I couldn't believe the bus to Malacca- it was spacious, clean with reclining seats and velvet drapes! Better than any plane ride I had ever taken and cost only 4.23 GBP each for a 4 hour journey.
We arrived to a hostel called Sayang Selaru which was decorated lavishly with Hello Kitty and McDonalds Happy meal toys (not for playing with! Don't touch!! Hard to explain to the boys but we just about managed.) It was a backpacker hostel filled with Korean and Japanese guests, some of whom screamed in fear every time the resident cat came near. The boys and I found a niche for ourselves, rescuing them from these crazed beasts, when they were paralysed with fear on the kitchen table. It's good to have a job to do.
Whilst we were there, the boys all got horrible colds. We spent a lot of time in our very small room- grateful at least that it had windows as all the other rooms didn't. For 16 quid per night though, we were happy. Every now and then loud music would echo off the buildings and it would sound like a carnival was passing- the rickshaws were here, loud and proud! It was good entertainment from our snotty sneezy room. Travelling isn't all glamour, you know.
We ventured out for dinner and met some lovely locals who cooked up some noodles for us without the spice for the boys. We couldn't be more appreciative- often we have generously been given just a 'little' spice which had blown my head off- and I love the stuff! This place was kind to us though and lovingly shared their food with us, sitting and chatting with the boys who were treated like celebrities.
The next day we went out for dinner and we decided to go to a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. Sounds novel, right? Chinese aren't known for vegetarian food and this one was far from it. Mike and I ordered a Laksa but it came with stringy chicken feet. The whole complement of staff were looking encouragingly, proud of their food and obviously amused by having this family of funny Westerners there. We carefully picked over the soup with pained looks on our faces. The inner turmoil of not wanting to offend and not wanting to eat what is in front of me was uncomfortably familiar. I was STARViNG and so so sorry, but I just couldn't eat the feet. I couldn't do it.
We left quickly and bought some crisps and sour dried fruit from the corner shop but even that didn't work. The fruit was so sour.. crisps it was, then.
The next day, we headed out again to look for a restaurant that looked ok. We spent an hour peering into the kitchens, Mike was convinced that eating from the hot buffets was just asking for a sick bug and after engaging in a healthy debate about which restaurant to trust, we eventually stopped at one that was really busy and reasonably priced. Hooray! A massive selection of delicious curry and rice. We can eat our fill at last.
The chicken was moist and delicious till we cut near the bone and blood oozed out of it. Trying to explain to the children in whispers NOT to eat the chicken when they were hungry was a challenge. We were desperately trying not to appear rude to the friendly staff (again!) but they seemed more confused than anything. We ate what was safe but once again, we had to leave with food on our plates, empty bellies and red faces. We were losing at food.
Fed up of our food fails and colds, we decided to get in a Rickshaw and take a tour of the town.
They took us all around the city, showing us the buildings which symbolised the history of Portuguese and Dutch colonialism. The city was a major port in the Silk Road and each trading country put its stamp on the place. Chinese, Indian and indigenous Malays (to name a few) live together here now and you could see the multiculturalism as you walked down the street.
Buddhist monks walking to temple, women in Niqabs queuing for sushi, Sikh temples and lavish Churches side by side in the town square. We liked this acceptance for diversity, Malaysia seems to have got this thing right.
When we started feeling better from the colds, we thought we'd check out the Maritime museum which was set in a replica of a Portuguese ship. The boys loved the headsets which gave you a tour of the exhibits. For ten minutes or so, anyway. Then we had to say goodbye to the place in the best way we knew- more rickshaw rides! Goodbye, Malacca, you have been magnificent.
What we did:
The Maritime Museum, 90p per person:
Jonker Walk/ Chinatown:
Melaka River Cruise 2.71 GBP per Adult, 1.26 per child:
Where we stayed:
Sayang Selalu Hostel 16 GBP per night: