Published: February 17th 2010February 15th 2010
Blink your eyes and you might think you were in Paris...and eating for one sixth of the price.
What's cool about Malacca (now) is that's it's been invaded so many times it's hard to keep track of. Chinese, Portugese, Dutch, British, Japanese, then British again. The reason this makes it all the more interesting is because every one of these cultures is present in some form or another in Malacca. Mostly, it makes for fantastic architecture and of course....FOOD! One of the first things we noticed when we walked down the street were the intoxicating wafts of herbs and spices, and then our favourite...bakery smells from all the goodies famous in the area, most notably...pineapple tarts!
The multiculturalism of the area was made apparent when we asked our guesthouse host Pinto, who looked suspiciously Chinese, whether we was seeing his family on Saturday night (as is the custom for Chinese on CNY). He replied proudly “No, I'm Portugese, I'll be going to mass. I'm catholic!”. Okaaay we reply, sizing him up for some sort of Portugese heritage. Turns out that the much intermarriage has occurred between various ethnic groups over the last couple of hundred years (fair enough really), so what one might look like, one might not identify with. Always good to clarify first!
Painted in a red that is found in a whole area of Malacca
to Malacca for Chinese New Year as we thought there would still be a good chance of things being open and perhaps we'd see some exciting things! And we did too. The whole place was adorned with red lanterns, which definitely gave it a bit of 'vibe'. We got to see a dragon dance on Sunday too, but instead of being some big street parade as I was imagining, it was actually down a dingy side street outside of someone's home. We only realised what was going on when we walked past and heard the loud banging drums; it was quite a scene. Other things of interest were the cleaning in the lead up to CNY, burning stuff on New Years Day, firecrackers (of course) and also getting gifts of mandarins everywhere we went. Initially we had worried that a lot of shops might be closed, but as Pinto, and the cafe owner down the road assured us, most shops will be open “because of this”, said rubbing fingers together to signify money. Haha, made me think of Cheung Fatt Tse and all his money.
Mostly at Malacca we did 'the sights', which were enough to fill up two
Highly decorated trishaws
Malacca is famous for them
days worth. Because of all the invading, most things seem to be replicas of the original thing (because of course the originals were dismantled whenever a new invader came through). Probably the most memorable for me were the ruins of St. Paul's church (real ruins), a rather large old stone building with no roof, and gravestones of the Dutch colonists against the walls. The most spectacular bit being it's position on top of a hill with 270 degree views of the ocean. It was also a visiting spot of St. Francis Xavier and where his body was interred for nine months before burial in Goa (in India). Now there's something you don't see in Australia.
Malacca is enough to turn any history nerd (hello Katie) into a spin, and any non-history nerd into, well....someone a bit more interested in history.
Next stop...Cameron Highlands!
There are more photos below