Malacca, (Malay: Melaka) a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2008, is beautiful vibrant old city with a unique historical & cultural background from previous Portuguese, Dutch & British rule. Founded in the 14th century, it was originally a simple fishing village; later it became an important port & the centre of Peranakan culture. When Chinese settlers traders & coolies originally came to the area they took local brides & adopted many local customs. The result is an interesting fusion of local Malay & Chinese cultures, with the people know as Peranakans who speak a unique southern Chinese dialect. The men are addressed as Babas and the women Nyonyas meaning Master & Mistress.
Remnants of bygone eras are seen in the architectural structures in the ‘old town’ in particular. Beautifully decorated houses, tiny shops, temples & mosques line the narrow winding streets. Our boutique hotel was located in old town/China Town, very historic, & was previously a huge house built by a wealthy Chinese trader, even containing a zoo at one time. Many artifacts from that era remain in the onsite museum. The old quarter also contains ‘Little India’, an area with Hindu temples, shops & restaurants; having an area such as this in each town/city seems to be the norm in Malayasia. The well-preserved town square with many museums & the Malacca River, which cuts through the town, provided lots of photo opportunities. Jonker Walking Street is known for it’s many antique shops & of course a night market. The town square with Christ Church, built by the Dutch in the 1700s, is the hub of activity with pimped up trishaws, blaring loud music (Disney’s ‘Frozen’ theme song was one of the favourites) offering tourist tours. Wandering up the hill, we explored Saint Paul’s Church. It was originally built in the early 1500s by the Portuguese & later became a fortress. After the Dutch siege it became St. Paul’s & was used as a burial ground for the Dutch. You can still see the tombstones, along the walls of ruins of the church.
Two days was the original plan for our stay in Malacca however transportation was gridlocked due to the Chinese New Year. Finally successful, we headed off to Ipoh, a 5-hour bus trip north. Things had been going really well with our trip up to this point however Bob decided we needed a bit more adventure in our lives & decided to ramp things up by loosing his wallet with all our credit & debit cards!
PANIC soon ensued, needless to say!!!!! So upon arrival at our hotel all cards (except one) were cancelled & we put our minds to developing a ‘Plan B’. With the help of our kids & Bob’s sister Martha (Our life-lines) we will land on our feet without any major bloodshed, I might add. After a couple of drinks, some prayers & a good nights sleep we carried on hitting the streets, sights & sounds of Ipho.