Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 1: Malacca, A Culinary Adventure

Saturday, 18th July 2009. It's the 1st day of our inaugural trip organized through the rather macarbe sounding 'Things to do before I DIE' group which was created by Hoong Yi a couple of weeks back. Mustering a small posse of 12 people, we all gathered at Damansara Uptown's Hong Kong Dim Sum restaurant for breakfast at 9:00am in the morning, or sort of 9:00am. ;) I was late again, partly because I couldn't drag myself out of bed by the time the sun was starting to peek through my flimsy curtains at 7:00am in the morning and partly also because I have to do some emergency 'pest' control at Eva's apartment after I had picked up Annette in Klang, both of whom are travelling with me for the 1st time. Annette and I go back a very long way, way back to my high school days, while Eva is my 'boss'... oppss... client from my previous project with Murphy Sarawak Oil (She still gives me work to do via MSN!) :).
That's me with Eva, hehehehe

Amid the constant buzz of my Chris Brown ring tone, I finally arrived at the dim sum shop to link up with the rest of the regular misfits: Audrey, Dennis, Hoong Yi, Timmy, Henry, Kin Liang, Mei Yoong, along with new face (to me that is) 'Chicken' and my cousin, Li Chen. ;)
That pretty girl on the left is my cousin, Li Chen, while that chubby guy on the right is Hoong Yi... ;)

They were already in the midst of finishing breakfast, though with dim sum there is usually little or no chance to pick up scraps. We just ordered more! :) Thankfully, the restaurant was air conditioned although it was extremely packed with people. The food itself could have been better compared to the last time Henry and I were there but the varieties offered were alot better. I still felt it is comparable if not even better than the Seri Petaling fare. :p Having concluded breakfast and splitting the bill among ourselves, we all mounted our rides and aimed our sights on Malacca. Except that's what I thought we were heading, until I found out the other two cars were still in TTDI as I drove down the final length of the LDP to the Damansara toll. Promising to meet up again at the Seremban rest area, Eva, Annette and I continued on in my trusty Vios, guided by the sexy voice of my GPS who after a few wrong turns, actually was trying to take us to 'Holland', if you know what I mean. We did eventually leave Klang Valley and got onto the KL-Seremban highway but by this time, it was Timmy's and Hoong Yi's cars that was ahead of mine. We gathered again at the Senawang rest area, Hoong Yi having overshot the Seremban one apparently. We stopped here for a few minutes, most of us paying a visit to the loo while some took the opportunity to buy fruits. After that, it was a speedy descent to Malacca town, reaching Baba House ( in the middle of Heeren street at approximately 12:30pm.
The back entrance to Baba House

Originally composed of a number of traditional Peranakan abodes since combined and coverted into a hotel, Baba House retains much of it's original old world charm with it's intricately decorated wooden panelling, antique furniture and faded black and white photographs of Straits Chinese (Baba & Nyonya) families decorating the walls.
Checking in at the front desk of Baba House

Exquisite wooden paneling brings out the old world charm...

The rooms are only 'so-so' but the convenience and especially the atmosphere is worth it.

Putting down our stuff, we moved out for lunch, dropping by at the nearby Restaurant Peranakan, a few shoplots away from our hotel. We ordered the recommended Nyonya fare of ayam 'pong teh', asam ikan pari, kangkong belacan and stuff, the surrounding decor another example of Straits Chinese architecture.
Nyonya food at the Restaurant Peranakan, or what's left of it :)

Finishing off our meal, we now hit the streets, stopping first at my friend's father's Art Gallery ( for a visit. Tham Siew Inn (my friend's father), is a renowned watercolor artist whose numerous works have adorned many a home.
Back entrance to Mr. Tham's gallery. Hmmm... seems like we like entering back entrances... ;)

He is also skilled at working with metal and sculptures, one fine example is a vast copper relief adorning a cafe in Berkeley, Klang from which his whole family once resided. Don't be perturbed however by the high prices of his works of art adorning the shop however, for prints are for sale for a fraction of the price (RM100-150 and above). I've got 2 of these prints at home myself, its soft and free flowing textures relaxing to the eyes.

