Pasar Karat: Jonker Street Melaka’s Antique Collector’s Market

The term ‘Flea Market’ comes from the French marché aux puces” or “market of the fleas”, as it was believed that old furniture or items such as clothing, often sold at these bazaars, supposedly contained fleas. In Malaysia, we call our flea markets ‘pasar karat’, or ‘rusty market’ – because people often sold off their scrap metal for a cheap price, and metal rusts, hence ‘karat’. Despite the name, you can get all sorts of things at a pasar karat, ranging from antiques to vintage items, souvenirs, second-hand clothing to furniture. One man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure!

20191201_100039

The Pasar Karat at Jalan Lekir (just off Jonker Street) in Melaka is open from 9AM to 3PM on Saturdays and Sundays. If you’re in town over the weekend, this is a great place to check out ! The items on sale are mostly antiques and vintage stuff like coins, vinyl discs, old photographs, cassettes and VHS tapes, bowls and plates, home decorations, ornamental weapons and more.

20191201_100332

Even if you aren’t buying, it’s nice to see the old items on display, like these mini grandfather clocks, tea sets and classic rotary dial phones(remember those?). Feels kind of like an open-air street museum!

20191201_100434

20191201_100732

Hand-drawn and coloured postcard-sized paintings!

20191201_100813

You can buy ornamental weaponry such as keris blades. Or perhaps you fancy an abacus or an old charcoal iron?

20191201_101039

I was surprised to see some vintage posters of Chinese-communist propaganda on display as well.

The Pasar Karat at Jalan Hang Lekir is open from 9AM to 3PM on Saturdays and Sundays.

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Thanks for reading! I’m trying to grow my social media, so any likes and follows will be appreciated! You’ll also be updated on what I’m up to on a daily basis. 🙂

facebook.com/erisgoesto 

twitter.com/erisgoesto 

instagram.com/erisgoesto

 

 

 

 

 

The Daily Fix, Melaka – Jonker Street’s Most Popular Cafe

As Melaka’s Chinatown, Jonker Street is one of the city’s most popular enclaves, filled with old temples, interesting museums, attractions and cool cafes. Highly recommended is The Daily Fix, a chic establishment hidden at the back of a souvenir shop called Next KK Sdn Bhd.

20191202_094901

Walk straight to the back of the shop and emerge to an Instagrammer’s dream. The design is reminiscent of British colonial Chinese shophouses, with an inner courtyard that extends up to the second floor, allowing for plenty of natural sunlight to filter in. Earthy hues, an abundance of plants as well as cosy couches and wooden furniture make for a relaxing and casual dining ambience. There’s also a rattan swing seat.

20191202_100221

20191202_100215

The main dining area boasts warm, ambient lighting from modified lamps that feature old fans as decorative fixtures. The roof is timber, the brick walls deliberately left partially exposed for that vintage, retro vibe. Old school paraphernalia, such as clocks, weighing scales and lamps, adorn the shelves where baristas bustle about preparing coffee.

20191202_100104

More seating at the back, with a backdrop of trays sporting floral designs.

20191202_100947

The menu is a mix, with brunch dishes and light bites such as sandwiches and salad, heavier mains such as pasta, and desserts like pancakes and waffles. For drinks, there are flavoured coffees, smoothies, fruit juices and more. N and I get a Creamy Carbonara to share, as well as their Signature Salted Gula Melaka coffee.

The pasta, which has spaghetti with mushroom, chicken ham and crunchy smoked duck topped with a poached egg and shaved parmesan, is delicious. The noodles are cooked al dente, giving them a nice bite, and the sauce is creamy without being overwhelming. The beverage is excellent as well; the sweet, caramel-like intensity of the gula melaka (palm sugar) balancing out the more bitter notes of the coffee.

20191202_100421

We also get a Blueberry Cheesecake to round off the meal. It comes topped with a candied Mandarin orange, which is a nice touch. Despite being a cheesecake, the cake is surprisingly light, and is only mildly sweet.

