Saturday, April 10, 2010

That Small Town Feeling

Originally uploaded by Taking5
One thing which struck me about Malacca was that the folks were friendly, in the sense that they sort of take an interest in you and your activities.

People want to know where you are going for dinner and like making food recommendations. Our hotelier started telling us where we should eat and one day as we were leaving the building for dinner, asked us where we were off to. Certainly in a big hotel you won't get this. It is not busy-bodyness but a genuine interest in what you are doing.  The jeweller we visited also asked the same questions. He recommended a small out-of-the-way restaurant and even offered to make a reservation for us. It was an attractive offer - when you make your reservation (a few hours in advance) you place your order. I liked that as it implies that the food is really genuine, the rempah prepared by hand just for you. But I didn't fancy his advice that we would need to tell the taxi to come back for us. Memories of the last time I was in Malacca came back to me, when we went to the Portuguese settlement for dinner not knowing that it would be half deserted and that we would need to get the restaurant owner to drive us back to our hotel. Which brings me back to my main point, that people in Malacca are friendly and helpful. (We did tip the restaurant owner for the taxi ride though).

We found that the shopkeepers were generally friendly. This picture was taken in a shop off Heeren Street, which was serving as an artist's (Stanley Ho's) studio-cum-gallery. The long low building suited him admirably, with the bright courtyards providing light for his painting.  He invited us to take more photos. 

We also visited two shops which made/sold beaded shoes, or kasut manek. One was just opposite our hotel and was run by a man, his wife and her sister. The two ladies sewed the beaded tops and he was the shoemaker who made the shoes. One sister showed us around the place. Once upon a time, their whole family had lived there. Today, the place is half in ruins, as it is too difficult to keep up and they live in the few rooms nearer the front of the house (which is the shop). But she was happy to tell us about her life there and show us her completed shoe tops. I was wondering about getting a pair made but then, it would be necessary to come back in a month or so to pick up the shoes. But would that be so terrible a thing to do? Hmmm....

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