A Short Stop at Kota Melaka
Since it was our first time going around Malaysia, the thought that the ancient port city of Melaka was just a stone’s throw away from KL was simply irresistible. It was immediately on my bucket list. Together with my Malaysian friend Fadrul, we went south—about more than an hour and a half journey through Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan (North-South Expressway) from Cyberjaya to Melaka.
Personally, I was a bit excited.
Melaka the Mighty
|Melaka River Cruise and the houses beside it. Don't you just wish esteros in Manila were like this?|
Later I would find out that Melaka indeed is a very influential city, strategically located between Asian spheres of influences. It was a center of trade and rule of what was once a flourishing sultanate believed to have been established by a Sumatran Prince called Parameswara.
|Church of Saint Francis Xavier and Melaka River|
The Portuguese first conquered the city sometime in the 1500’s. Later, the Dutch VOC would occupy it. Lastly, it fell onto the British hands from late 18th century which would later be integrated in the Straits Settlements up to Malaysia’s independence in the 20th century.
|A reconstructed wall of the old Portuguese colonial-era Melaka. Pre-colonial Melaka was also walled with wooden palisades.|
|Everything's big in Texas, as what they say in the US. But for Melaka, its influence is even bigger than the modern-day state that it is now.|
It was a SundayIt was a balmy and overcast Sunday noon when we arrived in Melaka. My friends have advised me that it can get very crowded and traffic going there might be bad on weekends. Luckily, it wasn’t that bad when we went there.
|Inside the 19th century Church of Saint Francis Xavier.|
My first glimpse of this ancient bandaraya was rows of shop houses. Sure, these Malay Peninsula shop houses are everywhere, but thankfully it’s being well kept here. Of course, the city’s historic centre is a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with Georgetown in Penang up north!
It was a Sunday and a few days before my birthday, we head on to the first heritage building in Melaka—the Church of Saint Francis Xavier. This 19th century neo-gothic church was my sanctuary for a few moments. There was no Mass that noon and we freely experienced the church and paused for a prayer of appreciation.
|The row of red shop houses in Jalan Laksamana, entering Dutch Square|
Kota MelakaAfter that, we were welcomed with a row of red shop houses as we approached the Dutch Square and Stadthuys, the center of the city. This is where you can say “painting the town red!”
|A shop house at Jalan Laksamana|
|The Dutch Square. The clock tower in the middle, the Christ Church Melaka in the middle and the old city hall of Melaka called "Stadthuys" which is now the History and Ethnographic Museum of the city.|
|It's quite busy outside.|
If you like to have an overview of Melakanese history and society, the Stadthuys (Dutch for “City Hall”) is the city’s Muzium Sejarah dan Etnografi (Historical and Ethnographical Museum). It’ll give you a glimpse of the city’s prominence, story, and its people.
|"Warisan Kebangsaan" or "National Heritage." This is Malaysia's version of historical markers. Stadthuys is a National Historical Landmark, I guess if it's in "Philippine heritage language." Hehe!|
|The ruined Geraja Saint Paul on top of Melaka Hill|
|The commanding view from the top of the hill. Back in the day, the sea was just immediately after the treeline. Much of the coast of Melaka has been reclaimed for development.|
|So many sights to see and experience, so little time!|
|A Famosa. It's so hard to take a people-less A Famosa on a weekend.|
|Muzium Seni Bina Malaysia|
|A scale model of a masjid|
We haven’t crossed the river yet
|Some of the British colonial era buildings within the complex|
|The Police Station looks like it has been there since the British times.|
While museums were fun, I was getting a bit exhausted. The heat and humidity at that time wasn’t really a great time to walk—added that I wore jeans and dark-coloured t-shirt! We have to cut the museum tour and just walk among the noisy trickshaws with out of this world designs that cater to tourists. I guess that’s Melaka’s version of our own kalesas and sidecars in Intramuros Manila.
|These trademark trickshaws in Melaka are ostentatious in design and hark its presence with a very loud sound system.|
|We're halfway done. There's simply so much in Melaka for such a short blog post!|
Next post, Jonker Walk and the other side of the city.