Melaka is a place full of the unexpected. Also known as Malacca, this city has been a major international trading port for over a thousand years and has been under the control of the Malay, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British at one time or another.
You will know immediately upon arrival that Melaka is a unique place when you spot a local rickshaw:
Beyond the rickshaws, which cause your ears to ring from the boomboxes blasting on each of these vehicles, you may then notice the famous red buildings of Melaka, built by the Dutch. A sort of “Holland was here” tag on the cityscape.
Cross a pedestrian bridge over the river and you will find yourself in a labyrinth of antique shops and colourful laneways of Melaka’s Chinatown. Duck into one of the restaurants on Jonker Street to snack on tasty Baba Nyonya cuisine, a delicious hybrid of Chinese and Malaysian foods full of lime leaves, turmeric and chili spices in dishes such as Inchi Kabin (fried chicken), Curry Kapitan, Lor Bak (pork rolls), and nyonya kuihs (sweet cakes).
Along the riverside, you may come across a replica of Flor de la Mar, a Portuguese ship that looted Melaka and then sank off the coast of Malaysia.
Please note the sign that says you can sleep over on board the ship (and fulfill your fantasy of being a pirate for a day).
Escape the oppressive heat of the noon day sun by checking out the People and Beauty Museum, which contains a fascinating showcase on how different cultures around the world change their bodies through aesthetic deformation practices (e.g. scarification, piercings, tattoos, body warping, etc.). Then be puzzled as you exit the museum via a wing dedicated to exhibiting kites, with no clear indication of why they are in this museum.
And just when you think Melaka is out of surprises, you return to the center square to catch a ride back to the bus station and you happen upon this scene:
Is that a Mexican mariachi movie being filmed in Melaka?!
Why, yes it is, you say to yourself, as you overhear the man with the guitar strumming a few chords and beginning to sing a passionate ballad in Spanish.
You never know what you will find around the corner in this town.