I received an invitation from a bunch of young professionals from Melaka, Malaysia to join their “A Date with Bloggers,” an event to showcasing their rich food and culture of Melaka. It’s been almost four years since my last day trip there and since I have a spare ticket to use at that time, I decided to go and possibly explore the area in a few days. From Manila, I flew to the LCCT airport, got on a Melaka bound bus. One and a half hour later, I was at Melaka Sentral. I was met by a young local organiser of the event and took me to my lodge, Sayang-Sayang Guest House which is found on the Melaka Riverside. I explored the back of the guest house and was immediately awed by the sight of the river and rows of houses filled with creative murals. I got a feeling I’m gonna like it here.
Sayang-Sayang Guest House
It was one of those shophouses turned lodging but ingeniously done. It’s a backpacker hostel, where guest should leave their footwear by the door, thread silently on the narrow hall to avoid making noise along the thin walls. Toilet and Bath is communal. If you’re not used to it, it can be shocking, but if you’re a backpacker you’ll find the rooms a bit luxurious. Beyond the sliding doors is a small loft with a living room below and a bed upstairs amusingly crammed in such a small space. No windows but good thing the air conditioner works well. One thing I do like about this guest house is, it’s well-kept and tidy but my favourite is the location and easy access to the Melaka River.
Melaka Riverside Murals
My first glimpse of the Melaka Riverside is in the evening where the lights were up at the boardwalk and the murals were dramatically lit like a spotlight. There were benches by the river and I sat for a while enjoying the scene. There’s the occasional river cruise passing by even at night. It’s great that I get to slow down in Melaka this time unlike my first visit where we were always in a hurry.
It’s hard to imagine that more than 20 years ago, this river was murky, the houses flanking the river looks drab and I even heard there’s a noticeable stench. Somehow the people here managed to rehabilitate this river, add a splash of colour on the environs, spruce up the banks with a beautiful boardwalk and attractions making it what it is today now – a popular tourist attraction. And Melaka is proud of what they have done, walking along the boardwalk, I saw a picture of how it used to look before on a certain spot. Oh how I wish we could do something like this with our Pasig River.
Melaka has always been known as a UNESCO World Heritage City and I have seen the mix of influences in its buildings, structures and food. Now I have seen the artistic side of the city. The riverside murals was just a part of it. Even on some house ruins, locals managed to put a creative touch on a decrepit structure. The Orangutan House, housing the t-shirt designs and artworks of local artist Charlie Cham is also a show stopper at a street corner near the famous Jonker Walk. I’m sure if I explored further there are a lot more to be found in hidden nooks and corners. This is the one thing I liked about Melaka, one of the cities that imbibe one’s sense of creativity.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.