A luxuriously easy and safe two hour coach ride on a road with no potholes brought us to Malacca, a small city on the south west coast of Malaysia. Cultures are mixed here. When the spice trade was bustling along and through the Malacca strait droves of immigrants moved in.
In the 15th century a Hindu prince and his entourage settled on the land here, so in moved the Hindus . In the 16th century a Chinese prince pledged protection and so in came the Chinese. The Portuguese made it a successful trade port and filled the streets with Mediterranean style buildings compete with shutters on the windows. Once it had become a successful trade port the Dutch moved in and built some lovely Dutch buildings (the 400 year old town hall represents this nicely). After that of course the English, who built very sturdy stone churches. You get the picture. The point is, it's enough to just ride around this town on a bicycle and see the cultural shifts from street to street.
We stayed in China town in a wonderful guesthouse with an army style dorm with roof fans, shuttered windows and a different recreation every night. We joined them on the night bike ride out to the mosque, which sits on stilts over the sea. The missionary got a puncture.
Jo found a shop where she could have re-outfitted her wardrobe. She settled for some very cool hareems and a floaty top.
The Chinese that came here and married the Malay locals had kids and this mix called themselves <Nyonya Babas, literally meaning boy girl in the Chinese strait language. Their food was some of the best I've had.
Nyonya rojak - fruit salad of pineapple, cucumber, turnip, bean sprout and mango in a sweet fishy sauce garnished with peanut and coriander. Weird and delicious.
Wan tan mee - dumplings in a noodle soup. I was looking for a recipe for this for a while, and found it here in Malacca.
New year dumplings - stewed minced pork, wrapped in rice and steamed in a banana leaf. The flower they use in this recipe dyes the rice indigo blue.
Popiaah - essentially a spring roll, but they stuff it with stewed turnip and wrap it in a pancake. Much better than I'm making it sound!
Next up - Singapore...