When I was at St. Paul's I met an English lady called Joanne and she said she was travelling with two people whom she'd met. We arranged to meet in half an hour and she brought her friends, Isa who was 22 from Hong Kong and Andanna who was Spanish and 30. We all went to the night market in Jonker Street and that first night in Malacca was a night of magic, fun and friendship.
I remember we went to this bar in a street off Jonker Street (can't remember the name and my camera doesn't take good photos at night. Unless I can rest it on something like a table or carry a tripod - one of those ones that are 4 foot tall and weigh a ton - most of my night photos come out terribly blurry and very dark. Editing doesn't help - all it does is lighten it and have coloured dots/spots everywhere.)
The residential heart of Old Malacca
Is Jonker Street - once famous for its antique shops, now is filled with clothing shops, craft shops, eating places, antiques and quirky little spots. But its real charm is at night - the Jonker Street nightmarket is famous and anyone who visits Malacca, simply must come here. For at night, the street comes alive with the sound of music and a hubbub of contained excitement.
Stalls line the street - the street vendors selling their homemade goodies, Portuguese tarts - a little like the English egg custard tarts, only better. Joanne bought 6 of them and they were oh so scrumdiddlyumptious. I fell in love with them and just writing about them brings back the aroma and taste - I can almost taste them on my tongue. Mmm mmm.
Jonker Street, or Jonker Walk - photo taken during daylight hours. Today, Jonker Street has been renamed Jalan Hang Jebat, but people still refer to it as Jonker Street. I should imagine there'd be an outcry if the government took down this (and other) famous signs.
You can see an old Chinese building at the end of the street (Jonker is after all in Chinatown), there's Nancy's Kitchen (I wonder who Nancy was?), Sorvana Spa (just the place for a relaxing massage), the Karabau Rock Bar, stall holders setting up their wares and there's even a satellite dish perched precariously to the red brick wall!
Ah - D'Arts Cafe while I didn't go in here, I thought their sign was excellent - Save water! Drink Beer.
Eminently suitable advice if there's a drought!
Here is where the fun begins - Joanne, Isa, Andanna and I worked our way through the crowds, stopping here to look at this, and there to look at that. And ay look - over there, those cute little thingies; so many things to see, so much to experience. We finished off the Portuguese tarts and decided to go for a drink. Remember that bar I spoke of? Yes, well we turned up a street on the left hand side and found this rather cute place. I remember I had sour plum and lime juice (3.50MYR) and coffee (disgusting) 4.00MYR. There was ice in the drink Andanna ordered the same sans ice (we swapped). Asked for an ashtray - it came with ice in it. We all laughed our heads off. We just couldn't get over an ashtray "with ice"!!!
OH we did have fun - we sat and talked about our adventures, where we'd been, where we were going next. Alas my friends were leaving the next day. Andanna told me here was flying to Australia (Perth the capital city of WA) and he had no money, no WHV (working holiday visa) because he couldn't get one, but intended to work "cash in hand."
The moon is made of green cheese
See that little round green ball in the sky? Well - that's the moon. The saying "The moon is made of green cheese" comes to mind. (The Proverbs of John Heywood 1546)
Jonker Street and the Red Lanterns
During the day, Jonker Street is open to cars and vehicles. But come Friday night as the sun goes down and weekends - the place is transformed. The street is closed to traffic, red lanters light up the road and people throng the place looking at the many stalls and objects for sale. Saturday night especially is most busy - sometimes you can hardly move for the number of people milling around looking, stopping at one of the trinket stalls or the place selling whizz bang toys. The place is crowded with people - locals and tourists alike. Young lovers hold hands walking slowly as they gaze into each other's eyes, old uncles amble along on a night out, quietly puffing away, parents try to keep their energetic children in tow to cries of, "Please mum, can I have this?" and everywhere is a happy place.
And the food! The glorious food stalls! The famous rice balls are truly delicious, so many foods, so many tantalising aromas as they waft through the air filling your nostrils with the delicious smells of home cooking. Your mouth is salivating, your tongue moves, you lick your lips and only a plate of those noodles or bag of tarts will do the trick. You stop, you buy, and then you eat. It is a most heady feeling and rewarding experience - a veritable feast, a gastronomic delight. I was in Melaka for three nights and every night I went to Jonker Street.
On the Saturday I found this place - a rather small, ordinary looking shop of undistinguished appearance and went in and asked for Hainanese Chicken Rice. Behind the cooking was this little old Grandmother with iron grey hair, her skinny arms stirring a large pot with a big ladle, the daughter or granddaughter doing something with green vegetables and furious activity going on. I went and sat down. The tables were round with Chinese stools. I lit a cigarette and looked around and noticed everyone there was looking at me. Is there something wrong? Do I have dirt on my nose? Why are they all staring at me? Then it dawned on me - I was the only "European" there, the place was filled with locals. I felt a bit self-conscious and it was sort of like ehm. Remember, this was my first time in Asia - I was a complete novice! Since then I've been back to SEA more than once and were I back there in that shop, there would be no feeling of self-consciousness, I'd look at them and smile and say hello and have a chat.
Anyway, back to the Friday night with my mates - we spotted these puppies. Aren't they cute? They look like little balls of fluff. None of us had our photo taken with them, instead we took photos of them. Not because we were too stingy to spend 2 ringgit but because what the heck can you do with a fluff ball so small?
I came back just after midnight. The others walked me "home". Got there at 12.15AM. Had a great time and a wonderful night. Joanne flies to Oz on Sunday, Andanna goes to Perth for work, but has no WHV. Isa told me of her travels and parent problems.
Here are my friends. Andy is falling into the river being "saved" by the two girls.
The last photo of me with my friends (Joanne took the photo)
After my friends left and went back to their hostel, I strolled along here just looking at the river flowing quietly, thinking on all that had happened that day. I arrived in Malacca, met three wonderful people who took me under their wing and extended the hand of friendship, ate and drank with them and had the most fantastic night. The memory of that night will stay with me even when I'm old and grey.
And the river? Well, the river will go on forever long after we have gone.