There is a British expression I very much like. It is “a home from home”. To me it feels much more inclusive than the American equivalent “a home away from home”.
My “home from home” is 12,980 kilometres from my usual residence, in the city of Malacca, Malaysia, on the southwest coast of the Malay Peninsula.
Originally founded in 1396, Malacca became a prominent location for traders from across Asia, notably India, Arabia and China. In 1511, Malacca was conquered by the Portuguese who ruled until the city was captured by the Dutch in 1641. They were not that interested in developing the area and ceded it to the British in 1824. Under the British the city became a Crown Colony, which was dissolved in 1946 as Malacca and Penang became part of the Malayan Union, then the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and transitioning to an independent Malaya in 1957. Finally, in 1963, Malaysia was formed with the merger of Malaya with Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.
A colourful history indeed. So much so that Malacca was declared a historical city in 1989, and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Located in Malacca are three significant religious facilities. The Kampung Kling Mosque is close to the oldest functioning mosque in Malaysia, the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is the oldest functioning Buddhist temple in Malaysia, and St Peter’s Church is the oldest functioning Catholic Church in Malaysia. One last item of interest. The Bukit China Cemetery in Malacca is reputedly the oldest, and largest, remaining traditional Chinese burial ground outside China with over 12,500 graves.
Today, Malacca (often referred to as Melaka, the name of the state) is a city of just under 875,000, located midway between Kuala Lumpur (160 km to the north) and Johor Bahru (210 km to the south). The city is 2.2 degrees (244 km) north of the equator, with typical temperatures in the area of 24C at night and 33C during the day, and typically has 6-9 days of rain per month. The sun rises at 7:24am and sets at 7:24pm (within a couple of minutes) each day.
So why Malacca, for that matter, why Malaysia. A number of reasons actually. Malacca is where Kim grew up, where she lived most of her life. Currently we have two daughters and seven grandchildren living there, to say nothing about other extended family members and a great many friends. Some other main considerations are the economy, which is very advantageous to those of us from Canada; the people, who are so very friendly pretty much right across the board; the ease of travel, not only throughout Malaysia but across Asia as well; the history, so many interesting places to visit; and oh yes, the climate.
Okay, now back to the “home from home”. So what prompted me to begin this blog post anyway. Last year I spent three months at our place in Malacca, and for various reasons, am not able to do the same thing this year so I have been feeling a bit down in the dumps and depressed about that. A temporary situation for sure and I know I’ll be back there within the next year.
Our place in Malacca is not fancy, not on the beach, not on the 47th floor, not in a rich area of town. It is a comfortable three bedroom apartment/condo on the fourth floor of a fairly large, very diverse, complex with regular working class neighbours. It is in the middle of the city, however it has a country view which I absolutely love. We have a small clam-shell balcony, facing east, upon which one or two can stand, but none can sit (it is good for drying clothes though).
My routine, pretty much every morning when in Malacca, is that I get up sometime between 5am and 6am, get my cup of coffee, and sit in the living room watching, listening, and enjoying as the world wakes up outside and the sun rises. Here are two videos, both taken the same day from our balcony, the first about 5:00am and the second at 7:30am. In the first you can hear the crickets and frogs, so loud they even overpowered the praying from the local mosque. In the second, the birds have taken over along with the occasional human and traffic noise.
To me, the photo and videos above illustrate a big part of my attachment to our “home from home”. There are many other things which contribute as well of course, and I will share many of these with you in the future.
For now, thanks for reading. I would appreciate any comments you may have, feedback is always welcome.