My first day in Malacca, a UNESCO world heritage site, was bright, sunny and humid . . . definitely humid. When I inhaled, the air felt sticky and thick, but I didn’t let this stop me from exploring the Old Town. I was in a brand new city (and country for that matter) and was eager to experience it.
My hostel was just a few minutes away from the Malacca River, Dutch Square and Jonker Street so strolling through the neighborhood was like stepping back in time. Malacca was as an influential trading port that linked the east and the west. The Portuguese, Dutch and British all, at one time or another, ruled the land, and their influence can still be seen today in the city’s architecture, religions and culture. Its European history combined with its Chinese, Muslim and Indian influences have made Malacca a very unique and multicultural place.
I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t last very long under the oppressive Malaysian heat. Before long I went back to the hostel, which didn’t have air conditioning, and positioned myself in front of the nearest fan to wait out the heat. This, too, didn’t last for long. Even inside and away from the sun, the humidity was so great that any effort at all, even something as necessary as breathing, made me sweaty so I hit the showers hoping that would alleviate the problem. Unfortunately, despite only having only one setting – supposedly cold – I was sweating again before I made it out of the bathroom. How was this even possible?
By the time early evening arrived, the heat had lifted by a few degrees (or maybe I was just hallucinating by then) so I went exploring outside. What had been a street teeming with tourists just a few hours ago now seemed like a ghost town. There were few people wandering around Jonker Street, and no one was riding in the trishaws at Dutch Square, even though their fairy lights were blinking brightly.
As I walked along the riverside I felt transported to another world. The twinkling reflections in the water and the traditional architecture of the surrounding buildings created a different world than the one I had seen in daylight. It was as if there was a magical spell cast upon Malacca this evening and I was happy to experience it.