After two hours sitting in the transport, everyone appeared to have numbed legs and felt extremely tired. Suddenly Vininer, a Malaysian friend shook the driver’s shoulder and signaled a stop. While nobody understood what was going on, Vininer then quickly pointed her fingers to a gate and invited people to step out of the transport for a souvenir picture-taking right at the welcome gate of the heritage city of beautiful Melaka.
Although the gate was simply built, it specially features the symbol of three towers that characterize the typical architectures of three different peoples. They live together in a country which has the symbol of number 1 and has many letters “A” in its pronunciation. In Melaka, people are quite interested in growing flowers for decoration purposes all over places that make the general scenery here quite romantic. Even it was tiredly hot, but the streets were airy and so clean. Red hibiscus in full bloom mingles with vibrating paper flowers while orderly queues of vehicles are moving quietly and smoothly on the small road leading to the center of the city.
Catching my eyes is rows of street houses painted with dark red tile color that have created very first impressions to people. Finding out that in 16th century the Melaka kingdom collapsed under the encirclement of Portugal and it became a colony. For the purpose of teaching catechism, Portuguese missionaries built churches out of red bricks brought over from their country. When the kingdom of Netherlands occupied Melaka, the authority then repainted them in white. However, the red gradually came back due to long exposure to rains and sunlight. The maintenance was very costly. Until the domination of England, the government decided to return the city to the original paint. For over five centuries, this specific red color has been considered as the attractive and private hallmark of the beautiful city of Melaka.
Coming to Melaka, people always have the impression that this city is so quiet and seems to be constantly sleepy. Through business signs, the opening hour is 10:00 AM, the earliest time for operation. On the streets, young ladies in veils typically characterized as Muslim are walking slowly like moving flowers. Now and then, there are some rickshaws (small, three-wheeled carriages), which are covered with plenty of leaves and flowers and look so great. They are moving slowly along a tiny slope with smiling tourists seeking strange feelings on rides that can only offered by this heritage city.
Vininer shared:”Melaka has been selected by travelers around the world because it is an exciting destination which integrates diversified cultures combining all the essences of China, Spain, Netherland, and England and their architectures. It could be compared with a prolific piece of music”. There was no exaggeration in Vininer’s recount because when taking a walk here, I realized the typical arching Dutch architecture of streets with brick pavements. Lying along on both sides are rows of old, one-storey and two-storey houses with green windows. Legend has it that these ancient streets were used to be the noble class’s residences. Also seen were many wooden houses from 17th century, which specialize the typical feature of complex carved roofs and posts leisurely hidden among green gardens. All together make the city much more romantic.
Another impression that makes Melaka more famous is that it has many museums. They consist of three types: historic, national, and literature museums. Behind the museum section is the road leading to the hill in the center of the city. This hill has a specific feature heavily bearing the Portuguese architecture with unroofed grey walls of the Saint Paul’s Church. Visiting the church, I saw the tomb of the Saint, which is carefully fenced around. Tourists coming here often drop one cent into the tomb to pray for their good luck. At the foot of the hill, Fort Famosa is very famous with the cannons that are now permanently dormant in the open air.
In Melaka, I liked to visit the Chinese section. This is an ancient town with polychromatic stores. It is a typical representation of all China towns in the world for scales, architects, and traditions. Silks, jewelry, watches, shoes, sandals can be purchased in stores along both sides of two main streets: Cheng Lock and Hang Giebat. If Cheng Lock is famous with domed houses with a narrow and tall shape, tiled roofs, especially every house is flooded with light coming from small courts or open wells, the Hang Giebat, on the other hand, carries antiques, souvenirs, closely side by side on one street. In particular, we had the opportunity to pay a visit to a very beautiful private Chinese museum, the name of which is ……?
After going around the city, we followed Vininer to the cruise boat on the Malacca river, which is zigzagging and crisscrossing the city like pieces of soft and shining silk. She told us that this river is the natural boundary dividing the city into two parts: East and West. Presently, it is the most striking tourist attraction. Going downstream, tourists would pass a Muslim ancient village, Sentosa, and stopped to visit busy markets. It was used to be the most important pier in the region. Now boats sailing on the river are still in compliance with the old rules and regulations in order to give tourists a wonderful sense of living in the 16th – 17th centuries.
Melaka attracts tourists not only by its ancient architecture but also by its people. During conversation with them, I found out that they all spoke English fluently. The speaking of few languages appeared to be nothing unusual here probably because it had been a British colony for so long. Therefore, tourists could speak English rather comfortably with “local tour guides” without an additional charge.
- Suggestions: Means of transportation to Melaka includes cars, trams.
- Souvenirs in Melaka are quiet expensive but post cards are so pretty.
- Especially food is not suitable for Vietnamese tastes -Melaka monetary unit is Ringgit 100 USD = 320 Ringgits
- Hotels: Melaka offers a wide selection of hotels and lodges. Prices range from 15 USD per day to 400 USD per day for a double room.
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