Day 2 – Malacca
Our hotel booking did not include breakfast. We had been travelling so often and were quite tired of the typical hotel breakfast so we planned to eat out and carry on with our sight-seeing early morning. We couldn’t catch the sun rise from our room windows as the sun was coming out from the extreme right. When the streets were already lit up and getting busy, it was time to venture out for the day.
Having brushed up, we left Novotel Melaka Hotel and walked back to the main road along Jalan Merdeka. We found Starbucks Coffee at the corner to the street but it was not opened yet as it was barely 8 am. We walked on and crossed the road and then went to Dataran Pahlawan Mall which was not opened as well. Opening time was 10.30 am but McDonalds right next to the entrance at the corner which was already opened for business.
So we went in and ordered our breakfast. We ordered the porridge set as well as the regular breakfast set. The breakfast was good and it tasted better than what we had the day before in Singapore. Moreover, with the excellent exchange rate, the breakfast set was just about two third the price of the same meal in Singapore. It was so early hence we simply took our time and enjoyed our meals.
After breakfast, we left McDonalds and walked along the back of Dataran Pahlawan towards Saint Paul’s Hill. It was a pleasant sunny day with a light breeze blowing. We tried to stay in the shade as much as possible as we walked to this first tourist attraction at this UNESCO Heritage Site. Buildings were closed and the place looked deserted until we came to the foot of the hill.
It had been many years since we last visited this place. During those days Dataran Pahlawan wasn’t even built. The foot of the hill area was a huge market with food stalls and stalls selling souvenirs, clothes and many other stuff. There were animals as well as rickshaws over here where the whole place was like an amusement park.
Today is a different story. This place has been revamped into a clean and modern precinct providing creature comfort to visitors and locals who visit and work here. The surrounding buildings were obviously renovated and nicely painted in the unmistakable original colour in red. The roads and ground area were nicely done up instead of the wooden planks that were placed at certain part to ensure level ground and to provide easy walkway for those visiting this area.
We approached the entrance at the foot of Saint Paul’s Hill. The remains of the fort and gate were still there guarded by a few pieces of ancient canons. With the morning sun illuminating this area, this tourist attraction definitely exuded its reputable charm. Some tourists were already taking pictures at the entrance but it wasn’t crowded yet.
We made our way into the gate and walked up the staircase. The staircase was also nicely done up to enable visitors to have a better and safer way of ascending the hill with new railings along the way up to the remains of the church. The hill wasn’t very high but the heat from the sun could demotivate some people from visiting this historic site. Years ago, it was always scorching hot whenever we visited this hill with our young children walking up the rugged steps. This morning, it was a rather pleasant ascend.
Looking back and down the slope of the hill, the old city that it once was has now become a mixed of many new developments. The shoreline has been reclaimed much further out to the Straits of Malacca. Many buildings have been built on the reclaimed land. Business around this area has been booming with tourism flourishing in Malacca, especially a visit to this UNESCO Heritage Site.
We made it to the top without much trouble enjoying the magnificent views of the surrounding and the breeze up on the hill added to our delight. We had walked past those Dutch graveyard earlier so we now explored the remnants of the church so full of history left behind by the former colonial masters. The walls of this church building of yesteryears were still standing with more tomb stones and slabs to be found within the church compound.
Surprisingly, people were using the church as an exercise venue where young people were dancing to the tune of music via a portable music device. The serenity of this historic site was of course punctuated by such unwanted noise and performance. There were no such activities years ago when we visited this place. So we found it rather strange that this was happening now. Though this was once a church building and now a tourist attraction of historic significance, whatever that are now remaining standing should be protected and this place respected for the enjoyment of visitors.
We saw some hawkers setting up stalls along the way up the hill, so we won’t be surprised vendors would invade this church premise to peddle their wares. Had we been required to pay to enter this UNESCO Site, we would be most unhappy to have our visit ruined by vendors and others misusing this site for their personal benefits. It was good we came up quite early near to 9 am, otherwise the crowd and the hawkers would have diminished our enjoyment of this place.
Having spent sufficient time up on the hill admiring the place and the view of the surrounding, it was time for us to descend to visit the other historic sites on this part of town. Of course walking down was much easier. We were going down towards the back of The Stadthuys and Christ Church. From the top of the hill, we saw this area was busy with tourists loitering and taking pictures nearby.
