KL 2.0 A New Impression?

It was an earlyish start this morning to get to the airport on time for my flight home to Perth.  The airport is a good 45 minutes away from KLCC and we were running late thanks to some people we picked up at the Shangri La who didn’t seem to care that others may be waiting – after emerging from the hotel about 20 minutes late, the “gentleman” proceeded to light up a cigarette.  Glad he wasn’t in a hurry, but his tardiness meant I didn’t get any time to check out the duty free shopping before departing from KLIA.

So what did I take in about Kuala Lumpur this time?  Did my feelings change?  Or do I now know that I gave it my best shot, and I really won’t come back to KL?  Well I still think some of the people are quite rude – but I guess you get that in every city – which reminds me I forgot to tell you about when I was shopping in Top Shop the other day – I was going through the racks an arms length in front of me, when a Chinese woman decided it was too much trouble to walk around me and preceded to walk straight between my and my arms which were outstretched to the rack in front of me.  I looked at her, she looked at me and said ‘Sorry’ and then kept going!  How rude!

Anyway, rudeness aside, I’m happy to say that I’m sure my state of mind probably had a lot to do with how I felt about KL last time I visited.  A lot has happened in the last year of my life and things have changed.  I think I really needed this revisit to KL and am glad I made the trip.  Of course, it was certainly made a lot nicer trip but the fact that I got to see the smiling faces of my friend and her family.

KL 2.0 Last Day of the Second Time Around

I treat myself to a buffet breakfast at the hotel today, which is really nice.  What really impresses me is that when I leave the restaurant, they say “thank you Miss Keller, have a lovely day!”

This morning I have a date with The Spa at my hotel.  More specifically a full body scrub.  Now for those of you uninitiated with the full body scrub, the biggest thing is getting over the fact that someone is rubbing your body down.  Trust me, I spent the entire time of my first scrub stiff as a board and totally embarrassed that someone was scrubbing me from head to toe.  But afterwards, I was a bit embarrassed that I actually probably never scrubbed myself down quite that thoroughly.  And to be honest, I actually now try to make it a priority to have one on holidays now.  So all I can say is that give it a go at least once and give yourself a chance to feel totally refreshed!

I had really wanted to visit Putrajaya on this trip, but it’s not going to happen, because you know what?  I just don’t feel like it.  I feel more like….shopping.

I find a brochure about a bus called “Go KL” and decide to give it a go.  I turn up at Pavillion shopping centre, and just as I walk out the front, I spot the bus departing from across the road.  Cool – now I know where it goes from.  So I cross the road, but there’s no signs or indications of where the bus might stop.  So thank goodness I had seen the previous bus, and I stand there waiting for the next bus.  It’s not far away.  But as we are driving through the streets of KL, I notice there is not really any indications of which stops are which, either on the bus or on the sidewalk – that is if there is even a bus stop where the bus is making it’s stops.  It makes me a bit nervous and I decide to make only one stop – at the Central Market.

Central Market or Pasar Seni is quite the main attraction in KL.  It was founded in 1888 and originally used as a wet market.  It was built in 1888 by the British who were ruling Malaya at that time.  As Kuala Lumpur experienced its own development at a rapid pace in the 1970s, there were plans to demolish the site. The intervention of the Malaysian Heritage Society proved timely as they successfully petitioned against its deconstruction and the site was declared as a ‘Heritage Site’.

The Central Market Kuala Lumpur is arranged in a stall concept, representing the traditional market that has existed in Kuala Lumpur since the 1800s.  The second floor hosts a food court, offering an array of food.  I find a little shop selling Tenmoku pottery, and while I don’t really like pottery, this stuff is really nice.  I buy a few gifts, including some gorgeous earrings for myself for the bargain price of $6!

Finishing up at the market, I head back to the bus stop for a trip back to the main shopping precinct near the Pavillion.

My hotel is in THE best spot.  I already mentioned how close it is to Em’s, but it’s also so close to the shopping – especially Suria and Pavillion.  Best of all, Suria is connected by an undercover and partially airconditioned walkway.  The walkway is maybe a couple of kilometres long and has security guards along the way, which makes you feel safe while you are carrying all your shopping back to the hotel!

I finish up the afternoon with a bit more shopping – just one more book at Kinoukinya I swear, before having lunch at the Pressroom Bistro and happily spy a Chardonnay from Pemberton on the menu.

