Melaka's Ugly Cousin
Muar Travel Blog› entry 359 of 366 › view all entries
Muar, resting just south of Melaka (Malacca) in northern Johor, is a historical town (small city?) that has been largely forgotten and relegated to the "no reason to go here" category unless it is your home town. You won't pass it on the highways and, most likely, you won't arrive here on the ferry from Duami (in rural Riau, Sumatra). But it's an interesting place to check out...spend a few hours wandering the streets.
Muar dates back to around the same time as Melaka and figures prominently (though not always by name) in the legends associated with Melaka and its Who's Who list of characters. Not surprisingly, large sections of Muar look like Melaka...only not as grand. There is no pink church; there are no "Portuguese-descendent" communities (that I know of); no observation wheels; no sound and light shows (do they even do that anymore in Melaka?); and even though Melaka isn't known for its size, it is much bigger than Muar. Still, Muar has a lot of Melaka's charm. There are a number of old houses and shop lots around the town center. The admin buildings are in classic colonial architecture. And the river is wide...helping to give the town some variation from the small little rivers-cum-creeks-cum-gutters that populate many of Malaysia's other cities.
Its condensed size gives the impression that traffic is hellish. It is challenging to cross the streets in town, but walking down the road is well worth the trouble. There are a number of hawker stalls that set up around town. Muar is, after all, known for its versions of a number of popular dishes. Many of the historical buildings also have their dates of establishment printed right on the wall.
As for its modernity...well, there are more comfortable places to go in Malaysia for that. But still, there are, at my count, at least 3 KFCs in the city center as well as a number of other chains. Malls...eh, again, you'll find better options in other cities. But I did notice some good sales at least. Hehehe! The bus terminal is right along the river in the center of town, making it very easy to get around on foot once you have arrived (RM16 from KL, 2+ hrs). I'm not sure I would come back here in any hurry, but I am glad I went and saw it with my own eyes.