Martinique is an overseas territorial island of France. It is part of the Lesser Antilles and is 35km from Dominica, 26km to Saint Lucia and about 75km to Guadeloupe.
Martinique is about 80 km long and 35 km at the widest part. This makes it one of the smallest of the French overseas territories, but it has one of the highest population densities. The climate is remarkably constant with the average temperature being about 26° with minimums of 20–22 and maximums up to 34 °.
According to the blurb the original population disappeared after Europeans arrived, as a result of either disease or being wiped out by the invading French. In 1658 there were 5000 French settlers on the island. From here a lot of slaves were brought from Africa which added a new ethnic component. Today people of mixed European and African ancestry account for more than 90% of the population.
Fort de France is the main city of the overseas territory and was our landing point on the island. Interestingly as Martinique is only a territory, it does not officially have a capital. While the city lacks the palm trees and beaches of the rest of the island it does have the restaurants, shops, bars, and places showcasing the island’s history. Many of these venues sit in colonial-era buildings.
Fort Saint Louis was built to protect the city against enemy attacks. The fort was soon destroyed, and rebuilt in 1669 under Louis XIV as Fort Royal. It changed to Fort-de-France sometime in the 19th century and is the enduring name of the fort and the surrounding town.
St. Louis Cathedral is the main church in town and is probably the highlight of a town with not that much going for it.
Old town hall is one of the more impressive buildings in a town that is broadly underwhelming.
The covered market was the next on the trek through town. It provided the mix between a normal fruit and veggie market, some trinkets and souvenirs and some traditional food stalls. But in essence, it was a tin shed with some veggies in it. I don’t mean to sound down on Martinique, there really was nothing wrong with it at all. The people were friendly, the prices were good, there just was not too much to see or do.
Jardin de Balata is the local botanic gardens that is a short cab ride from town, if you are of a mind to do the hike be warned it is a fair walk and it is all uphill.
There is a zoo here, we didn’t go to it, but the promo picture shows this little critter. I have no idea what it is, but it looks pretty interesting.
Anyway, that is something else you could have done.
If you had more time in Martinique the recommendations are to stop and visit some of the smaller towns. The top on this list is Les Anses d’Arlet. The area is mostly jungle-covered mountains but there are also 3 coves for the nature lovers.
Other towns suggested were Big Cove (Grande Anse) and Arlet Cove (Anses d’Arlet) in both have restaurants and accommodation right on the sandy beach while Small Cove (Petite Anse) has a rocky shoreline.
Puerto Rico, despite being well and truly its own entity, sadly only counts as a territory of the United States and does not add to my country tally.
Although Puerto Rico is an American territory, it competes as its own individual country in both the Miss Universe contests and in the Olympics. Yet another reason I think that it should count.
But wow. If this little dip of the toe into the water of visiting Puerto Rico is any sort of glimpse, the place is amazing. It is the smallest island of the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean and sits a bit east of the Dominican Republic. The temperature permanently sits in the 20’s and 30’s all year round. There are around 3.2 million people in Puerto Rico, and close to 5 million Puerto Ricans living in the U.S.
The Island has almost 300 miles of coastline and nearly the same number of beaches. And being ostensibly American, it has the largest shopping centre in the Caribbean.
Our entrance to Puerto Rico was on a cruise ship (along with 2 others on the same day) which saw us coming into the port of San Juan. A really lovely (not so) little town that saw us cranking up the step count for the day considerably.
A predominately walled city there is a huge level of fortification (especially to the sea) with all of the gates and things that you would expect from such a town.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro is better known locally as El Morro. It is one of the largest fortifications built by the Spaniards in the Caribbean during the 16th century. It is made up by six staggered levels that integrate barracks, dungeons, and storerooms. It was designed to protect the city and still has some of the original cannons facing the ocean. According to the blurb in its history, El Morro was never defeated by the enemy.
The fort is massive and is set far out on the point with large green areas surrounding it. It was originally designed to protect the city from attacks from the sea.
Castillo San Cristóbal is the other fort that stands and was meant to defend from enemies approaching by land. Covering over 27 acres, this fortification is the largest one made by the Spaniards in the New World. This castle holds the famous Garita del Diablo, center to many military tales and stories in the Island.
The Capilla del Cristo is a small sanctuary at the top of the walls of the city. Legend has it that two men were racing their horses down the street and one of them fell over the cliff and survived. This inspired the construction of a sanctuary dedicated to the saints of health. Its altar is made of embossed silver and the room is decorated with two José Campeche paintings.
Between the two forts, you can see the Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery. This was established in the 19th century and was built outside the city walls because of their strong fear of the afterlife. Its oceanfront location derives from a superstitious belief that the deceased started a journey over to “the great beyond” and being close to the sea symbolised the beginning of eternity.
This cemetery is the final resting place of Puerto Rico’s most prominent natives and residents. A nice touch that we found was some mosaics of each town that have been laid into the footpaths along the way.
As usual, the Cathedral de San Juan takes up a prominent place in the heart of town. This one is an example of medieval architecture during the time when the Spanish ruled the New World. The Cathedral de San Juan is the second oldest church in the Americas, after the one built in the Dominican Republic.
La Fortaleza (officially El Palacio de Santa Catalina de Alejandría) is the oldest state residence of the New World still in use.
It was originally built in the mid 1500’s and has served as a fortress, a prison, and an arsenal, and is now the official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico. This executive palace conserves traditions (such as candlelit-only dining rooms) and has original Spanish objects from the colonial era.
Calle Fortaleza (more commonly known as Umbrella Street) extends from the Governors mansion and is Instagrammers heaven. When we arrived there were hordes of them striking all the poses under the sun (never looking at the camera).
The surrounding streets are full of the funkiest restaurants in town.
When chatting with our local barman on the boat we were told that San Juan was the original birthplace of the Piña Colada. Being the butch and manly type that I am, I am partial to a Piña Colada. To find its origin we had to hunt down the restaurant called Barrachina. Which we did, only to find that 2023 was the 60th anniversary of its invention.
Casa Blanca is the oldest residence in Old San Juan. It was once the home of the first governor and has since been converted into a museum.
In Cataño, Puerto Rico, you will find the the largest premium rum distillery (Bacardi) in the world.
Puerto Rico is also home to the only rainforest in the American National park system (El Yunque).
If friendliness counts for anything, then this place is amazing. The smiles and happiness that you are greeted with here is something to behold. I am very happy to come back here again and explore more of the isalnd.
The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. It is the second largest (after Cuba) country in the Caribbean) and third largest in population.
The capital (Santo Domingo) was the first permanent European settlement in the Americas and was the home of Spanish rule in the New World. After more than three hundred years the Dominican people declared independence in November 1821.
Puerto Plata is the birthplace of tourism in the Dominican Republic and is as fake as all get out. But in a really good way. When you get off the boat you are immediately thrown into a development known as Taino Bay. This is an entirely manufactured waterfront that houses every type of tourist attraction that you would want from a tropical island.
For about a 3 square kilometre area you are in a tourist wonderland of beaches, pools, shops, bars, restaurants and attractions. If you didn’t choose to keep going, it would be entirely possible to miss the actual town and community completely. But if you did, you would have still had a great day lazing by the beach and soaking up those Caribbean vibes.
But of course, we kept going. past the tourist mess (as lovely as it was) and got into the actual township of Puerto Plata, more specifically the old colonial-era centre. Here we wandered through the old colonial (Victorian) era buildings and just soaked up the town. And of course, found the umbrella-donned street known as Calle de Las Sombrillas.
As you keep wandering you come across one of the first colonial-period fortresses – the Fortaleza San Felipe. This historic military fort dates back to 1577 and was built to protect the coast from the Dutch, French, and British. In the 19th century, it served as a prison. Today it is a museum.
As is Jill’s thing, she did the street art photography blitz that she normally does when she finds it. It really is a nice way of discouraging graffiti, encouraging the arts, and brightening up otherwise boring walls throughout the city.
The 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua is a tourist attraction that is really only 12 waterfalls and some rock pools. But if you want to hike and swim, then this might be for you.
The Dominican Republic has a history of cacao production with about 150,000 hectares and 40,000 farms producing it. I was totally oblivious to this until I kept running across all of these artisanal chocolate shops trying to sell me their wares.
On further examination, it has been turned into both a crop for export and a tourism seller with various tours and cocoa camps. In the town of Altamira near Puerto Plata is the Chocolala, a cacao farm run entirely by women. There is also a place called Chocolate Mountain, a farm and camping site! Both obviously offer tours and products for purchase.
The mountain of Pico Isabel de Torres sits overlooking the town of Puerto Plata. The summit is 793 meters high and offers a spectacular view of the city. Importantly, there is a cable car that will take you to the top for $10. Once up the top there is also a botanic garden.
Playa Dorada is a few kilometres outside the city centre and is the first of the resort-style developments that found its way to the Dominican Republic. It is exactly what you imagine it to be.
The island is spectacular with sprawling landscapes, the sea, mountains, valleys, rivers, and a multitude of beaches. Our dip the toe in the water was just a teaser suggesting that we probably need to come back here and explore it a bit more fully.
Oman (officially the Sultanate of Oman) sits at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. It shares land borders with Saudi Arabia and the UAE (west) and Yemen (southwest), while sharing maritime borders with Iran and Pakistan.
It has a population of a bit under 5.5 million.
The Rub’ al Khali or the Empty Quarter is the desert portion of Oman but also encompasses parts of the UAE, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. It is 1,000 kilometres long, and 500 kilometres wide and has sand dunes with heights of up to 250 metres
Our early research had us a little more excited about Oman as at first glance there seemed to be plenty to see and do. We were a little terrified coming into it as our Aussie dollar exchange rate came in at 25 cents. This meant that one of their real was worth $4 for us. Jill put us right in the heart of tourist land.
Our hotel room was not a shadow on our one from Abu Dhabi. It was the width of a bed and this was the door.
As I am a touch taller than Jill, I sconned myself on this door (and others around the hotel) on several occasions.
One of these has given me a gash to the head, concussion and likely brain damage.
The seaside area of Mutrah was to be our home for the next few days. Sadly the room paled in comparison with the luxury that we had in Abu Dhabi but the location was fantastic. Looking straight out of our window we had direct views of (and about a 300 m walk to) the Mutrah Fort.
At the bottom of our hill (250m), we were on the Mutrah Corniche. This is a 3km long promenade along the waterfront, which of course is lined with cafes, restaurants, and markets. You have views of the Oman Port and harbour (including the Sultans Yacht) and the Hajar Mountains with its Portuguese watchtowers on the other side.
Our first task was getting up at 6 am and walking along the Corniche to the fish market and dhow harbour before breakfast. Even the dodgy, smelly fish market was impressive. Stainless steel troughs. mosaic tiled walls and of course the freshest of fish that you could find.
As finding food in the Middle East had proven a touch challenging at times we have taken to getting breakfast included in our hotel. And so far, Oman is winning.
After our breakfast, we climbed the hill, paid our admission and hit the fort. Now this was a first. There was nobody there. We had the entire fort to ourselves for about 30 minutes. We roamed and explored and took our photographs with absolutely nobody else to contend with. When we were finished and were walking out the door, we passed the baton to two German guys who then also had it to themselves. Hitting the bottom though a group of about 10 arrived, so their solitude would have been short lived.
Having finished at the fort we hopped the local bus for a 4-5km ride to the National Museum of Oman.
Along the way you see a bizarre space ship looking thing on the right.
Apparently to celebrate the 20th National Day of Oman in 1990 this monumental incense burner was built on top of a prominent hill at Riyam Park.
Getting off the bus was a bit of a catch all as within a short walk of where the bus drops you off, you have the Museum, the Al Alam Palace (the official palace of the sultan), two Portuguese forts of Al Jalali and Al Mirani and some major government buildings.
But the Museum was first.
The palace was the next obvious place to head as it was only a few hundred meters away in a straight line. But it was also in full sun with no shade and no respite.
The next was the forts, which were basically each side of the palace. Unlike the Mutrah Fort, these were unable to be entered and climbed upon. But they were kind of big enough and obvious enough to get some nice photos.
At this point we had melted. While the actual temperature of Oman is lower than places like Saudi Arabi, the humidity raises the “feels like” factor considerably. While walking around at 1:30 in the afternoon we got our own personal record when we hit the “feels like” temperature of 52 degrees centigrade. We were cooked.
The last stop before running away to hide from the heat was the Muscat Gate Museum.
Having got our gate photos we grabbed drinks (melting) and were waiting the 5 minutes for the bus to arrive. At this point a taxi pulled up and beeped (a common thing-touting for business). But this guy already had a customer. He was already being paid and was going past the Souk (our get off point) and took us for free – just to save us waiting in the sun. Now that was a first.
So after hiding through the afternoon (after showers and attempts to wash the sweat from clothing) we waited for early evening and made our way down the hill to the Mutrah Souk. This is one of the oldest markets in Oman and was right on our doorstep. We had briefly wandered through during the afternoon but it is the evening when the Souk really takes off.
The next day, another amazing breakfast and on a bus back towards town to see the things we had passed on our way in. Stop number one, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It was officially opened in 2001 and has become Oman’s most important spiritual site. It was closed on the Sunday that we tried to visit. While we did not get to enter the mosque we still had access to wander the grounds outside and get some happy snaps. The mosque was built to hold 20,000 worshippers and is home to the world’s biggest 1-piece handmade Iranian carpet and the second-largest chandelier in the world.
Directly opposite the grand mosque is the Omani Parliament building. It was built in 2013 and sits on more than 100,000 square metres. It has more than 5 km of facade and the centrepiece is a 64 m clock tower (the highest in Oman) with each of the clocks having a 4.8 metre diameter. The building is known locally as the Majlis Oman.
According to the blurb the Parliament building has been equipped with a range of well-paced spotlights, with modern LED technology and underground lighting fixtures. This means that at night the whole 38-metre high wall is illuminated with a controlled washing effect over almost all of the surface.
The Royal Opera House area which is an event in itself. The building is imposing and our first glimpse of it was in the taxi on the way in (mosque and parliament too), which prompted us to get back here a few days later. It isn’t just the opera house but more of an entire precinct for the arts and cultural pursuits. It is regularly used and has the capacity for 1,000-seat concert and opera theatre. But with 15,000+ square metres, over six levels with three basement floors, it can easily change its configuration to cater to most events.
So Oman is our favourite so far. It is authentic. It has actively resisted the current trend (looking at you UAE) of advancement at all costs and has maintained those things that make it special. There are tons of forts all over the country and deserts and oases worthy of exploring.
Luxembourg, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a tiny landlocked country of around 2500 square km and a population of under 650,000.
This makes it both one of the smallest and least populated countries in Europe.
It borders Belgium (west and north), Germany (east) and France (south).
Luxembourg’s recorded history dates back to Roman times but the modern day version is considered to begin in 963. The House of Luxembourg was a royal family that ruled in and around the region for centuries.
There is evidence of primitive inhabitants dating back to the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age over 35,000 years ago. The first real evidence of civilisation is from the Neolithic or 5th millennium BC, from which evidence of houses has been found.