The cafe is apparently famous for their Pandan Pancakes, but we did not try them during our visit.

20191202_100911

There’s always a long line at The Daily Fix, so we recommend coming as soon as they open (9AM – for breakfast/brunch), or mid-afternoon when the lunch crowd has thinned. Else, be prepared for a wait.  Prices average from RM18 – 25 for mains.

THE DAILY FIX 

55 Jalan Hang Jebat, Melaka
Opening Hours: 9am – 11.30pm (Mon-Fri), 8.30am – 11.30pm (Sat-Sun)

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Thanks for reading! I’m trying to grow my social media, so any likes and follows will be appreciated! You’ll also be updated on what I’m up to on a daily basis. 🙂

facebook.com/erisgoesto 

twitter.com/erisgoesto 

instagram.com/erisgoesto

 

 

 

4 Historical Spots To Visit While In Melaka

Melaka is one of Southeast Asia’s most historically rich sites. Founded by a Javanese Hindu prince in the 1400s, it thrived as a port and welcomed traders from as far as China, Arab and India. It was then conquered by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English for hundreds of years. Naturally, old structures and the influence of various cultures remain, making Melaka a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For first-timers in the city, there’s no running away from visiting four important historical hotspots. They’re all within walking distance of each other, so getting to each is just a matter of legwork. Just ready the sunscreen, shades, an umbrella and lots of water – Melaka is scorching at most times of the year.

THE RUINS OF ST PAUL’S CHURCH @ ST PAUL’S HILL 

20191201_113220

The heart of Melaka is centred around a hill (now known as St Paul’s Hill), since the high vantage point affordsgood views of the coastline (ergo, important back then to see ships + invading forces).

Perched on top of this hill are the ruins of St Paul’s Church, a Roman Catholic church built in 1521 by the Portuguese nobleman Duarte Coelho. Originally called the Nossa Senhora da Annunciada (Our Lady of the Annunciation), it was dedicated to St Mary. The church was later deeded to a Jesuit missionary called Francis Xavier, who used it as a base for his missionary trips around Southeast Asia. After his death and ascension to sainthood, his body was interred for a while at the church, before it was sent to Goa. A burial vault was also opened in the 1590s, and many Portuguese nobles and people of distinction were buried here.

20191201_113250

After the Dutch invaded in 1641, the church was re-designated as St Paul’s Church under the Dutch Reformed denomination. For a while, the Dutch community in Melaka used it as their main church, but left it abandoned after the new Christ Church was completed in 1753. Parts of the building were also taken down to help fortify defense structures around Melaka. The church building fell further into disrepair during English occupation, when it was used as a gunpowder depot.

20191201_113426

View of the Straits of Melaka from St Paul’s Hill

20191201_113719

There was a church event going on at the ruins during our visit.

The building itself is just a shell of its former self – four walls, no roof and exposed red brick, lined with elaborately carved stone grave markers. One wonders how it must have been like in its heyday, when both the Portuguese and then later the Dutch came to pray and attend religious sermons and events.

20191201_113820

20191201_114113

The stage was set up for a play later in the evening, while the open grave where St Francis Xavier’s body was once interred was littered with flower petals.

PORTA DE SANTIAGO @ A FAMOSA 

20191201_115736

When the Portuguese invaded Melaka in 1511, they established their base at the hill (now St Paul’s Hill), built a fort around it, and called it “The Famous”. The Dutch continued to use it during their occupation, but when the British came, they destroyed almost all but this last gate called the Porta de Santiago. Visitors who visit the site today will find little more than a simple gate, its brick facade blackened and weathered. Over the archway is an inscription, Anno 1670, as well as the logo of the East India Company – both additions by the Dutch. While there isn’t much by way of sights, the historical significance itself makes this place worth a visit. It is, after all, the oldest surviving European remains in Southeast Asia.

