Written by Jackie Acosta in Asia
Viewed by 68 readers since 11-17-2008
Traveling to Malacca can be compared to riding a time machine and going back into the days of sea-fairing trades and explorers of the “new world.” Malacca offers a glimpse of the past and gives an overwhelming sense of history of a people who have called the once famous hot spot for traders, home.
The Strait of Malacca is a 500 mile stretch of water that runs between West Malaysia and Sumatra. It is a main shipping channel that links India, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Since the age of discovery, the Strait of Malacca is used by over 50,000 vessels annually and served a big role in the history of Asia. Although it is no longer considered a major port, Malacca clings to its rich history and traditions which manifests in the lovely city it is today. At various times held by Dutch, Portuguese, British and Malay colonizers, the architecture and cuisine in Malacca reflects the remnants of this mélange.
The town centre is a world heritage site that stands as a testimony of Malacca’s history. Malacca also boasts of architecture treasures such as churches, castles, and life-size replicas of ships, to name a few. Quaint little shops are also around the town offering a variety of souvenirs. A common and notable feature of the old shops is the presence of a sunroof which used to serve as a vent. Some shop owners have covered the sunroof with a vent while others have chosen to adorn them with tainted glass.
The river-canal shows the homes of different peoples who have occupied Malacca. There are also a number of museums to occupy a good part of the day. The museums obviously feature a theme of explorers, traders and such which is really a big part of the history of Asia. Another hot spot for tourists is a place called Kristang (Malay word for Christian). The occupants of the town are direct descendants of the Portuguese sailors traced back into 16th and 17th centuries. In the middle of Asia, the town is populated by a people with Mediterranean features and a language that is a mixture of Portuguese and Malay. The town boasts of a rich cuisine, a specialty of which is grilled fish marinated in lime and wrapped in banana leaves.
A wide variety of localized delicacies are also easily available in one of the many food stalls in the square. The china town is another tourist worthy spot, great for shopping and dining. After a long walk, the Geographer’s Café is the perfect place to rest. The walls are adorned with a collection of antique sailing maps that serves as a little museum in itself. They also serve a scrumptious desert of mangosteen vanilla sundae topped with passion fruit. A meal that makes one forget the exhaustion!
Malacca is a great place to explore. It offers a unique experience of a rich history that shows the early interaction of the East and the West. It is located between Singapore and Malaysia, a convenient bus ride from either of the two countries. A two-day trip is enough to enjoy blast from the past.