Introduction To Melaka

After breakfast we headed back to our home base and visited a bit until Cynthia and Henry arrived.  Then it was off to explore Melaka a bit.

First came a stop at a shopping mall.  Strangely enough, other than some products and store names, it could have been any one of several malls in Edmonton.  And even some of the store names were the same.  One thing though, the entire retail presentation in Malaysia is considerably different than in Canada.  Advertising boards (I hesitate to call them billboards as we know them) can be huge.  Several stories high lining highways and on the front of buildings along the streets.  In the malls, store signage can also be huge.

In the malls, there are food courts, quite similar to those in Canada, however the foods offered can be vastly different.  There are exceptions though.  All malls have KFC, Pizza Hut and Kenny Roger’s Roasters, usually placed together.  And of course, the ubiquitous McDonalds is just that, pretty much everywhere it seems.  It appears that the majority of malls that we have been to are anchored by a huge store going by the name of Aeon.  Each Aeon is a department store and includes its own food court and a huge grocery.  I must say the grocery has a very large selection of fresh fish (but a much different feel than a market, which we visit later).

Leaving the mall, it was into old Melaka we went.  Much more interesting than any mall as far as I’m concerned.  Here we found narrow streets, old buildings, new buildings, a variety of temples, colourful rickshaws, and many interesting characters… er, people.

We dropped into one of the many interesting fooderies (don’t think that’s a word, but it works for me) for lunch.  One of the things that I love to do is observe people and events around me.  I had an opportunity to do both during lunch.  Across the street was parked a large and expensive auto.  Now this stands out in Melaka on both counts.  And the fact that the vehicle was rather rudely parked (although this is in no way stands out in Melaka) contributes to this story.  As we lunched we observed a policeman stop his motorbike and proceed to give this vehicle a parking ticket.  Nothing special here right?  Then a time later we observed the street parking official stop by and proceed to give this vehicle a second ticket.  I have to be honest.  We all thought this was just hilarious.

Also while lunching, up to the foodery (I am liking this word I invented) came a newlywed couple with friends, coming in to take some photos.  I was struck by a generous thought and asked the foodery owner if he had any red packets (this is a red envelope which is used to give a gift, usually money).  I was quite pleased that he did and was kind enough to give me one.  Now for Chinese, the number 8 is considered very lucky, and what I did was to place RM 8 (that’s 8 Malaysian Ringgits) into the red packet and presented it to the newlyweds, wishing them a happy life.  They had absolutely no idea who I was and will never see me again.  That was the beauty of the whole thing.  We then left the foodery feeling very good.

Following lunch, we headed over to St Paul’s Hill, both for a history lesson and a wee bit of exercise (after all, it is a hill, ascended by many stairs).  I would love to include some detailed history here, however that would make this post extremely long.  So the condensed version.

Melaka was taken by the Portuguese who defeated the Melaka Sultanate in 1510 and built a fort in 1511, only a portion of which remains.  During their rule they used forced labour to construct St Paul’s Catholic Church (hence the name of the hill).  The Portuguese ruled for 130 years until they were defeated by the Dutch in 1641.  The Dutch converted St Paul’s Church from catholic to protestant, then later used it as a mausoleum for Dutch dignitaries.  Around 1790, due to war in Europe, the Dutch temporarily ceded Melaka to the British who returned it, in ruins, in 1819.  The Dutch then lost interest in Melaka and it was transferred to British rule in 1824, where it stayed until Malaysia became independent in 1957.  With this post is a photo of the only remaining part of the fort built in 1511 and a couple photos of St Paul’s itself.

So far on this trip I have taken hundreds of photos, and many of them will be shared with you, either on Flickr or via my Google+ account, where these posts are available, so stay tuned.

As you can tell, this was a very full day in Melaka, and rest assured, it really doesn’t slow down, so I still have lots of catch-up to do.

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