The swim race season takes off from the starting blocks again this weekend. Jeannie and I, having spectators’ front row seats in front of our big computer screens, watching Laura (1) and Millikin university swimming team race; will be upping the ante in our “Go Laura GO!” cheering campaign this year.
Watching a sport live on a big tv screen is nothing new. In 1999; we were at the Sepang Petronas Formula 1 race. In that race, we got to see Michael Schumacher (2), Mika Hakkinen, Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barichello race.
That whole weekend was an enormous fanfare of excitement. Jeannie and I pitched our place on the small hillside at the last few corners of the racetrack at the back of the grandstand. We laid out a mat and used two large umbrellas to shield us from the blazing sun. We enjoyed the aerial display of the Malaysian air force’s F-18 Hornets, Mikoyan Mig-29s and Sukhoi SU-30s. Simply outstanding. There was a race of wannabe racers in Proton Satrias. Then, followed a motor parade of the Formula 1 drivers taken around in vintage cars for a lap round the track.
Malaysia’s hosting of the first Formula 1 race took place after that. It started with the formation lap where all the cars did a lap around the track with the safety car leading in front. Then, they took position on the grid. The 5 starter lights went out and the race began.
Soon the cars made way around the track and came up to our section where we were sitting. We knew they were coming because their engines were so loud that they muted the sound of thunder. They were gone like a flash in the pan, all in a brief few seconds. Then, we had to watch the rest of the lap on big monitor screens until the cars came up in front of us the next lap and all the following laps until the end of the race.
It was a 56 lap race. So, if the cars were in front of us for about 5 seconds, it would have meant that we got to see the cars live in action for 5 seconds x 56 laps = 280 seconds or 4 minutes 40 seconds only. That was the last time we watched the race at the track. Needless to say, the 4 hour traffic jam getting out of there, helped cement our decision.
The weather which threatened with rain clouds to wet the whole of Petaling Jaya in the morning, looked like it was clearing up quickly as we started our journey south of the border (♪♪South of the border, down Mexico way♪♪ – remember that old song?) of Selangor to Malacca.
The drive on the highway was smooth, despite fairly heavy traffic. Our ride was in our friend’s Porsche Macan. The car was powerful, fast but the ride was very firm, so much so that the step count on my Samsung Watch 4 Classic read every tiny bump as a step walked. The firmness is expected of this sports car.
We entered Malacca through Alor Gajah and was in the city centre in no time. We came to Malacca to have authentic Portuguese food. So, where do we get authentic Portuguese food? Why, the Portuguese Settlement, also known as St John’s village; of course. The Portuguese Settlement is home to the “Kristang” people, more popularly know as the Malacca Eurasians. We made our way there in no time at all.
A huge disappointment. At 1.30pm, all the restaurants were closed; the earliest was only going to open at 4.00pm. It might have been their “siesta” time. We wondered if they followed the habits / traditions of Portugal and Spain. (3).
We asked a lady who was outside her house just next to the “Portuguese Square” where we could find authentic Portuguese food for lunch. The Portuguese Square is a building in the Portuguese Settlement. This “square”, houses shops all round the square perimeter of the building; the centre of it is where cultural shows are performed, with patrons of these restaurants and shops sitting at tables there to watch these shows.
We were famished as we had worked up an appetite all the way down to Malacca. The lady whose name was Ann, directed us to go to the end of a road, two roads behind where we were now. “You go to the last house at the end of the road and say Ann sent you”. We asked if it was far from where we were now. She said the exercise will do us good, that we can’t drive there as the roads were too narrow.
So, off we went, in the hot, blazing Malacca sun. It was not that far, we reached there in about ten minutes.
Tommy Savage (that is his real name) and his sister, Jenny (4); greeted us when they saw us and invited us in their home. In typical Kristang / Malaccan Portuguese Eurasian fashion; they went into overdrive with excitement and friendliness. They were in the business of selling pickles. They brought out mango, fish and fish roe pickles; all going for RM15 per bottle, cinchalok (5) and home made wine.
