With Matt, Huang Ying and Jim up to Malaysia for an overnight trip to experience a brief flirt with the periphery of the the ‘hippy trail’, albeit only just making the trail.
Melaka is a UNESCO world heritage city and although it’s a fair sized city, the interesting visitors bit is just a few small streets down by the sea. It’s oddly unimpressive, its not got wow factor but it has detail, it’s small, chaotic, untidy, intriguing and another melting pot.
This trip has really brought home the island mentality we have in the UK. It’s fascinating spending time in places where there has been a constant toing and froing of nations taking over, invading, leaving etc and seeing how a further culture has grown from it. On the west coast of Malaysia (4 hours drive from Singapore) Melaka is a mix of Portuguese, Dutch, a bit of British no much, a lot of Chinese and of course, Malay. You can see all these in the architecture and in different aspects of the culture. However, having said that, without a doubt the culture that dominates is Chinese. You sometimes have to remind yourself, as with Singapore, that your not actually in China.
Many of them still retain beautiful original doors, windows, screens, all screaming Chinese, it’s quite incredible.
We put our heads into a dark, cold, labyrinthine reclamation yard which was a mass of furniture, doors, pillars, balconies, beds, jars etc which had obviously been removed from these places over the years. It was a bit unnerving, something of that cultural suspicion of the dark side of the East still left over.
The modern existence of this place as a world heritage sight is down to an ex Mr Melaka, Mr Malyasia, Mr Asia and Mr Universe (all one person), Dr Gan Boon Leong, who championed the rescuing a developing of this particular area, and has a statue in his honour, good man. They like their statues here.
That’s enough for one sitting. Tomorrow Trishaws and the infamous and over prevalent Durian!