Malacca 2011 - World Heritage City

The last time I went to Malacca must have been more then 10 years ago. Malacca is around 150 km from Kuala Lumpur, and I drove down with the mrs in a borrowed car. The highway is very good and we were there in no time, and spent a really nice day there. The way back however was a different story. It started to rain cats and dogs, and the visibility was probably only a few meters. Imagine driving on a highway and you can't see the cars in front of you or behind you. We were going at a snail's pace. What made it worse was the 10 car pile up that we came across along the way ! Thankfully we managed to get back to KL without incident.

Earlier this year I was in Malacca to attend a conference, and took the opportunity to revisit the historical city. Malacca and Georgetown in Penang have been jointly listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2008 - and about time too. Malacca was founded by Raja Iskandar of the Temasik Empire (ancient Singapore) in 1396. It fell into the hands of the Portuguese in 1511, and was taken over by the Dutch in 1641. The Dutch ruled Malacca for more then a century, and in 1795 it was given to the British to prevent it from falling into the hands of the French during the Napeoleonic Wars. This rich and colourful history has made Malacca what it is today - an intriguing place to visit.

As you move around the city, you can see remnants of all the different conquering powers over the years. In many ways it reminded me of Macao which has a similar Portuguese influence. Another fascinating aspect of Malacca is the Nonya and Baba (Peranakan) - the result of intermariage between Chinese immigrants and the locals. They assimilated local Malay language and custom into their culture, creating an interesting and colourful fusion of cultures. Today the most visible remnant of this culture is in the architecture of the Peranakan shophouses and the beautiful antique furniture.

The World Heritage status is proudly displayed.

Old buildings in Malacca.

The Malacca River which runs through the old city.

Though the government has put in a lot of efforts to make Malacca a greater attraction to tourists - thier heavy hand can sometimes do more harm then good. Hopefully the World Heritage Status would encourage them to be lighter and more considered in their approach.


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