Originally, the City of Luxembourg was originally built in the mid 10th century as a small fort (the castle). It was built on a steep rocky outcrop at the junction of the Alzette and Pétrusse Rivers. Due to it’s strategic position it has been occupied and controlled by the Italian, Spanish, Belgian, French, Austrian, Dutch and Prussian. With each iteration and rule various engineers contributed to the fortifications stronghold. The fortress was so strong that at one point it earned the title of “Gibraltar of the North.”
Luxembourg was one of Europe’s greatest fortified sites between the 16th century until 1867, when its walls were dismantled. The fortifications and the old town have been classified as world heritage sites by UNESCO since 1994.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg became a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 and in 1949 it also became a founding member of NATO.
This is a catch up as I published this one out of order, we were actually in Luxembourg, before Switzerland but I got the two L’s (Luxembourg and Lichtenstein) mixed up in my head and only just realised (3 countries later) that I had missed this one.
Luxembourg City is modern and the capital of Luxembourg it has done an excellent job of blending history and modern progress. The modern city is a highly efficient and functioning centre of commerce (particularly banking) while the Old Town area has kept the history and beauty of the city alive.
The first thing to know about Luxembourg is that all public transportation is free.
From our hotel (in the red light district near the train Station) we did the tourist walk towards the Old City to check out what Luxembourg had to offer.
The first thing that we aimed for was the Pont Adolphe Bridge. Originally built between 1900 and 1903 during the rule of Grand Duke Adolphe, the bridge had the biggest stone arch in the world at the time. The big double arch spans more than 85 metres across the Pétrusse valley at a height of 42 metres, and a total length of 153 metres.
Crossing the bridge you come to the Monument of Remembrance, officially known as Gëlle Fra. It is a war memorial dedicated to fallen Luxembourg soldiers.
At the top of the obelisk is a golden statue of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. She is holding a wreath and looking down on a fallen soldier laying at the base of the pillar.
Constitution Square, or Place De La Constitution is next.
This is a lovely garden built on the site of a former bastion or fortress wall.
At the center of the square the Luxembourg flag waves, towering over the green space.
Across the road is the Notre Dame Cathedral. It took more than 300 years to construct and is free to enter. Looking nothing like the more famous Cathedral with the same name, this one has three towers, stained glass windows, intricately carved pillars, and a vaulted nave.
Place Guillaume and Place d’Armes are the two main squares in Luxembourg City.
Place Guillaume is home to the Luxembourg City Hall. A statue of the former Grand Duke William II riding a horse dominates the eastern half of the square.
Place Guillaume and Place d’Armes are the two main squares in Luxembourg City. Place Guillaume is home to the Luxembourg City Hall. A statue of the former Grand Duke William II riding a horse dominates the eastern half of the square.
Place d’Armes is in the heart of the pedestrian zone of Luxembourg City. It is lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops. During the holidays, the square hosts a Christmas market and every other Saturday there is a flea market in this central square.
Grand Ducal Palace was originally Luxembourg City’s first town hall that was built in 1418.
It is the official residence of the grand ducal family.
During the summer months, the Luxembourg City Tourist Office runs exclusive guided tours of the Palace. These 75-minute tours are booked out months in advance. They allow visitors to take a look behind the scenes, including the Grand Duke’s office, the dining room and the “Salon des Rois”.
The money raised from ticket sales is used to support a foundation that supports humanitarian and solidarity initiatives to assist vulnerable people and those in distress, both in the Grand Duchy and in developing countries.
Luxembourg is lovely, there is plenty to see and do but in real terms, you can do the lap within half a day, perhaps a little longer if you do the palace tour. I feel this may be the case for many of the smaller European countries. The train in and out is a breeze, and the free transportation around town makes this place a dream for a quick pop-in and look around.
Luxembourg is a very international country, as over the years people have moved here from all areas of the world. Their food is a mix of French, German, and Belgian cuisines, but other countries also feature strongly in restaurants across the country.
