Cuisine in Melaka


State’s first fleet of metered cabs

KUALA LUMPUR: Historical city, Malacca, has added another feather to its cap by having its first metered taxi service called 1Malaysia Cab.

Operated by Warisan Astana Sdn Bhd, the 1Malaysia Cab services started in Malacca in October last year.

It offers Malacca folk and tourists metered taxi services that can be hired via its hunting line.

Warisan Astana executive director Ismail Mahmood said there are 20 executive cabs in Malacca and their fleet are easily recognisable through the trademark blue colour codes. The cars used are Kia Optima and Toyota Innova.

Six months into its operations, Ismail said the service is well-received by both locals and tourists with a cab making an average of seven to eight trips daily.

By end of the year, Ismail said the company is targeting to increase the number of cabs to 50.

“We decided to start this taxi service as there are a lot of city taxis here that don’t use meters. They are said to be charging passengers exorbitantly, between RM15 to RM20, for a short ride from Bandar Hilir to Jonker Street. We’ve tested the system and our meter showed that the trip costs only about RM9.

“Our presence in Malacca does not threaten the livelihood of other cabbies as we focus largely on tourists. We can also ferry passengers all over the country through a packaged deal.

“We complement the city taxis as Malacca does not have executive taxi services. Besides, the public now has an option in terms of transport,” said Ismail.

1Malaysia Cab services operate on a tariff approved by the government. Ismail said the meter starts at RM6 and for every 100m it travels, there will be a 20 sen increase.

If the taxi is stationary, the meter jumps 20 sen every 20 seconds. If a passenger calls for a taxi through its hunting line, an additional RM2 will be charged.

Asked if the starting price of RM6 was steep, Ismail said: “We want passengers to try out our executive taxis because our vehicles are comfortable and spacious. We prioritise the safety of our passengers and our taxis are equipped with Global Positioning System devices and their whereabouts can be tracked.

“The GPS system also allows us to inform our passengers the taxis estimated time of arrival at their doorstep should they call for one through the hunting line. Those are our added services.

“Also, the issue of our drivers not using meters will not arise as we have installed seat sensors that activate the meter automatically. Receipts will be issued upon request,” he said.

As part of its promotional campaign to increase awareness of its service, Ismail said they’re offering a 20 per cent discount to passengers.

Warisan Astana is also working with hotels such as A’Famosa Resort in Alor Gajah and Renaissance Hotel that allow its executive taxis to be based on their premises for the use of hotel guests.

Pahlawan Mall in Bandar Hilir, he added, has also allowed Warisan Astana to have its own taxi stand in front of the complex.

On May 1, they are expected to start their services at the Malacca International Airport.

The 1Malaysia Cab is based at the Malacca International Trade Centre in Ayer Keroh. It operates from 6am to midnight daily. For a cab, call 06-2331 666.

Tourism Malaysia

Mulu Pinnacles: Nature`s Work of Art


Words by Nur Hajar Mohamed, photos by Zainal Abidin Othman

Worth the hike, just to see this!


Each year, the amazing Pinnacles lure many avid climbers, excitement seekers and curious visitors to conquer its steep slopes and view its famous razor-sharp limestone formations.

Standing magnificently midway up Gunung Api (Mount Api), The Pinnacles, one of Mulu’s proud possession, marks as an astounding example of natural art sculptured by Mother Nature through the centuries.

Although at times partially covered by passing clouds, you can see the limestone spikes towering over the lush vegetation at a height of 45m, exuding a spectacular presence. Claimed to be four times tougher than scaling Mount Kinabalu (4093m) in Sabah, many who have victoriously completed the track to the viewpoint situated at an altitude of 1175m, would agree that the hardest challenge is not the journey up but rather the walk down. 

The Pinnacles

Race Against Time

Among others, it is a race against time as the rule is to get to the vertical first ladder section, situated 2km from the starting point, by 11am.

“If we don’t get there by 11am, most people will be asked to head back to camp. This is because the walk down will take longer than the climb up and we do not want people to be caught by nightfall during descent,” explains our guide, Roy.

Flipping through the logbook at Camp 5, a stop-off point for those who wish to do the Pinnacles climb, the comments scribbled indicates the difficulty of the climb.

“Knocked my knee five times and I cried five times but after all that, being able to see the Pinnacles has made it all worth while.” Another writes, “I thought it was hard but actually its worst. But the result – the view of the spectacular Pinnacles is amazing!”

