The Cultural Melting Pot of Melaka – Malaysia
Melaka has a multifaceted personality. Founded by a Sumatran Prince, run by the Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and British (all in that order), Melaka is a melting pot of Asian and European culture, religion and peoples. Melakans display a remarkable tolerance towards each other and this seems to be reflected by their places of worship which reside peacefully side by side in the same streets. The town blends its history and historical centres with its more contemporary side well and keeps the two apart without making it obvious. It is an easy place to walk around (although tiring in the heat) which makes it a pleasure to wander from one quarter to another and discover the Melaka that many package tourists do not see.
China Town. Located at the centre of Melaka the historical Chinese quarter was once home to wealthy merchants and their families. Jonker Street and the immediate surrounding area is chock-a-block with renovated buildings that have been turned into shops and restaurants. Backpacker hostels are numerous and it’s an ideal place to base oneself as it is close to everything. Radiating out from Jonkers Street are many back alleys where the houses are less opulent but equally old and diverse.
Little India. Run down but serves great food at ridiculously cheap prices. The fabric shops sell stunning silk sari lengths and there is always a group of Indian ladies ready to show you how to wear one – much laughter and amusement for everyone!
The river. A walk away from China Town is the river which runs through the town. Shops and house owners have been given grants to restore their houses to their former glory and now a walk down the river is an enjoyable event due to the tranquil atmosphere away from the bustle of the town and its many, many , many cars.
The Malaysian Village. Past the town and a couple of K’s down the river is traditional village showpiece. All the residents work in the area but visitors are welcome to wander around.
Other cultural sites. A short walk across the bridge from China town, past the old Fort, Dutch town hall and governors residence, through the park and past the museums is a hill. At the top of the hill is the ruins of St Pauls Church but more importantly great views of the Straits of Melaka. Back at the bottom hang a left and head towards a life size replica of the Palace of the Prince – complete with gardens. It is an amazing place packed full of antiques and gives a good idea of how the rich lived.
Modern Melaka. Back through the park one will find a large oval building that appears to be set into the ground. On further investigation it is a shopping mall – which goes down rather than up. Follow it through and one ends up in modern Melaka, high-rise shopping centres. posh hotels, eateries, fast food joints, a huge stadium where they hold events, screen football matches and musical gigs.
The Wharf. Has an art and craft market, restaurants, shocking karaoke bars, neon lights, lovers spooning, a viewing tower, fish tanks for those brave enough to stick their feet in and strangely enough an full size clipper sailing boat.
There’s plenty more but that’s for you to discover after all you never know what you are going to see.