We had a quick getaway to Melaka this weekend since F hasn’t been before. It was also his first ever trip with the Tans and I wasn’t sure how he would take to it. He survived and I’m glad we made this trip together because it made me realise lots of things about myself, about F, about my family.
We set off early yesterday morning, with Dad at the wheel, to try and cross the causeway into Malaysia in as little traffic as possible. As usual though, there was a bit of a wait at the Malaysian immigration but we got there and made it to Melaka by about 1pm. The hotel could only check us in at 2pm at the earliest so we hopped over to Restoran Nyonya Makko for some Peranakan grub.
I find it the case that most Peranakan restaurants, especially those that are family-run, have recipes and variations of classic dishes unique to themselves. So while the variety of dishes are often alike from restaurant to restaurant, their flavours and cooking methods are not entirely identical.
Restoran Nyonya Makko’s beef rendang had a good, well-rounded flavour with a slight spicy punch. However, unlike most renditions we have tried where the beef are in large, tender chunks with their ligaments cooked down, theirs appeared leaner and pounded down.
Their otah was also less ‘lemak’, or in other words, had less of that rich coconut cream mixed into the fish paste, and their ngor hiang was fried first before being cut, rather than cut then fried, making them that bit less oily and that bit more healthy. Still, they had good flavour although Mum’s ngor hiang’s my preferred one because she adds water chestnuts in which provides more texture and crunch.
I love chap chye (braised vegetables) so I tend to be biased towards them as long as the cabbage has been braised well enough for their naturally sweet juices to be brought out.
We also ordered a portion of Ayam Buah Keluak. Well-cooked chicken in a savoury gravy and umami buah keluak. Keluak is a kind of nut that is only safe to eat after fermentation. The Peranakans usually remove the kernals after cookings and pound them into a paste, sometimes with meat, before stuffing them back into their shells. Highly addictive for some especially when eaten mixed with plain rice.
After filling our bellies, we settled into our lovely, comfy rooms in Novotel and rested a bit. F and I then went for a massage down the street. For Rm75, I had a full body oil massage while he requested for a shoulder and back massage since his shoulder area has been feeling quite strained of late. The lady that massaged me was pretty strong so I ended up having to ask her to use less strength on me but omg! It hurt so good!!
The initial plan after was to meet with Mum, Dad and Kor to go sight-see a bit and visit Jonker Night Market but a spout of heavy rain set us back a little.
It was quite a lot livelier than I expected and also a lot bigger as well. The entire stretch of Jonker Street and some of its perpendicular streets were lined with vendors on both sides selling all sorts of things, from souvenirs to hair accessories, popiah to char kway teow, smoothies to traditional drinks…
It began to shower again as we were nearing the end, so we returned nearer our hotel hoping that the restaurant we intended to dine at was still around. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. So we decided on Tim Ho Wan instead, it being right by where the other place used to be – Good enough dim sum but Imperial Treasure still takes the cake for me personally.
Anyway, back in our room, F and I had a nice talk about our day. And as we spoke, I made some realisations about myself in relation to my family. I love them a lot, Mum and Dad especially and I know that sometimes I can get a bit testy with them, or impatient. The thing is, I know how much I appreciate them and am grateful for all their love and support for me since forever, yet, I guess often being in such close proximity with them makes me forget that fact.
I remember how when I was living in London, I could spend hours on the phone with Mum during our weekly calls just talking to her about anything and everything. We still have heart-to-hearts over coffee/tea from time to time but not at the same level. And at times, I feel that having to live with them makes it difficult for me to feel a stronger sense of independence and identity. Perhaps being ‘ill’ doesn’t help the situation either so in effect, what has happened is that I’ve found myself caught in this ‘Never Never Land’ syndrome. It’s far easier to remain a child and never have to face up to responsibilities and challenges but then, what kind of life would that be? Which is why, change has to come. And when it does, I’ll reveal more perhaps, but I’ll put a snooze button on this topic for now.
Woke up to blue skies and sunshine! 🌞
Dad saw that Old Town White Coffee had special offers when we passed by yesterday so Old Town it was for breakfast. Kaya Toast with Teh O for me! The toast was really good too in terms of how well toasted and crisp it was. Definitely comparable to Ya Kun’s Kaya Toast.
We went for a quick bout of shopping as Kor’s shoes had come apart so he found himself a new pair. I, on the other hand, forgot to bring my black leggings to wear under my top. Initially, I decided to wear my pyjama shorts underneath, but as the top ended up covering them, it looked like I was wearing nothing under. It was a bit too short to be parading around Melaka in so I found a pair of black running tights for Rm49 (1/3 of the original price! Sale ftw!!) and quickly donned them on.
Shopping done, we went off to A. Formosa to climb up the fort. We snapped some pictures and read a bit about its history before we went back down to have a leisurely walk back to our hotel to prepare for check out.
Lunch before the drive home was at this Chicken Rice Ball place near our hotel called Ee Ji Ban. We had walked by numerous times since we arrived and noticed that it was almost always filled so we figured that there must be something good about it.
We had a half chicken consisting of both white and roast chicken, both of which were juicy, flavourful and cooked quite perfectly. We weren’t too thrilled by the chicken rice balls as they were more dense and sticky than the usual rice we are used to. But since we were in Melaka, we figured we might as well give them a go.
Sweet potato leaves cooked simply with garlic. F picked up on a shrimpiness within the vegetables. I think they must have cooked them with some dried shrimp to give it that extra oomph. Simply cooked but so fresh and so good.
En-route home, we stopped by this small, family-run traditional snack shop called Aun Soon. They hand make their Tau Sar Piahs and Beh Teh Sohs every morning. Even when we arrived at 1.30pm, there were two aunties and an uncle hand rolling the dough and stuffing them with filling. The smell of fresh biscuits with their savoury mung bean filling being baked wafted through their shopfront and it felt somewhat comforting. The aroma of nostalgia perhaps.
I think that it’s true what they say, “Blood is thicker than water”. This trip, though short, reminded me once more that family is family no matter what. We can annoy each other, frustrate each other, nag at each other, grumble at each other, but in the end, we love each other in a way that is unconditional. No family is perfect. But family is all we have in this world, in this life when we feel the burdens of life weigh us down. We are each others’ cheerleaders and support, protectors and role models, and we love each other in spite of our imperfections.
And because of this trip as well, I have learnt to see the kind of patience and love that F has for me. In his words and through his actions, I am healing from the ghosts of my past. And I will begin my journey back onto the path away from the darkness again because I know that he, as well as my family, will be here helping me every step of the way. I never knew that a man’s heart could love with such force, in such great magnitude, until now. And I cannot help but feel blessed that our paths crossed and intertwined.