While many may suggest that the climb to reach the viewpoint requires physical strength to conquer its heights, in actual fact, mental fitness and alertness is what it truly demands.

The adventure to the viewpoint kicks off at 6.30am, after a night’s stay at Camp 5. Climbers, followed by their guides, start their ascent to the lower part of Gunung Api to the view point. Those who are still unsure of the climb can test their stamina and strength by doing the first level of the climb, which is up to the Mini Pinnacles, located at 900m. Depending on one’s fitness, the walk can take between one to one and a half hours.

At ground zero, the path up to 900m may very well appear intimidating to some. Jagged limestone formations, algae and moss-covered stones, dead tree trunks and protruding roots, are only but a few of the obstacles that await trekkers. As the path is steep, from here, climbers can gauge whether the climb, which only gets harder, is something they want to proceed doing. Come rain or shine, we have to abide by the 11am rule to the first ladder or turn back and head for camp.

In this trip, out of seven, six of us trod on. The next level is up to the 2,000m mark, which leads to the first vertical aluminium ladder that takes climbers to the last leg of the climb, before descent.
The climb from 900m to 2,000m poses new obstacles, soft ground and loose rocks. Exercise extreme caution on this path as one fall on these jagged rocks can cause quite an injury. People have been known to be sent back to camp on stretchers.
As the path gets steeper, use your hands and if must, pull yourself up by holding on tree roots or rocks. Wear a reliable and comfortable pair of gloves to assist with your climb.

The last 400m, the final leg of the climb to the viewpoint, 12 aluminium vertical ladders are fixed to rocks and trees to make the climb possible. Extra ropes are also attached at the sides of the rocks and walls for one to hold on to when going up. There is sparse vegetation at this point, with various gaps between rocks, so extreme caution is also needed here.
Once at the top, climbers are advised to soak in the spectacular sight of the Pinnacles, rest a few minutes and then make their descent. This is because the walk down usually takes longer. Take note that if it rains, the climb down will only be harder and require a longer period to finish. While the walk up will take three to four hours, the trip down can take up to five or six hours or more, depending on weather conditions. So it is a good idea to allow plenty of time for the return trip, as climbers have been caught by nightfall during their descent.
Apart from nightfall, rain also poses a problem. Unlucky for us, the clouds gave way as we headed down the last three ladders making the rocks slippery, and the ground and the ladders wet.
The wind slices through our drenched clothes, sending chills down our spines. Even a raincoat can’t save us from the weather onslaught. As warned, the descent was the hardest part of the whole journey. With the rain to worry about, we literally had to slide down some parts of the path. This resulted in torn pants, scraped knees and hands. Needless to say, it was painful.
As it gets darker, we switched on our headlights and stopped only when necessary for drinks, our knees, we could feel, were turning into jello. The stops were beginning to be a problem as each time we re-start after resting, the stabbing pain on our knees worsen.
At some parts, we had to lift our legs with our hands to go over high roots. Other parts, we had to crouch, extend our foot down and descend the jagged rocks in Sloth-motion. At this point, We decided to hum our favourite song to keep the team’s spirits up. Aptly I went for Blame It On The Rain by the infamous duo, Milli Vanilli.
The sign reads 600m. Suddenly I could see lights emerging from the slopes below. Two men in t-shirts and shorts are heading our way. It was the guides from Camp 5, who decided to come and look for us as darkness envelopes the mountain.
We felt relieved as they assisted us with our bags and guided us down the path. The stream that was once dry when we were climbing up now has water flowing through it because of the rain. I stopped in my tracks when I saw a water snake gliding by. When it was safe, the guide told me to continue until we reached the bottom.
At the camp, worried colleagues headed to the steps to check on us. Everything was fine. As we catch our breath and as our body heat evaporates through our clothes, a sign that we needed to re-hydrate ourselves and to have a shower, we just could not help but smile. Despite the gruelling and painful journey, we all knew, as it said in the book – it was all worth it.




The journey




Bridge across the river



Amazing plantation


In the middle of the mist


Camp 5

From the Mulu National Park, Camp 5 is accessible by longboat up the Melinau river to Long Litut. During dry spell when the river is shallow, it is a norm that passengers are required to alight and assist in pushing the boat through the rapids. The boat ride may take from 45 minutes up to three hours depending on the water level.

