Thursday, September 16, 2010

Malacca (Malaysia) Day 1

I'm back!
A little tired but my family and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselved during this short trip.

For those of you who are interested,
the trip via coach from Singapore to Malaysia is about 5 hours with a few stops thrown in for food and toilet.

Yong Peng.
One of the usual stops from Singapore to Malaysia.

Actually for those of you who intend to visit Singapore in future,
if you have the time and resources,
I would like to recommend that you tag on a trip to Malaysia as well.
There are several states that you can visit,
with Johor being the nearest (just a couple of hours away).

We stayed over at the Equatorial Hotel.
There's quite a bit of photos so I didn't bother to upload the ones of the hotel interior and the rooms.
The next 3 photos are actually the view we had from our rooms.

For those of you who are particular about hotel rooms,
this one is pretty clean and decent (although its probably due soon for some upgrading works),
but its selling point is probably its location;
its one of the nearest to the city centre (and that's where the main attractions are)

The first tourist thing that we did was to take a ride in this: the Menara Taming Sari.
Its a 80 metres tall, 360 degree revolving gyro-tower.
The Menara Taming Sari is reputed to be the first of its kind in Malaysia,
and offers a bird's eye view of Malacca.

Couple of shots taken from inside the revolving wheel.

Next we visited the Maritime Museum,
which was just a few steps away from the Menara Taming Sari.
The Musuem is built as a replica of the Portuguese ship,
the "Flo De La Mar" that sank off the coast of Malacca while en route to Portugal.

hee... I thought this pic looked like a couple of ships going to battle

View from the deck of the museum ship

Initially I thought the ship was kinda small for a museum,
but there are several scale models of ancient boats, old shipping maps, weaponry and other nautical related items.
It also provided rather detailed accounts of Malacca's history as a shipping port.

In fact, for those of you who are versed in Southeast Asian history,
Melacca was considered a really important port back when the European strong powers were extending their empires into the East Indies.
There are still portions of Melacca with strong Portuguese and Dutch influences.

A minature model of an ancient fishing boat.
I thought it was rather ornate for a fishing boat

then I saw its life-sized replicate.

This one is meant only for Sultans (the Malay equivalent of kings)
If I don't recall wrongly,
I think it was literally translated as the "bird boat"

Check out the detailed cravings!
Must have taken the ancient people quite a while to build a boat!

Here we have the Christ Church and The Stadthuys,
both landmark features of Malacca.

Built in 1753, the Christ Church is the oldest Protestant church in Malaysia,
and apparently (according to the guidebook), was built to commemorate a century of Dutch rule.

The Stadthuys (the building behind the clock tower), was built in 1650.
It was the official residences of the Dutch governors, and is apparently preserved in its original structure and form.
I read somewhere that its the oldest Dutch building in the East.

If you're interested, The Stadthuys currently houses the History & Ethnography Museum, which (again according to the guidebook) houses cultural relics and exhibits of traditional costumes.

Ok, this might sound rather silly,
but when I saw its unusual and striking coral red exterior and read about its Dutch origins,
I couldn't help but think of OPI Dutch Tulips =P

Something else that fascinated me was the colorful trishaws that patrolled the city landmark.

Totally tacky and wonderfully tourist-y!
And some of these were blasting various kinds of music.
We heard the requisite Malay songs,
but there were also English pop and techno music,
and the rare Chinese pop song.
We even passed by one that was blasting Hokkien songs!

It was RM40 for an hour's ride.
It would have been an amusing way to get out of the heat, or to rest the tired feet and still be able to see the city centre.

heh. But nope.
As much as I was tempted to, I didn't hop on one though.

Here we have Famosa,
the only remaining portion of the original ancient fortress "Porta De Santiago" built by the Portuguese in 1511.

Yep. You got it.
What you see in the pic is all there is to Famosa now.

It really is a pity that this is now a mere photo-stop actually.
When the Dutch took over, they destroyed most of the ancient fortress.
What is left today was apparently saved by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1810.

From Famosa, you can look up to the top of the hill to the ruins of St Paul's Church.
St Paul's Church is easily accessible via a flight of stairs from Famosa.

This was originally a Portuguese chapel and burial ground built in 1521.
In 1548, the church grounds was handed over to St. Francis Xavier, then the pioneering Catholic missionary of Southeast Asia
In 1641, the Dutch took over Melaka from the Portuguese and renamed the chapel to St Paul's Church.
The Dutch used the place as their prayer and burial grounds until the Christ Church was completed.

Ok, my pic file of the statue of St Francis Xavier is corrupted,
hence I don't have a pic to show you guys.
But if you click on the link, you can view images provided by google search.

In 1952, the statue of St. Francis Xavier was built to commemorate his passing.
Originally, the statue was a complete structure.
The body of St. Francis Xavier was also laid to rest temporarily here until it was brought to India.

Canonization of St. Francis Xavier was done in 1614.
The Pope requested the right arm of St. Francis Xavier to be brought to Rome, in order to be canonized.
On the morning after the consecration ceremony,
a large casuarina tree fell on the statue and broke its right arm off!
To date, the statue is missing an arm.

The old Portuguese and Dutch gravestones laid inside the ruins of St Paul's Church.

I was fascinated by this particular gravestone.
The result of watching too much Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

A note to future visitors,
especially those from the temperate regions or if you burn easily,
please bring along lots of water, sunscreen, hats, brollies and all other accessories needed to block the heat and help you cool down.

It was just too freaking HOT!

By the time we were done with St Paul's Church,
mum needed a break from all the walking
and we were all extremely tired from the heat.

We ended up in this place called "San Shu Gong" in Jonker Street for some cold refreshments and shopping.

You can't miss this place, its easily visible once you cross the little bridge into Jonker Street.

Have to try: their Chenddol with Gulam Melaka (brown palm sugar).
That was probably the best chenddol I have ever had in a long long while.
heh. Sorry I got too excited with the cold refreshments and forgot to take pics of the food.

This is also the perfect place to get some traditional pastries for gifts.
They're all nicely packed and taste good as well.

Items you have to get:
Beh-Teh-Soh (traditional baked biscuits with water chestnut fillings),
Tambun Biscuits (Biscuits with bean paste fillings),
Peanut cream crackers,
Kuaci Biscuits (biscuits made using melon seeds),
the preserved guava strips.

We hauled back 4 huge bags for gifts and for our own consumption!

After that we walked around Jonker Street for a little while,
but by then the stalls were mostly closed for the day and there was very little activity.

So we ended up in one of the many Chicken Rice Ball stalls, "Gu Chen Chicken Rice Ball" for our first dinner in Melacca.
Unfortunately, its not the one recommended by a friend.

Those little balls you see in the pic are the traditional chicken rice balls.
Mum wasn't used to the taste and declared it was all a mushed-up ball.
Some of the meat was also not well-cooked and the wanton soup was bland.
The only thing that was decent was the plate of vegetables.

Mum and I didn't like dinner;
We very much prefer our Singapore version of the Chicken Rice.


NailGalore said...

WoW! Welcome to Malacca. Thats my hometown! been away for 6 yrs but u live up my memories:-)
hope u liked it there:-D

Berry T said...

OMG! I didn't know that you were from Malacca!
Yep! My family and I definitely enjoyed ourselves during the short trip!
In fact, mum and dad are talking about making another trip in future! My dad really loves the Nonya food =)

chocaddict said...

I really enjoyed reading about your trip and looking at your pictures :) thanks for taking the time to upload these and for sharing ^_^

Berry T said...

aww... you're most welcome dear.
It was memorable for me to do this actually. I can re-live the holiday memories =)

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