Don't Mess with Melaka

My general practice for living in Singapore is to leave the country every 2-3 weekends.  Of course I do this because I want to take advantage of surrounding countries.  However more importantly, I tend to get a little sad and angry after being in Singapore for an extended period of time.  The problem is that  traveling around does become expensive (especially on a student budget) and sometimes I care more about getting out than where I'm going.  That's why hopping the Malaysia border to Melaka seemed like a good choice.  And when I say hop, I mean sit on a bus for 5 hours.

I loved Penang and had heard that Melaka is similar, but smaller, so I thought it would be a good weekend trip.  Sure enough, two days is more than enough to spend there.  One day is technically enough, but then you may not get to enjoy THE GREATEST BAR IN MALAYSIA!  Or maybe ever?

Before talking about cool things in Melaka and this superawesome bar, let's cover what not to do in Melaka. 

Firstly, don't mess with it.  If you forget, there are signs everywhere to serve as reminders. 

Second, don't go to Jonker Street.  There's nothing there except for junk (I get why it's called Jonker Street), people, overpriced food, more junk, bikes, cars, trucks, motorcycles, more people and more junk. 

Lastly, don't go to the Portuguese Settlement during the day.  There is nothing there.  I would have taken a picture but there was nothing there.

And now for the cool things in Melaka.  Most importantly and why I travel... the food!

From nyonya laksa to chicken and rice balls, Melaka's local cuisine rivals some of Singapore's best hawker stalls.  For laksa freaks like myself, Malaysia is THE place to go for this aromatic, highly intoxicating, slurpeworthy bowl of noodles.  Nyonya laksa is a version of curry laksa with a coconut milk base.  It's milder than most curry laksas I've had, tasting slightly sweet and slightly tangy from the lime.  This dish can be found at many places and I liked the version at the Riverine Coffeehouse located in a quant little spot along the river.

I'm familiar with chicken rice but had never heard of chicken and rice BALLS.  I had no idea what a rice ball would be, I thought it might be some glutinous rice flour based ball, which I personally thought was a little weird to go with chicken.  Turns out that rice balls are literally balls of rice, who would have thought.  They are also super yummy when eaten with a big roast chicken.  We stood in a long line at a little restaurant on Lorang Hang Jebat, only to find out when we sat down that the only item available from an extensive menu was the chicken and rice balls.  At first I was a little hesitant and thought it would be too boring, but nope, the chicken was so flavorful and tender, I was left craving more.

I feel guilty for sometimes getting western food when traveling in Asia, but it's because good western food in Singapore is irritatingly expensive and the quality usually doesn't stand up to the heavy price tag.  So when I read about a good inexpensive burger place outside of Singapore, I take the opportunity to go.  Baboon House gets a lot of praise for its traditional setting and decor, and most importantly its damn tasty burgers.  The meat is plump and cooked well, the sesame buns are soft and buttery.  I even loved the side of thick cut fries (despite the small portion) and potato salad.  This was the best burger I've had so far in SE Asia, at a third of the price of a burger in Singapore.

Baboon House is also housed in a traditional Peranakan house.  While gracefully inhaling my burger, I was also drooling over the colorful paint chipped walls and ceilings.  To see more of these houses, go to the Baba and Nyonya Museum across the street from Baboon House, where a once mansion is turned into a living museum.

Similar to George Town in Penang, The architecture in Melaka reflects a colorful history of melting cultures, traditions and styles.  It's also very well preserved and the natural aging of the buildings is what makes them, let's just admit it, super sexy.

And now back to THE GREATEST BAR IN MALAYSIA!  From across the street, Sin Hiap Hin is unidentifiable.  Is it a bar or a medicine store?  Am I allowed in?  Will I die from drinking this stuff?  It's not so much a bar as it is a humble family home where they dedicate to carrying all kinds of potent strange asian liquors.  From flavored rice wines to ginseng liquors that have magical healing powers, this place will stock something for everyone.

Of course there are no shortage of bars around Jonker Street serving the generic beers in mugs, pints, liters and towers.  But for a taste of something truly unique, go here and try out one of the traditional liquors and experience a taste of something local. 


  1. Thanks for tips. I was searching for Don't Mess with Melaka when I saw your blog. I've always thought Malacca was the second most boring town in this region, and what you said confirmed it. I'm not going to spend 5 hours in a bus just to go eat food and get drunk.


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