Melaka, Malaysia

Monday, December 19, 2016

My family has never gone on an overseas trip together, as a whole family, before. Of course, heading abroad is a privilege in itself, and it wasn't that I was deprived of it. Growing up, I got to visit several beautiful countries, but my dad would always stay in Singapore because he needed to fulfill his duties as a son. I definitely understood the importance of that, although a part of me would wish that we'd be able to travel together. 

And last weekend, it actually did happen. We decided to head to Malacca for a short retreat. I know that Malaysia wouldn't be considered "overseas" for many, and perhaps I wouldn't either if I were heading there with a couple of friends. But this trip meant a lot to me personally, and I was glad that we got to do it together. 

While there was quite a lot of unhappiness throughout the trip, stemmed from unnecessary worry, broken air-conditioning in our car (golly gosh, the HEAT), and the constantly opposing mindsets of my parents (although in actual fact they have the same type of thinking), I don't regret travelling with them. Afterall, I still had the company of my brother, and I really enjoy going on trips with him. His patience and rationality never ceases to amaze me. And we were both extremely amused by the way our parents were behaving, in hindsight. Of course, I love them a lot and they are top notch parents but travelling together can really amplify negative feelings. 

With all that said, the sights and sounds and most importantly, the taste of Malacca was truly worth driving a couple of hours in the blistering heat. Here's some of my highlights and top picks in photograph form! This time, we mainly traveled like tourists, queuing up for famous, over-hyped food because hey, why not right?  

MAMEE! What my childhood (and high sodium intake) was made of. I actually took a photo with the actual Mamee monster (well, someone dressed up in a suit) but I look terrible and the photo is blur. 

The famous Jonker Walk. We went there for the night market - which gave the vibes of equal parts Taiwan street markets and local pasar malams. 

Handcrafted Italian gelato ice cream - I wanted to get some after dinner but when I went back, only the uglier designs were left. 

Pretty sunset on the way to dinner. I don't want to sound ignorant but really, all the Southeast Asian countries I've visited, apart from Singapore, look extremely similar, with their large land space, exposed telephone wires, and colonial inspired architecture. 

Yo brooooooo. 

Hi mummm.

Hey dad heyyy. 

We had dinner at a tze char eatery frequented by locals (yaaas), which my bro visited the last time he was backpacking around the region. We sat on stools in the open air, and our bellies were filled with hotplate tofu, salted egg pork ribs, 小白菜 (which I did not eat), and nyonya stingray. Unfortunately, I didn't get to capture the meal because the sun set, and my fam gang was way too hungry to wait for me. Despite eating so much, I still had a lot of space for snacks and desserts at the night market. 

Warm, molten, cheese oozed from the middle. Crust was fresh and buttery. 

Art was literally everywhere. 

Sungai Melaka (the Malacca river)! No one entertained my request to "sit the river cruise like tourists". 

Traditional pastries. 

We headed to a strange "cafe" and my bro and I got ourselves some drinks. (On a sidenote, Somersby's Blackberry was pretty good). 

Night lights. 

Couple durian ice creams for Mama and Papa Yap! Both of them actually already took a lick, but re-shaped the tips very skillfully with their tongues. I don't know how they managed that either.

Morning sunshine.

Jonker Walk was still bustling in the mornings - there was a whole ton of vintage items on sale. 

We headed to a famous Dim Sum place for breakfast - Low Yong Moh Restaurant. The queue was pretty long, but moved really fast too. 

In the queue - with a cute Japanese family behind us. 

AW YES. Dim Sum ranks high on my (long) list of favourite foods. 

There wasn't exactly a menu - they'd just bring the food items that were ready from table-to-table, and we'd pick the ones we wanted. 

Definitely the best liu sha bun I've had. The bun was soft and fluffy, and the salted egg filling was sweet, savoury, creamy and just the right molten consistency. Plus, it wasn't overly oily. I liked the cute yellow colour too, and the bun was just the right size. So good. 

More buildings. 

Spotted the Monkey King!

We queued up for another eatery popular amongst tourists. This time, for chicken rice balls at Kedai Kopi Chung Wah. The queue took more than an hour, and I don't think it was worth it at all. 

Granted, the chicken was really succulent and tasty, but the chicken rice balls were off-putting. I can't fault them though as it's really a matter of personal preference. I mean, although I've always wanted to try chicken rice balls, I know that having to shape the rice means that the rice has to be/ becomes extremely mushy. And one of my biggest pet peeves is soggy rice - I like my grains separated! 

Still a novel concept to me, and I'm happy we tried it. 

Of course, we had to try cendol! We settled for a random stall, and were really satisfied by the one we were served. Generous drizzle of Gula Melaka and coconut milk atop shaved ice, and fat green jellies - what more can I ask for? So refreshing. I didn't care for the kidney beans though - never been a fan. 

There were so many strays around - both dogs and cats. Somehow, the mongrels in Malaysia seem to have softer and "cuter" features compared to Singapore Specials. 

We ate a lot more (okay, mostly drank as needed to replenish all the fluids we were sweating out), but these are mainly the more photogenic things I managed to catch on camera and wanted to share. 

All in all, I did enjoy stuffing myself silly and I definitely appreciate that we got to do this together. But what I'm really thankful for is the amazing exchange rate we have with our Singapore currency - the weak ringgit made everything so insanely cheap. Feels real good man. 

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