From Long Litut the boat ride is then followed by a three to four hour walk covering 8km through secondary and primary lowland rainforest. The trail is basically a simple walk on flat ground. A good portion of it being pebbled laden paths. The area near the riverine can get muddy during rainy season and may require a longer period to complete.

Aside from acting as a warm-up to the following day trip up the Pinnacle viewpoint, the walk to Camp also allows visitors to experience and enjoy the ancient yet beautiful nature that surrounds the area.

During rainy season, be aware of leeches. If one has found its way into your shoe or pants, salt water will be the best and fastest remedy to make it loosen its grip from you and fall off.
Camp 5 itself is situated next to the clear Melinau River that flows between Gunung Api (Mount Api) and Gunung Benarat (Mount Benarat). It has wooden shelters with raised sleeping floors that acts as dorms for visitors planning to stay overnight. The camp also provides facilities such as a kitchen, showers and toilets.

Across the river, feast your eyes on the majestic view of the 400m high vertical limestone cliff, which is the southwest face of Gunung Benarat. The entrance to the Tiger Cave can be viewed from the camp.
Stretching across the Melinau river from the camp is a suspension bridge that marks the starting point for the 11.7km Headhunter’s Trail.

What to Bring
3 litres of Water
Non-Slip Shoes
Headlights/ Torch Light
First Aid
Power Bars
Power Endurance Drinks



Cuisine in Melaka


Tourism Melaka is doing our first survey on the tourism products and services in Melaka.

Please take some time to participate in this survey. You can be rewarded with a Day tour from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka by Tourism Melaka.

Click here to participate in our first Tourism Melaka survey.


Cuisine in Melaka


Guests at The Majestic Malacca get a crash course on Malacca’s history through the hotel’s historical walk.

You can read about Malacca in dusty history books or take boring sightseeing tours, but if you really want to soak up the city’s history, you need to walk it. Better still if your strolling companion is a Malaccan-born and bred history nut.

On a recent trip to the Unesco World Heritage site, my family and I were guests at The Majestic Malacca, a 54-room luxurious boutique hotel owned by YTL Hotels. Majestic offers daily complimentary walks for guests led by its resident historian, Donovan Casimir Louis.

Guests thread their way through narrow alleys and five-foot ways as Louis condenses the city’s colourful pastiche of cultures and 600 years of history into the three-hour stroll. Called “The Route to Malacca’s History’’, the walk weaves through landmarks like Christ Church, built by the Dutch colonists with its two-century old handmade pews and glazed tile painting of the ‘‘Last Supper’’; the 400-year-old Stadhuys, once the administrative capital of Malacca; A Famosa, the oldest surviving European architecture in Asia; and the ruins of Santiago Bastion, the remains of a Portuguese bastion built to monitor incoming ships.

The floor tiles in Majestic Malacca’s lobby lounge are the original tiles used when the hotel was built in 1927.

The walk also showcases Malacca’s multicultural roots — the influences of Portuguese, Dutch, British, Chinese, Indian, Malay and Arab cultures are reflected in the city’s buildings, places of worship and old trades.

The Chinese mansion

On request, Louis good-naturedly improvised our walk by skipping the landmarks and focusing on old Malacca streets and the vanishing trades.

And what better way to start our history lesson than with the hotel, a mansion built in 1927 by Chinese tycoon Leong Long Man.

“In the old days, it’s common to have one wife with 15 to 20 kids so Mr Leong built this mansion to accommodate his growing family,” said Louis. Completed in 1929, the sizable mansion was handed down through generations before it was sold to businessman Lim Heng Fang in 1955. Lim converted the mansion into a hotel to cater for British planters and called it Majestic Hotel. The Majestic later evolved into a budget guesthouse until it closed its doors in 2000.

The ideal way to soak up Malacca’s incredible heritage? Put up at The Majestic Malacca and join its complementary historical walk . . .

In its heyday, in the 1950s and 1960s, the hotel hosted parties and banquets for the who’s who of Malaya, movie stars and foreign dignitaries.

“There were quite a number of drunken revelries here during that era,” said Louis smiling. “And Malacca folks still remember how in the 80s, Majestic’s kitchen served delicious chicken and pork chops.”

YTL acquired the Majestic in 2006, then restored and reopened the hotel in January 2008.

