August 24, 2019

A Walk through Jonker Steet, Malacca, Malaysia

Every Friday, Jonker Street in Malacca turns into a bustling one with street vendors and shops selling myriad things such as handicrafts, souvenirs, antiques, local food and a whole lot of other things. This happens every weekend from Friday to Sunday when this otherwise normal street turns into a concoction of local cuisines, crafts and art. This also makes it an ideal place for shoppers, street strollers and for those who like to sip their coffee and see the world go by.   

Jonker Street is located in Chinatown in the heart of Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It lies along the Melaka river, and adjacent to Dutch square which has colonial structures such as Stadthuys (clock tower), Christ Church and a many more which are from the 17th and 18th centuries. The colourfully lit and decked up cycle rickshaws are a great way to see the Dutch square and surrounding areas.  While the Dutch colonial rulers lived in the adjacent Heeren Street, Jonker Street was later taken over by Peranakans (Bab Nyonyas), an ethnic group who were a mix of Chinese settlers and local Malays.

Apart from the innumerable shops and cafes, Jonker Street is flanked by colonial buildings from the 17th century on either sides. Cafes, restaurants, art galleries and souvenir shops fill up the whole street apart from the road side vendors who sell everything from electronics to food. While buying from the street vendors, make sure to haggle hard before fixing on a price. Despite the crowd and numerous shops, the street still holds a quaint charm with its old colourful structures which have a blend of Portuguese, Dutch and Chinese architecture, and have been pretty well kept over the years. The restaurants serve a wide range of Asian cuisines, and are definitely a delight for every foodie. The street also has a few pubs and hotels. Some of the attractions while visiting Jonker Street include Cheng Hoon Teng temple, Baba Nyonya museum and Hokkien Huay Kuan temple.

Though the street is more popular at night, it is equally active during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. It is open from 6 PM to 10 PM on Fridays and from 11 AM to 10 PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

P.S.: I had visited Jonker Street on an invitation from Malaysia Tourism board, but opinions are my own. 

August 22, 2019

Melaka River Cruise: A Delightful Experience

The water glittered in shades of purple, pink and blue, and the boat meandered its way past the d├ęcor, buildings and art. It seemed like I was in trance mode with everything bright, beautiful and beaming around me. If I take off the colours, it may seem like am in one of the narrow canals of Venice. But, I wasn’t. I was amidst all the beautiful colours and art of Melaka and cruising through river Melaka.

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Melaka in Malaysia is known for its beautiful colonial buildings and structures which are spread across. Museums, temples and the rich cultural heritage of Malacca is ubiquitous in every corner of this beautiful city. However, beyond these, what left me amazed was the wonderful Melaka river cruise at night.  River Melaka which was used by Portuguese to invade the place in 1500s, also separates Red Square area from Chinatown.

The ideal time to go on this cruise is after sunset, when the lights are lit and colourful. The boat takes visitors on a 45 minute ride of 9 Kms that goes under numerous bridges that connect Red Square area with Chinatown.  Some of these are Pasar bridge (1500 CE), Tan Kim Sen bridge (1862 CE), Chan Koon Cheng bridge (1908 CE) etc. While the oldest one is a wooden bridge, the newer ones have beautiful arches with modern technology and lighting.

Apart from the bridges, the river is flanked by historical structures and landmark buildings which are a testimony to Melaka’s heritage. These include Pre-war buildings, Red building, Bastion Middleburg, Water wheel, Church of St. Francis Xavier, Kampung Hulu mosque, Kampung Morten, Jonker street, Shore Shopping gallery etc. These structures showcase the quaint charm of Melaka as the boat cruises past its vibrant heritage.

Mural art is displayed across the walls of buildings all along the cruise, and that is another highlight of this journey. Many of the trees are lit too in shades of blue and pink. While the cruise would give a different perspective during the day, the night cruise is definitely the more preferred and recommended one.

Travel Tips:
  • The cruise boats operate every half an hour between 9 AM and 11:30 PM on all days.
  • The charges are MYR 30 for foreigners and MYR 25 for Malaysians.
  • Visitors can board from either Dataran Muara jetty or Taman Rempah jetty.

P.S.: I was hosted by Melaka River Cruise on an invitation from Malaysia Tourism board, but the opinions are my own.

August 20, 2019

Encore Melaka: Stories of Melaka’s Inheritance

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Melaka is steeped in history and has numerous stories that speak volumes about its culture, heritage and inheritance. Melaka which is also written as Malacca in English, was founded by Parameswara, the last king of Singapura, and later was under the colonial powers of Portuguese. The city has a mix of cultures and a rich history which can be experienced at Encore Melaka.

Encore Melaka is a state of the art theatre which offers an immersive performance taking the audience through history, time and space over a period of more than one hour. With a 360 degree rotating audience platform, 240 meter long stage, geometric roof with concaves arcs made of LED panels and multiple built in hydraulic stages, the experience is an awe-inspiring one. 200 local artists perform a virtual reality that takes the audience through Melaka’s history.

The story line begins with ‘Parameswara’, who came here in the 1400s and founded the kingdom of Melaka. It then moves to ‘Cheng Ho’s arrival’ and heritage of the distinctive Baba Nyonya culture. The other interesting story is that of ‘Six Mothers’ from six different races nurturing a son who eventually brings up a harmonious nation. The story of ‘Pregnant Women’ symbolizes the birth of new Melaka and its next generation. The ‘Wau’ scene shows how Awang, a kite maker ensures the traditions of Melaka are carried forward. The final scene showcases the talent, uniqueness and authenticity that Melaka offers to its visitors.

All stories reflect on how the society embraces diversity, multi culturals, tolerance, peace and harmony. The performance also showcases how Melaka has over the years preserved itself through wars and hardship, to evolve into a peace loving land. The narrations of the stories are in English, Bahasa Melayu and Mandarin.

Show timings:

Monday to Saturday:     5:30 PM and 8:30 PM
Sunday:                         2:30 PM and 5:30 PM

Ticket Price: 

Ranges from MYR 128 to MYR 568 depending on the seat category.

NO.1, Jalan KSB, Impression 8, Impression City @ Kota Syahbandar, Melaka 75200.
It is 3.5 Kms from Jonker street.

P.S.: I was hosted by Encore Melaka on an invitation from Malaysia Tourism board, but opinions are my own.

August 13, 2019

Entwined in Greenery!

A Common Vine snake (Aheatulla Nasuta) in a forest patch in Coorg, Karnataka. July 2019.
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