In Search of St. Patrick's Day
Trip Start Jan 22, 2011
26Trip End Mar 28, 2011
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I broke down and decided to go the tourist route today. Having already seen much of Chinatown, I started in Dutch Square (of course). In addition to the big red church and fountain, Dutch Square is where all of the trishaws congregate. Right about now you're probably picturing the pedicabs gathered at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park. Don't. Trishaws in Melaka are incomparable. First of all they're all dressed up: flowers, pinwheels, lights, logos, pictures of family members... you name it, chances are someone has it attached to a trishaw. But what really sets these apart is the music. There are huge speakers in the back and when you hire one you get your own soundtrack to cruise the streets by. Consider the previously mentioned Melaka musical selections (Justin Bieber, Bon Jovi and a crazy cover of My Heart Will Go On) and you get a pretty good idea of the music blasting through the streets. And it's even more of circus at night when they've got their strings of multi-colored lights blinking.
After Dutch Square (where I successfully resisted the urge to hire a trishaw) it was up to St. Paul's Church which was built back in the 1500's.
Then there was the music of St. Paul's Church - well kind of. Even better than this fantastic version of Let it Be might be the kid dressed in black who wanders into the shot. He. Looks. Horrified.
When my ears stopped bleeding I headed back to Chinatown. If I haven't already mentioned it, it's hot in Melaka. And not just hot, go back and chill in your air conditioned room in the middle of the day hot. So Bukit St. Paul was followed by a little chill out time back at the 30 ringget inn.
The owner's son was hanging out with one of his friends in the common room downstairs so I figured I'd see if they had any suggestions for dinner. Turned out they were meeting a couple more friends and heading to one of their favorite restaurants. And guess who was going with them.
It was easily the best tandoori and naan I've ever had. And certainly the best I've had in a parking lot. Now, there was an actual restaurant but it was absolutely packed so they they took about 30 plastic tables and set them up in a strip mall parking lot. Our table was conveniently located in front of the 7-11 - a choice location considering we could have been in front of the exposed drain pipes.
After so much success on the restaurant front I decided to address the upcoming holiday. What did Melaka do for St. Patrick's Day? The general response of, "What's St. Patrick's Day?" didn't have me overly optimistic. But I was much more encouraged by the reaction when I told them you wear green and drink.
Yes, St. Patrick's Day would be coming to Melaka.
We discussed the specifics over a few drinks on the back deck of the 30 ringget inn. A parade was ruled out when it was determined that it would consist solely of me walking down Jonker singing U2 songs. However the wearing green and drinking part was a go. Now we just had to figure out where.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16
With my days in Melaka running down it was time to figure out my next move. The plan was to take the bus to Penang on Friday morning. I was sure that such a bus existed but couldn't find any information about getting a ticket. So for lack of a better idea, it was back to the hop on / hop off / local bus to Melaka Sentral to investigate. Since I hadn't seen the bus tooling around town at all I went to the stop at Dutch Square. That was a mistake. Dutch Square was stop number four or five on the route. Melaka Sentral was stop number 20-something. A little over an hour later I had heard the Malaysian cover of My Heart Will Go On three times, seen pretty much every square inch of Melaka
Bus ticket in hand, it was time to find a place to stay. And just like that, the 30 ringget inn would be replaced by a 60 ringget inn right at the edge of George Town.
I spent the rest of the day wandering through Chinatown. After lunch I stumbled across a secondhand bookshop and picked up something for the seven-plus hour ride to Penang. They also sold records, or more accurately, record. If you like Madness, this is your place. If you're looking for something else? Not so much.
From there it was on to the Orangutan House (where I met the artist Charles Cham), a t-shirt shop (where I found quite possibly the best t-shirt ever) and finally an alley where a guy was trying to sell some machetes to a couple of women.
THURSDAY, MARCH 17
While everyone else was working, I set out in search of a home for our St. Patrick's Day shenanigans. There were Guinness awnings all over the town which I took that as a good sign but unfortunately none of the places seemed geared up for St. Patty's Day.
Having no luck in Chinatown I ventured out to the area by the mall.
Um... okay. We were on the right trail.
And then I hit pay dirt off an alley down by the water. Yes, Melaka had an Irish pub and it was ready to go.
Teng, Colin and I got an early start at Buy 1 Free 2. Problem was neither of them was wearing any green - a very important part of the whole 'wear green and drink' concept. No worries though... free t-shirts courtesy of Buy One. Free two.
After that it was over to the Irish pub. It was certainly Irish by name... and they had the green going but they seemed a little unsure of the whole Irish thing. The walls were covered with pictures and posters of Elvis, the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Bob Marley, Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba. Still, there was green and Guinness and there was going to be a band so we had a winner.
We were joined a bit later by the rest of the group - and by then the entire place seemed to think I was Irish. Then again they thought The Bee Gees, Jessica Alba and Bob Marley were Irish so... Anyway, it was time for some traditional Irish music.
Except here on St. Patrick's Day traditional Irish music includes "We Are the World", "Centerfield", "I Shot the Sheriff" and "Born to be Wild." And remarkably that didn't even tip the scale on the bizarre music front because once the band packed up, there was this... please, please, please click on the picture below to play the video.
Apparently in Melaka it all comes back to Bon Jovi.