This actually blew us away, Luxembourg has delivered the best food that we have eaten all trip. Strangely enough we did not eat traditional but rather we had Syrian and Italian and both were exceptional. We did not eat in flash hotels or restaurants, we picked the local small joints (as we usually do) and were totally blown away with the quality, taste and service that was on offer.
Traditional Luxembourgish cuisine however is deeply rooted in local farming and seasonal produce that include meats, sausages, cheeses, potatoes, cabbage, and beans. Wine, honey, and mustard are also traditionally made throughout the country.
The traditional stuff is a bit more basic and includes things like:
Bouneschlupp and Gromperenzopp (Green Bean and Potato Soup),
Gromperekichelcher (Potato Pancakes),
Bouchée à la Reine (vol-au-vent),
Letzeburger Kniddlelen (Luxembourg Dumplings),
Wäinzoossiss mat Moschterzooss (Sausage with Mustard and Wine Sauce)
Given that the local stuff was a bit stodgy, I had not planned to do a food section here. But the stuff we ate and the service that they gave was phenomenal. Having come out of North America where you are expected to pay a minimum of 18% extra for service as a tip, not one lot of service (that we paid for) came close to what we got here in Luxembourg as part of the experience.
There is real pride taken in both the service and the products that are brought to your table. In fact, even at our dodgy neighbourhood Italian joint, we were served with a porcini mushroom mousse as a free appetiser while we considered the menu. If there are any foodies reading along, put Luxembourg on your list.
We have been to Malaysia a lot – we regularly transit through Kuala Lumpur and Penang is one of my favourite places on the planet. We have hit the west coast and Borneo extensively but had never made it south or to the east coast. So this trip we are.
After a nice easy transit through Kuala Lumpur (again) – I should talk about our KL transits as we do them so often. We have found a little hotel right in the midst of KLIA2 (the airport) that gives us access to an air conditioned room, a shower and a bed (for about $60 a night). It is a short walk from the terminal (about 600-800 meters) and is set up especially for those in transit. There is a 24 hour reception and the buffet breakfast starts at 4am to accommodate the early flights. We have stayed here many times and probably will again.
So after a shower, a meal (including beer) and a sleep we hopped on a bus from the airport and headed south to Melaka (Malacca). Oh and by the way – the spelling of the name of this place changes regularly and inconsistently.
Probably worth mentioning the busses here. These are things that I typically have avoided at all costs as they are slow, cumbersome and uncomfortable. In addition they really are not built for people over 6 foot tall. Add to this Jill’s amusement by booking us on (what has come to be known as) chicken busses. We have travelled on some truly atrocious local bus transports.
But I am very happy to say that in Malaysia, this is definitely not the case. Bus transport in Malaysia (at least the long haul stuff) is clean, comfortable and a highly pleasant experience. There are 3 seats across rather than the usual 4, and the seats are spaced reasonably apart so that there is ample leg room. There is, in fact, a hell of a lot more comfort to be found on a Malaysian bus than there is on any economy airline seat anywhere in the world.
We had long heard of the importance of the Malacca Straits (the vital trade route that keeps Asian and global trade flourishing) but had not made it down here until now.
Virtually all shipping between the Far East and the Mediterranean / Middle East has to pass through this channel and has done so for hundreds of years (since around 1400). Because of this it has been a critical global port (along with places like Singapore and Shang-Hai) for many centuries.
Every year, around 90,000 ships pass through the sea lane of the Malacca Strait, which links the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. The cargo lanes make up an estimated 40 % of global trade. In addition, along the seabed is a dense array of internet cables that keep the world online. It is one of the most vital arteries of the global economy and a well-known global choke point.
Melaka was the location of one of the earliest Malay sultanates but this all went away when the Portuguese conquered it in 1511. The Dutch then had a turn from 1641 to 1798, who then ceded to the British in 1824. Even Japan had a turn during WWII (1942–1945). Until finally on 31 August 1957, Malaya became an independent nation.