MALACCA SULTANATE PALACE MUSEUM 

20191201_120746

Just steps away from the Porta de Santiago is the Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum, a reconstruction of the old palace based on written accounts in the Sejarah Melayu, or Malay Annals. The old palace was said to have sat on the hill where St Paul’s Church is now located, but it was destroyed when Portuguese forces invaded. This modern version tries to stay as true as possible to descriptions from the Malay Annals, and was built with timber wood without the use of nails.

20191201_121630

Inside, visitors will find various exhibits detailing the history of the sultanate, as well as cultural and historical artefacts. Only the main hall is air conditioned; it is very stuffy upstairs and at the outer verandah, so it’s best to visit at a cooler time of day.

20191201_121757

The story of Hang Tuah is told here through a series of paintings.

Hang Tuah is the OG of Malay warriors and features prominently throughout Malay legends and literature, although whether or not he truly existed remains highly debated. He was apparently highly skilled in the martial arts (silat) and was an extraordinary warrior, second to none.

One of the most famous tales is the one where some ministers of the court, jealous of Hang Tuah’s standing with the Sultan, spread slander and lies about him, to which the Sultan ordered him executed. The chief minister who was tasked with this knew that Hang Tuah was innocent and instead hid him in a cave. Hearing of unjust done to his childhood friend, Hang Jebat – who after Hang Tuah was the best fighter in the land – ran amok, seeking to avenge him.

20191201_121944

It was then that the Chief Minister revealed that Hang Tuah was in fact, alive – much to the relief of the Sultan. Jebat was happy that Hang Tuah was alive, but Hang Tuah berated his friend for rebelling against the Sultan. A fight ensued that lasted for seven days, and Tuah emerged the winner after killing his friend. He continued serving Melaka, going on numerous other adventures. Yes, a rather grim ending for Jebat who was only thinking of avenging a friend whom an unjust ruler wronged – but hey, loyalty to the Sultan was paramount to anything else back in the day, even childhood friends whom you grew up with.

20191201_122241

A diorama of the Balairong Seri, or the audience reception hall where the Sultan received political dignitaries, guests and his advisors.

20191201_122542

Costumes worn by the different classes in Malaccan society, including royalty, as well as accessories and jewellery such as hair pins, brooches, belts, etc.

20191201_122610

Another diorama, this one of the Sultan’s bedchamber.

The Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum is open daily from 9AM to 5PM. Entrance is RM3 for Malaysians and RM5 for foreigners.

RED SQUARE / STADTHUYS/ CHRISTCHURCH 

20191201_112352

Last but not least, make your way to the Red Square, where you will find fire-red buildings which include a clocktower, the 18th century Dutch founded Christ Church, and the Stadthuys, which was once used as an administration building and residence for the Dutch Governor and now houses a museum of History and Ethnography. The square is a colourful place, filled with loud and gaudy-looking trishaws that blast techno music and are decorated with pop culture characters. Once the main mode of transportation around Melaka, you can now take a ride around town for a hefty RM25.

20191201_130031

If the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum detailed the history of the ancient Malay kingdom, the Stadthuys is more focused on the period between the landing of the Portuguese up until Japanese occupation in the days of World War II. Exhibits include a selection of weaponry, including swords, sabres, guns and armour, plus items from trade such as pottery, crystal glasses, silverware and the like.

20191201_130336

20191201_130532

20191201_131034

Melaka’s four conquering forces – the Portuguese (1511 – 1641), the Dutch (1641 – 1825), the British (1826 – 1942) and the Japanese (1942 – 1945).

20191201_132422

A diorama of Melaka during the Portuguese occupation. notice how the fort was still completely intact, surrounding the city.

20191201_133030

A painting depicting the captain of the Portuguese guard surrendering the keys to the city to the Dutch after the defeat of Portuguese forces.

20191201_135221

Aside from colonial history, the museum also houses exhibits on local culture and practices of the community. Pictured is a diorama of a traditional Malay-Melakan wedding. The bersanding ceremony, where the bride and groom sits on a raised dias, draws from Hindu cultural influences.

The Stadthuys is open from 9.30AM – 5.30PM daily. Entrance is RM5 for Malaysians and RM10 for foreigners.

