Day 217: Back On The Tourist Trail

Mon. 18th March 2013

Tacky tourist rideHaving left the untouristy island of Java we have returned to a land with tourist buses which disgorge groups of (usually Chinese) tourists at the main sights for them to wander around for a while before piling back on their coaches and moving on to the next attraction.  Our morning started at a sensible hour and It was good not being woken at silly o’clock by the call to prayer. This is also good as we will be staying in this hotel  in Melaka, Malaysia for a few nights before heading to Kuala Lumpur for the Grand Prix next weekend.

Christ churchArmed with a map of Melaka, we decide to follow the river down to the sea and get our bearings, so we retrace our steps of last night and then continue along the river. We head past the church of St Francis Xavier and on to the busy main historical Dutch square, with above mentioned tourists, and a Dutch windmill. Around the square is Christ Church built in 1753 and Studhuys, a series of buildings built by the Dutch between 1660 and 1700 used as the town hall by the Dutch then the British before being painted red like Christ church and turned into museums. We pass these by and continue along the river.

Houses along the river frontSince becoming a UNESCO World Heritage City in 2008 there has been a great amount of reconstruction and money spent in the old town and along pretty paths constructed on both the river banks.

Replica Portuguese boatAll that remains of the Bastion of Frederick Hendrick is a few foundation stones and a rebuilt terrace complete with canons. A crane and waterwheel also remain but no longer work.We note the tacky ticket office of the river cruises as we will be back here tomorrow. There are a mass of sights to see including the maritime museum in a reconstructed Portuguese ship. Melaka is a place of many surprises and treasures interspersed with perceived tourist attractions such as the bicitaxis and river boats blaring music and a Hard Rock Cafe by the bridge into Chinatown. I think this place is in danger of losing its way and needs to find its true identity.

At the mouth of the riverThere is not much to see at river mouth, just open derelict land awaiting development. Just along from here is a huge Holiday Inn and other similar large hotels. The building work has started not far from here on new swish shopping malls and luckily for Dave the Starbucks is already open. We spend a while moseying around and buy Dave a new camera, which will save us having to fight over mine! The Sony RX100 has been so good and no-one can recommend anything better in the price range so we buy the same again and have his and hers again. It will also fit the underwater housing Dave bought specifically for the camera.

View of Menara Taming SariVenturing outside into the humid heat we decide that we really should splash out the £4 each and go up the ugly tower. As predicted it was one minute up, barely five minutes revolving at the top and one minute down again. We did get a good view of the town from the top so it was worth it. The very evenly built houses were an impressive sight from the tower.

Regimented housesOne last sight on the way back, I tell Dave as we head for A Formosa, all that remains of the Portuguese built fortification. By this time the heat of the day was at its greatest and we were definitely beginning to wilt. What I did not realise from my woefully inadequate map provided by the hotel was that the route I had chosen was up over a hill past St Paul’s church. We decide to leave St Paul’s hill for another day as we do have two more here days to fill.

A Formosa remainsWe resisted the colourful bicitaxis blaring loud music which would have taken us on a tour of old town, which we had just completed on foot. It was good to get back to our air conditioned hotel room for a rest. There are no evening meals served in our hotel (based on breakfast we would have not eaten here anyway!) so we headed out armed with a few suggestions from Trip Advisor. The first in Little India was closed and we never found the second, so it was left to our instincts to find a place.

View from our restaurant tableWe declined Hard Rock Café at almost £10 for a main course and the choice was all western and settled on a little place by the river. Quite a sweet place with two sisters as waitresses who enjoyed their work and the food was tasty traditional fare and nothing fancy, which was what we wanted. We watched the river boats heading up and down river, with plenty of tourists on board – we did not know that there were so many around as we still seen to be out of peak season, having said that they were mainly groups of Chinese that had been passing close by all day.

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