Malacca. Full of history, full of culture, full of great food and as I like to put it, full of eccentric glitz!
I love history, I love walking aimlessly in old villages and towns and I most certainly love my food and for these reasons, I do quite like Malacca even if the experience is slightly tainted by the regular ills that follow tourists around the world.
If truth be told, once you’ve done the sights which can easily be done in a day or two, the only thing left to Malacca is its rather glorious food – which suits me just fine! The food really is delicious, running the whole range from Malay, Nyonya, Chinese, Indian and Portuguese reflecting Malacca’s colourful history. To read more about the cultures of Malaysia and its food, head on over to the Singapore and Malaysia page.
Malacca was recognised as a World Heritage site by UNESCO on the 7th of July 2008, rightly so in my opinion, given its colourful history, having been ruled by the Portuguese, the Dutch, then the British.
Legend has it that the Malacca Sultanate came about in 1402 when an Indonesian prince in exile, Parameswara came upon the then fishing village and unwittingly named it after a local tree, the Malacca Tree which bears tiny tart green fruit called buah melaka (Malacca fruit/Indian gooseberry/Phyllanthus emblica). It grew from a small fishing village to a busy trading port as merchants came from all over the world, and the Straits of Malacca became an important trading and shipping route.
Sadly, the sultanate came to an end in 1511 when it was invaded and conquered by the Portuguese led by Alfonso de Alburquerque. A prominent figure during the Portuguese rule was the Jesuit missionary, Francis Xavier, and there are many tributes to him still standing in Malacca today.
After several attempts, the Dutch finally succeeded in overthrowing the Portuguese in 1641 and ruled until 1798 and their legacy can be seen today in the form of the Red Square or the Dutch Square.
Finally, came the Brits, to whom the Dutch ceded Malacca in the Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1824 in exchange for Bencoolen which was located on Sumatra. Malacca, at this point, formed part of the Straits Settlement that included Penang and Singapore and for a time, prospered as a trading port once again.
So that, folks, concludes our very brief history lesson, courtesy of my school history lessons at 18!
How does one get from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca by public transport? The best is by coach as there are various coaches running from different parts of Kuala Lumpur to Malacca but the two main stations are KL Sentral and Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), the latter was built specifically for eastern and southern routes, including Singapore. If you are planning to do your booking online, there are many websites for that too, just add the details of your trip and they’ll suggest coaches and times. I used www.easybook.com and www.busonlineticket.com.
Two things to bear in mind when booking your ticket online:
- You will need access to a printer to print your tickets to exchange for boarding cards, just showing them the email on your phone will not work, like it does in some parts of Europe.
- Make sure you choose the coach that will drop you off at Malacca Sentral not A Farmosa, unless of course you are staying at the A Farmosa resort. Although there is the old remnants of a fort called A Farmosa in Malacca town, it’s not what the bus routes are referring to, the resort is a good 45 minute drive out of town.
However, unless it’s the weekend or a public holiday, you can just head to KL Sentral and get a ticket easily. We did that for our family of 6 and there were loads of tickets going. When you purchase your tickets online, you do have a wide choice of luxurious coaches that have massage seats, wifi, tv and food provided, these seats will cost anything from 35 to 60 ringgit as opposed to 10 for a no frills ride, which is what we did. Still got us there in plenty of time & in one piece!
Once you get to Melaka Sentral, it’s a simple case of hopping into a taxi for a 4-5km drive into town, which will set you back M$20. You could try haggling on the price but these cab drivers know that your hands are kind of tied!
What and where to eat in Malacca? What to see and do in Malacca? I’ll be publishing that soon. But to give you an idea of the type of local cuisines you’ll find or if you fancy cooking them yourself, here’s a list from this site:
Malay – Satay
Chinese – Char Kway Teow
South Indian – Mee Goreng Mamak
Nyonya – Enche Kabin
Eurasian – Curry Devil (Curry Debal)