It was another sunny day in Malacca so Wendy and I decided to take advantage of it by doing more sightseeing. We started the day off with delicious dim sum. Wendy and I shared some shumai (shrimp and pork), char siu bao and some other delicious food. I was expecting the food to be entirely different from the dim sum back home, but it was surprisingly similar. Either the Chinese immigrants to Malacca and Hawaii originated from the same area or my taste buds are shot.
With our bellies full, we continued exploring the many side streets and came across some interesting murals. My favorite one was “Give Piss a Chance,” a social commentary on former U.S. president Bush’s military strategy no doubt. I thought it was a bit out-of-place since it was down a small lane, but I guess you can’t really paint controversial stuff in the middle of a tourist area without the government intervening. Perhaps the artist just took what he could get?
Down another small street Wendy and I found an honest-to-god blacksmith shop straight out of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable days. The man was actually wielding a mallet and pounding on a burning piece of iron. The fire blazed behind him as he continued to whack the metal into shape. I couldn’t stop staring. I thought I was in twenty-first century Asia and not somewhere in Europe during the Iron Age.
In another part of town, the Maritime Museum, which is housed in a gigantic replica of a Portuguese tall ship, stood across the street from the Royal Malaysian Navy Museum, which featured some decommissioned military vehicles on the front lawn. The more sightseeing we did, the more Malacca became a paradox to me.
Our last stop for the day was A Famosa and St. Paul’s Church. A Famosa is a Portuguese fort that is one of the earliest examples of European influence in Asia. The Portuguese built the fort in about 1511 when they defeated the Malacca sultanate and took over the area. However, of all the buildings that made up the original fort, only the gate house remains in tact today.
St Paul’s Church, which overlooks A Famosa, is also in a state of ill repair. It was originally constructed in 1521 atop St. Paul’s Hill and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In its full glory, the church on a hill was a two-storey building with a belfry tower and used for church services and a school. When the Dutch took over, they deconsecrated it and used it through the mid-1700s until the construction of Christ Church. Later the British used the building to house munitions and its exterior condition continued to degrade.
All in all, I think it was a successful day of sightseeing. Who knew you could find so many unique things within a few mile radius? Malacca isn’t exactly what I was expecting, but it definitely left a lasting impression on me.