Sunday 26 September: Train to Tampin, bus to Melaka and local town bus to the old colonial square and Eastern Heritage Guesthouse's spacious attic dorm, which I have to myself. First stop is the Indomal Express ferry office to secure a return ticked to Dumai in Sumatra. That done, there is just time get passport photos taken (with a red background - I have a stack with a white background in my bag) and explore the port a little before dusk falls.
Monday 27: Bus back to KL.
Tuesday 28: I arrive back at Melaka's out-of-town bus terminal late, at 6:00pm, but can't resist the superstore opposite. Surprisingly, Tescos makes me feel a little homesick so I go on a spending spree - new sandals, salt (most Asian restaurants don't have it), Australian Cheddar cheese, compact SD memory card reader, travel toothbrush, plastic file-wallets (mine have long since split) and a few beers - yes, now I feel better.
Wednesday 29: Having recced the old port on Sunday, today I stroll around the town in roughly historic order. Melaka was captured from the ruling sultan by the Portuguese who built a fort in 1512. Of the original, only Porta de Santiago gateway remains. The Dutch enlarged the fort and added an inscription in 1670. In 1807 the British blew-it up. The Portuguese also built a chapel, Our Lady on the Hill, from where St Francis Xavier's corpse was dug-up and moved to the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, India (see my Old Goa entry). The Dutch arrived and renamed it St Paul's. When the British arrived in 1795 it was used as a warehouse - well, they needed somewhere to store all those gunpowder kegs.
The Dutch also built Christ Church and the town square. The British topped the bell-tower with a weather-cock and consecrated it as Anglican. Today, the centrepiece of the square is a fountain built by the people of Melaka in 1904 to commemorate the reign of Queen Victoria.
Over the river in Chinatown there are pretty streets, decorated shop-houses, ornate temples - some burning incense sticks as big as your leg, and a mosque with a pagoda-style minaret. The riverside is pretty too and I finally see a Water Monitor slow enough for my camera - it's a small one, about 5-foot long. I'm told they're carnivorous but harmless to humans. Even so, I'm convinced that, if angered, even this one's jaws could take your leg off.
More of a exhibition of finely-crafted boats, the Maritime Museum is housed in a replica Portuguese galleon. Behind the museum the Indomal Express-2 passenger ferry is moored - I'll board her tomorrow morning to cross the Strait of Melaka, Indonesia bound.
Photos of Melaka.