YTL has retained the original facade and unique characteristics of the house that mirrors Malacca’s multi-faceted community — the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Peranakan cultures. The louvred shutters on windows are painted in their original shade of green, and the pintu pagar or double swing doors and the original ceramic tile flooring have been restored.

“In the past, imported tiles from major port cities under Dutch rule like South India and Majorca, Spain, was one way to show prestige and they adorned the stairs, frontage of homes and floors,” explained Louis.

The hotel tries to infuse centuries-old Baba-Nyonya heritage into their products and service through nice little touches. During turn down service, for example, hotel staff leave mini bakul siah containing morsels of nyonya kuih in the guestrooms. In the past, these red-and-black or gold-gilded baskets were stuffed with oranges, kuih bakul, angpow and roast pork as dowry for Peranakan families.

Even their Spa Village based its therapies on the Peranakan heritage using remedies like Malacca palm-sugar and honey body scrub, pandan-coconut hair mask and nutmeg-rice paste for body massages.

River journey

Stepping outside Majestic, we caught a whiff of the spices sold along the shops in Jalan Bunga Raya — a stark reminder of why the strategically located ancient maritime hub was the prized trophy amongst the European colonists. Apparently, Tome Pires, a Portuguese apothecary and diplomat who came to Malacca in 1512, wrote, “whoever is Lord of Malacca has his hand on the throat of Venice.”

“One bag of peppercorn was equivalent to a bag of gold,” said Louis. “Spices were used as medicine to treat diseases in Europe like scurvy and dysentery, and to preserve meat.”

Across the road from the Majestic, a wooden walkway lines Malacca River and is part of the 4.5km stretch that has undergone a 15-year river rehabilitation project. We ambled on the boardwalk shaded by the pleasant canopy of mangrove trees. This 1km stretch of trees is what’s left of a once lush mangrove forest in Malacca.

As Louis talked about the mangrove’s ecological roles, a monitor lizard slithered past below the boardwalk.

“In my three years of doing this walk, I’ve also stumbled across basking estuarine crocodiles during the rainy months of April and December,” revealed Louis, adding that the Dutch rulers changed the morphology of the river.

“Huge waves used to topple the ships from Rotterdam and Amsterdam that were heading to the Dutch enclaves, so they changed the course of the river,’’ he explained. The river has also narrowed due to years of sedimentation.

Shophouses, from the 1870s to 1930s, line the riverbank.

“The British imposed a law that required all buildings to be constructed from bricks and terracotta tiles,” said Louis. “Interesting features are the spiral staircases dating back to the 1890s.”

Used as fire escapes, these staircases are made from hard concrete. Modern-day spiral staircases are made from steel or pre-cast cement because the old skills have been lost.

“Also, unlike other Straits settlements like Penang and Singapore, only Malacca townhouses have chimneys built in the kitchens,” Louis pointed out.

We passed a Hainanese fishing village that sat along the river. It’s a jumble of dilapidated wooden homes with zinc roofs and modest brick houses.

“Time was of the essence to bring fresh seafood back to the neighbouring market,” explained Louis. The river was the ‘highway’ of the city then. Today, the community’s livelihood still depends on fishing but now they drive or ride their motorbikes to the coasts.

“What’s unique about the community here is their strong communal spirit. They still share and observe Chinese lunar calendar activities together,” he added.

A detour took us to Kg Jawa lane, known as Coolie Street in the past. Built in the 1850s, the townhouses here sport a main door and a smaller door next to it. The smaller door leads to the servants’ quarters through a narrow alley. Apparently, concubines or second wives were also relegated to that door.

“In the days of slave trading in order to facilitate tin mining and the rubber industry, southern Chinese coolies were brought in in droves,” explained Louis. “Once they checked in with the baron in the main house, they then retreated to their quarters via the small door. When I was a kid, I was invited to a friend’s birthday party. He lived here. I knocked at the main door when I arrived. Then my friend poked his head out from the side door saying, ‘Dude, this way.’

“Turned out his mother was the second wife,” Louis told us.

Today, some of the houses on this lane have been spruced up and turned into boutique guesthouses or private homes.

Vanishing trades

Just before crossing Kg Jawa bridge, we dropped in at a clogmaker’s shop. Tucked in the corner of Lorong Jambatan, Tham Fong Lin’s small wooden shop with zinc roof and blue metal folding doors is inconspicuous and off the tourist trail. She took over the business from her late father who was a clogmaker for half a century.

