On the surface, Malacca appears to be a great destination for us. Despite not being a large city, there are a lot of things to see and do. The historic downtown area is a UNESCO Heritage Site. It has a lively weekend night market. There are a ton of museums. But it seemed like there was always something a little bit off. Despite staying for a month, we were never able to settle into a local living groove and couldn’t wait to leave.
Historic downtown Malacca is filled with dozens of museums. Maybe it’s due to the fact that there are so many, but most of them seem to leave something to be desired. A lot of them are pretty small, which means the interesting parts (to me) were even smaller. Some of them are poorly laid out and hard to follow. It also seems like they all use creepy mannequins in one form or another. Or maybe they just suffer in comparison to the House of Museums. Despite the generic name and unassuming storefront, this private museum is the best Malacca has to offer.
Rolling through the heart of Malacca is the Malacca River. This waterway is one of the main features that has made Malacca, Malaysia a significant trading port throughout history. It narrows near downtown providing a strategic defensive position and there are remnants of antique walls and forts in multiple spots in the area. While no longer needed for defense, the river is still important to the current economy. It’s become a main tourist draw as the city transformed the banks into a renowned riverwalk. Most of the street art in Malacca can be found hugging the river as well. The combination of a traffic-free path and colorful artistry makes this riverwalk a wonderful spot to stroll.
In the financial world, front-loading means to invest a large sum early instead of spacing it out over time. (Not to be confused with a front-end load, which is a fee charged by some mutual funds that I would never invest in.) For example, I could front-load my IRA contributions by investing the $6000 maximum in January each year as opposed to contributing $500 per month. Or I could front-load my 401k by contributing more than $1583 per month, reaching the $19,000 yearly maximum before the end of December.
On each side of the river that meanders through downtown Malacca is a nice walking path. Scattered amongst the cafes, restaurants, and street art that adorn this walkway are signs with public service announcements. These offer encouragement for people to be healthy and active by touting the benefits of walking. I’ve learned that by walking only a few times a week, I can avoid diabetes, heart disease, and even mental decline. While the claims made by these banners might be a bit overstated, they serve as a good reminder to continue to take care of my health. After all, I’m not on vacation here. This is my regular life, and while it may be exotic, it still comes with all of the same requirements for healthy living. It had been 6 months since my last dental checkup, so I booked an appointment for my first cleaning while living abroad.
We decided to slow our travel speed in Malaysia and our first extended stay was in Penang. The main reason we wanted to stay longer per location is when it came time to leave previous stops, we simply weren’t ready. In this case, staying twice as long didn’t work any better. At the end of our four weeks, we still didn’t want to leave! We had so much fun wandering around Penang while soaking in the art and architecture. We liked our local neighborhood and loved our time in George Town.
Since our travels have no defined end date, it’s not always easy to decide how long to stay in one spot. Being able to take our time and thoroughly explore our destination is one of the best parts of slow travel. It’s a luxury that we rarely experienced during our working years and we don’t want to take it for granted. Conversely, staying too long in any one area means that we could end up bored. After all, not every place has a lot to see or do. One of the easiest solutions to keep things fresh and interesting is to simply change locations. The first few days in a new spot are always exciting. But even for us globetrotters, the actual act of travel is still no fun. So how do we strike the proper balance?
In yesterday’s Penang Street Art post, I focused mostly on the official Penang street art scene. Many of those images are found on t-shirts, bags, postcards, and anything else an entrepreneur can sell to a tourist. While those are fun, I also want to show you some of the less publicized pieces. Much of this art would be hard to find if you only spent a day or two here. But since I’m in the enviable position of being able to spend 4 weeks, I’ve been able to get off the standard walking tour path and explore the Penang street art underbelly.
It’s everywhere! The Penang street art scene is thriving and the creative and playful atmosphere can be felt throughout George Town. It wasn’t that long ago that the colonial architecture was the main draw to this island. While a lot of the art feels old, most of the iconic pieces debuted in 2012. Since then, Penang street art has exploded in both quantity and popularity. And while I am really enjoying the architecture, I can safely say that the street art is the number one reason to visit.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been wandering around George Town on the island of Penang. It’s an absolute joy to walk through and it’s no wonder why this whole area was named a UNESCO Heritage Site. Everywhere I look I’m finding a beautiful scene. The historical architecture that remains from the colonial era provides a feeling of stepping back in time. It’s scattered everywhere throughout the city and while not all of the buildings are in pristine condition, that just adds to the charm.