Malacca, Malaysia June 26-29, 2009

We take a KTMB train from Singapore to Tampin (Malaysia) and taxi from there to Malacca (Melaka in Malay). We thought that a sleeper cabin would be a great idea. However, we don't get much sleep: the train is super noisy, the cabin is freezing cold and we can't adjust the temperature. Furthermore, we have to take all our belongings out of the train through the immigration and customs at Woodlands checkpoint.
When at Fenix Inn in Melaka at 5am. we pay for an extra night and go to sleep. At 9am. we hit the streets of Malacca. When in search of a breakfast place, we see a lot of potential places, but the only one open this early is McDonalds. They offer a breakfast special with tea or coffee, but say they can serve it with tea only, but still allow the same items to be purchased separately with coffee. Strange!
Thereafter we have a wonderful and peaceful day ahead of us, strolling the historic district and Jonker Street, a street full of cars and lined by antiques, and arts and crafts shops.
Before heading to the more modern district we stop by at Limau Limau Cafe for fruit smoothie and iced latte. We decide to return next morning for some awesome breakfast items they serve: sounds so much better than McDs.
For dinner we walk to Portuguese Square, which probably was Portuguese some 500 years ago. We dine at Restoran De Lisboa, having curry chicken, vegetables and baked fish, and downing everything with Tiger beer. It does not differ much from the Malaysian food we are so used to now.
We return to Jonker Street to see vendors set up their stalls for the night market, and bands warm-up for the Jonker Walk Music Festival.
Next morning we return to Limau Limau Cafe for breakfast: banana pancakes and an egg sandwich with freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee. We catch a cab, driven by 75-year old third generation Malaccan, to the Zoo. The car he drives must be almost as old. The Zoo is pretty standard: among the animals we see are hippos, elephants, giraffes, and an orangutan that moves like a ghost above the ground. Amazing!
We visit the nearby Botanic gardens, which seems still under construction,and have lunch at the Botanic Cafe afterwards: Malaysian cuisine with an Indian twist. Then comes the hard part: how to get back to the city? We get several phone numbers for taxi from the Zoo's ticket office, but all of them connect to Kuala Lumpur. Several unsuccessful attempts on the public phone consumes all our change.
Eventually a bus comes from somewhere, but instead of hopping onto that, we take a taxi which appears as unexpectedly. The driver's extremist opinions annoy us to the extent that we kindly refuse his offer to take us to the railway station tomorrow.

We have two tapas sets for dinner at the Harper's Restaurant and Lounge by the river. I: sashimi tuna and mango, mutton meatballs, salmon tartar, and lasagna with mushroom sauce. II: marinated chicken salad, cod with tomato compote, giant prawns with chili, and air dried tuna and manzego cheese. Then we do something very uncharacteristic to us: we have drinks at Geographer Cafe: Sayang Malacca for Tei and Pina Colada for Tomi.

We finish the evening watching Confederate cup's bronze medal game between South Africa and Spain. A thrilling game entertains us for a few wine glasses.
After a short morning run we are back at Limau Limau Cafe for a ham sandwich and yogurt with muesli (juices + coffee + tea) for breakfast. Afterwards we don't do much: we take a ride on the Eye of Malaysia and then just stroll around interesting looking neighborhoods.
By 4pm we are back in the hotel to pack. Then we have 6 hours left to fool away. We do it by first visiting a Museum of Malaysian Architecture, and then having a long dinner at Eleven Bistro on Jonker: Asam fish and vegetables with a bottle of Jacob's Creek's Cabernet Sauvignon.
After an hour's taxi ride we are at Tampin railway station and ready for another chilly night in the train to Singapore. We get out from the train at Woodlands checkpoint and take a taxi home: we have to get out of the train anyway for the immigration and customs, and we don't see any point getting back on and spending 30 minutes traveling across the island, and then taking a taxi home. We are quite exhausted after a sleepless night, but we did enjoy our short stay in Malacca tremendously.