The first weekend after I got my student pass done, we headed off to our first trip outside Singapore : Malacca or also called Melaka. It took us a 5h30 bus ride to arrive to this former colonial city that has belonged to the Portuguese, Dutch and English and now Malaysians.
The only previous insight I had about Malacca was the one from my geography classes: the Malacca strait and its commercial activities. But Malacca is actually a very lively small city.
After arriving, we directly went to eat the well-known chicken rice balls (nothing further to explain than what you can imagine with its name). When we walked into the city, we were surprised by the number of trishaws decorated with Hello Kitty, Pikachu, and whatever other cartoon character you wish. People rented rides on them, and the bike rider put on very loud music during the ride creating a very animated atmosphere with all the trishaws passing by. On our way to booking our hostel night and bus to come back to Singapore, we passed by a food festival where all the people running the stalls invited us to try the very diverse and typical dishes they were making. Everyone was very nice, smiling and engaging conversations with us. It was such a welcoming feeling. We then headed to the North part of Malacca where several little streets with art boutiques and antique stores were located. We finished our tour on a very beautiful Chinese temple called the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple. In the streets close-by, they were having a market where we bought some watermelons: they take the watermelon, do a hole in it, mix the inside to juice it, insert ice and a straw and there you go! It was a very refreshing discovery. After this pause, we went to see the Mosque with the sunset. We came back later in the same market where we got the watermelons to have dinner. They had multiple stalls of satay (beef, pork and crab sticks), dumplings, putu piring (a very traditional desert done on a specific machine and which practice is being forgotten) and more.
The city was very different at night. It was as if they planned everything for the night life: colorful lights reflected on the trees and the river and the numerous trishaws turned on their neon lights. After a tour on these trishaws, some beer towers, an intense karaoke and a fail to go clubbing (it closed at 2:00 am), the next day arrived. We went to the South part of the city where we saw the former sultanate palace and its nice gardens, Saint Paul’s church - on the top of a hill where we could enjoy a nice overview of Malacca - , the Redsquare - because all its buildings are red - and the - also red -Christ Church and the Flor de la Mar replica, which is the boat in which the Portuguese arrived to Malacca. We had seen the main places of Malacca and decided to finish our trip wandering around, discovering street art paintings and walking along the river.
This first trip was very nice. It was a good feeling to go outside Singapore and discover another way of life. In Malacca you just crossed the streets (and very busy streets) without any pathways (which you should absolutely not do in Singapore) and people were all smiling and welcoming (not saying that Singaporeans aren’t but it was much more visible).
A last fun fact is that, in the food stores, they have samples of the products they sell that you can taste without no expectations at all of you buying it afterwards (very convenient when you want to try new things but you aren’t sure whether you will like or not).
To sum up: go to Malacca! It is definitely worth it but do not spend more than a weekend there.