Notes on Melaka that Blows the Mind
I don't want to divulge on the history of the Melaka, or the tourist spots or what to see,nor the tourist traps to avoid, because we have Google and Lonely Planet for that, but instead I want attempt to describe the Melaka impressions on my mind. If there is one place I'd rather be lost, It would have to be in Melaka. It is the kind of place that I wouldn't mind wandering around and couldn't care less wherever my feet brings me. The city exudes of history, both melancholy and vibrant alternating in every turn of the corner. From the quaint streets Jalan Tun Ali to the chaotic energy of Jonker Walk, back to the silent avenue of Hong Tua Mall, to the seedy corners of Ocean Plaza, and straight up to eerie Bukit Cina, every building, every sight have different personas you'd just like to know.
It was Friday, past 6PM but the sun was just about to begin its descent. The weather was neither here nor there, cloudy and greyish but the rain was undecided if rain should fall. The air was thick and humid. I took my chances. The hotel is located at Jalan Tun Ali, a discreet street with a derelict factory building on my side facing a grand looking hotel, a road junction is at the far end. I was trying to locate Hong Tuah Mall to get my bearings. At least according to the tourist map, I've decided to make it my landmark. When we talk about a "Mall" a humongous building full of shops comes to mind. Throngs of people should be inevitable. But instead I was greeted by a metal plate on a polished slab of rock, raised in a dais welcoming me to Hong Tuah Mall. It turned out that Hong Tuah Mall is a 1.5KM stretch of shops and cafe along Hong Tuah Boulevard. Supposedly, as per the welcoming plaque the place should be teeming with tourist and revellers. Looked deader than a ghost town. Perhaps it was weather, or the holiday, but all shops and cafes are closed. Whoever printed the map must have thought that a creek is the same as a river, because I got past it without noticing it (but i did see and smell a creek/canal) I ended up at OCEAN mall, and old mall with refusing to give up. This is where Melaka becomes interesting. The city was awarded as a Heritage Site. The whole area of shop houses are taken with utmost care. Whole streets and districts becomes pieces of history unchanged for many years (except maybe their interiors) Imagine modern day Vigan, that's what it is.In a bid to preserve history, even the newly constructed residential houses are fashioned after the old ones. On the other hand, recent structures seemed to be abandoned and neglected. Ocean plaza looms like a giant dilapidated factory, and the buildings around it are greying with age. Melaka wants to be both Old and New at the same time, but it really is New but Old in a sense. The highlight of my stay was Jonker street. In Philippines, I like Quiapo by day and Malate at night, just for the sake of people watching. Jonker is like Raon Street on a weekend multiply by ten. Multitude of people walks, bargains, eat, performs, sells, gawk, cook, laugh, take pictures all at the same time in a stretch of a 10-foot wide street. I'm a people person, hence Jonker jives with my personality. The name itself sounds funny. Going Bonkers at Jonkers.
I find Melaka one of the the most interesting places I've been to. I'm a big fan or architectural wonders, historical sites, and happy people. If I have time, I will definitely go back.