I managed to plan a trip to Malacca, Malaysia with some of my friends for a few days to explore this UNESCO heritage city, about 290km away from Singapore, on the eastern coast of West Malaysia. It is a city established in 1403, and was an important trading port in Malaysia’s early history and it attracted traders from all over the world, before Singapore was founded by the British in 1819 and took over as the main trading port for South East Asia. Malacca is a very special place. Like Singapore, it is a melting pot of different cultures with influences from the Portugese, Dutch and British during their rule of the city. It is also home to the Peranakan Culture, which I will explain more in my post later on, with added emphasis on this culture since it is part of my family’s culture.
From Singapore, we booked a bus from the website to our hotel, Holiday Inn, which I will give 4 out of 5 stars in Malaysia’s standards. At 8am in the morning, we set off from Boon Lay Shopping Center and headed to Malaysia through the Tuas 2nd Link, a second causeway between Malaysia and Singapore. We reached Malacca at about 12noon and went for lunch at nearby Mahkota Parade Shopping Center before checking in at our hotel. Our hotel room had an amazing view of the Malacca Straits, although the sea was murky brown, there was this tranquil feeling you get which is very different from the seas you see in Singapore which is bustling with activities with all the ships and container vessels plying the Singapore Straits route. We started exploring the city in the afternoon, and visited the Christ Church.
Christ Church is an 18th century Protestant church in the Dutch Square. It is the oldest functioning Protestant church in Malaysia and was built by the Dutch in the 18th Century.
We proceeded to the Maritime Museum which is housed in a replica of the Flor de la Mar, a Portuguese vessel that sank off the coast of Malacca. Inside the museum are models of ships, authentic maps, charts and old iron chests that were once used to store precious cargo. However, while the entrance fee is cheap, I believe it is not worth the time to visit this museum, which somewhat looks fake and uninviting.
Unfortunately, we got caught in the Malacca thunderstorm, and we ran for cover while waiting out in the rain. The rain did stop for a little while and we quickly purchased tickets for the Melaka River Cruise.
It was only when we boarded the cruise that the rain suddenly poured again, and we got totally wet from the whole trip down the Melaka River. This 45 minute cruise passes through the downtown area where we could see old warehouses, shophouses, bridges and kampong villages.For those of you who do not like architecture or do not enjoy seeing old buildings, this cruise is not for you because you will end up like Lin Yi, who fell asleep halfway through the cruise down the river.
After the wet experience, we walked to Jonker Street, Malacca’s Chinatown which is interspersed with antique shops selling an interesting array of authentic artefacts and relics. Some buildings date as far back as 300 years and can be found among continuous rows of shophouses. After exploring Malacca’s Chinatown, it made me realise how Singapore’s Chinatown cannot be compared to this centuries-old ethnic enclave, where the buildings are left how they were like hundreds of years ago, and restored to their original glory when some were getting old and falling into disrepair. While walking I also realised, when Malacca is hot, it is incredibly hot, much hotter than Singapore because it does not have the trees on the sidewalks that act as shelters from the scorching sun, but when it is raining, it gets really cold because the wind blows from the sea, and it really send chills down your spine. That day was a great day because the weather was great after a intense downpour. Walking along the historic streets of Malacca was a real treat.
Another interesting attraction is Kampong Kling Mosque, which was built in 1748. It is a Sumatran Mosque with strong Hindu influences, evident in the minaret which resembles a pagoda. There is also an unusual blend of English and Portuguese glazed tiles and corinthian columns. There is also a Victorian chandelier, and wooden pulpit with Hindu and Chinese-style carvings, reflecting the multi-cultural influences evident in the 18th century Malacca.
I believed after the whole trip Lin Yi Sun Shuo and I walked more than 20km of road looking for food, museums, attractions and seeking shelter from scorching sun and poruing rain, and shopping in their super large shopping centers.