Jeannie and our friend sampled the fish roe pickles and before I could say anything, Tommy poured a glass of the homemade wine for me to try. I tried to say “no” but the glass was shoved in my hand and he said, You must try”. I drank it. It was fruity with some amount of alcohol. Jeannie tried some, too. Made from “pulut hitam” or black glutinous rice. The taste was quite nice and light. They did not have any of the wine to sell as the stock they had was being shipped to Johor (the southern most state of Peninsula Malaysia).
Tommy and his family were very gracious. They even took us of a short tour of their long house, which seemed to be 2 or 3 houses joined together. They had many dogs all around the house. Tommy said it was a necessary security as theirs was the last house before some open land filled with tall grass and then the sea. Their family have owned that land for hundreds of years.
We bought some bottles of pickles and a bottle of cincalok, then, made our way back to the SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle).
By now, we had given up on the idea of Portuguese food and decided on some nyonya food. Jeannie knew of a restaurant that served some of the best nyonya food in Malacca. Opposite the entrance into the Portuguese Settlement, is a little shack-like restaurant that is rumoured to serve the best nasi lemak in Malacca. But it opens only from 4pm – 7pm, daily. We’ve been there once before with Laura, when she was in Malacca to compete in one of the national swimming championships.
We headed to “Nancy’s Kitchen” – the restaurant which was just a few kilometers away. When we arrived there, the restaurant had a long waiting queue. We were not going to wait and started walking to other restaurants around the area.
We came to this restaurant called “Face to Face Noodle House” (6), that served freshly made Sarawak conlo mee. Simply delicious. This restaurant is a few doors away from Nancy’s Kitchen.
Every ingredient in the meals served, seemed to be well balanced. We enjoyed lunch. It was worth the trip to Malacca.
After lunch, we went back to Nancy’s Kitchen to buy nyonya cookies.
Then, we did a short “ronda-ronda” of the famous Jonker Street (Malaysians like to go to all those famous famous places and restaurants. Don’t know how they became famous but if someone said so, then must be true “lah” (7) ). We visited all the surrounding attraction sites, stopping by at several more shops along the way to buy more cookies and snacks.
We started our journey back home at nearly 4.00pm, feeling satisfied that we got some good food. The irony of going to Malacca and having Sarawak food. Malacca is an interesting place for great food, a good getaway for relaxation and lots of sight-seeing activities.
As for The Porsche Macan, priced above the budget of most. Should you get one if you had the money? If you want brand, then yes. Porsche is race bred. Explains the very firm ride. If you are a young family, you may look at other options with a more comfortable ride.
This Saturday morning (today), Jeannie and I will be going up North-West to a town for an often talked-about, famous (that “famous” word again) curry laksa. Stay tuned for a write up on it.
- Laura Kristen Atkinson, a state swimmer for Selangor, Malaysia before relocating abroad for her tertiary education.
- Michael Shumacher did not win that race. He won his 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th world titles from the following year onwards.
- Paolo Pinto, Few people in Portugal actually take a «sesta» (siesta is a spanish word). When they do, it’s after lunch, some time between 1 and 3 pm. Unlike Spain, where shops and businesses usually close in the early afternoon, in Portugal lunchtime is short and there is no time for a nap, even in the hottest months. April 12th, Quora
- Jenny Savage, Tel: +60142651989; Portuguese Settlement, Malacca, Malaysia
- Cincalok or “cencaluk” is a Malay dish that originated in Malacca, Malaysia, consumed by Malay, Peranakan and Kristang. It can trace it origin during Portuguese occupation of Malacca. In Malacca, the shrimp is called udang geragau. This dish made up of fermented small shrimps or krill. It is usually served as a condiment together with chillis, shallots and lime juice. The shrimp in the pinkish coloured cincalok are readily identifiable and the taste is salty.
- Face to Face Noodle House, No. 26, Jalan Kota Laksamana 3/7, Section 3, Taman Kota Laksamana, 72500 Malacca
- “Lah” Truly Malaysian.