Monday, September 27, 2010

Malacca (Malaysia) Day 3

On day 3 we visited the Cheng-Ho Cultural Museum.

Admiral Cheng-Ho is renowned for his 7 voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Africa.

In fact, history has it that Cheng-Ho had sailed to Arabia, East Africa, India, the Malay Archipelago, Siam (Thailand) etc.

And there is even some contention that Cheng-Ho had sailed to America before Christopher Columbus!

Replica of how the ancients stored their jars onboard.

On Cheng-Ho's voyage to Africa, he brought back 2 giraffes from Somalia
It was the first time that the Chinese fleet had laid eyes on such a creature,
so you can imagine the ancients' astonishment at such a creature.

Also, apparently the African name for the giraffe is kirin,
which was similar-sounding to Qi-Lin, a Chinese mythical creature.
Hence, the ancients were extremely taken with the giraffes and brought them back as gifts to the Ming emperor Yongle.

Replicate of the Chinese medicinal hall onboard one of Cheng-Ho's many vessels.

The guide shared with us that it was one of Cheng-Ho's subordinates who came up with the game of Mahjong.
Apparently the sailors were bored of the existing activities and games onboard,
and asked for alternative recreation.
Eventually a general by the surname of Mah, came up with the game
and it eventually came to be known as Mahjong.

Miniature replicates of Cheng-Ho's fleet.
The guide told us that Cheng-Ho commandered a fleet of more than 200 vessels with at least 28,000 men onboard!
That's almost like an entire water town!

The guide also shared with us that the size of the Chinese vessel was unparalleled and far larger than any other wooden vessel in history.

There were different types of ships among the fleet; water vessels, food vessels (we were told these were like farms on water), ships for horses, patrol boats, etc.
The biggest (and most guarded) were the treasure vessels.
Apparently there is some dispute about the size of the vessels.
It seems like no one can believe that the ancient ships can be so huge,
but estimates of their length go from 200 feet to 600 feet!

I'm always very amazed with the ancient people (not just from ancient China).
They don't have the technology that we have now,
but they have given us an amazing legacy like the Pyramids (the only one still standing of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World), the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge, the Colosseum.

Since the fleet was so huge,
drums were used to convey signals and messages from one ship to another.

Saw this piece of a dragon and a phoenix in the souvenir shop.
Really liked it but nope I didn't buy it.

For our last meal in Melacca, we headed to Nancy's Kitchen for some authentic Nonya dishes.

Malacca is well-known for its Peranakan culture.
Baba-Nonya are the terms used to describe the descendents of the Chinese immigrants who inter-married the local Malays, also known as the Straits Chinese.
Baba refers to the males while Nonya are the ladies.
If you are ever in Malacca, you should visit the Peranakan Museum for a better understanding of this unique fusion culture.

Anyway, back to lunch.
Nancy's Kitchen came highly recommended by several friends.
Apparently on weekends, as the place is small, you might even have to call to make reservations or else you won't get a table.

Popiah - one of my fave way of getting my veggie

Popiah-making process.

hee... again almost forgot to get pictures of the food until after we started eating

Chicken in Candlenut! Awesome traditional Nonya fare!

Lastly these are the goods that I hauled back from Malacca.
I didn't do a lot of shopping but these are the ones that I couldn't resist bringing home:

Handmade straw basket.
This one's only RM$36!

And 2 pairs of traditional handmade beaded shoes.
These are typical of the the Peranakan culture.
The Nonya ladies are famed for their handmade beaded shoes!


CelyFrenchie said...

Great pictures :D

I love the Mahjong game x)

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