The Chinese New Year was very much alive when we were in Melaka. An enormous Chinese water dragon, dangling over Jonker Street was spitting cold water into a small fountain to the delight of tourists and locals alike. Darkness was slowly blanketing the UNESCO World Heritage Site but Jonker Street was just starting to get a life of its own.
Jonker Street is the primary road of Melaka Chinatown. Over so many decades, this street has been famed for its row of antique shops. As the years passed, however, several restaurants and clothing outlets sprang up in the area. Today, Jonker Street is popular to travelers for it retained its old charm while offering food and crafts that are unique and truly affordable. Every Friday and Saturday, the whole street turns into a long night market where you will find everything from street food to traditional souvenir items.
It’s not easy to see why this street has always made visitors fall in love with it. Its charm lies in its history and style. At the center of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, it runs from the Tan Boon Seng Bridge across the Chinatown. It is flanked with some of the oldest heritage houses in Malaysia, built in as early as the 17th century. The buildings also boast a unique mixture of European and Asian architecture, mostly Portuguese, Dutch, and Chinese.
Jonker Street has also emerged as a popular food destination because of the number of good and interesting restaurants offering a wide array of Asian cuisines that are located here and in adjacent streets. Probably the most popular delicacy here is the Chicken Rice Ball. During lunch and dinner time, long queues at certain restaurants stretch to as long as half a block.
When it comes to souvenir shops, I especially loved the many Jonker Gallery stores that abound in the area. I love the small trinkets such as the “spices” ref magnets and other decors. I even tried their 60s iced tea and it was so good. It is available in many flavors but the one I tried was Apple+Guava. I wanted to buy an entire case of it but we figured it woud be hard to carry it around or to check it in at the airport.
Some clothing stores sell humorous statement shirts and blouses that are sure to crack up even those who are just passing by!
A Chinese Temple stands conspicuously along the streets. The Hokkien Huay Kuan Temple stands out even in the middle of a vibrant and colorful environment. Thanks to its intricately carved relief doors and pillars!
While walking around, my friends Ces and Asta and I kept hearing a clanking sound and we couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. It turned out that it was from a booth serving a local hard candy that they break into small pieces with a metal chisel-like tool and a hammer.
The highlight of our stay at Jonker was our quick food trip while walking on the way back to our hotel. There was a booth serving street food on stick and I just couldn’t help but dig in. I’m a sucker for street food! It was just a bit pricey for me. I had a stick of a chorizo-like thing and hotdog and chicken balls and I was charged over P200. But it was OK because I loved it like a love song (Cue: Selena Gomez). It was just weird for me because I still prefer my impaled foodam fried than just boiled.
We also had egg-shaped ice cream and milk tea!
We dropped by Jonker Street more than a few times in our short stay in Malacca. These small stops and the Melaka River Cruise were the highlights of our trip!