By Anthony Dylan

The west coast of the Peninsula provides you with an excellent way to discover small towns and places normally off the main highway. In the last months, in February and March we took a road trip each month after our first one to Ipoh last year in October 2022.


We took a first one towards the South heading via the Elite Highway from Subang Jaya one early morning. We stopped at Seremban for breakfast before driving around the market and the city before we headed down towards Muar. We drove on all familiar highway before taking the Tangkak exit to drive through town. The town as usual has its charm especially with those selling traditional pastries and the all too famous Kuang Fei Beef Noodle shop. The beef noodle here has and still is a favourite especially the super spicy chili dip that accompanies it. The beef parts are up to you and of course, they do also sell the infamous ‘torpedo’ for those who dare to try.


As we headed out towards Muar, we travelled a scenic road passing through villages and orchard houses. Normally, when in season, you would easily see makeshift stalls by the roadside fronting their houses selling mangosteens, durians and pisang tanduk. These pisang tanduk make good slices for banana fritters in my opinion. As we crossed the Muar River into the royal town of Muar, we could see that not much has changed.


The authentic Avenue 4 Glutton Street at Jalan Haji Abu still packed a strong array of traditional hawkers. Here, the famous otak-otak can be found either in frozen bricks to take away or ready to eat with the familiar semi burnt nipah leaf wrap. Here, you can still get Satay Babi and the traditional braised duck with rice or silky smooth noodles. Of course, if you do not mind driving up towards Parit Jawa, here you would find arguably the best asam pedas fish. Do note however, the opening times vary between 8am till about 4pm only for the freshest fare. If ikan bakar is your favourite, then I suggest you head over towards Sabak Awor in the evening.


We left Muar and travelled along the Lebuhraya AMJ towards Melaka. We picked Casa Del Rio for this time and the hotel was just a stone’s throw away from Jonker Street. Melaka has really been transformed. Tourism is certainly the main draw for Melaka. The Melaka River is well kept and the many scenic boat rides by the Melaka River Cruise kept the place abuzz from 9am till 11pm daily. However, during the fasting months, the timing may vary. The tickets are priced at RM25 per adult Malaysian and an extra RM5 for non-Malaysians. The 45-minute cruise is extremely popular at night, and it is best you get your tickets online. Queues are long in the evening as the lights on the journey makes great picture taking opportunities. Along the Melaka River, you can also walk from Hard Rock Café all the way down and turn at the first bridge heading back towards the red buildings of Stadhuys passing the beautiful historical St Francis Xavier Catholic Church. Along the way, you can always stop and have a seat facing the river with your choice of drink; both non-alcohol and alcohol.


The other famous attraction is the Menara Taming Sari which is a 7-minute revolving 360 degree 80 metre ride up to see the views of Melaka. We suggest that this be done in the daylight as you can see more. It costs RM17 for Malaysian adults and about RM6 more for non-Malaysian adults.


Walking around historical Melaka takes you all the way towards the open field of Dataran Pahlawan through the modern shopping centres and then towards St Paul’s Hills, A Famosa and the Proclamation of Independence Memorial. There are many museums along the way which would take your time. In the evening, especially on a weekend from Friday till Sunday, you would find the Jonker street area extremely busy. Tourists from Singapore and from surrounding states make the bulk. The street is well managed, and the food areas and the main stall areas are well defined. The buzz in the area would make you want to linger more but on a Saturday, it was really choc a bloc packed.


The unique neon LED garlanded and decorated trishaws blasting music from Baby Shark to whatever the theme are aplenty and added to the uniqueness of what Melaka could offer. I do not think anywhere else in the world you would see such daring and bold decoration and music from a trishaw.


Of course, Melaka is always about Peranakan cuisine. The Peranakan food in Melaka is quite different from the Peranakan in Penang in my opinion. Whilst in Penang you get a bit spicier and lighter coloured fare, the one in Melaka leans towards a darker hue and is sweeter. Even the cendol is different. I do prefer the Melaka variety though and that is due to the Gula Melaka, or palm sugar used. Fret not though, vegetarians can also easily find good Melaka tasting treats and hawker styled food in Melaka. Places like The Botanist or Kampung Café Vege offers excellent fare.


We drove along the Klebang area as it was then known as the new commercial belt after Melaka Raya. We did pass the beach front and the famous coconut shake stall which we did not bother to stop after seeing a ridiculously long queue. The draw is actually coconut water, coconut flesh and vanilla ice cream and ice cubes blended together to form a sort of frappe.


We left Melaka using the smaller roads as we headed towards the Freeport Outlets in A Famosa. After a quick stopover to see what the place was all about, which to be honest we would not return as it was a waste of time; we headed back to Subang Jaya. We would say that the best part of the first road trip for 2023 was about touching the towns of Seremban in Negri Sembilan, Tangkak and Muar in Johor before hitting the historical city of Melaka.


Melaka has truly prospered with the opening of tourism and has indeed improved herself in keeping historical tourism as the main stay of attraction. It is hopeful that the Government start to pay more attention into overzealous modern buildings turning into white elephants.


In my next article, I will bring you our second road trip. We would head north on the west coast of the Peninsula, through the small roads and new highways leading up to Pangkor.


God bless and Have a Blessed Easter!