Virtual Tour 36: Malacca

Malacca, or Melaka as it is known locally, has a history that dates back to around 1402. Parameswara, the last king of Singapura, fled the island kingdom after a Majapahit naval invasion in 1398 and founded his new stronghold on the mouth of the Bertam river in 1402.

Malacca is a good port. It is accessible in all seasons and is located on the narrowest point of the Malacca Straits. This encouraged the development of Malacca into a major trade settlement on the trade route between China and India, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

Parameswara and succeeding Sultans of Malacca developed strong relationships with Ming China. This granted Malacca protection from attacks by Siam and Majapahit. Malacca officially submitted to Ming China as a protectorate.

This also meant that the history of Malacca is marked by a series of invasions and colonization.

In April 1511, Alfonso de Albuquerque set sail from Goa to Malacca with a force of some 1200 men and seventeen or eighteen ships. They conquered the city on 24 August 1511.

On 14 January 1641, the Dutch defeated the Portuguese with the help of the Sultan of Johor. The Dutch ruled Malacca from 1641 to 1798.

Malacca was ceded to the British in the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 in exchange for Bencoolen on Sumatra. From 1824 to 1942, Malacca was under the rule of the British, first by the British East India Company and then as a crown colony.

Malacca is about 80km / 50mi down the coast from Port Dickson.

One of the more unusual sights south of PD is the Eagle Ranch Resort, where you can stay in log cabins or tepees.

The bridge over the Linggi River marks the border between the states of Negeri Sembilan and Melaka.

In places, we ride alongside the beach.

We found some quiet back roads.

It is a bit lumpy around Sungai Udang.

There are lots of roadside drink stalls for thirsty humans and non-human alike.

Favourites are mango shakes, apple and sour plum, and coconut shakes.

So what is there to see once you get to Malacca?

All that is left of the A Famosa fortress is the Porta de Santiago, a small gatehouse. The fortress was built in 1511 and it is among the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Southeast Asia.

Saint Paul’s Church was originally built in 1521, making it the oldest church building in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (also called the Temple of Green Cloud) is a Chinese temple practising the Three Doctrinal Systems of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. It is the oldest functioning temple in the country. The temple site was founded in 1645.

The Stadhuys was built by the Dutch in 1650 as the office of the Governor and Deputy Governor. It is known for its red exterior and clock tower.

Christ Church is an 18th-century Anglican church. It is the oldest functioning Protestant church in Malaysia. Construction started in 1741 by the Dutch to commemorate the centenary of the capture of Malacca from the Portuguese. It was completed in 1753.

Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia and one of the oldest functioning Hindu temples in Southeast Asia. It was built in 1781.

The newest religious building is the Straits Mosque, completed in 2006 on a man0made island in the Straits of Malacca.

At the beginning of the 16th century, Malacca saw an influx of Chinese traders. These entrepreneurs went on to marry local Malay women. Descendents of these marriages became known as Peranakan or ‘Straits-born Chinese’. The men were known as Babas and the women as Nyonyas.

The Babas flaunted their affluence by purchasing Dutch townhouses and transforming them into palaces. The interiors of these homes were opulent and stuffed with Dutch-influenced fixtures including hand-painted tiles and Victorian lamps. The Baba Nyonya Museum preserves some of the Peranakan culture.

The city is bisected by the Melaka River. Those are river tour boats.

I think rivers always look best at night.

If the river doesn’t interest there are the night markets.

Time to move on to the food. The Baba-Nyonyas blend of Chinese and Malay cooking remains their most significant legacy. Their cuisine marries Chinese wok cooking styles with Malay ingredients and condiments, such as candlenut, Vietnamese coriander, fermented shrimp paste and coconut milk. Nyonya cooking simultaneously tastes sweet, sour, salty and spicy. A Nyonya restaurant like this one in Malacca is an excellent place to sample the cuisine.

Udang Masak Lemak Nenas (Curry prawns with pineapple)
Fried eggplant with chilli

Omelet with onions and cincalok (fermented small shrimps)
Chicken Pongteh (Chicken and potato stew)
Fried fish with sambal (chilli paste)
Lor Bak (Five-spice meat rolls)
Otak-otak (Grilled fish cake)

The otak-otak is an appetizer. The rest looks like this on a plate.

Then there are the Nyonya kuih, which are bite-sized desserts. The most common flavouring ingredients are grated coconut, coconut cream, pandan (screwpine) leaves and palm sugar. While those make the flavour of kuih, their base and texture are built on a group of starches: rice flour, glutinous rice flour, glutinous rice and tapioca. Two other common ingredients are tapioca flour and mung bean flour. Wheat flour is rarely used in Southeast Asian cakes and pastries.

Every one of the kuih in this photograph is different. All are yummy.

We will be back.

6 response to "Virtual Tour 36: Malacca"

  1. By: The Navigator Posted: June 25, 2020

    Really enjoyed this post. My knowledge of that area can be summed up as: have heard about the Malacca Straits many times. Lol.
    The teepees do look a bit out of place! And, given all this focus on animal-human virus transmission with SARS and now COVID-19, I’m not so sure I’d be too excited about the monkey sitting on the drinks dispenser (not that anyone would be eating the monkey, but still… is he holding the straws for the drinks?)! I would love to sample that range of food, though I’m not a big fan of coconut. I’m impressed with the history retained in the buildings and what a blend of invading cultures over time. Again, also glad I am not the one that has to repaint that multi-coloured temple with all of its intricacy!

    • By: Alchemyrider Posted: June 25, 2020

      The monkey at the drinks stall photo was taken was long before COVID-19. Even so, I was glad I had my straw before it appeared.

  2. By: Scooter Posted: June 25, 2020

    What a great gallery! One stunning photo after another, and that’s before we came to the main courses.

    • By: Alchemyrider Posted: June 25, 2020

      Thank you, Scott. So glad you liked it.

Leave a Reply