My first stop in Malaysia was Malacca, an old port city that passed through Portuguese, Dutch, and British hands and retains marks of each. Now, much like Singapore, the Arab, Indian, and Chinese influences are more apparent culturally.
Malacca has a good mix of both, with its Old Town a World Heritage site full of European vestiges like the old Portuguese Fortress Gate and the ruins of a Dutch/British hilltop church and the touristy Jonkers St. carved out of Chinatown, full of old Chinese Trader houses like the Baba Nyanga House. This 1890s residence of rich Chinese/Indonesian traders was the picture of Gilded Era excess and an interesting counterpoint to the European ruins all around.
Before heading to any of those places, I headed to the modern part of town for a sidewalk breakfast of Nasi Goreng- a very spicy chicken fried rice with Indian influences and sweet, milky coffee.
Then I took a jaunt was a walk along the river cutting through town, a nice boardwalk behind Chinatown with a few surprises… like a Corgi-sized komodo dragon-looking lizard sliding into the water as I approached.
Malacca is also famous for its eats, from the addictive sweet pineapple tarts to Thai-like drunken noodles served at outside eateries to their peanut butter equivalent, kaya, a egg & coconut jam that’s delicious.
The two most interesting things I had, though, were the famous Hainanese Chicken Rice Balls and the infamous Kopi Luwak. The former are what they sound like… bland rice balls with a side of boiled chicken covered in sesame oil- not bad, but not really living up to their reputation in Malaysia. Sesame oil is the key, and incidentally the reason why raw octopus is at all edible.
The latter is the coffee from The Bucket List, which, yes, was eaten by civet cats and and “passed”, fermenting the beans slightly. it’s an incredibly expensive coffee most places in the world, and even here, clocks in around 20$… but it’s damn good. It has a bitter, ever so slightly sour front end with an unbelievably light finish… honestly as good of a cup of coffee as I’ve ever had.
Overall, a day was plenty for Malacca, but it’ll be a full and worthy one. Now, off to Kuala Lumpur, with a snack of crunchy-coated coconut peanuts and Aiskrim Soda, an odd citrus-tinted cream soda.