We were up early to get the bus to Malacca. It was about 500km and we were on a bus leaving at 9:00 - or so we thought. In fact we joined the bus in the centre of town before it set off via the bus station and then over the bridge to the Butterworth bus station. So we ended up a taxi ride and short ferry ride from our hotel! We eventually left at 10:45 and we felt cheated of about 2 hours sleep.
The bus ride itself was very good. It was a luxury bus and the route was on a motorway - the best roads we have seen since we left Europe. I even went to sleep it was so comfortable. The scenery was through mountains initially (edge of Cameron Highlands) and then through lots of palm tree plantations. We arrived about 4 o'clock and took a taxi to the hotel. The hotel was recommended to us and much more luxurious than we are used to - we had decided we needed something better as it's our last stop before we rejoin the civilised world. We had a quick look round the town and went to a restaurant that specialised in satay. It was a bit like fondue - you bought various sticks of pork, chicken, prawns, bread and vegetables and cooked them in satay sauce heated by a large propane burner at the table. All very tasty and cheap - you paid by the number of sticks and our bill was £6.
We had a day of sightseeing in Malacca today. It's a heritage site with a centre going back to 1600s - having been occupied by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. The first stop was an old Chinese house that had been occupied by a wealthy family. Similar to the Penang houses, it has a large courtyard in the middle and lots of things relating to the local people (mixture of Malay & Chinese). We carried on round having a look at some more simple houses plus a Chinese temple. The area is being turned into a tourist area - lots of 'local' restaurants and souvenir shops.
In the afternoon we went the other side of the river to have a look at the fort area. This was the original Portuguese area later rebuilt by the Dutch. (The British just destroyed large parts of it!). All very quaint. We went round the Sultan's palace ( a replica) and it seemed like an exercise in how advanced the Malays were before the Europeans came and how bad colonialism had been for them. After this we gave up - too hot to do anything.
In the evening, after a meal in a local style restaurant (the food was very different) and then round a special night market and street party that was going on for the Chinese new year (the year of the Ox). This was quite entertaining - included a karaoke at one end of the street where none of the performers were under 60. A couple of them (men) were dancing in front of the stage - one in serious danger of his wig falling off. Next day, we finished sightseeing in the old town - we went round the main church and then the Stadhuus (town hall). The church was quite interesting - lots of old memorial plaques to people who had died out here - it seemed you were lucky here to make 40 if you were European.
The town hall museum was interesting as it traced the history of Malacca - again focussing on the pre-colonial times - with more on the Japanese occupation than the British rule. After this it was too hot to do anything so we retired for a cool drink and sit down.In the afternoon, we took a walk by the river to see some of the large lizards. The river is not Malacca's best feature - quite built up and needless to say we didn't see any big lizards only lots of little ones on the bank. It was Chinese new year's eve so the street markets were in full swing until the rain started. Unfortunately, most of the restaurants were closed for the evening as the new year is a time for families to get together. We eventually found an Italian restaurant - except they had a large party in the function room so the food took forever - we were nearly eating the table at the end. We had some entertainment with the highly decorated pedicabs (cycle rickshaws) racing up and down the street with their stereos blazing (A bit different to have sound systems on rickshaws).