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Historic Melaka

Today we were heading to Melaka. We made our way to the BTS and found out that buses left every 15 minutes to Melaka, how convenient. We booked tickets for 10 am which was essentially right away. The bus station was quite organized with screens letting you know if the bus was delayed and by how much time. Ours was a little late, but still arrived remarkably quick. The bus was so new that it had that chemical 'new' smell that Ryan informed me was all the glues and adhesives giving off fumes. It was quite the contrast from Myanmar who had decades old buses bought second hand from Japan.

Soon we made it to the Melaka Sentral station. We walked around until we found a buffet lunch in the station. There was pumpkin curry, off-tasting yellow greens, and other vegetables. Ryan enjoyed his fried chicken. When we caught a cab, the driver knew exactly where to go to our homestay which was nice.

The homestay was a sweet older home with a yard that would have been a great rest area with shaded benches and lots of plants. Our room had an old wardrobe and desk plus plenty of space. This definitely felt like a real homestay even with shared washrooms past the kitchen, though it was run like a hostel.

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The staff helped us figure out a path to see the historic area. We walked past the big hotel and near a mall before we entered the historic area. An old Portuguese fort, Kota A Famosa had stood the test of time. Only a small part of the fort remained, The Porta de Santiago, a small gate house, and a man played covers of Western rock music on his guitar inside. The fort was built by the Portuguese in 1512 after they defeated the Sultanate. Albuquerque, the man in charge, picked the site on a hill on the sea as he believed Melaka would make an ideal trading location, which it did. The fort was built with forced labour with remains of destroyed mosques, palaces and royal mausoleums.

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The fort grew larger before it was handed over to the Dutch upon Portuguese defeat in 1641. The words ANNO 1670 were carved into the arch along with a bas-relief of the Dutch East India Company logo. The fort was turned over to the British who didn't want to maintain it and feared it could be used against them when the Dutch took the fort back. They ordered its destruction in 1806. Most of it was destroyed until Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, arrived and saved the gate house. He didn't want to see history destroyed.

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We climbed a bit more to St. Paul's Church which had been built by the Portuguese in the early 1500s as a Catholic church named Nosa Senhora. It was built on the site of a palace destroyed in their bombardments using the ruins as building material. It was too bad so much of the Malay history was destroyed. The Portuguese added a watchtower a few decades later. The Dutch converted the church into a Protestant one named St. Paul's and used it until the late 1700s when they built another. Then St. Paul's became a fortress. When the British came, they used it as an ammunition depot so the area was ever changing. Inside there were tall white walls with open windows. Many large gravestones stood inside the walls with histories inscribed on them. It seemed more interesting our simple birth and death dates, but these were also for the more important foreign citizens.

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We walked down to the Dutch graveyard, which also held British graves. It was fairly small.

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From there, we unknowingly sneaked into the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum. It was a replica built in the 1980s in the style of the era of Sultan Mansur Syah, who ruled from 1456 to 1477. It was a wooden building with several small roof sections.

Along with a large collection of weapons, models of traditional homes and clothing, there were interesting stories. One man working for the Sultan was headstrong and demanded to be married to the Sultan's wife. Since relations were unstable, the Sultan divorced his wife to allow them to be together. In another story, a friend had accused another of a crime. Without much investigation, the man was sentenced to death. The employee responsible for carrying out the sentence didn't think the conviction was fair and sent the convicted man away. The Sultan came to regret the death sentence he had bestowed and the employee then declared he hadn't killed the man. The convicted man was brought back and asked to kill the man who had wrongly accused him for petty reasons.

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We explored the grounds of the historic area, which included a plane and a boat replica. The airplane was a Twin Pioneer CC MK 1, manufactured by Scottish aviation from the mid 1950s to late 1960s.

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There were more museums than we could visit so we quickly looked through the architectural one, not absorbing much. Our headaches kept us from reading too much.

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We passed a red building featuring galleries along with the clock tower and a Victorian fountain. The Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower was built in 1886. There was a windmill and a Hard Rock Cafe across the street too.

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We visited a couple more churches. The Christ Church had been built by the Dutch betwen 1741 and 1753 to replace a shattered Portuguese church. Bricks were shipped from Zeeland in the Netherlands and the building was a reddish colour. It is the oldest Protestant church in Malaysia. There was also St. Francis Xavier church with white towers.

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We had a late lunch/early supper at an Indian restaurant with cheap egg and masala rotis. We shared the thosai masala after and had a couple fruit shakes to beat the heat. It was delightful and we were the only ones in the restaurant. We did a really quick walk through Little India before heading back down the alleyways to Apa Kaba our homestay. We were too tired to do much after that so we called it an early night.

Posted by Sarah.M 19:13 Archived in Malaysia Tagged palace malaysia museum a british kota dutch colony melaka portuguese sultanate famosa

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