I really wanted to like Malaka, I tried, but I was massively underwhelmed. Perhaps I expected more because I had been recommended the place by a few people. But to be honest you can explore it in less than a day/a couple hours. There’s also hardly anywhere to eat, you really needed to search to find a restaurant or food court. But I guess it was a refreshing change from being hounded by waiters persuading you to eat at their restaurant. There’s a positive to everything!
As a place marked as a “World Heritage Site”, tourists have increasingly started to come here to see…. well, another Chinatown, a town square, a random church on a hill, lots of malls and a nice man-made river. That’s it. There’s a few additional tourist things and on another planet creative tuk tuks but this place didn’t have much to it…but it was trying.
The first day armed with a map I went to explore… after 2 hours, I was done. It was a nice little town and the people were the friendliest I’d met so far, but I struggled to see what the big deal was. There were a few cool treats around in Chinatown like new cakes, sweets and this egg shaped ice cream that I’d never seen before. And the buildings in Chinatown had some charm but it’s didn’t have me in awe.
What made this place interesting was the hostel, I stayed at Ringo’s Foyer, a hostel for a mere 15RM (£2.50) per night this also includes a night bike tour.
At the hostel I met two guys, Anton from Switzerland and Steven from Utah, USA. That evening we all went on the bike tour with the rest of the guests and it did improve my views of Melaka (but then again everything looks better on a bike). For dinner I had a chicken curry which was lovely and only cost me 8RM (just over a pound). All thanks to our hosting owner taking us to a local food court.
That evening I went for coffee with Anton and Steven at a really cool cafe called 13 Coffees Café. This is where I learnt that there is someone on this planet crazier and takes more pictures than me and all Chinese tourists combined, Steven from Utah. This guy had a week left of travelling so I think he felt the need to fill up his SD card before he returned to the states.
Later that evening we went for a drink at a place which was literally just one room with a fridge of canned beer only and chairs. And the room was decorated with lots of weird magazine cut outs! Very weird, simple and this place got a lot of business! Anton and Steven were a good laugh, really funny guys to hang around with so I decided to stay another day and just ride around with them and see if I could find some hidden gems in this town… a tuk tuk driver recommended Melaka Island, which you can get to riding a little bit on the highway and over a bridge. We found it, explored it but sadly it’s just a building site at the moment. I imagine in about 5-10 years time it’s going to be a popular place with the building plans and beaches they have in store. Sadly everything is currently boarded up so we couldn’t really see the sea but instead we randomly found a temple (every island needs one) and some adorable stray cats. But there really isn’t much more to this place yet. As the evening got dark we found a water display outside mall… still underwhelmed but it was cool to see security guards in the mall with massive guns. A bit of a contradiction for such a calm town.
Personally I wouldn’t recommend Melaka for backpackers because there isn’t much to see or do, if I hadn’t met good people I probably would have just stayed the night. New lesson learnt… have low expectations of everywhere to avoid disappointment.