As we approached the Dutch Square area in front of Christ Church, we could feel the air of excitement of the area. Colourfully decorated rickshaws with loud and joyful music were stationed there waiting for tourists to hire them. Plenty of tourists arrived and many of them were congregating around the fountain to have their pictures taken. Most of them were from China and we came across some from Vietnam as well. One Vietnamese couple even approached us to help them take pictures too.
This was indeed a lively area and a happy place to hang out. Some stalls outside The Stadthuys were selling souvenirs with a few visitors looking up some stuff of interest to them. This place is really popular with tourists and a must visit attraction.
We also went into Christ Church to have a look. It was so many years ago when we entered the premise of this church building. The pews and all the aids to worship looked pretty well kept and tidy. Souvenirs concerning this church and Christianity related items could be purchased at the church entrance. We skipped the Museum though and went across the road towards the river.
The river used to be very dirty and smelly but the authorities had done a good job cleaning up the river. The buildings across the river looked nicely restored and some beautifully painted. It was nice to see the reflections of these buildings on the river too and under the bright morning sun, this river scene was really picturesque. This place could rival some of the old towns in China running along some beautiful river. A beautiful Dutch windmill is also part of the attraction near the river.
So we walked along the river towards Jonker Street. Hard Rock Café is there near the entrance of Jonker Street. We used to see some nice old sports cars and fierce looking power bikes at the entrance of this café. This is one of the pubs tourists like to hangout at night for a drink or two. The day time view of this café didn’t bring out the full beauty of this café and what it had to offer.
Across the café is this huge H&M Store. But it was still early morning so the store wasn’t opened. Jonker Street was further down the road at the circle but it looked quite ordinary during the day and we didn’t venture in to explore. We would return later in the evening for the weekend night market only available from Friday to Sunday.
We then walked further down along the river to enjoy the river scene. We reached the old fort with the canon relics on the walls and this place was another tourist magnet. We had to squeeze through some slow moving tourists blocking the narrow pathway to the river front. Once we got through, we continued our stroll to enjoy this beautiful morning view of this now cleaned up river. We saw quite a lot of fish on the river too.
Our walk soon terminated at the end where those who wished to go for the river cruise could purchase their tickets. The river cruise cost RM20 and the ride would last about 40 minutes. We didn’t want to take the river ride on this hot day so we continued walking to the end and came out to the main road again where the huge ship was located. This is actually the Maritime Museum. This ship has been around for decades and this is one for the first landmarks we would drive past whenever we drove into this part of town years ago.
We then crossed the road and walked back towards the side entrance of Dataran Pahlawan Mall. It was 10.30 am and it was getting really hot. When we reached the entrance of the mall, the mall was just opening. So we were glad to be able to enter the mall to enjoy some air-conditioning to cool down as the sun was getting a lot hotter since we left Novotel Melaka Hotel after 8 am.
Though the mall had opened, most shops were still closed while some were in the process of opening. We waited for Guardian Store to open to purchase more insect repellent and other related products as we found our purchase the day before was indeed well worth it. We loitered around the ground level watching some shops opening and soon Guardian also opened and my wife went in to do her shopping. I found myself a bench and sat down to rest. It was a good worked out for the morning and about time to rest awhile.
My wife took quite some time at Guardian as there were so much stuff she wanted to purchase. Guardian was still having the buy three pay two promotion and that was why my wife was staying longer than expected and so I had longer rest time on the bench. Finally, her mind was made and purchase was quickly made. So we were on our way walking through the mall towards the other end where we had breakfast at the McDonalds earlier.
While walking and looking at shops opening, my wife chanced upon a hair salon that was just opened and she decided to have her hair trimmed. The heat earlier in the morning and her long hair was causing some discomfort, so it was a good time for her to sit down to rest while she get her hair fixed. The hair stylist was a decent and pleasant young man and he did a good job. It was just a simple hair cut without hair wash and the cost was just RM25. My wife didn’t want an elaborate job done so this fast and easy procedure was good enough for her.
We made it nearly to the end of the mall where Secret Recipe and the McDonalds were located. Before leaving the mall, we went into Watsons to buy some bottled water to bring back to our room. After that, we left the mall and walked back along Jalan Merdeka and explored the shops along the way.
We walked past Scents and Senses where we had our massage the day before. Novotel Melaka Hotel was just across the road further behind some rows of shops. We walked further down to look at other shops where we could see them lit up from our room windows at night. Finally, we crossed the main road and walked back to Novotel Hotel.
We were glad to be back. Having rested and quenched our thirst, it was time to head to the swimming pool again. Our swim was disrupted by the rain yesterday and this late morning, while the sun was still shining, it was a great time to go for a swim. Having changed, we went back to the swimming pool on the 5th floor.
No one was swimming when we arrived. We had the entire pool to ourselves and it was so good. We did our laps leisurely and had a great time swimming and floating in between. It was so relaxing. The depth of the pool is 1.2 m throughout so there wouldn’t be any surprises. Having done swimming, we returned to our room to shower and get ready for lunch.
My wife complained that the ventilation fan in the bathroom was noisy and her sleep was affected. The wall of the shower stall facing the room is a see through glass with an electric blind for privacy. Perhaps because of this design, the ventilation fan could have sounded louder than normal. So we called front desk to request for a change of room. It was granted but we had to wait awhile because the computer system was down and they could not issue new card keys.
We took the opportunity to head to The Square Restaurant for lunch while waiting for them to sort out the matter. The hotel didn’t serve buffet for lunch so we ordered from the a la carte menu. We chose a different dish this time and we also ordered the nonya spring roll. The service staff here were pretty good even though their proficiency in the English language may not always be up to par. Our food arrived shortly and our lunch was good. Actually, we struggled to finish the spring roll as we were not very hungry.
After lunch, we went back to front desk to collect our card keys. The lobby was very busy this Friday noon time. It was also school holidays for Singapore so some parents were bringing their family to Malaysia for a vacation and Malacca happened to be one of the convenient locations. Many guests were waiting for the room keys. Due to breakdown of the computer system, front desk issued welcome drinks vouchers to guests to rest at the lounge while waiting for their keys to be issued.
Finally, the system was fixed and we got our keys. We went back to our room to collect our bags that were already packed earlier waiting to move to another room. We brought all our stuff to this new room on the same level. This time we were given a room facing the Straits of Malacca.
The room arrangement however was slightly different. It was a little smaller without the day bed as well as one of the side tables. The shower stall wall was behind the wardrobe facing the bedroom. This would definitely cut down the noise from the ventilation fan from the bathroom. But the shower stall was a little narrower. Other than this, the front table below the wall mounted TV was also shorter. Apart from the sea view of this room, the other room was much better in size and furnishing.
Anyway, we were pretty happy about this arrangement and the sea view from the room was nice. A short while after we had moved over, a hotel staff came over to present us with some tidbits in a plastic cup. It was nice of them as well. We were also given welcome drinks vouchers as Accor Plus members where we would go for our drinks tonight.
Since we already spent the whole morning outdoor, it was time to rest awhile and enjoy our nice room to watch some TV programs. It was too hot to head out to explore now but we had already done our shopping at the malls the day before and earlier this morning so there was no point to tire ourselves with more shopping early this afternoon.
When it was near 5 pm, we left Novotel Hotel and went back to Dataran Pahlawan Mall. Our first stop was Secret Recipe to have another round at their Tea Time Special. The moist chocolate cake we had the previous day was a bad experience so we made sure not to order this cake again. This time we ordered two different types of cheese cakes and coffee and another pot of Earl Grey tea. Our cakes and beverages came and it was a great tea time before we explored Jonker Street night market later.
After this we did some more shopping and my wife bought more clothes and other stuff. This was our third visit to Dataran Pahlawan Mall during these two days. The main atrium was being set up for promotional event for the next day which was a Saturday. Workers were busy dressing up the area. As we continued shopping further down to the other end of the mall to Brands Outlet, we exited the mall and turned right to walk along the foot of Saint Paul’s Hill towards Jonker Street.
It was no longer so hot now. An old train and a vintage plane were parked outside the mall near the Museum. They have been placed here for many years. Along the road rickshaws with visitors were riding past with their interesting music played along the way. It was quite funny actually but the tourists seemed to enjoy themselves squeezed into those elaborately decorated rickshaws.
We continued walking along and soon reached the Dutch Square. We didn’t explore the Square or those historic buildings again. Our main objective was the night market at Jonker Street. So we crossed the road and walked towards H&M Store before Jonker Street. The area was getting crowded with many tourists still hanging out at the Dutch Square and more spilling over to the riverside and Jonker Street with the night market that was soon to begin.
We went straight into H&M to enjoy some air-conditioning and check out what was on offer. We explored the three floors but found nothing we wanted. So we left H&M and walked towards the circle outside Jonker Street. This was a really crowded place.
The night market had started with more stalls setting up and getting ready. The entrance into Jonker Street was quite narrow with stalls on both sides of the street occupying space and with visitors streaming in and out of the street, it took some patience to get through the crowd into the street.
It was not dark yet when we made it into Jonker Street. Stalls on both sides of the street were selling all and sundry trying to capture the attention of visitors. There were some interesting products as well as traditional local products available at the many stalls on the street. Local souvenirs were available too.
Of course snacks and drinks were also being sold as well as small watermelons sold as hand carry fruit juice packs. Two holes are cut on top where the fruit is blended with a small electric blender turning the fruit into watermelon juice. Strings are then used to secure the watermelon through the two holes so the buyer can carry the watermelon and drink the juice from a straw inserted into one of the holes.
It was still a little early. Once we got through the congested main entrance into Jonker Street, the rest of the stretch was easier to walk except certain parts where crowds attracted by some interesting stuff sold by the stall vendors. Some of these stall vendors were actually teenagers mending the stalls. It looked like they were some young entrepreneurs testing the market with products they sourced from elsewhere.
Besides the exciting night market held during the weekends from Friday to Sunday, the surrounding streets also have interesting shops selling traditional biscuits and snacks and cafes as well as restaurants to cater to both locals and foreign visitors. Of course the weekend night market brings out the best of this UNESCO Heritage Site otherwise this area would look more like a quiet Chinatown area during the day.
Eventually we walked past the stage where the seniors perform their karaoke singing. They were preparing to start their performances any time soon. We walked further down to the end of the street which was barricaded for the weekend night market. The old Tamil Methodist Church sat at the other end of the adjacent street. The entrance at this end of the street was a stark contrast from the other congested entrance near H&M Store at the circle. The crowd simply wasn’t present here.
We turned back and it was time to look for food for dinner. We had already walked past the side streets where the street hawkers were located. This place was a hive of activities. Almost all the tables were already occupied. The hawkers were doing roaring business here. Since it was so difficult to find a seat, we decided to pack our dinner back to eat in our hotel room which would be a lot more conducive and comfortable. We bought the fried carrot cakes and fried kway teow from one of the stalls in a crowded coffee shop.
Having purchased our dinner, we made our way back to the main entrance. It was getting dark now and crowds were pouring into Jonker Street. The area was also lighting up nicely and Jonker Street was more enchanting now. The loud singing from the seniors nearby added to the atmosphere of Jonker Street. Songs sung were decades ago that were interesting but probably out of touch with the younger people these day and age. For the older folks, this would be a touch of nostalgia to hang out here.
Making our way out seemed to be more challenging now. We were held back several times by the crowd at certain stretches where vendors managed to attract visitors to patronize their stalls. Some visitors were simply strolling and taking their own sweet time to check out the stalls. It took us some effort to finally make it through to the main entrance.
H&M Store looked very nice at night. Across the street Hard Rock Café was very attractive too and would surely pull in the crowd at night. Some taxis were parked along the road outside Hard Rock Café. We approached the first taxi to enquire about the fare back to Novotel Melaka Hotel that was not very far away and he demanded RM20. Taxis here except those in blue colour would not use the meter. So we walked off. The driver of the taxi behind this taxi shouted he would take us to Novotel Hotel for RM15. We took the offer and sat ourselves down comfortably for the ride back to Novotel Hotel.
There was some traffic but we arrived at Novotel Hotel in about 10 minutes. We didn’t mind to walk back to our hotel but when the taxi fare was more reasonable, we would be willing to take a ride to arrive our hotel earlier in air-conditioned comfort. Actually, for a few minutes taxi ride, this was slightly more expensive than the taxi fare in Singapore. Imagine Uber and Grab Cars start coming in to give them a run for the money, these taxi drivers wouldn’t survive the competition.