If there’s one thing Melaka isn’t short of, it’s museums – although I can’t say they’re all impressive. If you like museum-hopping, also worth visiting is the Melaka Maritime Museum (housed in a replica of the Portuguese galleon Flor del Mar), the People’s Museum, the Stamp Museum and the Submarine Museum (housed in a decommissioned submarine by the coast), to name a few.

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Thanks for reading! I’m trying to grow my social media, so any likes and follows will be appreciated! You’ll also be updated on what I’m up to on a daily basis. 🙂

facebook.com/erisgoesto 

twitter.com/erisgoesto 

instagram.com/erisgoesto

Staying In A Capsule Hotel – Riccarton Jonkerview, Melaka

Capsule hotels were first mooted in Japan, during the economic boom of the 1980s. The concept came about as a solution for salarymen who needed a place to crash for the night after work and socialising into the wee hours of the morning. ‘Pods’ in these hotels often comprised of a basic, single bed, and perhaps a TV.

While they’re still used for this purpose today, capsule hotels have become a novelty for many travellers, especially backpackers, as they are cheap and provide a better semblance of privacy as compared to traditional shared hostels. The concept can now be found all over the world, including Malaysia.

20191201_154421

My (work) trip to Melaka was on a tight budget (the company wasn’t paying for it), so when I saw a promotion on Agoda for the Riccarton Jonkerview Cottage capsule hotel going for just RM36 per night, I snapped it up faster than Thanos. I was also curious as I had never stayed in one before. There were some hiccups at check-in, as the front desk staff was new and didn’t know what to do (her senior had to prompt her every step of the way, from asking for ID to asking for deposit payment), but nothing major.

There were lockers at the lobby where we had to store our shoes and put on house slippers, for cleanliness reasons. If you have baggage, there are larger storage lockers in the common area as well. Being the paranoid people that we were, we decided to stuff our backpacks inside the pod itself.

20191201_195658

The common area had a couple of chairs and tables + a water dispenser. Bathrooms were shared, but I have to say that everything was super clean and they had all the facilities: warm shower, shampoo, etc.

20191201_154117

Our pod was an upper one. My knees groaned in protest each time I had to climb up and down (which was fairly often to go to the toilet). I had a sudden feeling I was getting too old for this. That being said, the design was definitely interesting and unique. They looked more like space pods than anything else.

20191202_110248

The inside was surprisingly spacious, equivalent to a queen-sized bed. The mattress was thin but firm, and each pod came with a blanket, two pillows and towels. On the side of the panel was a small safe, light controls (you can switch the lights to different colours and have a rave party inside, I suppose), air conditioning control, USB plugs and a small mirror.

20191201_202044

There was an Android TV but their Wifi wasn’t working. Wi-Fi was only available at the lobby.

20191201_221112

When your s/o is more engrossed with playing games than cuddling with you. 😡

We didn’t spend that much time inside the pod since most of the day was spent exploring.

Now this has nothing to do with the comfort and cleanliness of the place and more to me being a spoiled brat, but I couldn’t sleep the entire night. I’m a light sleeper, and the sounds of the creaking (when people got up to use the bathroom, etc.) kept jolting me awake – but I guess it would have been the same if it was a hostel or shared dormitory. Being so close to the action can be a con, as there was loud music blasting away even at midnight, and the walls are thin enough that you’d hear it as if it was inside the pod.

If you’re used to staying in backpacker hostels and don’t mind the noise, the Riccarton Jonkerview Cottage Hotel is a steal. It’s also an interesting experience for anyone who has never stayed in a capsule hotel.

