It was searing hot as we made our way across the narrow streets of Melaka to its famous shopping street, Jonker Walk. We’ve just had a good dose of the city’s famous chicken rice ball and mee goreng (aside from our breakfast fare from the Imperial Heritage Melaka Hotel where we were staying).
And now that its time to burn all those calories, the weather seemed hell-bent in helping us with our task.
|JALAN HANG JEBAT OR JONKER STREET IN MELAKA|
Jalan Hang Jebat, read a sign pointing to our destination. More popularly known as Jonker Street or Jonker Walk, this 500-meter stretch is arguably one of the most popular streets in Melaka.
F, our friend from the city, dropped us off near its arch and told us to simply walk. We’d see lots of things there, she said as she bade her farewell.
|STILL DEVOID OF TOURISTS DURING THE EARLY MORNING|
And indeed, Jonker Walk proved to be an eyeful. The street is the center of Melaka’s Chinatown district. It used to be the main residential area of the Chinese in Melaka after its parallel street, Heeren, where they used to reside during the Dutch Era, became a street for noblemen.
|WATCH OUT FOR MOTORISTS DURING THE DAY|
Jonker Street then became the haven for the Peranakans in Melaka. But what exactly is a Peranakan?
I first encountered the word when I visited Singapore a few years back. Apparently, it’s a mixed race of Chinese and Malay. A male Peranakan is titled Baba and his female counterpart, Nonya. Those two words would often come up on signboards across the city.
|WHAT DOES JONKER ACTUALLY MEAN?|
Before going here, I was quite curious as to what the word Jonker means. It’s kinda funny sounding to me, like a joke or something. Turns out, it has a literally noble meaning. Jonker is actually a combination of two words from the Dutch and North Germans, jong means young and herr means lord. It was a term used for royalties who hasn’t ascended to knighthood yet.
|PARKED CARS DOMINATING THE RIGHT SIDE OF JONKER STREET|
We visited Jonker Street quite early and there were only a few tourists wandering around the sidewalks at the time, checking out souvenirs and knick-knacks to bring back home. The two-lane road is quite narrow, with one side completely filled with parked cars. This is, after all, still a residential neighborhood.
|BEAUTIFUL PERANAKAN HOUSES FROM THE 1800’S|
Up close, one can see the intricate details of these 17th century houses; louvered arched windows and playful colorful tiles. Their painted timber and masonry walls were complemented by ceramic figures and friezes at their facade.
|PART OF THE WALL’S OLD PAINTING, REVEALED|
We were told by our friend that these now bare walls were once adorned by elaborate paintings, an indication of the family’s wealth back then. But during the Second World War, they were painted over to hide their status from the occupying Japanese soldiers. A few remnants of these paintings can still be seen now, as some shop owners have carefully peeled off the layers of paint to reveal their golden past.
|BESIDES SHOPPING, JONKER STREET IS ALSO FAMOUS FOR ITS FOOD|
The whole stretch of Jonker Walk has always been filled with shops during the past. It remains so until this day, as most of the ground floors of the heritage houses here have been converted into numerous stalls that sells everything from your usual tourist junks, to local food, and even rare antiques.
|SOUVENIR GALORE AT JONKER WALK|
We didn’t buy no antiques though, we were not that rich. We were however contented to get a few fridge magnets and cool shirts for our personal collection and as pasalubong to bring back home to our friends and families. It was a good thing we held off from getting them at the numerous stores in Melaka, as this place seemed to have the cheapest ones in town.
|MIDDAY AT JONKER STREET CAN GET VERY HOT|
But besides shopping, there are still a number of attractions that can be found along Jonker Walk. There are museums, temples, mausoleums, art galleries, a church and even mosques! Since we have a bit of time on our hands, we checked out the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple and the Kampung Kling Mosque, both with no entrance fees.
|A SIMILAR ARTWORK THAT’S POPULAR IN PENANG|
And as if all those attractions were not enough; at night during weekends, Jonker Street transforms into one big market place. The whole stretch of road from the area near the Dutch Square, up to its end, is closed off to motorized vehicles. During these times, tables, chairs, food carts and makeshift shopping stalls rule the road.
|OGLING AT BEAUTIFUL SHOPHOUSES AT JONKER WALK|
It was just unfortunate that we arrived in Melaka too late and needed to depart quite early to witness the evening happenings at Jonker Walk. We were told that you can hardly drop a dime here with the number of people flocking the street. Plus, there’s a really happening street food scene.
Oh well, great researcher that we were (not), we can only say next time, Jonker.
Address: Jalan Hang Jebat, Melaka, Malaysia
Contact Number: +606-2848282 | +606-2883304
Night Market: Friday to Sunday 6:00PM to 10:00PM
Hotels along Jonker Walk: Click Here
GPS Coordinates Map: 2.195033, 102.248248