Sunday, October 9, 2011

Melaka, a mix

It was awfully hot yesterday, so we hung out in the cool of our (mosquito-laden) room until time to head out for dinner. We'd read over and over about a place called Pak Putra, which was purported to have the best tandoori chicken anywhere, so that was our mission. AND IT WAS GOOD. Oh my, the very best Indian food I personally have ever eaten, including in India, Vietnam, and NYC. It was a little storefront joint, but all the tables were set up in the parking lot of what was essentially a junky little strip mall. The tandoori was fired by gas, and the chicken was incredibly spicy and juicy -- it set the bar for tandoori going forward, and I'll be shocked if I ever eat any that's as good, for the rest of my life.

if you're ever in Melaka, EAT HERE
I ate a whole piece before I remembered to take a picture.
that's the tandoori, the brown barrel-looking thing. see the chicken in the glass case?? i want more, right now.
After dinner, we wandered over to the Jonker Street Night Market, with the main mission of finding ice cream because we had a sense the night market was going to be filled with more junk and plastic trinkets, and we were right. All that, plus food stalls, men demonstrating and selling things like the Vegomatic (it slices! it dices!), and a huge stage for karaoke. The singers were all elderly Chinese people, and the audience was the same. What they lacked in talent, they made up for in a stunning absence of stage presence. It was kind of flatly funny.

it's a neon, cheap, crowded junk walk.
a karaoke-er. mamee is a brand of food, some kind of noodles we think
the river has little boats going up and down, reminded me of amsterdam
enlarge this -- that's a giant ship in the distance, permanently moored there. and the giant water wheel commemorates melaka's brilliant history as a busy port
trishaws by day, all duded up for Deepavali
and beautifully, brilliantly lit at night
Melaka has historically been one of the most sought-after areas of this region. In the 14th century a Hindu prince chose it as a favored port for resupplying trade ships. It was protected by the Chinese in 1405, then dominated by the Portuguese in 1511, then the Dutch in 1641 and finally ceded to the British in 1795. It's a fascinating intermingling of peoples here.

And two more notes before we head out for the hot day. We were both eaten up by mosquitos during the night in our hotel room, though Marc got it much worse than I did. We'd removed the mosquito net from around the bed, thinking we didn't need it in our fancy hotel room. This morning there are dried bloody skid marks on the sheets and pillows indicating the deaths of several blood-full mosquitos. Tonight we'll pull the mosquito net around us, for sure. And the music here cracks me up. Last night, while we were fighting our way through the night market crowds, a kind of Musak swanky version of Killing Me Softly was playing on a loop. This morning, at breakfast, a recording of young female singer covered Stand By Me and Coldplay's Viva La Vida, on a loop. Her covers were also kinda Musak swanky. In a place with such a rich multicultural heritage, this swank is kind of disappointing. We'll see what today brings.

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