The Champagne Backpacker: Michael's Round the World Trip 2005-2007-- The Adventure of a Lifetime travel blog

Melaka's Town Square With Christ Church

Colorfully Decorated Cycle Rickshaws

Stadthuys, The Former Town Hall And Governor's Residence--Thought To Be The Oldest...

Chinatown's Weekend Night Market

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2006. MELAKA, MALAYSIA. Two hours south of KL is the seaside city of Melaka. The city was a wealthy trade center under the Melakan sultanates. Some say this is where you'll find the soul of Malaysia. I've stopped here in part to break up my trip between KL and Singapore. Islam arrived early here via traders from India in the 15th century. Then came the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch, and finally the British (who traded control of Melaka with the Dutch for a port in Sumatra). In 1957, Malaysia gained its independence. This year marks the 50th anniversary of statehood and the Malaysians are proudly celebrating throughout the year. The most noticable celebretory element are the many Malaysian flags. (The Malaysian flag looks very similar to the US flag, with its red and white stripes and blue upper corner.)

I arrived in Melaka in the mid-afternoon. Strangely, I was the last and only passenger on the full size bus by the time it reached Melaka (10 MYR; 2.5 hours). Melaka's center is compact enough to tour by walking. Dutch buildings are the main attraction in the town square, including a town hall and church. Across the Sungai Melaka, a small river flowing into the Strait of Melaka (which separates peninsular Malaysia from Sumatra, Indonesia), is Chinatown. I was fortunate to arrive on the day of a weekend night market in Chinatown. It was a very mellow affair compared to other Southeast Asian night markets--not too crowded and no loud music. The main street through Chinatown was blocked to vehicular traffic. Vendors set up booths selling mostly curios, jewelry, t-shirts, food, and drink.

Tomorrow I head to Singapore, from where I depart on Sunday night to Sydney, Australia. I've been in India, Asia, and Southeast Asia for seven and a half months (since February), so Australia will be a bit of a change. I am really looking forward to visiting Sydney, my mum's home town--It's simply the most beautiful modern city in the world. I'm also looking forward to catching up with all my Oz rellies.

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