The day rises hot with the intense light of the sun relentless hurting the eyes and force us to seek refuge in the shadows of the low-rise buildings of the old part of the town. But reaching the middle of the day, the blue sky quickly disappears with the silent arrival of heavy gray clouds, which bring with them a moist, thick air. The wind that brings some relief to the heavy atmosphere announces storm and with routine gesture merchants withdraw the products to inside the shops. Suddenly, heavy raindrops fill the streets of water, forcing all people to seek shelter in accelerated step imposed by the pace of thunder. A show that leave many people as if hypnotised watching the water gushing from the eaves of the roofs, or peering into the sky in hopes of seeing the luminous trail of lightning.
Melaka, or also called Malacca, whose name comes from a tree, have a long history and significant impotence in economy and culture of Malay people. It was since the beginning of the fifteenth century successively under Portuguese rule, Dutch and later under the British, due to its privileged position next to Indonesia and strategic location on the trade route between Asia and Europe. From this European presence that lasted until 1957 result strong architectural heritage, military, civil and religious, which is now the historic center, named a World Heritage Site by Unesco. In this compact area formed by the main square – Jalan Gereja – and a small hill adjacent concentrate churches and many colonial buildings left by the Dutch and the British, with many of these buildings converted into museums.
Here are concentrated most of the attractions that give fame to Melaka, attracting the usual souvenirs shops, cafes and restaurants. And it is also here that focus dozens of cycle-rickshaws that left behind the simple local transport function to turned into tourist attraction, moving around the city playing loud music that echoes in the sleepy city streets. Each cycle-rickshaws is a proper naive art installation and a compliment to the kitsch, with decorations related to cartoons and other popular topics, whose passengers are more interested in taking selfies than in admiring the route through the city.
But just crossing a small bridge over the river and we arrive to Chinatown, which despite its name is a mixture of ethnic groups and cultures, but where the shop-houses remind us the presence Chinese traders who settled here for generation. It is here, in the calm and quiet streets that best can enjoy the relaxed pace of the city and its inhabitants, as well as traditional Malaya food, the nasi lemak, the laksa and lontong, taste the spicy Indian curries and try the sweet and refreshing cendol that despite being present in several Asian countries, has a special place here.
Revealing the ethnic and religious diversity that characterises Malaysia today, we can find at the same street, along the Jalan Tokong, the Majid Kampung Klig mosque and the Hindu temple Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi that at sometimes look that are in competition for attention, with the mullah calling for one of the five prayers of the day and the temple bells ringing frantically during the puja of the Hindu community.
A good atmosphere in a guesthouse can make all the difference in the time that you spend in a city or place, and the quiet and friendly atmosphere of Jalan Jalan Guest House marked the stay in Malacca. Situated in the old town but away from the confusing environment of so-called Dutch Square (Jalan Gereja) entirely devoted to tourism, Jalan Jalan Guest House is located in a traditional building construction in wood, simple and unpretentious, in Chinatown neighborhood.
The staff is of the utmost kindness and friendly. Are places like these, that the environment and atmosphere make us stay longer than planned…
Jalan Jalan Guest House
Address: Jalan Tokong, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia
Phone: +60 19-655 1131
Double room: 40 RM
Dorm: 16 RM
Free wi-fi. Free coffe and tea.
Where to eat:
The traditional iced sweet, very popular in Malaysia, made from coconut milk, ice, palm sugar syrup and served with a green noodles (whose color comes from a plant often used in jam, pandan) and sweet beans. You can find it easily in shops and restaurants in Melaka, but the choice was for a Chinese restaurant that has this sweet as a is specialty (20, Jalan Besi Tukang… same street of Jalan Jalan Guest House).
Sayyid Antique (in Lorang Hang Jebat, opposite the Jalang Kampung Kuli) an antique shop where items for sale serve as decoration, and where a very nice couple serves simple and tasty Malaysian meals like nasi Lemak, longtong, laksa… and as the food is prepared on the moment you can ask for a vegetarian version with tofu. The atmosphere is quiet and cozy.
Sri Kaveri Catering (115, Lorang Hang Jebat) with tahli served in banana leaf, with the right to refill by 8 RM. Simples and basic restaurant, that also serves rotis.
How to go from Melaka Sentral to the city center (Jalan Gereja):
Arriving at Melaka Sentral bus terminal go into the building, a mix of bus terminal, waiting room and shopping center, and look for the signs “Domestic Bus“, from where the buses to Melaka departure.
Take Bus number 17 that stop at Dutch Square (Jalan Gereja).
Ticket: 1.5 RM