Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Weekend at Melaka - Part 4: Jonker Street at Night

We came back to Jonker Street to experience the night market as well as to have our dinner in the area. We were not exactly starving so we had time to walk and check out what the street had to offer aside from the very attractive street food that should be part of every experience when one travels around Asia.

The water dragon is illuminated at night
There were lots of people with locals and visitors mixing it up to enjoy the attractions of the night market at Jonker
 It was crowded as many people flocked to Jonker that Saturday night - the place was very safe and there seem have been no incidents of criminality, a definite plus for tourists!
The lighting for Geographer Cafe added to its Old World charm

We just had to pose at the landmark
The cafe was filled with people taking a break from the sweltering night - it was quite humid that day and the gentle breeze during the night was a welcome respite from the heat
Street food galore at Jonker
Giant nyonya ornament hanging by one of the buildings
The stage we saw earlier was transformed into a community karaoke fest for senior citizens!
The old chap seemed to be in the zone as he belted out his chosen song
It was indeed senior citizens' night and many of the locals were seated to enjoy the performances of their contemporaries

 I was able to record part of the performance - and the bar was set to be quite high

Line dancing inside one of the community centers along Jonker Walk - proof that the community is alive and thriving

We learned from this experience that a community such as the one at Jonker Walk is what keeps the street alive. A city will not thrive without its people to nourish and promote it. Perhaps the reason why Melaka is what it is today and is able to preserve its heritage for the future generations is because its people care for their city and they are able to appreciate the essence of its history and existence even with the challenges of modern civilization especially in this information age.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekend at Melaka - Part 3: Jonker Street at Day

Jonker Street is a well known attraction of Melaka. The area that includes adjacent streets is Melaka's Chinatown and contains an assortment of shops and restaurants. We were informed by the hotel staff that there will be a night market along Jonker Street that Saturday from 6:00 PM and the street will be closed to traffic. And so we decided to first check out the street while shopkeepers and others were setting up for the night market and took some photos while there was still daylight. The following photos were taken along Jonker before we decided to explore central Melaka last Saturday.

Colorful pedicab we first spotted along Jonker - the street was not yet closed to traffic when we took a stroll
People mixed with vehicles along Jonker at the time
The Clairvoyant and I clicked away at ever building we laid our eyes on - this building was a temple along Jonker and had many colorful features
The very popular Geographer Cafe - yup that's the Clairvoyant at the corner
Another colorful building along Jonker - this was a residential building with a small shop at the ground floor
Another residential building with a small business on the ground floor - the architecture is reminiscent of Melaka being a colonial city
Arch on the outer end of Jonker Street
Clairvoyant posing for a souvenir shot
My turn to pose at the arch
Close-up of the arch with a sponsor to boot
As expected, there were various street food at Jonker - these popsicles caught our interest as we were already feeling the heat and humidity that afternoon
For 1 RM (2.49 Malaysian Ringgit = 1 SGD) one could sample a popsicle
The Clairvoyant had a grape popsicle while I settled for orange - both refreshing treats
Facade of the popular LW Nyonya Pineapple Tarts House specializing in tarts
Looking at old photo cutouts (probably from old newspapers) showing the Melaka (or Malacca) in the old days when it was still a colony within British Malaya
Another shot of the Hokkien temple front
There were many antique and curio shops selling various items along Jonker
Facade of a small library along Jonker
Colorful balcony with Chinese lanterns along the ground floor
The very popular Jonker 88 restaurant where the queues seem to be always long - we ate here in later that Saturday
The stage was set for some event that night with sponsorship from snack giant Mister Potato and England's Manchester United
Street food at Chinatown will not be complete without dumplings

We were intrigued with the spiral potato fries and watched at a stall while they employed a simple gadget to slice and "stretch" the potato on a stick
Fellow visitors exploring what shops at Jonker had to offer
Immense water dragon at the corner of Jonker Street spewing water for lucky visitors
The dragon was also had its own sponsor and photo ops here was quite popular that it was difficult to get a good shot without other people posing at the fountain.
Next: Jonker at night!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend at Melaka - Part 2: Arrival and Lunch

We arrived at Melaka after what seemed to be a very long trip despite the very comfortable seats of the Star Mart bus (our seats even had massagers!). Arriving at the Melaka Sentral Bas Terminal after what seemed to be an hour from the tollway exit to the terminal due to the traffic congestion, we found no taxis were available for us to get to our hotel. It turned out that there was a cycling race (Tour of Langkawi?) that day and many roads were closed to traffic to accommodate the race. Fortunately, the hotel was able to send transport and we eventually arrived at our home for the weekend.

