Recommended by a fellow traveller as a quiet and historic town in Malaysia, we boarded a long-day bus to Malacca and arrived on a Friday evening. Also much recommended (and we thank Dan from the bottom of our hearts) was the Sama-Sama guesthouse where owners Soon and Gabby were the most gracious of hosts.
The 6-day floods had finally moved on and the weekend markets opened their doors and stalls to the Christmas shopping masses that shuffled at a painfully long pace down Jonker Walk, known as the antique street in Malacca's Chinatown.
Here is a view of Jonker Walk from the historic Cheng Ho Museum, which outlines Chinese explorations of Africa, Latin America, California and South East Asia years before Columbus was even born.
Malacca's personality begins with the holiday inspired rickshaws and their kooky drivers. Many are decorated with fancy plastic flowers, religious icons and are mostly connected to a boom-box with speakers and CD players so the customers can enjoy quality booming 80's techno music. It's all too kitsch.A famous Portugees Settlement, dating back to the 1500's, hosts a massive Christmas celebration with a mass, carols and loads of Portugese food stalls. In the evening, we took a town bus and got off where the crowds began to appear. Tom was a bit bored during the mass but the carols were wonderful, sung by a school chorus. As soon as the ceremony ended, out came the canned snow (soap suds in a spray can) and silly string and before we knew it (as the foreign novelty) we were attacked by the giggling youth wherever we went.
Tom got especially teased by groups of young girls and didn't really stand a chance to defend himself. Since we usually spend Christmas in Leeds with the Lyons', this year we decided to not try and imitate a home Christmas and instead opted for a Nyonyan (Chinese and Malay mixed cuisine) meal at a nearby restaurant.
Malacca has many beautiful temples, varying from Chinese Buddhist and Taoist...
to Indian temples, like the famous Sri Mahamariaman Hindu Temple with its fancy big-bellied deities...
...and the Kampung Kling Mosque, which is one of the oldest mosques in Malaysia. Instead of a conventional dome, it has a three-tiered roof rising like a pyramid and is just one of many examples of the mixture of East-West architectural influence.
Here Doggo, the resident guesthouse pooch joins the call to prayer with some tuneful howling..
New Years was also spent in Malacca since this wonderful little town easily kept our cultural interests, our appetites and our thirsts satisfied. Here Zhenia and Christine from Zurich get started on the Thai whisky, though Christine will fiercely deny the rumor.
From left to right, Marco of Germany(via Indonesia), Sean of Portsmouth and Dan of Toronto. The party came out onto the streets as a few fireworks shot into the sky on the stroke of midnight.
The two of us, our first pic of 2007.
Marco and Zhenia enjoy a giggle.
A picture of the New Year's gang. If you're concerned, Tom isn't smoking but merely posing for his new year's resolution: to look tough and mean.