Malacca Journal

Roadtrip Music
Come Cover Me by Nightwish
Dawn of a New World by Dragonforce
Sleepwalker by Nightwish

Yesterday, dad took us on a roadtrip to Malacca. Sounds easy enough, right? Not really.
First, one has to consider that this involves driving to another country. That means border crossings and passing through immigration. Given how tough the immigration in Singapore is, there’s no room for error. Furthermore, it’s over 250 kilometers away as the car drives, and all the road signs in Malaysia are in Malay. Quite a challenge, so dad had to prepare detailed notes in advance.

When we got to the Singapore immigration facility, we were greeted by Gurkhas armed with submachineguns and wearing their traditional safari hats. Of course, they also had their awesome kukri knives strapped to their sides. They were a pretty intimidating sight, and with good reason. Since Singapore is in the middle of so many countries, it’s vital to keep the land borders secure.

Unfortunately, taking photos in the facility was forbidden by law, so I’ve got no shots of them.

After exiting the Singapore side, we crossed the [bridge] that spans the straight of Malacca. As soon as we hit land on the other side, we saw how quickly everything changed. Indeed, all the road signs on the Malaysia side were in Malay. It was at this point that dad explained to me how similar the Malay language was to Filipino dialects.

I already knew that Malay shared a lot of words with Tagalog like pintu (door), but I began to realize that Malay actually sounded a lot like Kapampangan. It had a very similar choice of vowels. You have words like “teksi” (Taxi) and “itek” (duck).

Anyway, the drive to Malacca was pretty uneventful. It was a long 250+ km (as far as I can remember), but thankfully the [roads]
were [excellent.] Probably not as good as Singapore’s but definitely much better than the Philippines’s. Dad was driving at 110 kph the whole time (the speed limits in Malaysia were much higher than Singapore’s), and we got to Malacca (locally known as Melaka) in about two and a half hours.

Dad was quite appalled to see how many [tollgates] we had to go through before we even got far. He explained that it was most likely because the Malaysian government wanted to give lots of employment opportunities for its citizens.

Most of the trip was along highways surrounded by dense forest or farmland, but the closer we got to Malacca, the more [signs of civilization] we saw. Eventually, we got to [our destination.]

Malacca was a bit difficult to navigate. Although the place itself wasn’t that big, it was quite circuitous and a lot of the roads were one-way streets. Even though the trip was relatively straightforward through the city center, we missed a turn and had to go all the way around. X_x This allowed us to see some sights on the way, though:
[Melaka Megamall]
[Carrefour with Islamic Architecture]
[The Stadhuys, the former residence of the Dutch governor.]
I still have no idea how to pronounce that name. I think it’s “Stat heiss,” but the Great Online does not seem to have any answers.

Eventually we found our way back to Jalan Laksamana, the short street that ran down the city center. Along this street are two of the old churches that were built in the city:
[St. Francis Xavier]
The Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier once stayed in Malacca, and this church was built in his honor.
[Christ Church] is even older and stands beside the Stadhuys.
More on this church later.

Jalan Laksamana (Admiral Road) was named after the position of Laksamana, who is essentially a high-ranking official who manages the fleets that ply their trade in the port. The Laksamana is in charge not only of organization, but law enforcement as well. (I can’t help but see the resemblance of the word to “Lakshmana,” the name of Rama’s brother and sidekick in the Hindu epic Ramayana.)

Our first impression was that Malacca had the look of an old provincial town, similar to those found in the Philippines, except there’s a powerful mix of both Christian and Muslim influence. There’s both ancient churches and mosques in the area. More on this later.

We eventually took the right turn and got to our hotel, [Hotel Puri.] As seen in the image, it has the facade of a small colonial shophouse, although it has an unexpected amount of floorspace [inside.] Now as dad was doing his research he heard some things about Hotel Puri: that it was a “quaint little hotel” that was more about “character” than “amenities.” However, we were pleased to discover that it had amenities enough—wireless broadband (which I didn’t get to use since I left my laptop in Singapore for security reasons), hot water, clean bathrooms—anything you expect from a decent hotel. It definitely wasn’t five-star, but why would you want a five star hotel if you aren’t staying there the whole day anyway?

More on the hotel later. On to the sights.

We first had lunch at a “culture food village,” where I had a small tin of chicken mushroom rice. It was piping hot, but I didn’t enjoy it so much—the “polite” way of eating with chopsticks—chewing the meat off the bones—just doesn’t sit well with me.