My friend, college mate and house mate, Tham Ze Hoe, was not at home when we visited, having to go to the airport to fetch his girlfriend.
That's Mr. Tham, my friend from college days minus the long MTV hair! ;p

He is the IT wizard for his father's and brother's enterprise, doing the scanning of the artworks, rendering it into prints and maintaining the website. He also dabbles into the arts as well, working together with his brother to engrave those Chinese style stone seals for tourists, on weekends squatting outside Geographer's Cafe, opening a stall at the pasar malam. His brother, Ze King, chose to follow his father's footsteps better, producing works in watercolor as well as clay.

Leaving the art gallery and promising to come back later, we moved to Jonker street (Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock), the central street of Malacca's historical district lined with antiques, curio shops and lots and lots of food! :)
Gateway to Jonker Street (Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock)

Strange African style maskes on sale

We stopped at a few antique shops, most of it's wares were very old, rusty and literally 'priceless' (there were no price tags on them which means you have to go through that tiresome exercise of haggling/bargaining), before the call of food beckons in which we stopped at the famous Nyonya cendol shop located on the same street some distance from Geographer's cafe.
The line outside the Nyonya Cendol Shop on Jonker Street

It isn't hard to find, because at any time of the day there is always a line of people waiting to get a shot of shaved ice topped with thick, rich gula melaka to make their day a happy one ;). There are chairs and tables inside the stall but as expected, you'll have to shadow the people sitting there to finally get one. We did just that and got a couple of tables.

After getting our sugar rush, we head on over to the '3rd uncle shop' (sam sook kong), located at the entrance to Jonker Street from St. Paul's hill side.
'Third Uncle' or 'Sam Sook Kong' shop

Here, they were offering various home made cakes, taros and treats. The place was packed with people as well, having a taste of the local coffee (Aik Cheong being the most predominant). I didn't buy anything here although some of the gang did.
Malacca leng lui making cakes at Sam Sook Kong... ;)

Shopping finished, we wandered down to the riverfront, taking a few photos of the Santiago bastion and drawing in the salty sea breeze blowing up the river, all the time watching the few boats of the malacca river cruise passing by lazily in front of us.
The Malacca riverside along Heeren Street

Tired, we returned to the hotel, to catch some winks before coming out later in the night for dinner and a stroll through the pasar malam. Dinner was at Pak Putra's Tandoori Chicken, a place recommended by my Garmin navigator as a point of interest. ;) I have had heard of a famous Tandoori Chicken Stall highlighted in the STAR but failing to relocate the article before the trip, I had to rely on my trusty navigator instead.
Restaurant Pak Putra

Located behind the Baba Hotel close to a 7-11 store, we sat down for some naan and lots of tandoori. Being not a connoiseur of naan and tandoori myself, I couldn't comment much of the food, but from Timmy, Henry and Hoong Yi's comments (who are frequent visitors to TTDI's Mohsin, which I find it's naan, good), it's a general 'A' for this store. :)
Lines of Tandoori Chicken await Timmy to devour...

We were back on Jonker Street next, the sounds and smells of the weekly pasar malam abound. Not surprisingly there were many people, although I believe it was probably less than normal considering the weekend we are in Malacca wasn't a school holiday and Manchester United is playing in Bukit Jalil. On the opposite entrance to Jonker Street from Sam Sook Kong, there was this stage set up where on it, a few people were crooning some songs.
The karaoke stage at the other entrance to Jonker Street

From the looks of the sitting crowd though, the songs didn't really fall within our era (I'd stick if they sang Michael Jackson, but they were singing Teresa Teng's), so we made a wide berth.
You can guess the era of songs sung by the looks of the crowd...

