Sunday, October 18, 2015

Malacca, Malaysia: Light-Up Rickshaws!

Post KL, I headed down to the South of Malaysia to the city of Malacca.  My friend Kat (from Austin/NYC) was on a trip in Taiwan, and during a quick convo during my stopover in NYC two weeks ago, we had discussed meeting up in Asia somewhere - so she came and met me in Malacca!

What It's All About:
Malacca is a super historic Southern Malaysian city that used to be an important trading port - like a pre-Singapore Singapore, before Singapore came along and took over. Over its history, the city's been occupied by the Dutch, British, Portuguese, Japanese, etc. - therefore the city is made up of this crazy blend of all these influences, along with Chinese culture as well.

The city is now a World Heritage Site, and has a huge tourism industry.  There's a ton of awesome buildings, and museums, and waterfront.  Oh, and they have super blinged-out rickshaws for shuttling tourists. I only report the most important facts, clearly.

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • After a 2-hour bus ride from KL, I found myself in Malacca's kind-of-sketchy bus terminal at 9PM - but serendipitously ended up sharing a taxi to the city center with a soon-to-be-new friend, Laine. Laine's from the U.S. and had been in Singapore for work, and on a whim had decided to take a bus up to Malaysia for the weekend. And having been harassed by the same taxi driver, we ended up in the same cab. We exchanged info and met up later that night (at this point, Kat had not yet arrived).
  • Laine and I headed to get street food/drinks at Malacca's infamous Jonker Street Night Market - I've never seen so much crazy variety and types of food in my life.  

    Jonker Street Night Market chaos
    Some of the night market street food variety. Waffle hotdogs and fish-shaped ice creams!? Yes please.

    Malacca's gorgeous riverfront
    Laine and I in front of an incredible statue. This guy was from Malacca and was Mr. Universe, Mr. Asia, and Mr. Malacca during his lifetime. His statues are everywhere.
    Does this sign look familiar to the Texans?  Apparently some guy with a position of power in Malacca (Melaka is the Malay spelling) went and studied in Texas, and ended up coming back and basically copying Texas' slogan, down to the outline of the state (this is the shape of Malacca, obviously).  These signs are everywhere and are part of Malacca's anti-littering campaign, and they are hilarious. (info courtesy of Laine)

    • The next AM, after Kat had arrived, the three of us wandered the streets of Malacca.

    The city is fascinating because the houses are structured in Dutch fashion, have British layouts, and are furnished/designed with Chinese/Malay influences

    This is our adorable hotel, Hotel Puri

    Another adorable rich person house across the street

    A Chinese-influenced temple

    The Dutch-influenced square
    And a graffiti wall. Don't these photos all look like they belong to totally different cities??!

    •  We visited a museum called the Baba & Nyona Heritage museum - basically a former mansion of a wealthy trading family that belonged to an ethnic group called the Peranakans. Peranakans are descendants of the Chinese immigrants that came to Malaysia and mixed with the local Malay people.  Baba refers to the males, and Nyona refers to the females of this group. The house was gorgeous and the tour we took was fascinating - the house was decorated the way it used to be, and these people's lives were an incredibly interesting blend of Chinese, local Malay, and even some British/Dutch customs.  And our tour guide was hilarious - she kept referring to the three of us as Charlie's Angels.

      Charlie's Angels in the entry foyer of the museum

      • The day was topped off with a romantic riverboat cruise, and by "romantic," I mean "full of children."
      Romantic cruise under picturesque hazy skies, here we come
      Confession, I actually thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and thought it was incredibly fascinating and pretty
      Because look at all these pretty graffitied houses!
      And this gorgeous couple that just got married in totally baller traditional dress!

      • At night, we had drinks by the river, then tromped some more through the night market.


        Blinged out rickshaws with Frozen, Hello Kitty, and Doraemon 

        And I took this one for my sister, who inexplicably likes Minions

        Fun Facts of the Day:
        • This time of year in Malaysia is notorious for super hazy skies (seriously, I've seen the sun one day) due to the slash-and-burn agriculture smoke floating over from Indonesia. The smoke basically chokes the sky and it's incredibly pollutant and bad for people, and the government is trying to tackle the issue.
        • Durian. They really seem to like Durian here, judging by the amount of durian-related food offered at the night market. For those who don't know what durian is, it is a notorious fruit in SE Asia, known for its incredible stinkiness.  Seriously, it smells like garbage/wet socks. But apparently it tastes ok?  Jury is still out, because I'm not sure I've ever tried it.

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