Tonight I catch up with Em for dinner and drinks at Suria.  We decide to have dinner at The Little Penang Café – it’s really nice to try some local food, so I order Nasi Lemak and a lime juice for the grand price of about $6.  We do a brief last minute shop and then head back to my hotel for drinks at The Skybar.  It’s a fantastic view and a wonderful evening spent sipping cocktails and chatting with Em.

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I’ve really enjoyed this trip, and it’s a shame I have to get up so early in the morning for my flight home, because I’m really enjoying this night with Em.  But at least this time I can say, I think I will probably be back…

…after all…I still didn’t get to Putrajaya!

KL 2.0 A Religious Boo Boo

This morning was an early start to get to the Batu Caves to beat the heat and everyone else.   The Batu Caves is a limestone hill, said to be around 400 million years old, which houses a series of temples inside a cave.  It was named after the Batu River, which flows past the hill, and is also the name of the nearby village.  It is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, and it is dedicated to Lord Murugan.  Some of the cave entrances were used as shelters by the indigenous Temuan people.

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Local Hindus visit the shrine during the annual Thaipusam festival.  Outside the shrine are a number of stalls selling flower garlands and milk as offerings to the God.  I made the unfortunate uneducated traveller mistake of leaning in for a sniff of one of the garlands, only to be told that I wasn’t allowed to.  When I asked why, the lady told me it was because it was an offering.  I must admit that I just thought she didn’t want me to sniff them unless I bought one, but when I got back the hotel and researched it a bit further – turns out I was wrong.  The garlands are supposed to be pure offerings and I had mistakenly taken all the sniff out of one of the garlands.  I felt bad.  Just for the record, the garland I sniffed had orchids in it and it smelt divine and yes they are real flowers.

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There are 272 steps to the entrance of the cave and the way is littered with – well litter and monkeys.  You need to be careful if you are carrying food or shiny objects as the monkeys are not adverse to frightening visitors by leaping at them screeching, should they be carrying items that they find interesting.  One screeched at me just for taking its photo on the way down from the cave!  Once upon a time (ahem, last year), I would certainly not have been able to walk up those stairs to the temple, but today it was a breeze.

While the cave is not mind blowingly exciting, it was well worth the trip and the hundreds of photos of entertaining monkeys.

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Heading back to KLCC, I really wanted to head out to Putrajaya today, but I just couldn’t get into the groove of dealing with it.  It just felt more like a shopping day, so I decided to head on out to find Lot 10 and the Pavillion.  I was a few bags heavier by the time I decided to head back to Suria to search for Royce Chocolates at Isetan, but I was in luck.  Unfortunately it was only a tiny store with not much stock, but fortunately there was one box only left of the chocolate covered potato chips – so PSU team, count yourselves lucky!

I stopped off for an average lunch at Limoncello before passing by the Masjid Asy Syakirin for a couple of photos.  The mosque, also known as KLCC Mosque is situated near Suria and is considered the jewel in the park because of its strategic location and location facing KLCC Park.  It can accommodate up to 500 people.

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Heading back to my hotel room, I reflected on all my new wardrobe additions.  I pretty much managed to get everything I set out to, though I really would have loved another jacket and always more shoes.  I think I’ve done pretty well though, what do you reckon?…

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Well, it will be enough until the next trip anyway!

I’d been sitting in the hotel room relaxing when it occurred to me that my hands and feet were a disgrace and I should see if I could get an appointment at the hotel spa for a manicure and pedicure.  I was in luck, and hurried up to the 34th floor for some indulgence = a couple of hours worth it turns out.  It was really relaxing and I sure am looking forward to the massage I have booked in for tomorrow!

Hands and feet revitalised I made it to Din Tai Fung at the Pavillion to catch up with Em, Jason and the boys for dinner.  I’ve always wanted to dine at Din Tai Fung.  It has been named one of the Top 10 Restaurants in the World by the New York Times and even has 1 Michelin Star and it certainly didn’t disappoint.  Stuffed full of dumplings, other associated Asian specialities and Tiger beer, it was time to head home.

KL 2.0 Through Different Eyes

After a bit of a sleep in this morning, I headed up to the gym to put in an hour on the treadmill.  It felt great to put my sneakers and gym gear to use instead of leaving them alone to wallow in my suitcase as is usually the case.

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I decided to eat breakfast in the Hotel and not wanting to make my workout in vain, selected the a la carte breakfast instead of the buffet.  I ordered French toast with strawberries and maple syrup, ignoring the cream on the side.  Though looking at the buffet on the way out, I can’t say that I’m going to ignore it the whole time I’m here.

