The second half of my journey through southeast Asia had a sluggish start. I left Singapore midmorning already and since I didn’t want to take the more expensive direct buses from Singapore to Melaka, that meant commuting to the border. It took me 2.5 hours to get to the Singapore border via train (Mersiling Station – Red Line) and bus (SBS 950) including waiting time.
As I approached the passport control section for my last land border crossing, a Singaporean officer approached me, asked for my passport, and redirected me away from the immigration booths for inspection. Man oh man, and here I thought I was finally able to travel internationally without someone “randomly” checking me. I even stopped shaving my head for this trip just to reduce suspicion! Why they chose only me out of the hundreds of people passing through that checkpoint I’ll never know. Anyway, they didn’t have any x-ray machines so I had to remove everything from my bag for their perusal. In fairness to them, their tone during the “interview” was very conversational so I didn’t feel harassed (unlike some immigration officers in the Philippines). By the time they finished going through my stuff I was literally the only person left in the checkpoint, meaning I was left behind by the bus I arrived at the terminal on.
So I got on another bus (170) which was going to Larkin Terminal in Johor Bahru which was my destination anyway. I had to get off the bus again for the Johor checkpoint but that went without incident. Once I arrived in Larkin I was able to get the 1230 PM trip to Melaka (20.8 MYR) and 2.5 hours later I arrived in Melaka Sentral. There I bought a Maxis sim card (18 MYR) before getting on bus 17 for the Dutch Square. It was a short walk through Jonker Street before I was able to check in at the Tang House.
Since it was late afternoon already I decided to just do a little sightseeing around the Dutch Square area while waiting for sunset. As light started to fade around 630 PM, I took a ride on the Melaka River Cruise (15 MYR). The entire ride lasted around 40 minutes, starting near the mouth of the river and going upstream until the market near the monorail before turning back. It’s a good way to view the different riverside areas in Melaka, with houses covered in art and bridges of various designs and lighting.
Before going back to the guesthouse, I ate dinner at Pak Putra, an Indian roadside restaurant. The prices there are quite reasonable and the food is great! They specialize in Chicken Tandoori but I loved the nan so much that I ate here again the following day.
The following day, I started exploring Melaka street by street. I started from Harmony or Temple Street, dropping by the various Buddhist, Islamic and Hindu temples along the way.
Moving towards Jonker Street (near the bridge) I came across the Cheng Ho Museum (10 MYR) where the travels and artifacts of the accomplished Admiral are documented and stored.
I skipped Jonker and went to Harmony or Millionaire Street to look at the homes of the rich and powerful in Melaka. I availed the Baba Nyonya House tour (12 MYR) which took me inside one of the houses to see the lifestyle of these affluent people. It was an amazing house and I would have loved to show pictures of the inside but unfortunately, no photography was allowed.
After lunch at the Baboon House, just a few meters away from Baba Nyonya House, I returned to the guesthouse to hide from the scorching heat. A few hours later I ventured out again across the bridge, back towards the Stadthuys. Due to renovations, I wasn’t able to explore the inside of the Stadthuys (reopening in 2014) so I went towards St. Paul at the top of the hill. What’s left of the church is only the walls and the watchtower but inside were various tombstones, which I assume were once from the Dutch cemetery. On the base of the other side of the hill is the only remaining gate of A Famosa, Porta de Santiago.
Near the Fort is the Sultanate Palace replica, constructed like the original structure would have been – without nails. Inside are several displays, some showing the different costumes or attires of various groups in Malaysia, others showing the history of the sultans of Melaka and other important people in its history.
Although I may have escaped the harshest portion of the day by retreating to my room, it was still very hot even in the late afternoon. This persuaded me to abort my plan of walking towards the Portuguese settlement. Instead, I thought I’d just go the Maritime Museum but by the time I got there it was also about to close. So here I was, sweating bullets with nowhere left to go. I walked back to the guesthouse, buying several assorted pastries along the way to much on before dinner. After cooling off I scouted around Jonker Street for dinner but almost all the shops were closed already and I ended up at Pak Putra again for my last meal in Melaka.