PROS

  • Convenient location (literally steps away from Jonker Street, close to Dutch Square)
  • Clean
  • Shower, locker facilities
  • Towels provided

CONS

  • Noisy
  • Limited parking (there is parking behind the hotel, but it’s usually full. We had to park one kilometre away).
  • No breakfast options, but there are plenty of restos and coffeeshops in the area

RICCARTON JONKERVIEW COTTAGE HOTEL 

No.3, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Taman Kota Laksamana, 76450 Melaka

Phone: 06-281 1691

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Thanks for reading! I’m trying to grow my social media, so any likes and follows will be appreciated! You’ll also be updated on what I’m up to on a daily basis. 🙂

facebook.com/erisgoesto 

twitter.com/erisgoesto 

instagram.com/erisgoesto

Mamee Jonker House : All Things Mamee @ Jonker Street, Melaka

Fun fact: I’ve never been to Jonker Street in Melaka.

I can hear the incredulous gasps. That’s like saying I went to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. It wasn’t that I wilfully ignored the place – I simply couldn’t fit it into my itinerary the last two times I was in Melaka. Well as the saying goes, third time’s the charm – and on my most recent trip to the Historical City, I finally booked a place within the Jonker Street area itself. No excuses now!

20191201_102042

Driving into Melaka, I saw many billboards and posters featuring the iconic blue Mamee Monster (most Malaysians who grew up eating the crunchy noodle snack will know him!). I later learned that it was because Melaka is home to Mamee, the brand that carries the Mamee Monster snack as well as MAMEE Chef instant noodles. All this advertising made me crave for Mamee and lo’ and behold – while hunting for places to eat when we arrived, we stumbled upon Mamee Jonker House  – it must have been a sign! In we went.

20191201_102811

Mamee’s first ‘concept store’, Mamee Jonker House features a nice cafe (where they serve dishes made from Mamee, of course!), a shop selling Mamee goods ,a mini museum on the upper floor as well as a kitchen where you can customise your own noodles! It was 2PM and we were starving so we made a beeline for the cafe before anything else.

20191201_102807

Mamee-inspired wall decor 

20191201_103411

The Mamee Cafe has a good selection of creative dishes. You can have rice and burgers, but the star here is, of course, the Mamee noodles. N had a nasi-lemak inspired Mamee dish which came with all the trimmings – kerepek (crackers), fried egg, peanuts, anchovies, fried chicken drumstick and sambal.

20191201_103851

I had the Mamee in Kuah Lodeh, which is the creamy, coconut-rich gravy that is usually served with lontong (compressed rice) – only they replaced it with noodles, of course! Portions were generous; there was plenty of shrimp and tofu to soak up the delicious broth, topped with half a boiled egg. The noodles were springy with a slight bite.

20191201_105916

All fed and watered, we ventured upstairs to where there was a small Mamee museum of sorts and a Lil Monster Kitchen where they teach kids (with the help of their parents) how to roll the dough and shape them into noodles. You can also personalise your own Mamee instant noodle cup and customise the flavours to take home!

20191201_110208

MAMEE JONKER HOUSE 

No 46 & 48, Jalan Hang Jebat (Jonker Street), 75200 Melaka.

Phone: +606 – 2867 666

Opening hours: 10AM to 5PM (Mons – Thurs), 10AM – 7PM (Fri – Sun)

 

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Thanks for reading! I’m trying to grow my social media, so any likes and follows will be appreciated! You’ll also be updated on what I’m up to on a daily basis. 🙂

facebook.com/erisgoesto 

twitter.com/erisgoesto 

instagram.com/erisgoesto

A Famosa & St Paul’s Church, Malacca

The Portuguese conquered Malacca in 1511 and were here for over a 100 years – so its not surprising that they left behind a legacy.

The Serani (or Kristang) people are a product of intermarriages between Portuguese sailors and local Malay women. Numbering about 37,000, they are considered Portuguese-Eurasian and intermarriages are common today between Kristang and local Chinese and Indians. Because most are Christians, not all are willing to change their religious identities by marrying Malays (Malaysia has religious laws on conversion – you have to convert to Islam if you’re marrying a Malay, who are Muslim by birth.)

20160215_125003-tile

Other important pieces of history left behind by the Portuguese is a fortress called A Famosa. Called the ‘Porta de Santiago’, it is one of the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Southeast Asia. Once consisting of four towers and four storeys, all that’s left today is the front at the foot of St Paul’s Hill. At the height of their occupation, the fort had an ammunition storage room, captains’ residence and officers quarters.

