Friday, November 26, 2010

My first trip to Melaka

Sigh.. Modern technology should make our lives easier, but instead the opposite can occur. After endless computer crashes due to a mis-installed software, I'm finally able to post this up.

I followed a group of tourists from the World Congress of Accountants to the historic city of Malacca. Its organised by tour operators to give the delegates' spouses some activities to do while they are in Malaysia (while earning some extra income, of course).

The trip was a very short one as the participants needed to return to the Convention Center by 430pm. After subtracting the 4 hours return trip, we only had approximately 4 hours in Melaka. What can you visit in Melaka in 4 hours? Read on to find out.

We were dropped off in front of a large shopping mall and made our way to...

...the Proclamation of Independence Memorial. It was built in 1912 as a clubhouse and only converted to its current use as a museum in 1985.

It was here that the father of Malaysia, the late Tunku Abd Rahman made the declaration of independence with the British government for the formation of Malaya. Of course, Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore were only included later in 1963, but that day has never been given its due recognition as the true formation of Malaysia until quite recently. Sabah is unfortunately still regarded as the poorest state of Malaysia, due to poor management of state funds and a whole host of other matters which I shall not mention here.

Of particular interest was the section which housed the history of past and present kings and queens of all the states in Malaysia. 

The Melaka Sultanate palace offers visitors a glimpse into the customs and traditions of the various royal households that ruled the state.

A Famosa. The Portugese and Dutch weren't on very good terms with each other, so whatever the Portugese built, the Dutch tore down with pleasure. This is a remnant of the once mighty Portugese fortress that guarded the city entrance.

Say 'cheese!'. As you can see, the vivid and standard picture controls from Nikon offer two different interpretations of the same scene. I prefer the vivid setting for sunny days, but its at the risk of over saturating skin tones.

Heading up the hill to St Paul's church. Its the school holidays now, hence you can see busloads of school children visiting the hill.

Our beloved minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim has recently stated that Melaka has been more proactive than Penang in promoting heritage and arts. Obviously the current Penang chief minister is not very happy with this statement. There goes another blatant statement from another minister that doesn't seem to think too much despite having an honorary degree from Multimedia University (MMU).

On first inspection, the church looks like a fortress. I suppose it was painted quite nicely in the past after it was built.

According to our tour guide, the Dutch were a little lazy to travel up the hill on a Sunday morning for mass, so they gladly took away the church roof and whatever it contained to make way for their own church at the other side of the hill. 

The church now only houses inscriptions of [presumably] influential Dutch aristocrats. We don't know where their bodies are, of course.

A splendid view of the city of Melaka from the top of the hill. You can see the Straits of Melaka in a far distance. It is still one of the narrowest, shallowest and most dangerous straits, hence not many ships like to travel through it.

The body of St Francis Xavier was once kept here until it was transferred in 1553 to Goa, India. Why is part of his right arm missing?

The Pope canonized Francis in 1614, but only upon condition that Francis' right arm be brought to Rome (this was the arm Francis used to bless his converts). The arm was detached by Pr. Gen. Claudio Acquaviva in 1614 and put on display in a silver reliquary at the church of Il Gesu in Rome. Legend says that when the arm was removed, blood flowed as freely from the wound as it had when Xavier's finger was removed.

Another view from the hill towards the east.

Heading down the hill towards Stadthuys (town hall) and Christ church.

There are heaps of trishaws here. Its one of the more unique ways to tour Melaka, albeit not a very comfortable one.

Another view of the town hall and Christ church, one of the oldest churches still in active use in Malaysia.

I had the opportunity to enter the church, but unfortunately we weren't allowed to take any pictures in it presumably because we are non paying tourists. This is a world wide phenomenon I suppose. Aren't churches supposed to receive enough fundings from their members through tithes? :s

Happy looking tourists. The lady from Arizona is quite used to the heat. I'm not sure about the other ladies from colder countries such as Ireland.

Getting ourselves seated in the trishaws. The larger tourists get a trishaw all to themselves.

And off we go towards Melaka town !

Similar to most China towns here, shophouse architecture is quite prevalent. The roads in between the shop houses are quite narrow too.

Despite having new coats of paint, along with the addition of electricity and telephone wires, some of the shop houses still retain their original character.

Some establishments have such large signboards that you can't see what the original shop house looks like.

Some happy tourists who've presumably never seen folks on a trishaw before.

The trishaws stopped us in front of Cheng Hoon Teng temple.

This temple is regarded as Malaysia's oldest traditional chinese temple. It was founded in the 1600s during the time when the Portugese still reigned in Melaka.

The temple is richly decorated with intricate designs carve and painted in gold all around.

Our guide explaining the use of sticks to determine one's fate after raying to the gods.

The sign on the archway says 'Selamat Tahun Baru Cina', or Happy Chinese New Year. I reckon they've never bothered to change the signboard out of convenience.

We visit a traditional shoe shop.

A brief explanation on the traditional practice of Chinese foot binding was given. Thankfully it is outlawed now.

Handmade shoes. Perhaps they aren't as elegant looking as today's Jimmy Choo's, but they have one essential ingredient- they're made with tender loving care (TLC) by the shoe maker.

We even had the opportunity to learn about local Malaysian herbs.

So many traditional cookies! I wish we had the opportunity to stop by and bring some back home with me.

Our last stop is a Peranakan restaurant. 

We had chicken curry, deep fried calamari, sambal prawns, stirfried vegetables and fruits. The food tastes great, albeit being priced a little on the high side for locals.

Thumbs up for a great tour in Melaka despite having only four hours.

I shall definitely return to Melaka in the future if I have another opportunity to do so.




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