The kids have grown to love Melaka ever since we came here for the first time in 2017. They seem to enjoy walking in the maze of streets in the historic quarter, and keep wanting to go back every few months.

To be truthful, I don’t mind. To them running up the steps of St Paul’s Hill on the way to feed the street cats at the Dutch Graveyard is second nature. They’ve grown to know the stall operators and petty traders along the vibrant Jonker night market. They laugh at the silly demonstrations of the China-made items they probably realise can be bought online. They enjoy the street food we buy at places we’ve never been.

Some people say the town feels artificial and too commercial. I don’t necessarily disagree. Walking here feels like the entire city center is a theme park. However I can’t also dismiss it outright because there’s still a palpable feeling of being connected to history here. The atmosphere itself is different. It’s alive, light, and friendly.

Every time we return the boys find something new, all while they rejoice in the familiar. I’m happy seeing them run across Dataran Pahlawan and greeting Putih the cat near the Pirates Alive ticket booth. I’m overjoyed that a stroll through the recreation of the Palace Garden outside the Sultanate Museum brings them so much delight.

I hope that these trips fuel their memories as they grow older, that they’ll look back and remember and perhaps even bring their own families here to retrace the steps we once took. I hope the joy never changes.

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