Just as I’m about to finish breakfast, Em messages me to head on over.  I can’t believe how incredibly close to the hotel they are – literally a couple of minute walk away.  It was really great to see everyone and we spent some time chatting before Em and I decide to head off to the shops to do some damage.

We spend time in Sephora, Zara, Mango, Uniqlo and Isetan shopping up a storm.  Last stop is the Japanese bookstore Kinoukinoya for amazingly priced interesting books (ie. what you DON’T get in Perth).  I bought 5 books for $50!  Probably would have spent that on two books at home.  Thank goodness for the empty suitcase!

SONY DSCBefore we know it, it’s well after 5.30pm and it’s time to freshen up before dinner.  There’s time however to make a quick stop at the Durian Shop for a few snacks to try.  Durian is the fruit which they say “tastes like heaven, smells like hell” – and its apparently a smell you just don’t want to experience.  But I do want to taste it in some kind of form.  So I grab some Durian biscuits and some little mini cupcakes.  All I can say after trying them is that there’s no really distinctive flavour that I could pick up.  But at least by eating the durian this way, there is definitely no disgusting smell!

Dinner is at The Apartment on the outside of Suria KLCC.  From the dining area, you can see the lightshow which runs nightly.  I can’t hear the music from where we are sitting, but the lighting is pretty.

SONY DSC20130413_195238Unfortunately one of the boys is unwell, so the night ends early.  But it does give me the chance to stop back in at Zara and try on a little green dress again….and buy a pair of shoes before heading back to the hotel.  I do try to find Royce but I’m unsuccessful.  It’s getting on towards closing time now though, so I give up and decide to try another day.

It was a great relaxing day after the flight and long night yesterday.  I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store from Kuala Lumpur tomorrow!

Now, all that’s left to decide now, is which side of my massive king size bed I’m going to get into tonight.

KL 2.0 Re-arrival

For those who read my blog post from my trip to Singapore and Malaysia about this time last year, you’ll probably remember me saying something along the lines of “Kuala Lumpur is not a place I would ever want to return to”.  Well guess where I have just arrived?

Hahaha, yes I’m in Kuala Lumpur!  You know, I just don’t like it when I get a bad first impression of a place.  I feel like I didn’t give it a good enough chance.  Anyway, some friends moved to Kuala Lumpur last year and it got me thinking that I really should give the place another go.  Who knows –  maybe this time around, and with a local’s perspective, I might think differently.

I’ve just arrived this evening on an afternoon flight from Perth via Malaysia Airlines, so there won’t be much action tonight.  But while I settle in with a night-cap of Baileys, let me tell you about things so far.

The flight with Malaysia Airlines was good, but uneventful.  The movies were all pretty crap and I couldn’t get into any of them.  Dinner was really nice, so apart from getting into my new book, I slept most of the way.  Kuala Lumpur International Airport (or KLIA to the locals) is massive.  You arrive at a satellite terminal, walk a little way, then board an aerotaxi to the main terminal, where you go through immigration and pick up your luggage.  It’s a million times bigger, better and more efficient than PIA (hahaha, Perth Airport).

I stepped out into the arrival hall to look for my transfer and I instantly hear him calling my name – Shelley!  Shelley Keller!  A little too familiar if you ask me, but what the heck, at least he found me easily and I didn’t have to wait around trying to find him.  We step out into the airport pickup zone – it’s a lovely 29 degrees!  And this is just after 10pm at night.

The guide locates my vehicle for the transfer to Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) and would you believe – even though I had booked a shared transfer, which usually consists of a shitty little shuttle bus that is a bit past it’s used by date – there sits in the middle of the road – a classic black Mercedes benz.  All.  To.  Myself.  Scored!

Now, I was sorry that I had missed the Grand Prix in KL last month, but I needn’t have worried, because it’s not long before we are screaming along KL’s highways.  Just as I’m wondering what the speed limit is, I look up to my left and see a speed sign, stating 90km/hr.  I glance over at the speedo – hmmmm, touching on 140km/hr.  Not to say that I don’t feel safe, he’s actually quite a good driver for an old bloke, but it’s just that the speed doesn’t really drop that much even when he’s going around the corners of the highway off ramps!

Although it’s dark, I can see bits and pieces out the window, and I think I see the bridge in Putrajaya – a place I’m hoping to check out while I’m here.  Soon in the distance, I can see the Petronas Towers too – glittering away against the skyline.  The trip from the airport is supposed to take around 45 minutes, but as we have gunned it here, it seems much more like 20.  Nonetheless, I make it to my hotel safely – as well as in style.

