Day 31 – Melaka

The complimentary breakfast at the cafe over the road is not inspiring. The staff are unfriendly and the service a bit rude. The cafe is soulless and the food mean: a miniscule sliver of melon, barely enough jam or butter for my toast, which is more like heated bread turned cold. The eggs are ok, but the next day I decide that the “local” breakfast of noodles might be a better bet (I was wrong!).

We rent some bikes which are a bit heavy to ride and are certainly not made for tackling any kind of gradient.

Our exploration of the outer lying areas of the city is quickly aborted as the busy roads with their open drainage ditches (a scary potential hazard) and the pushy drivers make the experience quite unrelaxing. We turn back to the water front and Cyrus takes me for a mille crepe cake, which is delicious, so too is the mango and basil seed smoothie. We cycle along the pedestrianised zone between the mall that looks like a mosque with its Islamic motifs and windows, and St Paul’s hill. The foot of the hill is ringed with museums, including a scruffy derelict “museum of enduring beauty”, and a fenced off display of planes and trains. The house where Independence was proclaimed can be found here, with its adjacent armoured vehicles from the state of emergency, and a Chevrolet limousine, along with the remains of the Dutch fortress. We climb the steps with the other tourists to the ruined shell of St Paul’s church. There are some buskers and a posse of Korean women wearing sun visors. We rest in the sun, which unexpectedly results in a little burning for both of us.

The trishaws come and go. A couple jump out of one to take a series of photos of each other posing before the ruined gateway, then jump back in and off they go. I don’t think they even looked at where they had been.

We return to the more sedate streets of the Chinese quarter where I buy a box of traditional pineapple tarts (look more like minature sausage rolls).

We take lunch/dinner at the gourmet veg restaurant we chanced upon on our bike ride over on Melaka Plaza. It looks expensive but is amazing value. The food is organic, unprocessed and without MSG etc. We both have set meals: mine a vege hotpot containing bitter gourd, okra and tofu, a soup with bamboo shoots, sesame/bean salad, mixed brown and wild rice…..it is spectacularly good, and Cyrus rates his mock fish curry too. A successful and satisfying meal.

It is dusk as we cycle over the bridge where hundreds of shrieking little birds are settling down to roost. We zip along the water front that I had walked the night before. The city is strangely reminiscent of Bristol: a floating harbour, a big sailing ship (the museum), modern apartment developments by the water, brightly lit bars.

After returning the bikes we take a rest then later walk the waterfront and find a row of houses with some great street art depicting the history of the city.

We toy with drinking at the reggae bar, which we guess has gay clientele, and Cyrus thinks I’m being eyed up as we pass. Instead we go back to Discovery Guesthouse, where we rented the bikes and have a jug of beer. The place is quite bohemian and has a lazy colonial feel to it.

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