Sunday, October 19th, 2003 – Day 243

Sunday, October 19th, 2003 – Day 243

I checked out the bus time tables to Singapore. It seems the first bus would be at 2.30pm. I decided to walk to Tonys Guesthouse. I should not have as it was hard going. It was hot and I was tired. The sign posting was pretty shite as well When I got there, I found it was closed for the month. It was either go back towards the bus station or go further on. I had passed Chinatown to get here and it was really nice. I decided to go on. I passed a Saint Patricks school on the way to Kancil Guesthouse. The beds there were very basic. There was only a partition between rooms and one ceiling fan to share between two rooms. I took it for 18 R per night. It was 10.20am and I decided to rest until 11.00am. I WOKE up at 2.00pm. Shit. I got ready and walked into town. It was rally nice. All the homes and shops were tidy and clean. No litter on the streets. Very little hassle and bussle. Maybe because it was Sunday.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Melaka – Early Morning (19-10-2003)

The attraction here is the city’s cultural heritage, around which a substantial tourism industry has grown. If you’re visiting, a little knowledge of this history will help you understand and appreciate all there is to see.

Malacca was founded around 1400 by Parameswara, called Iskander Shah in the Malay Annals. After he was chased from Palembang in southern Sumatra by invading Javanese, he set up a kingdom in Singapore (Temasek), and after being overthrown by invaders there, ran up the west coast of the Malay peninsula to Malacca, where he settled and established a port city. The site was an ideal midpoint in the east-west trade route and was in a favorable spot to take advantage of the two monsoons that dominated shipping routes. Malacca soon drew the attention of the Chinese, and the city maintained very close relations with the mainland as a trading partner and a political ally. The Japanese were also eager to trade in Malacca, as were Muslim merchants. After Parameswara’s death in 1414, his son, Mahkota Iskander Shah, converted to Islam and became the first sultan of Malacca. The word of Islam quickly spread throughout the local population.

During the 15th century, Malacca was ruled by a succession of wise sultans who expanded the wealth and stability of the economy, built up the administration’s coffers, extended the sultanate to the far reaches of the Malay peninsula, Singapore, and parts of northern Sumatra, and thwarted repeated attacks by the Siamese. The success of the empire was drawing international attention.

The Portuguese were one of the powers eyeing the port and formulating plans to dominate the east-west trade route, establish the naval supremacy of Portugal, and promote Christianity in the region. They struck in 1511 and conquered Malacca in a battle that lasted only a month. It is believed the local Malaccans had become accustomed to the comforts of affluence and turned soft and vulnerable. After the defeat, the sultanate fled to Johor, where it reestablished the seat of Malay power. Malacca would never again be ruled by a sultan. The Portuguese looted the city and sent its riches off to Lisbon.

The Portuguese were also the first of a chain of ruling foreign powers who would struggle in vain to retain the early economic success of the city. The foreign conquerors had a major strike against them: Their Christianity alienated the locals and repelled Muslim traders. The city quickly became nothing more than a sleepy outpost.

In 1641, the Dutch, with the help of Johor, conquered Malacca and controlled the city until 1795. Again, the Dutch were unsuccessful in rebuilding the glory of past prosperity in Malacca, and the city continued to sleep.

In 1795, the Dutch traded Malacca to the British in return for Bencoolen in Sumatra, being far more concerned with their Indonesian interests anyway. Malacca became a permanent British settlement in 1811, but by this time had become so poor and alienated that it was impossible to bring it back to life.

The final blow came in 1941, when the city fell under Japanese occupation for 4 years. It wasn’t until 1957 that Malacca, along with the rest of Malaysia, gained full independence.

I visited the following attractions in Melaka / Malacca.

Christ Church

The Dutch built this place in 1753 as a Dutch Reform Church, and its architectural details include such wonders as ceiling beams cut from a single tree and a Last Supper glazed tile motif above the altar. It was later consecrated as an Anglican church, and mass is still performed today in English, Chinese, and Tamil.

St. Francis Xavier’s Church

This church was built in 1849 and dedicated to St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit who brought Catholicism to Malacca and other parts of Southeast Asia

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Melaka – St. Francis Xavier’s Church (19-10-2003)

From here.

In the spring of 1545 Xavier started for Malacca. He laboured there for the last months of that year, and although he reaped an abundant spiritual harvest, he was not able to root out certain abuses, and was conscious that many sinners had resisted his efforts to bring them back to God. About January, 1546, Xavier left Malacca and went to Molucca Islands, where the Portuguese had some settlements, and for a year and a half he preached the Gospel to the inhabitants of Amboyna, Ternate, Baranura, and other lesser islands which it has been difficult to identify. It is claimed by some that during this expedition he landed on the island of Mindanao, and for this reason St. Francis Xavier has been called the first Apostle of the Philippines. But although this statement is made by some writers of the seventeenth century, and in the Bull of canonization issued in 1623, it is said that he preached the Gospel in Mindanao, up to the present time it has not been proved absolutely that St. Francis Xavier ever landed in the Philippines.

By July, 1547, he was again in Malacca. Here he met a Japanese called Anger (Han-Sir), from whom he obtained much information about Japan. His zeal was at once aroused by the idea of introducing Christanity into Japan.

St. Paul’s Church

The church was built by the Portuguese in 1521, but when the Dutch came in, they made it part of A Famosa, converting the altar into a cannon mount. The open tomb inside was once the resting place of St. Francis Xavier, a missionary who spread Catholicism throughout Southeast Asia, and whose remains were later moved to Goa.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Melaka – Saint Pauls. People are looking to the Place Where Saint Xavier was buried (19-10-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Melaka – Walking to Saint Paul’s (19-10-2003)

The Maritime Museum and the Royal Malaysian Navy Museum

These two museums are located across the street from one another but share admission fees. The Maritime Museum is in a restored 16th-century Portuguese ship, with exhibits dedicated to Malacca’s history with the sea. The Navy Museum is a modern display of Malaysia’s less-pleasant relationship with the sea.

Porta de Santiago (A Famosa)

Once the site of a Portuguese fortress called A Famosa, all that remains today of the fortress is the entrance gate, which was saved from demolition by Sir Stamford Raffles. When the British East India Company demolished the place, Raffles realized the arch’s historical value and saved it. The fort was built in 1512, but the inscription above the arch, “Anno 1607,” marks the date when the Dutch overthrew the Portuguese.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Melaka – Melaka – The famous rickshaws because they are so colorfully decorated (19-10-2003)

Jalan Tokong

Not far from Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock is Jalan Tokong, called the “Street of Harmony” by the locals because it has three coexisting places of worship: the Kampong Kling Mosque, the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, and the Sri Poyyatha Vinayar Moorthi Temple.

This is a real nice city and all attractions are within walking disance. I walked to the Mahkota Parade on Jalan Merdeka, just south of the field (Warrior Square) in the historic district to eat. I had a nice Chinese and Soya Bean drink which was excellent.

At night all the streets in Chinatown closed down to traffic and became open air markets. It was nice and relaxed. Way better then Penang. People left the doors of there houses open, the clan houses opened, there was open air palm reading and karoke singing. People drank outside and open air restaurants. It was a pleasant balmy evening and it was real nice. I enjoyed myself here. Relaxing.

I see Thailand is offering tourists VIP treatment for life. Check it out. You have to be super rich though.