Taking a trip over Christmas can be a wonderful way to discover how the festive season is celebrated around the world. In Malaysia, while the food might be different, it’s a delicious feast for the senses and Sandra Jones won’t forget her special Intrepid-style Christmas holiday…
“Early in the afternoon we arrived at our hotel in Melaka, and it was quickly decided that we should all go out to celebrate Christmas with lunch. We left it up to Carol, our group leader, to decide where and she organised a wonderful meal at a local restaurant that served traditional Nonya Baba cuisine.
We were all quite hungry as breakfast had been hours before, but we couldn’t possibly finish all the wonderful dishes that kept appearing on our table. I was the only vegetarian and it seemed that as many dishes were served to me as the rest of our group shared amongst themselves. All this fantastic food for a miserly 25RM, approximately $8 (€6, £5). We all agreed that it was very different to our traditional Christmas dinners at home, but very, very enjoyable!
After lunch the group wandered in different directions to enjoy the interesting sights and history of Melaka. Early evening we met up again for our included tri-shaw ride. Carol had mentioned organising something special, if we agreed to pay the Tri-shaw drivers a little extra. What a thrill it was when the beautifully decorated tri-shaws arrived, just before dark.
Carol had another unexpected surprise for each of us, red Santa hats with plaits, that we had to wear for the evening. The ‘something special’ she had negotiated was a visit to the Portuguese settlement in Melaka. Our group must have looked a strange sight as we were pedalled on our way – we certainly received many puzzled and amused looks from locals, who all responded to our “Merry Christmas” greetings and waves.
The visit to the settlement was fascinating, the senior tri-shaw driver spent some time explaining the history of Melaka and then educated us on the local herbs, which he had picked from his own garden for us to crush and smell.
Eventually we were on our way back to our hotel, still wearing red Christmas hats and still receiving amused looks from the locals. Carol tried her hardest to talk us into a special three course Christmas dinner, but most of us reneged, claiming we had eaten too much at lunchtime. We all relaxed over dinner after a busy day, enjoying Tiger Beers or the delicious fresh fruit lassies. This Christmas Day was certainly different to any other I have celebrated, but I would never have wanted to miss this great experience with a very friendly group of people!”
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* photo by Alex Leach – Intrepid Photography Competition