We wasted no time to enter the hotel and returned to our room. We were looking forward to our packed dinner from Jonker Street. We settled down and started to open up the packet of food and tucked in.
To our surprise, the food didn’t taste good at all. The carrot cake was sour perhaps due to the chilly sauce. The fried kway teow was only kway teow with beans sprouts and that was all. No fish cakes and no Chinese sausage were added. It was fried by a young chap and I told him not to add cockles and he probably took it that we didn’t want anything else. The kway teow wasn’t even tasty. This dinner was a great disappointment. Last year, we had a much better experience eating over there but the fried kway teow we ordered this time was from a different coffee shop. The fried carrot cakes cost RM5.50 while the fried kway teow cost RM5. It was a horrible meal. We ate only a small portion and then threw everything away.
Well, we were not really hungry so we simply took this bad dining experience in our strides. The nice tea time we had at Secret Recipe did help to keep our hunger away. Actually, we were more tired and thirsty with all the walking and shopping for the day. Anyway, we still had our welcome drinks to consume. So we descended to the lobby lounge for some comfort and relaxation.
We took our seats and were quickly served with fruit punch. The singers we saw the previous night were not around. They were taking a break after singing the first session. Soon they returned and began with those good old country music. The lounge was also filling up. More hotel guests had checked in today and this lounge became more lively. The singers were happier and sang with much more enthusiasm this evening. After listening to a couple of songs and with our drinks consumed, we left the lounge.
The hotel manager met us at the lobby and we had some small chat. He told us the hotel was expecting 95% occupancy in the coming days and he wondered why. I told him the Singapore school holidays had just started and of course Malacca was a convenient city to visit during this short break. Though many more new hotels had been built in Malacca recently, during peak travel season, getting a room may prove to be a challenge due to Malacca being given the status as a UNESCO Heritage Site where tourists would flock in for a visit. Anyway, tourists attractions in Malacca have undergone some transformation to become more visitor friendly. There are now non-smoking zone within some sites and amenities have improved by leaps and bounds. After the nice chat with the manager, we returned to our room.
It was time to chill again to watch TV and catch up with the children back home. We needed to do more packing to facilitate our return bus ride back to Singapore the next day. We had to try to make it as easy and as convenient as possible to get through immigration and custom inspection with our bags and the items we bought. Last year, we carried two large bags because we bought a few pairs of sports shoes and rackets and other stuff. We had to explain to the immigration officers the cost of our items purchased to see if we needed to pay taxes. However, we didn’t exceed the amount allowed for our travel purchases.
So it had been a fruitful day visiting Saint Paul’s Hill and other tourists attractions in Malacca after many years. Our previous visits were simply to shop, eat and sleep. We were so familiar with the place and we knew exactly where to go and what to do. However, driving around town in Malacca can be very challenging and even frustrating. Don’t try to find parking lots near Jonker Street area. Chances are you would get a ticket and with those narrow streets, it is simply not easy to maneuver and park easily as well.
Though we didn’t go for another massage, we had a great swim at the pool just by ourselves. Shopping for the second day was great too. My wife was of course happy but except for the horrible packed food from Jonker Street, everything went well and we were pleased. We still had the next morning to do one last round of shopping and we would be done for this trip.
Novotel Melaka Hotel was really a very comfortable hotel to stay and especially for Accor Plus members, we were very well taken care of. Dining with 50% discount was really good where we could have local food at hotel standard with food court price, we were of course more than happy. We didn’t use the gym but the swimming pool was great. The pool is quite long with a constant depth of 1.2 m. Next to this pool is a children’s pool with slides for kids. The hotel is just a year old and is improving with music at the lounge for certain days. The hotel is actively soliciting feedbacks on how they could improve and provide hotel guests with a better experience so this is really good.
Bed time came and this night was certainly quieter without much noise from the bathroom ventilation fan. The wardrobe partitioned between the bathroom and the bedroom really helped. But the previous room was more luxurious with the glass partition bathroom and a day bed, another side table plus a longer front table. Anyway, we were pleased to have a good night sleep.
Continue to Day 3 …