The Clairvoyant was able to book our accommodations in Melaka at the highly rated Casa Del Rio. It is a boutique hotel the Clairvoyant saw on the internet that we were quite lucky to book at greatly reduced rates over at Agoda.

Welcome sorbet at the Casa Del Rio - the staff, especially Ms. Yin, was very helpful and attended to us immediately
Posing at the River Cafe where we had our very late lunch. We were already starving by the time we could finally relax upon our arrival at the hotel.
The Clairvoyant sipping lemonade while waiting for our lunch
We had identical dishes for lunch - chicken, fried rice and egg with a side of salad
Our hotel room was large and probably one of the best if not the best room we've had while traveling. One could see the entire room through the doors and windows separating the different sections of the room.
The furniture and everything about the room was appropriate for a hotel in this heritage city and was just perfect for a weekend retreat.
The tub was inviting and there was a separate shower enclosure.
Our balcony made for a splendid view of the river and the the city center; a good preview of what Melaka offers to its visitors and residents alike.
Traditional welcome delicacy waiting at our room
The Peranakan delicacy is made of rice flour and a centre of liquid Palm Sugar coated with fresh desiccated coconut
The notepad at the room was according to the heritage theme of the City and the hotel. It is actually the notepad used by storeowners or shopkeepers for keeping track of credit (pautang).

I will feature photos of the hotel facade and exteriors in another post. We took many photos in and around the hotel during both the daytime and nighttime. I believe the best shots were those taken from across the river. The hotel, we learned, was actually an old warehouse that was converted into what it is now. First impressions do last and we will definitely stay at Casa Del Rio when we return to Melaka for another weekend getaway.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend at Melaka - Part 1: Traveling to Melaka

The Clairvoyant and I went to Melaka for the weekend. This was a surprise trip arranged by the Clairvoyant to celebrate my 40th and happened to be our first trip to Malaysia after going to different countries around the world (though I haven't gone to Europe...yet). Going to Malaysia was not a difficult thing because the country and most destinations can be reached by bus from Singapore, which was originally part of what was called Malaya prior to its independence.

The Clairvoyant booked us on bus trips but managed to get our first choice company, StarMart Express, only for the Singapore-Melaka leg.

People waiting to be called by the dispatchers for the different buses going to Malaysia from the Beach Road terminal
The Clairvoyant waiting at the steps
StarMart buses are owned by Air Asia - Asia's largest budget airlines. They are the top rated bus for trips between Singapore and Malaysia based on internet postings.
Our bus arriving at the loading bay, which was a driveway in front of an office building. I was actually surprised that the set-up at Beach Road was quite informal considering the volume of people traveling between the two countries.

Comfortably seated inside the bus, we proceeded to Malaysia
There are two checkpoints on either end of the causeway that we used, which was one of two connecting Singapore and Malaysia. Going to Malaysia, we used the newer and smaller checkpoints where the processing were very smooth as one could expect for checkpoints that are so busy especially due to the high volume of traffic between Singapore and Malaysia. Taking photos are prohibited in these areas so we refrained from doing so.

I will be featuring more photos of our weekend adventure to the World Heritage City of Melaka in succeeding posts. There's a wealth of photographs taken (and still to be taken in the future) from cities like Melaka. It is truly a unique place and one so rich in history considering what she has gone through being a colony under the Portuguese, then the Dutch and finally the Brtitish. Melaka, of course is the Malacca that is mentioned in history books that was the subject of much conflict associated with the desire for spices in the so-called Old World.