Thursday, August 07, 2014

Day Three - Melaka - ALL OF THE THINGS!

Our second day in Melaka was another one of those "all of the things" kinds of days and it was about a million degrees all day too (well maybe more like 30 degrees - but when you live in Wellington 30 degrees feels like about a million).

Rich took this photo from out hotel at sunrise - I love it so much.
We began our day by walking to Villa Sentosa - which is a 1920's Malay house. We walked there via the Jonker Street area and the river as there is just so many things to see that aren't on any tourist map. It's like every single thing is interesting!

 This is Sentosa House - when we arrived it was shut! But that's ok as we could still sneak a peak over the fence.
 After seeing Sentosa House (or not seeing it) we decided to visit St Peters Church, a catholic church that was constructed in 1710! I know a lot of friends that read this are from the UK and maybe to you guys 1710 doesn't seem THAT old. But if you put it into a Kiwi perspective, New Zealand wasn't even a country until 1840. So a church from 1710 kind of blows my mind (and it was only the beginning).
When we were visiting the church we saw a whole bunch of people outside, I figured they were maybe noisy tourists (like us). But as we got closer, it slowly became clear there weren't tourists but parishioners. We then also realised it was a Sunday (days can become better confused pretty quickly when you're traveling). We decided to move away from the church to let everyone get on with their worship. I have to say though I have never seen a church so busy in New Zealand.

Our next stop with the city cemetery - as I understand it the cemetery grounds and Poh San Teng Temple are linked. The cemetery is over a huge area of land and apparently at one stage local developers were (and possibly still are) itching to get their hand on the land for development. I assume to build apartments or hotels or malls? However, the local community stood their ground and it remains as a cemetery.

As you can see, a lot of the cemetery wasn't really conventional was a western perspective. Which made it so fascinating. 

 We decided that we should visit the temple as well, we couldn't really work out what kind of temple it was or who it was too but it seemed like it had been through some hard time in recent history due to developers trying to acquire the land. There were a lot of newspaper clipping in the temple about the saga with the developers.

Next to Poh San Teng Temple is the King's well, this well was originally built by a king for his queen and has in turn been used by various people during various times of colonisation in Melaka. It was also poisoned a number of times, but apparently it never dried up.  It's also an appropriate place for a jumping photo. Obviously.
We also looked at the cemetery on the side of the hill that was closer to the temple and it was quite different in style to the other part. It seemed much better maintained and organised. Also there were monkeys in the trees! I didn't get photos of them as they were so high up, but I always love seeing monkeys in the real world rather than zoos. Also it was so shady and cool in the cemetery, but this stage it was about lunch time and it was a REALLY hot day (especially for people with black hair).

We figure a sensible decision to make at this stage was to have an ice cream and buy some more water (the tap water isn't safe to drink in Malaysia) we weren't too far from Little India - so we decided to head over there to replenish our supplies.

Then there was more general wandering until we found ourselves back at the river at a nice cafe with a cool ice tea. There were litres and litres of ice tea consumed on this trip.

Eventually we made our way to Christ Church and some of the old city fortifications - Melaka is an important city in term of location and over the years it has been occupier/colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and British.

By this stage the heat was getting all too much! It was time to hide out in the mall for a bit to cool down. I can't even remember the last time I went to a mall in New Zealand, but when traveling in South East Asia we often stop off at malls - not to shop, just to escape the heat. Also sometimes its a good chance to buy lunch.
When we decided it was finally time to leave the mall and head to 'Portia De Santiago' which is what remains of an old Portuguese fortification. We met this guy on our way there, there were quite a few stray cats in Melaka. This guy is in pretty good condition, but there were lots of very sad looking cats.
Portia De Santiago is one of those iconic sites of Melaka - its in all the tourist brochures and websites you look at (along with Christ Church). It's a pretty fascinating place, originally built by the Portuguese and subsequently used by the Dutch. The whole fortification was NEARLY destroyed when the British took over power in Melaka from the Dutch. Until Sir Stamford Raffles decided history was a good thing and called a halt to the destruction.

Next up was what was my highlight of the day St. Paul's Church. There wasn't a lot in the tourist information, Lonely Planet and so forth about St Paul's but in my humble opinion it was magnificient!
The church itself was constructed by a Portuguese nobleman in 1521, when the Dutch took Melaka it became a Dutch Reformist church. It then became a fortification and was later used by the British to store gunpowder. What a history.

So I am a little bit creepy, so one of my favourite things was these old tombstones. They sit in the church, I'm not sure where the bodies that the used to watch over have gone? Perhaps lost to wave after wave of colonisation. 

Here's the view inside of the church itself was amazing - it must have been incredible when it stood in its full glory. But I think what remains is quite stunning.

Also the view down over Melaka from St Paul's Hill is pretty impressive as well. It doesn't feel like you are particularly high up, but it is a pretty spot.

By this stage we had walked A LOT and it was still VERY hot - more sensible people would maybe go home for a rest. Fortunately we are not sensible people and it was time to visit the "Cheng Ho Cultural Museum".
So who was Cheng Ho and why does he have a whole museum dedicated to him in Melaka. He was a Admiral in the Chinese Navy during the Ming Dynasty and he visited Melaka a number of times. He had a pretty amazing life from what appeared to be a fairly simple beginning. The museum was about the world Cheng Ho lived in as well as the man himself and it also included a lot of history about Malaysia and maritime history.

When we visited we were the only people there, which was awesome for us, but kind of a pity and there were LOADS of tourists around.

 The giraffe may seem a bit random - but he was part of a display which was explaining how food and animals were stored on ships. I guess sometimes you need to take a giraffe somewhere.
The museum is really big and from the rear of the museum you look over Jonker Street where we had attending the night markets the previous night.

 There was a lot of maritime history at the museum and I thought these boats were amazing. These model ships were amazing. The photos really do them no justice.

Finally the man himself Cheng Ho outside the museum. If you ever visit Melaka come here because its incredible.
So that was pretty much our "ALL THE THINGS" day in Melaka - after the museum we decided it was finally time to head back to the hotel (we did head out later for dinner) and rest up for our trip to Kuala Lumpur the next day.

So final thoughts on Melaka? It's an amazing place and you should visit, so much history and the people are wonderful. I wished we spent less time in KL and more time in Melaka. I'm not too worried though, I don't think it will be too long before we head back to Malaysia again (I still have to see Ipoh, Langkawi and Penang and I'm sure there's many other places I need to visit as well). 


Vix said...

So that's why I like the look of Melaka - its a former Portuguese colony, like Goa! That church looks exactly like the ones scattered amongst the Indian countryside. x

Curtise said...

My goodness, you weren't kidding about All The Things, were you?! You packed such a l;ot into your day, despite the heat. Melaka looks so interesting, such a lot to enjoy, and your photos are fab. xxx

Louise said...

Wow, you don't do your trips by halves, do you?! You did so much. I would never have thought the first church was from the 1700s; I guess I've never thought much about what buildings looked like in other cultures in those days. I never knew New Zealand wasn't a country until the 1800s, either. 30 degrees feels like a million to me, too. It's heatwave weather in England, haha! The headstones look amazing; were the bodies not under the floor of the church? xx

Kura Carpenter said...

Neat! Went to Melaka in 2002, interesting to see what had changed - or hadn't.

alicia said...

just reading about all the things is overwhelming! i don't know how you do it! GET ON THE COUCH. <3 <3 <3