HCMC Dining Guide

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wandering Around Malacca

We woke up early the next day for the classic Chinese breakfast dish of dim sum.
It was an overcast morning, and rain looked likely, so we decided to go ahead and check out the rest of area's sites before the weather moved in. First up was the ruin of St. Paul's church, located on top of the hill next to the Dutch buildings discussed in the previous post.

St. Paul's was originally a small chapel built by the Portuguese in 1521. In 1556 the second floor was added, and the belfry tower was built in 1590. By then the chapel was known as the Church of the Mother of God. St. Francis Xavier spent time at the church in the mid-16th century while he traveled between India and China, and he was briefly buried there before being moved to Goa. When the Dutch took over the church served the Dutch Reformed congregation until the Christ Church was completed. Once St. Paul's fell out of regular religious use, it was fortified and used as part of the city's defenses. The British then used the building as an ammunition magazine, and it eventually fell into the state of disrepair it remains in today.

overlooking Malacca from the hill
On the left and right are gravestones of notable Dutch and Portuguese colonial  residents.
The wind was howling by this point, and a steady rain began. We headed down the other side of the hill and observed the last remaining structure of the A Famosa fort. It must have been pretty impressive back in the day.
The rain let up somewhat, and after wandering around some more we returned to the guesthouse for a nap. Later we stopped at a famous local Indian place for the Friday vegetarian lunch buffet. Served on a banana leaf like traditional Indian meals, this was a real highlight. I guess I didn't insult any of the Indians there, as I couldn't use my right hand to eat since it was wrapped.
Anthony then decided to get a foot reflexology massage at one of the parlors we had walked past, so I decided to get one too. This was a pleasant way to kill an hour, and the best part was that we didn't have to worry about any sketchy offers of 'happy endings'.

Jonker Street, one of the main roads through the old part of Malacca, is full of antique stores, and I had noticed one that looked particularly interesting. (I know, massages and antiques, what are we, a couple of women?) The shop was narrow but extremely deep, and it was packed floor to ceiling with a mind-boggling array of goods. There were old weapons, records from the 60s and 70s, typing machines, ornate lamps, rare pieces of art, massive pieces of furniture, gramophones, old-school telephones, and a whole lot more I'm forgetting. Combined, the items would surely be worth several million dollars.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of wandering around and snacking before the Jonker Night Market fired up. The weather had cleared and Western tourists were out in force. Held every Friday, the night market features dozens of stalls selling food, clothes, art and other goods.
We ducked into a restaurant to try another famous Malacca dish, chicken and rice balls. The chicken was awesome but the rice balls were just...rice.
At the end of Jonker a band was performing traditional Chinese music for the New Year, which was just two days away. I hadn't even seen a group like this play in person, so this was pretty cool.

The following morning we left Malacca for our next stop, Langkawi. This required a four hour stopover in KL. I'll get to that in the next post. Overall Malacca was a good place to visit - as someone who majored in history in college I always enjoy seeing old places, and the city has an incredibly rich past. The food is fantastic; we had some of the best meals of the trip there. However, two days is certainly all you need. Like Hoi An in central Vietnam, there are only a few blocks that hold any interest for a visitor, and they can easily be covered on foot. By the end of the second day we were just bored, as we had already seen everything. Obviously I'd still recommend that you check Malacca out if you get the chance, though.

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