When we were planning a trip to Malaysia, we took an instant liking to Malacca City (Melaka) as it looked vibrant and unique and researching a bit about it revealed that it is a city of historical importance characterized by the amalgamation of various cultures as it was a colony of the Portuguese and the Dutch as well as the British and the Japanese. We wasted no time in including Malacca in our itinerary.
Malacca is quite close to Kuala Lumpur. It takes about 2.5-3 hours to reach Malacca from Kuala Lumpur via bus. After reaching Malaysia, we spent the first two days in Kuala Lumpur and from there we went to Malacca. We took a bus from the TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan) in Kula Lumpur and reached Malacca before three hours. There are a number of bus services which you can choose from TBS to go to Melaka Sentral. We bought tickets of RM 10 each to board an air-conditioned bus. The seats were quite comfortable and the journey was smooth. After reaching Melaka Sentral, we took a taxi to reach our hotel. We chose the 1825 Gallery Hotel which was right beside all the major attractions of Malacca, near Chinatown centre. These are the places we visited during our stay:
Christ Church: I recognized Christ Church from the pictures I saw on the Internet, immediately after seeing it from a distance because of its famous brick-red colour. It was made by the Dutch in 1753 and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. We couldn’t visit the church on the first day because it was already closed. Locals told us that it gets closed at 12:30 pm so we went there before that time the next day. It was around Easter so I cannot tell whether its the regular church timing.
The church contains a big white cross on the top wall of the building and the interior also houses a huge wooden cross. It was initially a Protestant church which was later transformed into an Anglican one. The church is adorned with stained glass windows and contains an image of the Last Supper. It is a well-maintained church and contains a small store which offers religions items, souvenirs and brochures. The outside area of the church is neat and pleasant with small stores and colourful trishaws.
The exterior of Christ Church
Inside Christ Church
Trishaws outside Christ Church
St. Paul’s Church: Known to be the oldest church in Malaysia as well as in Southeast Asia, the St. Paul’s Church located on the St. Paul’s Hill, is in ruins for over 150 years. It was built in 1521 and was originally known as the Nossa Senhora da Annunciada (Our Lady of the Annunciation). It was built by the Portuguese nobleman Duarto Coelho to honour the Virgin Mary after being saved from a storm at the sea. It was damaged during the Dutch invasion and was later repaired and as well as renamed as St. Paul’s Church.
It is very peaceful and breezy at top of hill in the ruins of the church and the place offers a very nice view of Malacca. The hill is not too high and it is not very difficult to climb. The church is also famous for being often visited by the renowned Catholic missionary St. Francis Xavier and contains a marble statue of him within the complex. After his death, his body was temporarily placed in the burial vault of St. Paul’s Church and was later transferred to India in the Portuguese state of Goa. The temporary tomb is still maintained inside the church. The church also contains a number of tombstones of Dutch nobilities who were buried there.
The ruins of St. Paul’s Church
The marble statue of St. Francis Xavier
View from St. Paul’s Hill
Malaccan Riverside: We visited a part of the Malaccan riverside which is right beside Christ Church. It is a lovely place lined with hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, cafés, bars and beautiful buildings displaying vibrant art. The place exudes a certain European charm. We had lunch at one of the restaurants right next to the river. We had Nasi Lemak, which is known as the national dish of Malaysia and fresh orange juice. We wanted to spend more time along the river as it is a very pleasant place but we did not have time. We missed the river cruise experience which is of 45 minutes, which certainly seemed nice.
Vivid Street Art
A shop near the riverside
Jonker Walk: Jonker Walk, located in China Town, is a fun and vibrant place to visit. It is famous for its night market with various shops, stalls and street food. I was very excited about visiting the night market. It is a small yet lively place. After entering the market, we refreshed ourselves with a large glass of fresh mango juice topped with a lot of sliced mango, which was priced at RM 10.
We bought quite a few gifts too from the stalls and the shops. It is a very good place to buy gifts for people back home. It was very cheap in comparison to other places we visited in Malaysia. We entered one of the shops which contained a wide variety of items including good quality and cute silicone bookmarks and key chains, three of which you can chose for only RM 10! We got two bookmarks and a keychain and bought a small silicon Captain America embossed coin purse separately. From the stalls outside we also got a tea pot shaped ceramic night lamp, which was very beautiful and a wooden customized key chain. There were a number of nice places to eat around that area. We had tapas accompanied by sangria at a Spanish restaurant. The restaurant had arrangements to sit out on the street and it was delightful experience.
Jonker Walk at night
Malacca Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary: On the next day we planned to visit the Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary. We left our hotel before noon as the checkout time was 12 pm but they had arrangements to keep luggage of the guests, which was quite helpful. For visiting the Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary, we approached a taxi and the driver ended up being our guide for the rest of the day. He asked for RM 400 for that purpose, which we brought down to RM 300 after negotiating. I felt that the amount was still too much. However, I cannot really say for sure as I am unaware of the rates there.
The Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary is located in Ayer Keroh and it took us around half an hour to reach that place from Christ Church. The entrance fee of the sanctuary was RM 22 for adults and RM 16 for children. It contained a wide variety of butterflies, reptiles as well as birds, amphibians and spiders. It was quite big but appeared small as it was built into a number of interconnected narrow passages.
Inside the Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary
Mini Malaysia and ASEAN Cultural Park: The Mini Malaysia and ASEAN Cultural Park is also located in Ayer Keroh as well. The entrance fee for foreigners was RM 24. The park contained replicas of houses from the 13 states of Malaysia and was quite green and lush with a lot of trees. The traditional houses were beautiful and each house had a well decorated interior with traditional Malay furniture, decors and attires. A cultural event was about to take place in the park when we visited but we did not have time to stay and watch it. We had a cheap yet delicious lunch at a restaurant inside the park. It was RM 16 for two people and the meal contained rice and fried chicken along with iced tea. The paucity of time did not let us visit a zoo nearby, which I was really interested to visit.
Replica of one of the houses from the 13 states of Malaysia
Interior of one of the houses
Melaka Straits Mosque: We headed back to the location of the Christ Church and went further to Jalan Pulau to visit the Melaka Straits Mosque. The architecture of the mosque is very soothing to the eye. It is of a fresh white colour with a gold and blue dome and a beautiful stained glass arch adorns the front. It is called the floating mosque as it is supported by stilts on the sea and the back of the mosque offers a very good view of the sea. Both men and women are required to wash themselves and cover themselves with cloaks before entering the mosque. Women need to cover their heads with head wraps as well. Both cloaks and head wraps were available there for borrowing.
The exterior of the Melaka Straits Mosque
The taxi driver took us to another seaside and a traditional Malay food shop before taking us back to the hotel for getting our luggage. Our stay at Malacca ended and he took us to Melaka Sentral for boarding the bus for Johor Bahru, which we chose in order to visit Legoland!
Tips for Travelers:
- We visited Malacca in April and it was very hot and humid there at that time. It is important that you carry enough sunscreen, sunglasses and hat/cap. There are stores outside Christ Church from where you can buy hats and caps too.
- We came to know that it is only 1 and a half hours ferry ride from Malacca to Bali. We were not aware of this and hence couldn’t include this in our itinerary. It is an excellent and easy way to visit both Malaysia and Indonesia.
Neeparanya is a Doctoral Research Scholar from Kolkata.
She likes to read, write, paint and travel. She is also interested in animal welfare.