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WALLS WITH A STORY Malaccaâ€™s picturesque streets and psychedelic murals mirror its past and present
Photographed by Bryan Arevalo Modeled by Ira Saif Art Direction by Adrian Carlo Velasco Assisted by June David With the cooperation of Malaysia Tourism Board and Malaysian Airlines
ecently the Travelife team traveled across Malaysia on an incredible journey of discovery. Our third stop was at the UNESCO World Heritage city of Malacca, and by this time we did not want to leave anymore. Malacca is a true Malaysian city with a multitude of hues and flavors, and a unique charm evoked by its historic landmarks, heritage streets, quaint shophouses, and iconic eateries. But what amazed us most is how history remains alive in Malaccaâ€™s every day life.
The historic Melaka River, a vital trading post in the 15th century Malacca Sultanate, unifies both past and present Malacca society. The city was born within this river, as a palace was built on its eastern bank. The river became so iconic that Malacca became known as the â€œVenice of the East.â€? Today, colorful murals along the river park tell the story of Malacca via scenes from the golden age of the Sultanate. Meanwhile, a night river cruise transports travelers to a whole new dimension of Malacca: one with an edgy, artistic vibe. The riverside is lined with pubs, restaurants, hotels and lodges, and the living museum of traditional Malay houses in Kampung Morten.
PORTA DE SANTIAGO Porta de Santiago is the only remnant of the old Portugese fort A Famosa on Jalan Kota within St. Paulâ€™s Hill. It represents Malaccaâ€™s colonial history as it has been passed from the Portuguese to the Dutch and then the English. When the Portuguese defeated the Malacca Sultanate in 1511, A Famosa was built around the hills as the city was expected to become a significant port along the Spice Route. From a fortress with four major towers, only one gate remains today via the largesse of Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore, who fought for this small gate to be spared from destruction.
THE MAJESTIC MALACCA Even its most celebrated boutique hotel, The Majestic Malacca, has a rich and colorful history. The restored 1920s mansion, built by a wealthy Chinese businessman who then lost his entire fortune to gambling, was also once a backpackersâ€™ lodge before becoming a luxury hotel. Entering the original house, with its porcelain floors and teakwood carvings. transports you to decades past. Its signature spa, The Spa Village Malacca, preserves Peranakan culture through its BabaNyonya healing methods.
DUTCH SQUARE The Dutch Square is the most central spot in the heritage city. A beautiful garden centerpiece brings life to the square with the Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower, built in 1886, complementing its flowers. Everything is in old rose from the clock tower to the nearby Stadhuys and Christ Church, the oldest protestant church in the country.
COLORS The Travelife team imbibes the history and spirit of Malaysiaâ€™s multicultural capital, Malacca
Photographed by Bryan Arevalo and Christine Cunanan With the cooperation of the Malaysia Tourism Board and Malaysia Airlines
alacca attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world with its multicultural heritage and flavors of food, costumes, and architecture. It has become Malaysiaâ€™s destination hot spot because of its accessibility and excellent variety of attractions. During our three-day visit around Malaysiaâ€™s smallest state, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2008, we experienced the life of the sultans of Melaka, the Straits Chinese, the Indians, the Siamese and the Indonesians. We also witnessed the evolution of Malacca from quaint town to urban center with a hip vibe, and yet with Malaysiaâ€™s most well preserved heritage city. The streets of Malacca are like pages from a history book that have come alive.
BEGINNINGS Malays first occupied Malacca when it was a fishing village. It was later founded by the last Raja of Singapura (now known as Singapore), Parameswara, before the colonization of the Majapahit in 1377. In 1400, he discovered a port that enabled ships to pass through in any season. The port soon expanded to its neighboring areas and became Malacca. The naming of Malacca is still considered a legend. Some believe that Parameswara named his kingdom after a melaka (Indian gooseberry) tree where he took the falling of his dog into the river as a good sign of the strong being defeated by the powerless. Others say that Malacca got its name from the Arabic word Malakat which means market since Malacca was a market for merchants all over the region during the 14th century.
MALAYSIA PERANAKAN PRIDE Peranakan culture evolved in Malacca. The mixture of cultures occured when Chinese merchants and miners entered into marriages with the Malay natives. Together these new families created a culture that was both Chinese and Malay. A visit to the back to Malaysian
Baba and Nyonya Peranakan Museum is a trip this gracious era of fine living for Chinesemerchant families who grew wealthy on trade. This museum on Heeren Street (now known as Tun Cheng Lock Street) is still a traditional Peranakan home and many of the items from generations past are on exhibit. Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia dating back to the 1600s. Aside from being a spiritual site, Cheng Hoon Teng also became the main office and court of justice of the Kapitans: Chan Lak Kua, Li Wei King, and Chua Su Cheong. Unlike other temples which are guarded by door gods, the Eight Immortals watch over this sacred temple.