After the Dutch took over, they pretty much maintained the place, renovating the arch with ‘Anno 1670’ plus adding a bas-relief logo of the Dutch East India Company.

But the English who came in the 18th century were not so obliging. They destroyed most of the fort, leaving behind only this arch and a small part of the wall.

20160215_125203-tile

On top of the nearby hill is St Paul’s Church, a Portuguese church built by a nobleman called Duarte Coelho. Originally built in 1521, it is the oldest church building in Malaysia and Southeast Asia (although non-functioning). The ruins are well preserved and attracts a large number of tourists every year.

20160215_125612-tile

Strategic location: view of the sea from the hills for any enemy ships and whatnot.

20160215_125733-tile

Dedicated to the Virgin Mary (the Portuguese were Catholics), the church was deeded to St Francis Xavier in Goa (he’s a canonized saint). His body was interred here for a short time. Visitors will see a statue of him in front of the church tower and ruins.

20160215_130330-tile

The inside of the church was lined with old Portuguese tombstones. Despite being hundreds of years old, the stones were well kept and some were only slightly weathered. Most still carried beautiful details and inscriptions.

The church was used by the Dutch after they drove out the Portuguese, until they built the Christchurch near Stadthuys. It was then deconstructed and used as part of the old fort. When the Brits came, they used it as gun powder storage.

20160215_131050-tile

We found a family of cats here!

20160215_131220-tile

We saw this little fellow sleeping without a care for the world on top of a metal grilled protecting an underground burial chamber.

20160215_131359-tile

20160215_131448-tile

The kitten was a real heavy sleeper.

20160215_131642-tile

And then E found a treasure trove of kittens behind one of the old tombstones.

20160215_131702-tile

Sleepy kittens. Don’t worry, we know the rules about handling kittens.. these were not newborn but had already opened their eyes and could walk around. They were just so sleepy from the afternoon heat lol.

St Paul’s Church and A Famosa are must sees (and must photograph-s!) when in Melaka, and a good reminder of the city’s history. Bonus points for having cats.

ST PAUL’S CHURCH/ A FAMOSA FORT 

Jalan Kota, Bandar Hilir, 75000 Melaka, Malaysia.

Things To Do At The Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum, Melaka

The Melaka/Malacca Sultanate was one of the most powerful and wealthy Islamic Malay kingdoms in Southeast Asia, dating back to the early 1400s. It flourished for over a 100 years, establishing trade and diplomatic relations with foreign powers, and received tributes from smaller kingdoms in the region.

Dubbed ‘the Venice of the East’, Malacca’s influence spread far and wide, with traders from Arab, Persia, China, India and even Europe coming to do business. It had a proper government and laws in place (Hukum Kanun Melaka), and arts such as poetry and writing flourished.

Of course, no Asian kingdom could match European conquest and firepower – so it fell to the Portuguese in 1511, and then to the Dutch and English. But it is exactly because of this rich and varied history that has made Malacca a major tourist attraction today.

20160215_120828-tile

The Malacca Sultanate Palace Replica is a re-imagination of how the palace would have looked like at the height of the Sultanate’s power, based on historical accounts in the ancient text called Malay Annals. Located at the foot of St Paul’s Hill, this imposing wooden museum was completed without nails, as how the ancients used to build them. Divided into eight chambers and three galleries housing hundreds of old items, visitors pay a small entrance fee of RM3 (locals) to go inside.

20160215_121018-tile

Like many buildings in Malaysia with Islamic influences, patterns and calligraphy dominate the decor and they are carved into the support pillars, along the edges of the windows and on tapestries.

20160215_121107-tile

The English on the signages was terrible. It’s like whoever wrote this just threw grammar out the window.

“This porch is used to vivitors come and meet Sultan” …so much fail it wins (?)

Also, I think they haven’t bothered to change this since opening in 1986.