Nyonya cakes, street foods, handicrafts, antiques and bottle of fruit 'Kampai(?)' were on sale in this pasar malam. I didn't buy anything (again). :) The 'Kampai(?)' tempted me for a while but the immediate doubts of its manufacture made me gave it a pass. Hoong Yi, Henry and Li Chen stopped at a stall and bought a couple of those colorful clay figurines you'd see being sold along the ancient streets of China in those TVB kung fu serials and showed it to us as the rest took a break on the top floor of Geographer's cafe, downing a few bottles of ice cool beer, escaping the hustle and bustle of the street below.
Geographer's Cafe on Jonker Street

I've heard that here there would be some dance sessions during the weekends but on this Saturday night I was dissappointed there wasn't any. I was also hoping Annette would strut her stuff as she is currently investing in dance classes at Dataran Prima. Too bad! ;)

By 10:30pm, Hoong Yi, Timmy and myself had to excuse ourselves and return to the hotel, leaving the rest behind. We had made an appointment with the hotel masseuse and we didn't want to be late! :) It costs RM88/hour for an oil massage, me choosing the option of using the tangy smelling australian citrus oil applied through a deep, muscle cracking massage. The masseuses were very professional and you really do get what you ordered for (ie no lousy finger jabs for massages and offers of 'extra' services, if you get what I mean ;)). There was a slight commotion before the massage session started as Timmy's masseuse discovered he wasn't wearing an underwear! How she discovered it, I leave it to your imagination because I was safely tucked away in another curtained section of the two sectioned parlour. A quarter way through the session later, my masseuse asked me whether I wanted to extend the session to 1 1/2 hours. I was initially surprised, but was told that Hoong Yi and Timmy had already done so. Wow, guess the massage was really that GOOD? :) I did the same, maintaing our drivers 'solidarity' ending up paying an additional RM59 for the extra time. Well, it's been a long time since I got a good back rub.

We had planned to play werewolves after this but as we returned to join the group, it was decided instead to hop into our cars and go for a midnight snack at Capitol Satay Celup, located along Lorong Bukit Cina. It was pass midnight when we got there but still there was a continuing stream of people coming! We took out turn lining up, finally getting a place to sit in about 20 minutes.
Annette pointing at the sign outside Capitol Satay which says it does not have brothers, sisters, uncles or aunties... ;)

Each stick of 'satay' costed RM0.70, with varieties ranging from slices of chicken, seafood, crunched kang kong to whole prawns and even scallops. Fish balls and chicken balls are offered on colored plates which are differently priced and all this are dipped in a thick hot sauce of grounded peanuts! Ooooooohhhhh Yummmmyyyy! (My knees are getting weak ;)).
My legs go weak thinking about the kuah satay! Mmmmmm... ;)

Don't worry about running out of sauce because every few minutes, a lady would come by and refill it, stirring up the gathered peanuts for good measure. :p We returned to the hotel once we finished, passing through a police roadblock near the Stadhuys. There was a brief panic among the occupants of Timmy's car as we have squeezed in 6 people (Timmy, Eva, Annette, Kin Liang, Mei Yoong and myself). Luckily we passed through without incident and soon Timmy and I were at the hotel lobby waiting for Hoong Yi to come back with our room key! (Like duh!) :p :) When Hoong Yi returned a while later, it was to the showers and a little time surfing the net. Let me tell you, Baba House can be quite eerie in the middle of the night with it's abandoned corridors and courtyards.
The nights at Baba House can be quite spooky... :p

I had quite a fright when I was heading to this place which I knew had a stone round table underneath an airwell and saw this stern looking lady sitting there. Guess she was gathering some air because she wasn't doing anything else. :p I immediately put some distance between us (just in case) and sat down somewhere more 'public' :p. Why am I wandering about outside my room for wifi? Well Baba House's coverage is best only in the new wing. In the older section, wifi is only available at the lobby and at the courtyards. After watering my plants (Barn Buddies), feeding my puppy (Petz Pups) and plundering the Carribean (Pirates: Rule the Carribean), it was time to count sheep, as my mind drifted into the depths of soothing slumber (in my room of course!) :).

1 comment:

  1. those are not african mask but orang asli mah meri and jahut the mah meri didn't really have a culture of carving till recent history, what they carved were inspired from what they saw on tv. so if u look carefully, we do see african influences and even steven speilberg ET influences.