Melaka has it all, from old Chinese churches to Portuguese forts, palaces to heritage museums, mosques, sanctuaries to cultural parks. For the most part they are relics of the colonisation by the Dutch, Portuguese and the British But there is plenty to see and do (as long as you can abide the heat and humidity).
Most of the activity in town centres around Red Square or the Stadhuys (that were once the offices of the Dutch Governor) and across the bridge into Oldtown and Jonker St (the Chinatown area). This includes the overly packed weekend night market (especially on Saturday night). With the influx of the incredibly blingy pedal tuk tuks.
I usually don’t talk about where we stay, as most people that we know would never stay at such meagre offerings. We are more 2 star than 4 star and while we love the character of many of these places they would draw the scorn of most of our family and friends. It is the price we pay for travelling for long periods.
That said, there are still some basic rules that we abide by. Our hotels and rooms must:
be a private room (no dorms)
have a private ensuite (no shared bathrooms)
have decent WIFI (as far as possible)
be close to lots of food options
be walking distance to the cool stuff
Here in Melaka we stayed at a place that was just fantastic. It was more akin to a B&B than a hotel. Run by Choa and his wife Maria their spiel is “We’re a budget guesthouse with charm and we are one of the cheapest options because we don’t have staff – we do everything ourselves. Our home is your home – come sit back, relax, and join us for a cup of coffee”.
Granted it doesn’t look like much from the outside but you cannot find nicer or more accommodating hosts. Once you get in the walls are covered in murals of all of the sights to see in and around Malaka. Nothing is too much trouble and they even give you a recommended itinerary to make the most out of your stay.
And it is right in the middle of some fantastic (an cheap) restaurants.
Maria is a master baker (maybe not officially but certainly in our eyes) who bakes up a storm every day. Biscuits, cakes, slices you name it. And on our last day she even made up a care package for Jill to leave with to get us through our bus ride – that included several types of biscuits a fresh mango and some banana cake.
If we come back to Melaka we would stay here again just to experience the hospitality again.
There is also a Little India that caters to the mainly Tamil population, who first came to work on the rubber plantation. It is fairly small but the restaurants are pretty good and most importantly they have been culturally welcomed. There is even a Chitty Village for the minority Chitty population.
The most striking part for us (other than the food) was the waterfront. the river makes its way through the heart of the city and virtually every step along the way there is something to see. Sadly many of the funky little cafes and restaurants (away from the main blocks) are no longer open (right now) but hopefully they will come back in time. But the river is really nice and is well used with tourist cruises and bars and restaurants lining the strip.
As nice as the riverfront is at night, if you are willing to brave the heat of the day, you get exposed to a whole new world during the daylight hours. Walls plastered with street art (becoming a favourite of ours it seems) funky bridges crossing backwards and forwards along the river, even a Ferris wheel. There really is a lot to keep yourself amused with.
Who knew I would be writing about this…Gan Boon Leong was born in 1937 and was Malaysia’s most successful bodybuilder (and later politician) – having won countless bodybuilding prizes, including Mr. Asia and Mr. Universe. He is known as the ‘Father of Bodybuilding in Malaysia’. To honor everything he did for Melaka, the city erected several golden statues of him, which are now just as much photographed as Melaka’s more traditional tourist sights.
The Malacca Straits Mosque was built in 2006 on a man-made island and looks like it is floating when the water level is high. It has two archways lead to the main entrance with stained glass covering the space between the arches. The mosque has a 30-metre tall minaret that doubles as a lighthouse.
With Melaka’s long held importance as a trade route, comes a food maturity that exists in few places. People have been brining their food influences into Melaka for hundreds of years and the result is spectacular. Penang and Singapore are my two favourite food destinations and having been to Melaka, I have found my third. The laksa is sensational (but be warned is seriously spicy) and no trip to Malaysia is complete without a Roti Canai (pronounced Chanai).