We drove 5.5 Hours from Brinchang Cameron Highlands down south to Melaka. Traffic was quite smooth other than a small delay near Kuala Lumpur. The children have grown accustomed to journey on the road by creating a sort of routine. First, they sing along to songs we save to the playlist on Apple Music, then they start observing their surroundings and make silly jokes about number plates on other vehicles. Some can be really funny! We saw Matthias’ car “MAT”, a “WTH” and funniest one was “PEE”. Then would start annoying each other and we’ll tell them to be quiet. It will then go strangely quiet and then they would somehow end up asleep. I was worried before the trip that these two would struggle with long journeys.
As we drove into the city centre of Melaka, it became quite apparent that it wasn’t the same again. Numerous hotels and eateries that have been part of Debra and my growing up years have shut for good. It was heartbreaking seeing MANY shops shuttered, buildings and entire developments abandoned. Abandoned buildings have just got to be one of the most melancholic things to look at. Here are just some of the victims the pandemic claimed….
X Emperor Hotel Melaka
X Ramada Plaza Melaka Hotel
X Equatorial Hotel Melaka
X Mahkota Hotel Melaka
X The Jetty
X Capitol Satay Celup
i’ve never seen the front door shut at this hotel. It was a very sad sight. If you zoom in, you can see weeds growing out of the building and false ceiling panels probably missing from falling off.
The entire Jetty used to be an amazing place to take a stroll, have dinner and enjoy a drink in the evening. It now lays abandoned and the authorities have since reclaimed the sea around the Jetty and sealed its fate.
For decades we visited Melaka for the long weekends, school holidays and the numerous church camps. We’ve made so many memories in Melaka that it is always a little bit of a homecoming whenever we come back to the familiar food places or hotels. So you can imagine the sombre feeling Debra and I had coming back to a very different Melaka.
The sombre feelings became something of a nightmare as we entered the Mahkota Hotel/Resorts/Apartment estate. We booked an Airbnb apartment in the estate not knowing the Hotel/Resorts have shut down and abandoned the estate. The dodgy looks are a far cry of what this place used to be. The lawn and hedges were overgrown and full of weeds, it looked like something out of a horror movie. We collected the keys from a mail box filled with junk mail and took the really dated lift up to the unit.
In the unit was when our nightmares played out. We took off our shoes and walked onto very dusty floors. The aircon had no airflow despite being set to 16 celsius and max fan speed.
We used TWO wet wipes to wipe the handle of the fridge and it was FILTHY
The mould hazard wasn’t enough. We had lamps that had exposed wires. Some Airbnb rental proprietors are just shamefully neglectful
Opened the cupboards and they were all grimy and there was an infestation of mould. This place was a health hazard. The cutlery were all oily, grimy and felt like it was left used.
The bedsheets smelt really old, had a million other people’s scents on it and you can smell it as you enter the rooms. I flipped open the blanket and someone’s long hair immediately greeted me along with a jumping insect I wasn’t able to catch. It was the last straw for me.
We made a quick decision to leave the unit immediately. We sent the hosts a message about a refund and cancellation but there was no reply. Now we were stranded. The accommodation we were supposed to stay for a week is unliveable and we had no where to stay for the night. After about close to 6 hours on the road, we had two hungry kids and tired parents. But the worst was really feeling extremely suffocated by the heat after more than two weeks in the mountains.
Back in the car we blasted the air-con and frantically searched for a new Airbnb unit but it is difficult to get anything so last minute. We decided to look for a hotel. DING DING!….the low fuel warning beep and light came on adding on heaps of anxiety. We are running out of fuel, hungry and have no place to sleep tonight.
I drove to the nearest petrol station, fuelled the car and Debra grabbed some snacks for the kids. I drove to the nearest hotel (a boutique hotel) and left the 3 of them in the car while I tried to secure accommodation. Sadly I had to walk back to deliver the news that the hotel was fully booked. It was the super long Hari Raya + Labour Day weekend. This has got to be the lowest point of our Grand Tour.
We drove to Double Tree by Hilton and tried to get a room. The staff was very helpful and gave us warm cookies after hearing about the horrible evening we’ve had. The prices unusually high because of the super peak period and last minute booking. We were advised to book online because there were better discounts but the prices didn’t differ much. It was also too overwhelming for us to register an account and fill in a plethora of information to get a booking at that point. We left Double Tree and a 3 minute ride later, we got to Holiday Inn. The staff were even more helpful, they managed to find a connecting room with exactly the sleeping arrangements we wanted. No crazy forms and without a whole load of registrations, swiped the card and off we went to our rooms. We were just thankful we didn’t have to sleep in our car that night.
Reprieve and coming back to life
We had a good night’s sleep and woke up early for breakfast in the hotel. It is rather nice to have delicious food without having to cook it or wash dishes after eating in the morning.
We braved the heat and set out for Jonker Street and Dutch Square. We saw the fortress walls, the river and had yummy Cendol/Shaved ice. (Check out a guide to our favourite food places in Melaka!) The place seems to have come back alive after restrictions were eased and many more people local and foreign have started streaming back! Even the pigeons were out in full force.
Kind of silly rocking and trying to stay balanced?
A little colonial history lesson with the kids
The river coming back to life
Matt calls it the vomiting fish fountain.
Not all the shops are back but it is enough to draw the crowds back
We didn’t last very long out in the blazing sun and almost 100% humidity. We went back to the hotel by late afternoon to rest for the day. The kids had their first swim in weeks and spent time being children. We topped up their lego sets and they were thrilled to have many more hours of open-ended fun. Debra finally found time to read her Harry Potter book that she always wanted to read but never had the opportunity to.
Me? I’m enjoying penning my memories for myself and all who read our blog! We are plotting our next moves, a revamped shop, more travels and more of the odd life.
Stay tuned for our in depth feature of 3 eateries in Melaka we MUST visit every time we come here!
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.
Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org