COLONIAL TREASURES Within the same area where a Portuguese church once stood, Christ Church, the oldest protestant Church in Malaysia, was built between 1741 and 1753. You can still see the Dutch gravestones on the floor. Meanwhile the Dutch Square was built around Christ Church and the Stadhuys. Here you will find the Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower, which was built in 1886, and the Stadhuys, which is a replica of the original Staduis in Hoorn, Netherlands. The entire square is truly magical with its old-rose color from the colonial buildings to its central garden. It’s like stepping inside a Walt Disney fairytale. Malacca’s Islamic population are not to be forgotten. The Muslim majority of Malaysia pay homage at the Masjid Kampung Hulu, built in 1728 and considered one the oldest working temples in Malacca. Visitors are amazed by its fusion of Chinese, Javanese, and Arabian architecture. The Muzium Budaya (Sultanate Palace), however, a rebuilding of the Sultan’s palace in 1985, is located just down the hill.
MUSEUM HOPPING Malacca is rich with historical sites and museums so there’s something for everyone in Malacca. At the top of one’s shortlist should be the Malay and Islamic World Museum and the Muzium Rakyat. Malacca is also home to the world renowned Stamp Museum located on Jalan Kota, which features stamps with historical and artistic value.
for Malaysian children to view photographs of the country’s past and present leaders, documents and other items of interest to Malaysian youth. On its second level is an art gallery where visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Dutch Square.
TRAVELER’S PARADISE Malacca’s Chinatown is a traveler’s haven with its winding streets, and wide array of local kiosks and shops offering local curios and Melakan delicacies. On Jonker Street and Heeren Street, located west of the Malacca River, you will discover Malacca’s unique culture preserved via its heritage houses, shrines, and boutiques. Don’t miss out on Harmony Street while you’re there; it got its name because of the profusion of religious houses along it, including the Cheng Hoon Teng Chinese temple, Sri Poyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Hindu Temple, and Kampung Kling Mosque. The street represents Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, respectively, the primary beliefs in Malaysia, and they coexist happily. Malacca’s special magic leaves a mark on every traveler, no matter how jaded. n
For the young traveler, the Youth Museum presents the significance of the youth in society. A former school turned into a museum, it is a site APRIL-MAY 2012
MALAYSIA NEGERI SEMBILAN
NEED TO KNOW
Malacca or Melaka in Malay, one of the smallest Malaysian states, lies 150 kilometers southeast of the Malaysian Peninsula and is near the Straits of Malacca; dubbed as The Historic State for many remnants of the early century Sultan reigns to the European colonization are still present; its unique landmarks, ancient buildings and cultural sights were recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Site for its richness and beauty.
LUBOK CHINA KUALA LINGGI
TRAVELER’S CHECKLIST VISA REQUIREMENTS Malaysia tourist visa is not required for citizens of Philippines for a stay of up to 30 days. For other inquiries, visit the Embassy of Malaysia located at the 29th & 30th Floor of World Center Building, 330 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines; Tel. (63) (2) 864 0761 to 68. www.kln.gov.my CURRENT EXCHANGE RATE 1 US$ = 3.0359 Malaysian Ringgit TIME DIFFERENCE Malacca, Malaysia is in the same time zone as the Philippines. PHILIPPINE EMBASSY IN MALAYSIA No. 1 Changkat Kia Peng, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Tel No.: (603) 2148-9989 / 2148-4233 / 2148-4682 Fax no.: (603) 2148-3576
AYER MOLEK UMBAI
STRAITS OF MALACCA
as shown on its architectural designs blending well with its historical surroundings.88, Jalan Kota Laksamana 75200 Melaka, Malaysia Tel. (60) 6 289 6888; www.casadelrio-melaka.com THE MAJESTIC MALACCA The enticing interiors integrating modern design with antiquity, beams at The Majestic Malacca in honor of the rich historic region from original porcelain flooring, teakwood fittings, delicate Nyonya cuisine, and cozy furnishings in each room. It is also home to the world’s only spa that uses healing therapies of the Baba-Nyonya (Peranakan Culture), providing rest, recuperation and rejuvenation for every wanting guest. 188 JalanBunga Raya,75100 Melaka, Malaysia Tel. (603) 2783 1000; www.majesticmalacca.com
WHERE TO EAT JONKER 88 Visit one of the best places to dine and enjoy an icy treat after all that walking under the sun right at the middle of Jonker street; famous for its good Baba and Nyonya dishes, this self-proclaimed museum café displays artifacts and antiques for a more in depth cultural experience of Malacca. Home made chendol and Ice Kacang are among its’ well-loved treats by locals and tourists alike. www.jonker88.com
HOW TO GET THERE
Malaysia Airlines and Philippine Airlines fly daily from Manila to Kuala Lumpur. Hop on a 2-hour bus ride that travels daily to Malacca from KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) or rent a car or taxi going there.
