Beyond Petronas: Melakka

Months ago at a travel fair in SM MOA, I got myself a cheap ticket to KL on Malaysia Airlines. I wanted El Nido or Coron, but I couldn’t get any flight for the weekend before my birthday. I settled for KL. Why KL? Because I love Malaysia and its abundant treats.  And for my dear friends who live there. Accommodations are free – the best part.

I must be one of a handful of Pinoys who like going to Malaysia. I don’t blame those who don’t get Malaysia. The food seems strange. It’s hard to get around. There aren’t enough sites beyond the Petronas Towers. But any foreigner could say the same thing about Manila. Traffic and public transport are horrible. Kwek-kwek is strange. ‘Scenic’ is all about a few bricks in Intramuros.

To know Malaysia, and give it the love that it deserves, you have to have friends to take you around. And just like the Philippines, Malaysia is not its capital city. There’s Penang which I visited two years ago. There’s also Melakka (or Malacca) which I enjoyed just as much as Penang.

Melakka is a quick two-hour drive on a fabulous highway. There are just two things to do in Melakka: walk and eat. The city is a UNESCO heritage site. The historic preservation is not token. It’s a complete surviving historic centre with a succession of influences from an early sultanate to Portuguese to Dutch. There are rows and rows of old shops and townhouses which now serve as businesses for antiques, food, spas, fashion, books, and local food. Take a look at all these textures. If you love walking and taking in history, architecture, kitsch, this is the place for you in Malaysia. Give Malaysia a second look.

[Thanks to Ken Mah for most of the gorgeous photos!]


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