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A walkabout is required to experience Malacca, so leave the car at the carpark

By Rigval on 14 Nov 2010

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Malacca or Melaka as it is known locally is a tourist state/city in Malaysia that is a favorite destination for tourists both local and abroad. It is a vacation hotspot for a whole lot of people around the region that wish to get away from it all yet still comes with some hustle and bustle of urban life. Now add over 600 years of history to the picture and it all comes together.

Malacca is a melting pot of culture and heritage. From the days of the Malacca Sultanate, the Portuguese. the Dutch, the English, as well as Arab, Indian and Chinese (and also Baba-Nyona) influences you get the best of everything in an area somewhat double the size of Singapore. Oh yes, the food is pretty good here too. One would find authentic Baba-Nyona food intertwined with lots of other local stuff. But this needs a little exploring, and some asking around to locate some hidden treasures as due to Malacca being in a state of constant development and investment, lots of new restaurants, some of which are just in it for the money have sprouted up.

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So Malacca is about two hours and a bit more away from Singapore and about the same distance from Kuala Lumpur if you travel by the North South Highway. To reach the city centre it would be easier to use the Ayer Keroh Exit as the road takes you straight to the heart of Malacca City. Now being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Malacca has got all sorts of historic sites and buildings to view. But since most of us are aware of the usual places of interests like the Stadhyus Building, A Famosa Fort, Bukit Cina and local tourists haunts located at Bandar Hilir Im going to skip all of that and go to the newest attraction of Malacca, the river (photo above).

The Malacca River must have recently got a water lock to keep the water level high. This is when I was walking along the banks of the river it seems to be always full. Two or more years ago this wasnt the case. It was a slow moving river that looked only a few feet deep with monitor lizards on the banks. This was even the case at the banks close to the Stadhyus. These days, the river is almost to its brim, the result of a water gate or lock.

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Tourist boats ply the river these days filled with tourists. The river cruise takes 45minutes and it is another way to look at the sights around Malacca. 500 years ago, the river was deep enough for a large sail boat to berth and its crew going about its business of trading. Nowadays, tourist boats ply the same waterways. And now, there is a monorail plying the banks of the river too. Progress has changed the landscape of the city.

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The two photographs above and the following photos were taken at the river around Kampung Morten and the surrounding area. Kampung Morten or Morten Village is a Heritage Site showcasing a traditional Malay Village complete with a living museum called Villa Sentosa, is that you can see a lot of different architecture and different sorts of transport. It is also a place where transport of old and new converge. Architecture of old and new also converge too.

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Take a look at the pictures above and below, all of which were taken around the same spot but from different angles. We get a monorail, something totally modern and the tour boat. We also get the famous Malacca becha or three wheeled cycle as well as cars, vans, lorries and motorcycles plying the same streets.

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We can take a look at old Malay houses (with the same roof color as the Stage Government must have spent a fortune making them look spruced up) and then on the opposite side of the river, we can also see the newly refurbished colonial style mansion turned hotel called the Majestic over on the other side of the river. The 1920s mansion was converted into a boutique-spa hotel complete with a modern tower at the rear (which houses the rooms). I suppose this is much like the E&O Hotel (albeit much smaller) in Penang, with its new block attached to the original part of the hotel. The area surrounding the river is a mix of old and new.

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Somehow, if you took a car and started driving around Malacca, youd actually miss all of this. In this case, driving takes a back seat as you will never discover beauty in between tiny alleys like in the picture below. You only need to drive down to Malacca, park your car and then try walking to capture the essence of the area. It would be rewarding indeed.

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Motoring in Malaysia, Malacca and 3 more...

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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

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Parkingidiot Nov 14 2010 07:52 PM
Hey, nice article... I was contemplating on driving to Malacca and this is a good read. Any info to add on:
1. where to stay, and where to park safely
2. route maps from Singapore
3. list of interesting sites to visit in Malacca
4. approx costs

Rigval Nov 14 2010 09:18 PM

There are alot of places to stay in Malacca, but if you're looking for some decent hotels at around the RM200-RM700 price range then the Equatorial (located at Bandar Hilir), Renaissance (jalan bendahara), city bayview (also at or near jln bendahara) are good stays..the majestic is good too, but more pricey than the other 3 (rm650-700+). All have basement/elevated carparks. if you want slightly cheaper, the Emperor, Grand Continental (also around or close to jln bendahara) are decent, slightly worn down hotel stays..but cheaper yet decent. their car park are external ones but with security. I've stayed in all and also one or two more...but i usually end up using the hotel to sleep at night so i actually dont really care much as I am out throughout the day.

route maps? pretty straightforward. take the causeway or the second link, aim for ayer keroh. it's basically straight all the way from the north sourth highway. you dont really need a map.

there are tons of websites on places to visit try http://melakamalaysiatravel.com/ ....if I were to type, the list is endless.

costs? hmmm.....you could do it 1000ringgit or 500SGD or less...but it depends on your length of stay of course.
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