy that I am I wrote a note and placed it under the windscreen wiper of her car telling her I thought she was very pretty and asking if she would like to go for dinner one day, signing off with my phone number and my email address and to my surprise I got a text back that evening saying she would love to go for dinner and as they say everything else after that is history. Four months later we’re still seeing each other and she’s the first one I’ve cared about this way since NL. 

It’s funny the fact Cindy actually saved me from that feeling you get when you go through a hard end to a relationship, the feeling that you will never find anyone to replace the previous one. I’m very cautious about using the L word after what happened with NL so I’ll refrain as long as I safely can but right now I’m writing this sitting in the passenger seat of her civic with the laptop on my knees glancing over at her every few words with a very strong urge to tell her I do, I need to be strong and keep the barrier up a little longer…just a little...

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