I have booked a room at the Shangri-La Traders Hotel in KLCC.  It’s right near the Petronas Towers, the beautiful lush KLCC Park and Suria KLCC – a massive shopping centre which I’m hoping to spend a lot of time in over the next few days.  I booked a garden view room, but obviously it’s pitch black outside so I can’t see the garden tonight – but I can see the two massive towers from my window and they look spectacular sparkling in the night.

The room is gorgeous.  Aside from the huge window and magnificent view of the towers, I have a massive king size bed to myself.  The bathroom is stunning and comes complete with a welcome lollipop.  AND there’s FREE wifi EVERYWHERE in the hotel!

So after unwinding and checking out all the features of my room, I should probably get off to bed now so that I’ll be in the best possible state of mind tomorrow to take on KL for the second time, but I have to say I am already starting to feel better about it…

Singapore and the Merlions Magical Cocktail Trail – Day Six

The beds and pillows at the Hotel Istana were really hard, so neither of us had as good a nights sleep as the previous night.  However, we are leaving KL for Singapore at around midday, so it’s up and at em for any last minute sightseeing this morning.
Breakfast at the hotel is fairly good, its another buffet with all the usual suspects (beef rending for breakfast anyone???), but once again, it’s not as good as the breakfast at the Equatorial Hotel in Melaka.  After breakfast we walked to the Petronas Towers to see if we could buy a ticket for the Skybridge.  Unfortunately they were all sold out until 4.15pm in the afternoon – not sure why the guy at the desk last night didn’t bother to tell us we didn’t have a hope in hell of getting a ticket for the next day!  We managed to get a few photos of the outside of the tower anyway, that were free.  No doubt if we had paid the money to get up there, we wouldn’t have been able to see much with the weather as it was. 
On the way back to the hotel, we detoured to Bukit Bintang Road to have a quick browse in the Pavillion shopping mall.  Massive mall, just like all the others.  We browsed around a bit, mainly to get out of the sweat drenching heat, and then headed back to the hotel to pack up our stuff and head back to Singapore.  KL hasn’t really impressed me, it’s too much of another big city, without too much of a warming quality to it.  Though the hotel staff we extremely polite and friendly, not many people outside the hotel were.  In fact we got pushed in on and ignored on a regular basis during our 1 ½ day stay.  It’s definitely not somewhere I’d want to return to and I can’t wait to get back to the cleanliness of Singapore.
The trip back to Singapore is a long one – about 5 hours.  Our poor driver Mohammed comes from Johor Bahru and had driven to KL from JB to collect us only this morning!  He did buy us some really nice curry puffs at one of the rest stops outside of Melaka, but I think we’re the ones who should have done the treating!  Finally, after our long and rainy trip, we arrive back at the Traders Hotel just after 5.30pm.
Clarke Quay is on the itinerary for dinner tonight, and after wandering round checking out about a dozen menus, we decide on Tomo Japanese restaurant along the river.  I ordered Tempura prawns and needing something to go on the side, at the last minute chose a Gomou salad – which was awesome.  The Oiran cocktail was also divine!
Cocktail of the Day:  Oiran.

