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Melaka, previously known as Molucca, is a town with history…It is a 90 km taxi ride down the coast from Port Dickson. Our first visit was only for the day, but as we hadn’t done it justice; we went again overnight.

Prior to the 1300s, Melaka was only a small fishing village there, but then it developed as a Hindu prince saw it’s strategic importance as a staging port halfway between China and India on the spice route.

During the early 1400s the Chinese arrived in large numbers and stayed, but there were always Arab and Indian Muslim traders passing through.

The Portuguese arrived in 1509, at first they were driven away, but returned 2 years later and over-ran the city setting it up as a fortress, discouraging other traders. The town declined until the Dutch arrived, expanding their territory from Indonesia and they took it over after a siege in 1641.

The Dutch redeveloped it as a trading centre and stayed 150 years.

However, as part of an exchange deal, the British took over in the early 1800s and with the influence of Stamford Raffles, Melaka (along with Penang and Singapore) became one of the ‘Straits Settlement’. It was the smallest however, and slowly declined, but as a result, unlike Singapore where all the old has been destroyed to make way for the new, Melaka still has many of it’s historic buildings standing.

More recently as a result of a restoration programme the town centre has become an important tourist destination and the whole city is growing once more. The extent of the restoration has caused some controversy among local people; as being too much too quickly, spoiling their little town, but it has worked.

Melaka is popular for it’s culture, history and probably most importantly, it has wonderful food!

The centre of town is still the Town Square where there is the Stadthuys, the old Dutch Town Hall built in the 1600s with the adjacent clock tower and Christ Church.

It’s also the invariable first stop for tourists, they are quickly met by very persistent drivers hawking escorted town tours in their highly decorated trishaws.

The greater the embellishment, the better the ride? -not from what we saw…passengers often ended up pushing those trishaws decked with sound systems, chrome and flowers!

Staying around the square for any time can be patience testing…
There’s a very good museum in the Stadthuys well worth a look around, but after a good dose of history and culture it’s time for a little something…

Over the Melaka River is the main Chinese part of the old town

with Jo and Dennis, we set off looking for food, -but in different directions?
But it’s not difficult to find there are good food outlets everywhere, the problem is which one to choose.
To us the most interesting was the Peranakan (or Baba-Nonya) food and we couldn’t go past Nancy’s Kitchen, -on more than one occasion!
Nonya food is that which has developed as a merging of the Chinese and Malaysian cultures, spicy, lots of vegetables seafood and pungent shrimp paste flavouring.

Chinatown is full of little Chinese shops,

the obvious Chinese touch,

and I just love those Chinese doorways…

There’s the grand Cheng Hoon Temple, built in 1646 it is supposedly the oldest still standing in the country.

But Chinatown’s not exclusively for the Chinese as there is the Kampung Kling mosque. It’s in total contrast to the Chinese as it’s so plain; but also said to be among the oldest in the country.

Next page :-)

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