Saturday, 3 November 2012


Last Friday was a public holiday so the DFP (de facto partner in case you never caught what it stands for, see early frustrated entries about visas and work) and I packed our bags and caught the bus to Malacca in Malaysia. And so did everyone else in Singapore.

You may remember from my entry about Penang that it's twinned with Malacca for UNESCO purposes. They're very similar. Colonial ports with lots of pretty shophouses. Malacca has been spruced up while Penang seems, at times, surprised by tourism. Malacca on the other hand has embraced it enthusiastically.

In fact so enthusiastically that some people (including the woman who did the guided tour of the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion in Penang) think they've gone too far.

She cited a waterwheel which the improvers added, initially claiming that Malacca used to have a waterwheel but then when pressed admitted that it never had done. The sign on it now says that similar waterwheels could have been found in similar places in the world in the past.

She was also very put out by the viewing tower, a sort of concrete flying saucer that climbs up a pole and by the monorail. But then, as any fan of 'The Simpsons' knows, any small town wanting to attract tourists gets a monorail.

"You know a town with money is a little like the mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows how he got it and danged if he knows how to use it."

Says the monorail salesman before selling Springfield a monorail. A very funny episode. I recommend it.

We weren't as put out by the 'improvements' and as there isn't a great deal to do there perhaps they make sense. We caught the bus on Friday morning at 8am, arriving around 1pm and returned at 4.30pm the next day without feeling we'd missed anything. And while the waterwheel is a bit silly there's quite a funky atmosphere with lots of arty shops and arty graffiti, (the kind endorsed by the council) and the cleaned up river is pleasant to walk along.

We walked around the town and the Chinese graveyard, ate some tasty food, swam in the hotel pool and then it was time to go home.

On our only evening we went out to the Portuguese settlement to eat. There were, a very long time ago, Portuguese traders in Malacca. They left Catholicism, some church ruins and a few genes.

The settlement is just a small square with some restaurants in a suburb. Walking back from dinner we took a turning off the main road. As we walked along the low rise houses almost every one had an enormous cross either outside or on the wall you could see through the open window. Or a statue or Our Lady.

The bus coming back was a luxury bus! (I booked late) A business class bus with large seats which reclined and had mini TVs in the back. I watched 'Despicable Me' and 'How to train your dragon' both of which I heartily recommend.

I feel a bit bad that we can't take this kind of jaunt more often because I work on Sundays. Maybe I should look for a new job. But I am enjoying this one and its nearly the holidays. Two more weeks!!

Here are the pics:

You can see the offensive viewing tower on the left