Singapore and the Merlions Magical Cocktail Trail – Day Five

We depart Melaka at 8.30am for our drive to Kuala Lumpur.
Arriving at KL we visit the new National Palace, the new King, Kedah Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, only having been installed in the last few days.  The Palace is a huge white and yellow monstrosity, complete with 22 golden domes, which light up in a display of colours by night.  The new palace cost RM935.5 million (SGD $382 million) and was purpose-built for Malaysia’s king.  The king is chosen from among the country’s nine royal households, in a unique rotating monarchy system, every five years.  It is nearly 10 times larger than the old palace, and built on 98ha of prime land in KL, which had been gazetted for the purpose since 1976.  It was designed with traditional Malay as well as Middle Eastern architecture.  Much of the interior is handcrafted with etchings of holy scripture from the Quran and reflects the King’s position as the keeper of the Islamic Faith for Malaysia.  The palace faces in the direction of Mecca.  Tourists are welcome to visit the palace, from the outside only. 
Next stop is the National Museum.  Chan tells us an interesting story about the land on which the museum was built being cursed by the fire goods.  The building caught fire twice (once during WWII and the other during the grand opening of the airconditioning being installed), until the shamen worked out that no-one had bothered to offer the fire gods any offerings to appease him!  Hence, two ways to outsmart the fire god were considered, first was to provide two large ponds of water outside the building.  The second was to confuse him by placing the entrance to the museum at the back of the building.  Seems to have worked, as there have been no further fires in the building to this point in time.  The museum housed four (4) galleries, detailing different areas of Malaysia’s history, which were fairly interesting.
The National Monument is next on the list.  This monument commemorates three sets of dates in Malay history 1) World War I,  2)  World War II and 3) the defeat of the communists in 1960, and was designed by Felix de Waldon, who was also responsible for the Iwa Jima Monument in Washington DC.  It features a large pond of water, and the roof is studded with tiles from all the squadrons who fought alongside the Malays, all set in stunning gardens.  We also stop along the way to take photos of various buildings before heading to a nearby hotel for lunch.  The restaurant was Kopitam and it was a 12RMB (about $4 AUD) set lunch, of orange juice, salad (pretty much just lettuce leaves with dressing all over it), a small dinner roll with mushroom soup, fish and chips and a little tart for dessert.
But what a schemozzle of an afternoon!  We check into the Hotel Istana.  We get to our room, it’s still being cleaned.  No worries, we’ll go have a cocktail in the Songket Lounge.  We return to our room, and 10 minutes later, someone tries to open the door!  They’ve allocated someone else the same room.  That sorted we head out for some sightseeing.
We manage to locate the KL Hop On Hop Off bus, get on board and head towards the Lake Gardens.  It starts pouring on the bus, so you can’t take photos and the rain starts to play havoc with the traffic.  It’s still raining by the time we get to the Lake Gardens and it’s starting to get dark and we wonder whether we can really be bothered waiting for another bus after this to pick us up – we can’t.  The stops on the HOHO are all out of sequence and some of the stops appear to be missed out, and the commentary doesn’t really match the sites at all locations.  We end up sitting on the bus for about 3 hours seeing nothing much of KL except traffic (for anyone thinking of jumping on a HOHO, don’t do it on a Friday or when it’s wet or when it’s peak hour!).  Finally we make it to Petronas Towers to find out you can’t just go up there, you need to buy a ticket first.  But ticket sales for today are closed.  It’s getting dark now anyway and I’m starting to panic about finding our way back to the hotel.  We finally make it back, bothered and with our clothes plastered to us.  We get to our room, and –voila – the key doesn’t work now.  They’ve reactivated it, so back downstairs to reception to get it reactivated. 
Bottle of wine ordered and half consumed, we decide to brave the streets for dinner and find a lovely little Italian place called Cicci.  Great bruschetta, divine bread with olive oil, lovely fresh simple salad and gorgeous pizza topped off with a glass of sparkling later and the night ends better.
Cocktail of the Day:  Singapore Sling

Singapore and the Merlions Magical Cocktail Trail – Day Four

 

This morning we have a 6.45am start, picked up by our tour group leader and heading to the train station at Woodlands.  There are only 4 of us on the tour, Mum and I and a married couple from Sydney.  We take the train from Singapore into Malaysia, to a town called Kulai, where our coach meets us for the remaining travel to Melaka.

Melaka has had a long and interesting history, beginning sometime in the 14th century.  Legend has it that Parameswara, a Hindu Prince from Sumatra, founded the state when he stopped to rest under a Melaka tree.  The port became famous for waiting out monsoons and rsupplying trading ships plying the stait of Melaka.  Melaka attracted merchants from all over the region, thanks to its strategic position between China and India, and with easy access to the spice islands of Indonesia.  Melaka has been inhabited by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British and its thanks to Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles that many of Melaka’s historic buildings still remain, when he stepped in to stop their destruction at the end of Dutch reign.


