22.11.2013 - 24.11.2013 32 °C
We had already done a reckie of the bus station during our time in KL as we new it was roughly 15KM outside of the city and were worried about getting lost and missing our bus to Melaka, so knew the journey to the station would take over an hour with the monorail and metro lines, but it was really straightforward. The bus station was more like an airport though with organised gates, no pushy touts and good old British queues!! This was not the South East Asia we knew!
A mere 2 hours later and we arrived at Melaka Sentral station, annoyingly another out-of-town bus station. We had instructions from our hostel so we knew we needed the number 17 and to get off when we saw the brick red coloured church. The bus was packed, but it was easy enough and was obvious when we had reached the centre (the huge tour coaches parked up were a good sign!). We popped to the Tourist Information to pick up a map and registered for a free Walking Tour the following morning (perfect!) and walked the 5 minutes to our hostel.
The Fern Loft was very similar in style to our emergency accommodation in Georgetown (Rainbow Lodge 2) in a former Chinese Shophouse. It was very basic but our room was clean and comfortable (although very dark with the only natural light coming from an internal courtyard).
We went out to explore in the last of the afternoon sunshine, but didn’t make it far before stopping for coffee and a bite to eat (satay sticks and spring rolls), but sadly my stomach was feeling bad again so we headed back to the hotel so I could lie down. A couple of hours later and a nap (oops!) we set off back out to see Melaka by night. As we were there on a weekend, Jonker Street had been transformed into the Night Walking Market which was good fun and very similar to the ones in Hong Kong and Chang Mai in Thailand.
The next morning we were up early for our Walking Tour and met our guide and about 20 other tourists at the TI. This turned out to be one of our best walking tours in our entire trip and wished we had found more of these around the rest of South East Asia. It gave us so much information, not only about the town, but about the whole country and Asian culture helping us to piece together somethings we had seen in other countries. We visited Christ Church (the brick red one we had used as our landmark the previous day), the former Governor’s Mansion, the ruins of St Paul's Church with it’s statue of St Francis Xavier.
Apparently St Francis Xavier did a lot of missionary work in Malacca and when he died overseas the decided to ship his body back to Malacca. The journey took several months and his body was left on board covered in banana leafs, well when it arrived 3 months later the body looked just as it did the day he died. They buried the body but word for around about it's condition, till eventually 5 months late another missionary and friend of St Francis Xavier came and asked for the body to be dug up so he could take it back to Portugal. Surprisingly even after 5 months under ground it was still as the day he died, so was called a miracle. Malacca wanted the saint buried at St Paul's so to make a compromise they chopped off one of his hands for them to keep (nice, I know) and to their surprise the arm bled when it was chopped off and the hand soon became a withered skeleton. Now the hand goes on tours for people to see and Malacca have a statue of St Francis Xavier instead, which in a freak thunder storm lost his right hand making this St Francis Xavier third miracle???? (Even our guide thought this was a step too far).
We also visited St John's Fort and our guide told us how Melaka is continuing to grow in size as the land is continually being reclaimed from the sea. Our final stop was the Cheng Hoong Teng (temple of green cloud) where our guide walked us through all of the different shrines and deities explaining all of the different prayers and offerings given. The whole thing lasted nearly 3 hours and was fascinating.
After our walking tour it was time for a coffee stop (surprise surprise!) along the river front. After this however we split up again as I had work to do, so Nick went for a walk around town informing me later he had visited all of the places in town I did not need to see - the new town with it’s mega-malls and the “scenic river walk” which ran along side a dual carriage way!! He did however find some funky looking shops and good looking eateries, so when I was finished we set off to look around them together stopping for dinner at the Geography Cafe which seemed appropriate!
Next morning and we were up horribly early (about 05:00) for our bus to Singapore to meet some very important people!