Sunday, 20 September 2009
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.
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.
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!
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Sun-kissed beaches, swaying coconut trees and crystal clear waters - it's Pulau Redang, a scenic island off Kuala Terengganu on the East Coast of Malaysian Peninsula. Right when we stepped onto the island, I knew we made the right choice of destination for our open water diving course. (Yeah, we're now certified open water divers!)
Five feet seven inches tall. A member of a carbon-based bipedal life form descended from an ape.
He believes the cosmos has grand plans for him but whatever his calling is, it has not yet been revealed to him. So in the meantime, he spends the day working as a software developer, and whatever free time that is left, reading books. He attempted reading the bible a couple of times but could not as much as finish the first chapter of Genesis. He will continue again, one day.
He loves his camera as much as he loves his books. He picked up photography when he was studying in Japan. But now that he has started working, he can no longer spend as much time for photography as he used to. He is making a small amount of side income from his hobby and hopes to spend more time shooting again.
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