Melaka also referred to as Melacca is a beautiful city located to the South of Malaysia. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is currently my favourite place in Malaysia as it is full of culture. There are many old buildings, some in their natural old state with others having been rehabilitated by the government.
Things to do in Melaka/Melacca
1.Visit the historical buildings
a) I got to visit Christ Church Melaka, which is the oldest functioning Protestant Church in Malaysia. Its construction begun in 1741 and was completed in 1743. It has been beautifully refurbished and one of the main buildings you will see upon arrival.
b) A FAMOSA
This was a former Portuguese fortress that was built in 1511 and is the oldest surviving European architectural remains in South East Asia. It was partly renovated by the Dutch and as you walk around it, you can see old inscriptions on its walls. The feel of walking through actual historic remains of a Portuguese settlement fortress was super educative and exciting.
2) Jonker Street:
It is the life of Melaka center with lots of shops, restaurants and people. I enjoyed it during the day but loved riding my bicycle down its streets at night even more. It has a lot of Chinese influence from the population, to the food, to the culture.
3) Melaka River
This river flows through the middle of the city, how cool is that? You can take a boat ride on it or opt to sit in the restaurants around it and enjoy the view. I especially enjoyed riding my bike along its banks at night as the view was breathtaking.
4) Visit the Straits of Melaka
It is a narrow stretch of water between Malay Peninsular and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. A man made Island called Pulau Melaka or Island of Melaka has been build that one can walk around, live and enjoy the place.
There is a mosque built on pillars at the same level as the sea and thus during high tide, it looks like it is floating. At night, it is even more beautiful as the lights shine bright and reflect on the sea.
I got to view some of the best sunsets in my life and thus would advise you to visit in the evening.
5) Make Friends
We met Ying here and I will forever be grateful for her hospitality-she redeemed the Malaysian people a bit. She went out of her way to ensure we explored Melacca intensely, she opened her home to us and she taught me to enjoy travel via cycling.
6) Find Prince charming:
I met my tall, dark, handsome, strong man here, albeit a statue. They have great sculptures on show, so take time to enjoy them
7) Feel like Cinderella
I believe my transportation beats Cinderellas hands down. Imagine a whole compartment decorated with flowers and pieces of art being my mode of transport. Top that up by having cartoon characters like Minnie mouse and co. to keep me company. You need to have a strong driver as it is indeed a taxing job, thanks David.
8) Hire a bicycle:
I never used to ride bicycles beyond my home compound. Here, everyone rides a bicycle, even on the highway. I highly recommend you join in as it allows you to travel more and even access places one cannot by vehicle. Do not worry, after day two and having overcome anxiety attacks while on the road, I was fine and you will be too. You can get a map from the tourism office and then go out and explore.
10) Visit the Jonker Bird House.
This is a former abandoned house that is now inhabited by swiflet birds which are protected. As you walk in, you will first walk through a dark walk way and wonder what is happening. Soon, I noticed the people ahead of me looking through the glass walls towards the roof and slowly I started seeing swifts. Apparently, the nests made by the birds fetch a hefty sum of money with their main market being China. In one of the rooms, you will see a team locked in a glass room carefully removing feathers, cleaning the nests and packaging for sale. The challenge is that there are no fliers, guides or even adequate labeling to explain what is happening.
My disapointment with Melaka/Melacca
Jonker Bird House:
This had been rated as an interesting place for tourists to visit noting that it is an abandoned building that is now home to swivel birds. After enjoying my own personal tour, I went to ask the receptionist a few questions, basically what I did not understand. First,I noticed she seemed scared if not wary to speak to me. After a few minutes, she relaxed and answered my questions.There after, she asked me about Africa, life in Africa among others. It is at this point after relaxing around me that all things went weary. She informed me that when she saw me , she was afraid as she believes all Africans are criminals. She went even further to advise me to not interact with other Africans at all, as they all do drugs, are criminals and the ladies are prostitutes, Word for word. You should have seen my mouth hit the ground. She then went on to tell me how at first she was wary to talk to me because I am black and only spoke to me because she was at work and didn’t have an option. When I inquired why she was then continuing to talk to me, she said it was because I was a tourist thus she believed she was safe. As I left, she again reminded me to keep away from the Africans or I would get into trouble. My whole system remained and remains in a state of shock, amazement and sadness when I remember this instance, I am African and proudly African. Criminals come in all forms, shapes and race.
Kindly, government of Malaysia, it seems a lot needs to be done in regards to cultural integration and shattering of negative stereotyping of Africans, this was my fourth incident of racial discrimination/abuse in such few days in Malaysia. I faced racial discrimination and harassment also in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, thus in all three towns i visited. Your country is beautiful, but some of your citizens are tarnishing your image, you need to do something urgently, cultural education, cultural integration, communication-something. For more of my Malaysia escapades, checkout:
Kuala Lumpur: http://wangechigitahi.co.ke/kuala-lumpur
Malaysia 101: http://wangechigitahi.co.ke/malaysia-101/