We first stopped by the [Maritime History Museum], which has a replica of an old Portuguese ship. Part of the museum is inside the ship itself, while there are other displays in the small adjacent building.
[Model of a British ship]
[My brother with a whole bunch of Malay weapons]

Directly across the street is the Naval History Museum, for which admission is also included in the ticket for admission to the Maritime History Museum. Of course, I found the Naval history museum a lot more interesting. There was an [entire chopper] inside, as well as a whole bunch of naval equipment.
[Radar]
[My very own BFG]
[Autocannon mounted on a patrol boat outside]
[20mm autocannon]
[Depthcharge]

Awesome. Afterward we went back to Megamall to relax and soothe our headaches with Starbucks coffee. Gotta love Starbucks’s consistency. My headache left after that.

We then went to check out the Stadhuys afterward. We parked quite a distance from the area and had to walk to the red building. Pictures are a necessity, of course.
[Museum of Muslim Culture]
[Stadhuys]
[Christ Church and Trishaw]
The public transportation in Malacca is almost entirely run by trishaw. These are very similar to the pedicabs in the Philippines, the only notable difference being their brilliantly-colored faux flower decor and blaring boomboxes. Some of them even have Christmas lights draped on them at night.
[This Fountain] was built in honor of Queen Victoria after she died in 1901.
[With my brothers.]
[Giant iguana belonging to a reptile handler]
[Better pic of the iguana]

Afterward, we climbed [St Paul Hill] to get to the ruined church on top. St. Paul Church was built by a Portuguese captain when he arrived in Malacca, and was eventually turned over to Jesuit missionaries. The church eventually became a British storehouse and a lighthouse was built in front of it. The lighthouse was located on the highest point in the city, giving it excellent visibility for the ships going through the area. [Great view, too.]
The church was eventually abandoned and fell into disrepair.
[Climbing up the hill]
[Dad and my brother]
[St Paul Church]
[I have no idea who this is. There’s no plaque. Maybe St. Paul?]
[A pic that looks like it came out of the Da Vinci Code with my dad standing in the doorway. I didn’t see that guy in yellow there.]
[The Church interior]

Many people were [buried] in the church’s ruins, although many of the [headstones] have been moved and were propped up against the church walls.

Afterward we drove to the mall again to have dinner at [Nando’s.] It’s a chicken restaurant that boasts extremely spicy chicken. Since we had small children with us, we opted for something milder. That didn’t stop me from grabbing the flaming hot sauce and garlic hot sauce, however. [The food] wasn’t really as spicy as it claimed to be, but it was pretty good nonetheless. Somehow, the garlic sauce was spicier. D:

There was a [Dairy King] ice cream kiosk at the Megamall that serves an ice cream sundae called […]. Yes, I know they mean “happy,” but there are a lot of other words for that.

[Emo angel bear].

As we left the mall, we were surprised to hear the chittering of thousands of birds in the trees outside the mall. We had seen the white marks of the bird droppings all over the floor earlier that afternoon, but as we returned to the car we saw just why the ground was so white. Covering our heads and closing our plastic bags tight, we ran underneath the tree close to our car as if snipers were taking potshots at us. Hey, better safe than sorry.

As we drove back to the hotel, we saw that Jalan Laksamana was at night—quite literally—a [red light district.]

Back at the hotel, we arrived barely in time to get into the hotel as a thunderstorm began to pour. Dad had seen that there was a forecast for thunderstorms in Malacca, but thankfully the sky was clear the whole day.

Inside, we were surprised to see that [swallows] had made [their homes] in the corners of the hotel lobby. It seems that they’d been there for ages, and that the birds’ nests were harvested for real bird’s nest soup. Too bad we weren’t able to try it.

After an [Expresso [sic] doughnut], a little reading and a movie, I went to sleep (only to get kicked in the face by my brother).

[Good morning, Malacca.]

I woke up at around five AM, and off in the distance I could hear a clear indication of the powerful Muslim influence in Malacca—the dawn salat being called out by a muezzin at a local mosque. It was the first time I’d ever heard that, and dad even made comments about us seeming like we were in the Middle East. After a shower, breakfast. Oh, breakfast.

The [buffet] downstairs was held in the [open-air garden]. Although it was mostly a continental breakfast, we had mee goreng—an incredibly spicy start to a long day of driving.

[The garden has a cover that can roll over it in case of bad weather.]
[Quaint pond in the hotel]
Dad said that the hotel’s garden might have been an old warehouse, probably used to store coconut oil. Whoever owns the hotel must have done a very good job of restoring it.
The surrounding builds were all very old-school and looked awesome.
[Old colonial building across the street]
[A temple very close to the hotel]
[temple interior]

*pant pant* Alright, that was probably one of my longest blog posts ever. I’m over 1800 words now. I hope you enjoyed that, and if you want a good old city full of charm, go check out Malacca.
[All the pics]
[Hotel Puri Website]
[More pics]

Selamat Jalan,
Your Black Lion

~ by J. R. R. Flores on December 28, 2007.

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