20160215_121112-tile

That aside, the museum grounds are well kept and clean.

20160215_121811-tile

The inside isn’t big, it’s pretty long from one end to the other. The smooth, polished floor is made of Kayu Resak (a type of mangrove hardwood found in Southeast Asia).

20160215_121933-tile

An example of the royal ‘throne room’ where the Sultan admitted visitors and foreign delegates.

Ministers with important positions such as the Bendahara (Chief Minister), Temenggung (Police Chief) and Laksamana (Admiral) sat atop the dias, while the sides were lined by nobles/lesser chiefs. Foreign envoys and traders requesting an audience sat on the floor facing the Sultan. Yellow was the royal colour of Malay Sultans which is still used today.

20160215_123447-tile

Javanese traders

20160215_122258-tile

Flowery carvings.

20160215_122323-tile

Exhibits of clothing worn by the royals. Sultan and the Queen not only wore different coloured clothing from princes, princesses and nobles, but they were also differentiated according to the way they tied their clothes/wore their head gear.

20160215_122436-tile

Upstairs on the second floor is a reproduction of the Sultan’s bedroom and antechambers.

20160215_123212-tile

A section of the museum is dedicated to the story of Hang Tuah, a legendary Malay warrior and admiral of the Malacca Sultanate during Sultan Mansur Shah’s time. He was known to be fiercely loyal to king and country. Naturally, he was the Sultan’s favourite. Jealous, other ministers plotted to bring him down by spreading rumours that he was seeing a court stewardess. Enraged, the Sultan put him to death.

Realising something amiss, the then Chief Minister, Tun Perak, hid Hang Tuah in a cave to wait things out.

20160215_123236-tile

Hearing of the unjust ‘execution’, Hang Tuah’s best friend, Hang Jebat, ran amok at the castle to avenge him. The Sultan was at his wits end as Hang Jebat was one of the best warriors in the country, second only to Hang Tuah.

At the moment of crisis, Hang Tuah returned, and fought Jebat in combat. The latter was defeated and died at the keris of his best friend. Allegiance and loyalty to the ruler was above all else in ancient Malay culture, something embodied in the legend of Hang Tuah.

Was Hang Tuah real? Although accounts of this person were written in the Malay Annals, there is no concrete evidence to support it. Either way, time and the retelling of stories have made him an almost mystical figure in Malay culture.

All in all, it was an educational trip and worth the cheap entry price. The Palace is located in a cluster of attractions so make sure not to miss it.

MALACCA SULTANATE PALACE

Kota, Complex Warisan, 75000 Malacca, Malaysia

Tel:+606 282 6526

Opening hours: 9am – 6pm (Daily)

Old Dutch Building: Stadthuys, Malacca

If you’re a history buff, then you’ll love Malacca.

Founded in 1396 by a Sumatran prince called Parameswara, it is one of the oldest cities in Malaysia and was once a bustling trade center, with merchants coming from far and wide to do business. Due to a strong influence from Arab, Persian and Indian traders, the Malacca Sultanate embraced Islam – an important point in history that pervades modern-day Malaysia.

The Europeans came in the 1500s. Sailing from their homelands, they conquered kingdoms under the banner of Gospel (proselytization of Christianity), Glory, and Gold. Malacca was a golden goose. It was invaded by the Portuguese (130 years), Dutch (150 years) and then the British (until independence). It’s no wonder Malacca boasts an impressive number of old buildings, forts and structures dating back to the 16th century – making it a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

20160214_131237-tile

History lesson aside.. E and I were in town to celebrate Valentine’s Day! We made a beeline for the central attractions; namely Dutch Square/Red Square. No points for guessing how the plaza got it’s name – it’s surrounded by fire-station red buildings. The centre of the square has a fountain and a clocktower, and just next to it is Stadthuys (old Dutch for ‘city hall’), which was built in 1650 as the office of the Dutch Governor and Deputy Governor. The building has been converted into a museum.