“He used to make clogs out of Pulai and Jelutong wood, and the straps were made from used bicycle tyres,” said Tham, in her 50s. Now she gets the readymade clogs from a factory, varnishes and paints them before attaching plastic straps. Unlike the colourful clogs sold at Jonker Street as trinkets, Tham’s plain, red clogs are still sought after by the kampung women.

“Clogs are a Dutch influence. In the olden days, nannies would stamp their feet whenever the child start crying,” said Louis. “It seems that the ‘clack, clack’ sound of clogs could comfort the child.”

But as Louis pointed out, clogmaking is just one of the many endangered trades in Malacca, along with basket weaving, silver and blacksmithing.

“Many of the existing artisans are getting older, and the younger generations aren’t keen to take up the trade,” he added.

As we shuffled across the 300-year-old Kg Jawa bridge, Louis filled us in on the infamous “ghost bridge” of Malacca.

“During the Japanese Occupation, the secret police used to target the Chinese barons. At night, they were forced from their homes, driven into an alley and decapitated,” said Louis. “Then their heads were hung along the bridge and their bodies dumped into the river below. That was how the Japanese instilled fear and control amongst the locals.”

The Chinese painted the underside of the bridge red to appease the spirits. And even today, locals dread crossing the bridge at night, Louis added. We weren’t sure if Louis was pulling our legs but we definitely quickened our pace while crossing the bridge.

Three hours of walking had certainly worked up our appetites. We made our way to Nancy’s Kitchen on Jalan Hang Lekir to indulge in scrumptious Nyonya fare.

What a perfect way to cap off our historical amble, indeed.

o For more info, visit / Tel: (06) 289 8000

Cuisine in Melaka


If historical buildings, churches, forts and temples could talk, they would spin one heck of a story. Unfortunately, they can’t. So most of us still need well-informed and articulate guides to wax lyrical as we hop into the time machine.

Yet heritage tour is what Malacca sorely lacks.

Despite its rich history and kaleidoscopic cultures, the city doesn’t “sell” its historic walks — there are no designated historical routes, heritage maps or specially trained guides who can cater to heritage aficionados or history buffs.

“I would say about 30% of our tour guides (out of 123 registered guides in Malacca), especially the senior guides, can conduct heritage tours,” claims Zamzam Kassim, the chairman of Malacca Historic City Tourist Guides Association (MHCTGA). In 2010, tourist arrivals in Malacca topped 10.4 million. “But I think we do need to groom ‘storytellers’ who can present Malacca’s stories and run a well designed and interesting walking tour.”

Of course, most guides are good at rattling off historical facts, naming people and places but at times the information is sketchy, distorted and lacks a storyline.

The rare exception is Penang’s popular walking tours run by Penang Heritage Trust (PHT). Through their own initiative, PHT designed thematic walking tours and trained city guides to interpret George Town’s colourful heritage.

“We must admit that licensed tourist guides in our country have been interpreting heritage through different angles,” says Jimmy Leong Wie Kong, the president of Malaysian Tourist Guides Council (MTGC). But the good news is, certified heritage guides will be roaming the streets of Malacca and George Town as early as September 2011 if the Ministry of Tourism (Motour) has its way.

Motour is scheduled to launch the pilot Cultural Heritage Specialist Guides (CHSG) course in July this year. Working closely with government agencies and NGOs including the National Heritage Department, PHT, Badan Warisan Malaysia, MTGC and Association of Tourism Training Institute Malaysia (ATTIM), the Ministry is drawing up training modules for the two-week course. The course will be held in Malacca and George Town, the two cities listed under Unesco World Heritage sites. “Based on Unesco guidelines, the course will train guides to do heritage interpretation, deliver accurate information on the World Cultural Heritage site, promote conservation and involve the local communities,” explains Ivin Mercy of Motour’s Industry Development Division. “A confirmed, licensed tourist guide, with at least two years of guiding experience, is eligible to enrol for the course.”

“With the CHSG training programme, successful participants should be armed with the knowledge and skills to plan heritage walks,” adds Leong. “Planning and designating routes for heritage trails should be done by the local tourist associations who can work with other tourism-related NGOs such as Badan Warisan.”

o For more info, contact Malaysian Tourist Guides Council:; E-mail: