Sunday, 20 September 2009

Historical Town, Melaka

Greetings from historical town, Melaka. The place which, together with my hometown Penang, was listed as UNESCO heritage sites a year ago.

Historical Town, Melaka :: Stadthuys Square
Our first destination was the Portuguese Square. Unfortunately, the place was desolated except for a few shops and a humble museum.

"Sorry there's nothing much to see in this museum, because I am the living museum," said the museum keeper, a septuagenarian who is a direct descendant of the Portuguese. He then spent more than two hours talking to us with obvious passion about the history of Melaka and problems faced by the Portuguese descendants there who are struggling to maintain their cultural identity. While the local community is eager to help promote the city as a tourism spot, funding from the government is meager. The same thing goes to Penang. It all boils down to politics. Because sadly, Malaysian political mentality is seriously stunted.

We spent one whole afternoon walking around A Famosa's vicinity. The fortress was built by the Portuguese, who conquered Melaka for more than a century after defeating Sultan Mahmud of the Melaka Sultanate in 1511. It was located under a hill, where the St Paul's Church stood.

Then in 1641, the Dutch captured the city with the help of the Sultan of Johor, a direct descendant of Sultan Mahmud. The fortress was destroyed and only part of the main gate - also Melaka's landmark - now remains. The church too, lost its roof (whether to the war or to the elements of nature, I do not know) but nevertheless, still retains its former glory.

On the other side of the hill, is another famous landmark, the Christ Church, the clock tower and the Stadthuys. These buildings, constructed by the Dutch were painted in distinct red.

Historical Town, Melaka :: Cheng Hoon Teng
Further away, in Jalan Tokong, is Cheng Hoon Teng (青云亭), the oldest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, built by a Chinese Kapitan in 1645.

Historical Town, Melaka :: Jonker Street
Our last notable stop in Melaka is Jonker Street, the heart of Melaka, with historical buildings selling curious antique goods as well as local delicacies such as cendol and ais kacang. It's probably Penangite pride but it's in my arrogant opinion that Penang cendol and ais kacang are far more superior.

But if you've the chance to drop by in Melaka, make sure you check out one of these shops and see for yourself how long they are. Melaka folks were once required to pay tax according to the size of their house. And by size, I mean the width, not the area size. Naturally, the inhabitants build their houses narrow and long. The one which we checked out is as long as 200 feet! But do ask for permission before you start wandering into the house because normally, while the front part of the building is used for family business, the other half is normally where the family lives!

2 persons flung their shoes:

Kim Huey said...

thanks for the update. I guess I will just link all the trips posts to your blog. It was awesome fun! :)

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