WHEN TO GO
With a relatively higher amount of sunlight than other states in Malaysia, Malacca’s weather is hot and humid throughout the year. Temperatures generally range from 30°C to 35°C during the day and drops to 27°C to 29°C at night. The best time to visit is between September till February if you prefer a cooler weather as monsoon winds blowing in the east coast spill some rain over to the west. For a sunnier weather, travel between April to August to enjoy walking around the city – best you wear light clothes and sunglasses as the humidity can be high. Finally, to avoid large crowds and surcharge from hotels, travel during non-peak tourist seasons and avoid national holidays and festive periods.
WHERE TO STAY CASA DEL RIO MELAKA Get abundant views of the historic city resting at Casa Del Rio that offers luxurious lodging in its 66 Mediterranean style rooms complete with Peranakan flair furniture and balcony overlooking the serene Rivers of Melaka and Lago. This newest boutique hotel prides in its Portuguese heritage and unique Melaka Sultanate roots
ALOR GAJAH TANJUNG BIDARA
ELEVEN BISTRO & RESTO Steeped with Portuguese colonial mentality, Eleven utilized this unique factor to combine local Melakan dishes with Portuguese delicacies. Situated in a narrow lane at Jalan Hang Lekir off Jonker walk, this small shop house filled with contemporary abstract Asian wall art offers diners an array of appetizing seafood meals, finger foods, western dishes and set meals. www.elevenbistro.com.my HO KEE For three decades, the famous Chicken rice balls at Ho Kee shaped liked ping pong sized balls packed with a flavorful combination of butter and ginger continue to garner fans for its distinct taste and tenderness. Although the humble little shop is known for its famed chicken treat, its expanded menu charms its customers with Black Bean Soup, Lotus Root soup and Assam Fish.
THINGS TO DO DO THE TWIST. The Menara Taming Sari, a 110 meter high viewing tower offers panoramic views of its surrounding landmarks, like DataranPahlawanMegaMall, Mahkota Parade Shopping Mall, St. Paul’s Hill (A’Famosa), and the coastline. Board the air-conditioned cabin that seats 66 people and enjoy taking in the scenery as it slowly spins up and down for a 360° viewing of the Malacca region. EXPLORE THE RUINS. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Malacca is settled by early century landmarks and remnants reminiscent of the city’s origin and past. Among these attractions include the following:
KOTA A’ FAMOSA, found at the base of St. Paul’s Hill, Bandar Hilir was built by Portuguese Commander Alfonso de Albuquerque after conquering the state in 1511. What once a massive structure is now left with its landmark gate, Porta de Santiago, imposing walls, cannons and landscaped gardens for visitors to look at. THE STADTHUYS, the oldest European building in Southeast Asia residing in Dutch Square, houses several museums inside relating to the rich culture of Malacca. Located beside the Stadthuys, is Christ Church that still functions as a place of worship, and admired by tourists for its tombstones with Armenian engravings, antique pews, a brass Bible, and floor tiles that illustrate the Last Supper painting. BE ONE WITH NATURE. Experience the lush flora and fauna at Botanical Garden in Ayer Keroh that consists of a wide variety of themed parks and plant exhibits covering the 92-hectare wetland reserve area. And nearby is the Butterfly Farm housing more than 200 species of colorful butterflies, big and small along with other insects, a few mammals, birds and reptiles.
Malacca also offers young travelers many opportunities for enjoyment and discovery.
MELAKA BUTTERFLY FARM AND REPTILE SANCTUARY
This nature paradise gives children the opportunity to see over 200 colorful species of butterflies flying around. The farm is also home to snakes, crocodiles, leopards, and lizards.
MELAKA WONDERLAND AND THEME PARK
Malaysia’s newest fun-filled theme park features 16 attractions including the Tornado Chaser, Big Wave Pool, Adventure Island, and the Lazy & Crazy River, among many others. It is also surrounded by 360 hectares of forest that are perfect for families’ nature-tripping.
With over 1,200 animals, the Malacca Zoo is the second largest zoo in Malaysia. Kids will be amazed by the jungle feel this zoo offers as they will see squirrel monkeys, rhinoceros, owls, lemurs, and the famous Malayan tiger. The zoo also features a playground for kids.
This museum is housed in a replica of a Portuguese ship, the Flora de la Mar. Inside, you will see dioramas, the captain’s cabin, and ship designs. It also has maps and charts that were actually used by the Portuguese sailors. Kids will definitely love this pirate museum.
Published on Jul 2, 2013