20160214_131402-tile

Across the road is Christ Church Melaka, painted in the same terracotta red. Built in 1753 on the site of an old Portuguese church, it is the oldest Protestant church in Malaysia.

20160214_131426-tile

Despite being hundreds of years old, the buildings were well kept with fresh coats of paint. Lining the entire stretch outside were souvenir stalls and colourful trishaws. Like jeepneys in Manila and tuktuks in Thailand, trishaws were (note: were) very much part of the fabric of Malacca. These days they are used to ferry tourists around the square rather than an actual mode of transportation.

20160214_131433-tile

Not all were traditional – we saw loads of quirky designs like Hello Kitty, Frozen (the kids must love it), Doraemon and other cartoon characters.

20160214_131501-tile

The weather was crazy hot, so we were glad to step inside the cool, air-conditioned museum. Entry for Malaysians was RM6 (RM10 for foreigners). *A trick to save money if you’re bringing a foreign friend around. Buy the tickets, and speak Malay to the counter people. We saved a lot this way. Shhh. 😛

The ticket also included entry to several smaller museums within the Stadthuys Museum compound.

20160214_131907-tile

Exhibits were mostly artifacts from Malacca’s glorious past, including earthernware, pots and pans, Ming China bowls, teapots,  cannon balls, weapons etc.

The thing about Malaysian museums is that they are so static. Just the displays and long ass descriptions (in font so tiny we had to bend down with our noses almost touching the display boards). A pity, because the history is there – they just have to make it more interesting. This is why I like museums in US and the UK: they usually have hands on stuff and interactive displays. Learning should be fun. And they wonder why kids always think that history is the most boring subject in school!

20160214_132011-tile 20160214_132158-tile 20160214_132451-tile 20160214_132627-tile

The building is shaped like a ‘U’. In the middle is a statue of Admiral Cheng Ho, the famed Muslim Chinese admiral who established diplomatic relations between China and the Malacca Sultanate. The Chinese came to Malacca to trade; some stayed and intermarried with the locals, creating a unique community called the Straits Chinese or Baba/Nyonya. The Baba Nyonya adopted many Malay customs and practices, including clothing and language, but still spoke their native dialect (usually Hokkien) and lived in Chinese-style homes.

20160214_132740-tile

Traditional Malay-Malacca wedding. Note the diverse cultural influences, such as the bride’s headdress above (similar to ancient Chinese), while the best man wears a suit along with his sarong.

20160214_133025-tile

The wooden bed frame had similar Chinese/Indian influences, from the colours to the carvings. Truly a melting pot!

The museum isn’t very big, so we were done within the hour. Informational, but can get a little boring especially if you don’t like reading descriptions.

20160214_133950-tile

The Education Museum next to the Stadhuys was even smaller – just two floors with old photos, trophies, phones, typewriters, books, and mannequins describing early education in the country.

20160214_135806-tile

Hopping on over to the Literature Museum behind the Stadthuys. It was empty, the fiance and  were the only two people inside. Shoes had to be removed. Air conditioning was really cold, and the outside was really hot… I suspect this was why the fiance fell sick later that day.

20160214_134738-tile

Here, we read about early and modern Malay literatis, poets and writers, as well as how literature has evolved from the early days of the Malacca Sultanate.

All in all, the museums are educational but with no variety in the exhibits, can get quite boring. Still a good place to drop by just to understand a bit more about Malacca, and it’s in a central location where all the other attractions are so why not?

STADTHUYS MALACCA 

Circle intersection of Jalan Quayside, Jalan Laksamana, and Jalan Chan Koon Cheng

Tel: + 606 282 6526

Opening hours: Mon – Thurs (9am – 5pm), Fri-Sun (9am – 830pm).

20160214_125000-tile

Quick lunch at a local kopitiam (coffee shop) nearby.

20160214_125010-tile

Just next to the Malacca River, where you can see the colourful graffitied backsides of buildings across the water.

20160214_130056-tile

Mushroom chicken chop with fries and salad. Not too filling as you can tell from the size, but cheap and tasty (RM10!)