Once aboard the train, and upon arrival at Johor, we meet our guide ‘Chan’.  He’s great – he’s a real storyteller and he knows his stuff.  He wants us to taste and smell Malaysia as well as see and hear about it.  His stories are peppered with stories and comparisons, so that everything he tells us soaks into our brains to stay.  He buys banana chips for us at one of the rest stops along the highway.  Apparently some of the bananas grown in Melaka are as long as your arm.  The banana chips are not the sweet ones like we are used to but great big  bananas which are dried and salted slightly and taste just like potato chips – they are really really tasty – I can find a banana chip addiction coming on.  We buy a packet at just about every rest stop after that!  It was a good experience to try one of the local Malaysian snacks also.
We stop by the roadside, where Chan shows us how the rubber trees are sapped, putting little drips of wet rubber on our palms, telling us to rub the paste with our fingers until it becomes rubbery.
First stop in Melaka is lunch, which is a buffet at the Rest House Cafe at the hotel where we’ll be staying for the night, the Equatorial Hotel.  Lunch is divine, as it was the last time I dined here.  There’s a great selection of local dishes and the best miniature cake buffet!  After lunch we head to Jonker Street.  Chan takes us into all sorts of little shops to explain what they do and a bit about life in Melaka.  Of particular interest is Wah Aik’s shoemaker shop where they used to make shoes for bound feet.  The shop has been in the family for generations and the beaded Nonya shoes that are also made here, are considered Melaka’s finest.  Chan’sapproach means the shop owners welcome us into their shops to look at and photograph things we probably would otherwise not have been able to.  We also get the history of the town and its people this way.
We go to the Cheng Hoon Temple, where Chan tells us all sorts of in depth stories of how it came to be that three opposing faiths ended up worshipping under the same roof, his eyes wide and hands excitedly waiving about.  This is Malaysia’s oldest traditional Chinese temple and it remains a central place of worship for the Buddhist community in Melaka.  I’ve been to this temple before, but Chan’s commentary certainly made the visit more interesting.  Then there are more shops to visit, like the ones where all manner of paper goods to accompany the dearly departed into the afterlife are sold – you name it, you’ll find it – paper money, paper sewing machines, paper beer cans and even a paper treadmill, though I can’t imagine why you’d quite care about keeping fit in the afterlife!
Next Chan gives us some time to wander around Jonker Street where I get the chance to visit Orangutan House, home to the art t-shirts of Charles Cham. Charles started painting at the age of 5 and after working as an editorial artist for a few years in Kuala Lumpur, he went to France to paint. He became a member of the Association des Artistes Independents in Aix-en-Provence and exhibited in the Salon des Independents in 1990 and 1991. In 1993, he set up his studio in the old quarter of his hometown in Melaka and named it the Orangutan House. His works are based on the philosophy of Yin and Yang, believing that everything has another side, visible or not. His works are in private collections in more than 40 countries, but you can view some of it at http://www.absolutearts.com/charlescham/. You can buy t-shirts at Orangutan House for RM35.
Meeting back at the Christ Church, we continue with a short walk to A’Famosa Fort (also known as Porta de Santiago) and St Paul’s Hill.  Porta de Santiago was built by the Portuguese as a fortress in 1511 and the Dutch were busy destroying the bulk of the fort when Sir Stamford Raffles came by in 1810 and saved what remains today.  St Paul’s Hill is home to St Paul’s Church which was originally built in 1521 and was regularly visited by St Francis Xavier who performed several ‘miracles’ in the church.  Inside are some engraved stone tombstones of members of the Dutch nobility who are buried here.  Chan offers us the opportunity to climb up the hill to the church, but we are all starting to feel the heat now and none of us wants to climb those stairs, so we head back to the hotel to check in.
Mum and I start the afternoon off with a swim.  The pool grounds are quite lovely and the water feels refreshing – all that’s missing is a cocktail.  After our dip, we dress and head downstairs to the Café K5 for a glass of Tiger and some dinner, a simple meal of black pepper chicken chop with some steamed vegetables and pasta.  I had wanted to try some more local food for dinner, but Chan advises us to stick to the hotel or the shopping mall, which is probably a good idea while you are stuck travelling on a coach without a loo!

To finish off the evening and take advantage of the cool, we buy a ticket for the Melaka River Cruise.  RMB15 buys you a 45 minute ride up and down the river.  The cruise runs all day, but dusk is a really nice time to take the ride because all the lights come on.  A lot of the old buildings along the river had been painted in all sorts of mural designs and they are simply gorgeous.  Also along the route is Kampgung Morten, a living museum of 85 homes, which is open to the public, although it is still a real functioning village.  Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time in Melaka to visit the Kampung, but I would definitely consider it for a return trip.

I really like Melaka, there’s something I can’t put my finger on – yes it’s a bit grotty, like most destinations in Asia, but the architecture is gorgeous, the history of the town itself is fascinating and the food is divine.  I would love to have spent another day at least here, just to fully check out all the sites.  There seemed to be a lot of construction going on this trip and it would be interesting to return in 5 years or so to see exactly how much it had changed.  I hope Melaka doesn’t lose its unique quality though.

Cocktail of the Day:  Shandy