Day 219: History Begins To Make Sense

Wed. 20th March 2013

Great advert! Wayne Rooney and Mr Potato - who'd have thought it!Having had a relatively easy day yesterday pottering by the river, today it was back on foot to do all those things left on our Melaka check list! I did say that the three days we had would whiz by and we would still have a long list of places to visit and I was right.

St Pauls ChurchThe short list for today is St Paul’s Hill followed by a return to Mahkota Parade (where Starbucks is!) as there is a shop we can buy tickets for the Malaysian Golf Open for Friday. This is too good an opportunity to miss at £2.50 a ticket for the day. It also gets me out of seeing the practice rounds at the Grand Prix, as I think qualifying and race day will be enough noisy cars for me.

Little touristsIt is back down the now familiar road to the main square and the Studhuys buildings, when Dave questions the plan and says should we be looking around the museums inside the Studhuys? This is easily solved as the main entrance is closed and by the time we walk around to the rear entrance and have read the guide book we are convinced we have seen enough. It’s the buildings more than the museums that are interesting, so we head up to the ruins of St Paul’s church. We initially have the interior of the ruins to ourselves, except for the seemingly obligatory busker but the relative peace is shattered by a party of little school kids.

Small Dutch GraveyardThe photos are quickly taken, before we head off to the Dutch cemetery which I had read contained more English than Dutch – the count was about 22 to 8, bud I had expected more tombstones than that. We knew our next stop was to be the Sultans Palace, which I thought is the building with golden baubles on the top, but am wrong. That is the building commemorating the Independence of Malaysia.

Sultans Palace in Melakan styleThe palace is the large wooden one on stilts next to the Forbidden Garden, and we enter from the wrong side through an open gate. The heat was sapping so we postponed the visit and instead detoured to Mahkota Parade for the air conditioning and a coffee. We had to exit past the ticket booth for the Palace which was the correct entrance – oops, we did return and pay, after coffee and buying our golf tickets.

Far from home - 10632kmWe were glad we did return, as the museum in the reconstructed Palace, was fascinating about the history of Melaka. It repeated the story about Parameswara whose hunting dogs were frightened by a mouse deer while he sat under a Melaka tree, giving the town its name. We also learnt about two of five brothers, Hang Tuah and Hang Tebat.

Lunch decisionsAfter a well deserved lunch of sizzling beef for me and noodles with chicken for Dave in a food court (not our usual choice of venue), it was off to China town armed with the Kindle version of Lonely Planet and another long list of places to see. This took us back past A Famosa, which was saved from destruction by Sir Stamford Raffles of Singapore fame, another tie with a place we have already visited.

Olly enjoys ChinatownThe tomb of Hang Karturi who is another one of the five brothers mentioned above showed that we are remembering some of the history we are seeing. We also worked out that the little deer statues next to the Dutch square are from the story of Parameswara naming the city.

It was then a quick walk past the three religious buildings in Chinatown being Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple, and Kampung Kling Mosque each the oldest of their type in Malaysia.

A giraffe on boardThe final stop was the Cheng Ho museum, who Dave remembered was an important Chinese Explorer, pre Columbus and pre Drake by some way. The museum was much bigger than we expected and we must have taken at least an hour walk around. Not only did the museum cover the various occupations of Malaysia by the Portuguese, then Dutch and finally the Brits before becoming independent in 1957 but also covered trade routes and the Silk Road (which we still want to do once Syria sorts itself out). However we never did understand why a giraffe was thought to be a good idea to have on board as a gift! The size of the fleet was also an eye opener as there were often 2,600 ships in them and the sheer logistics of organising such a number must have been extremely difficult.

River at night againBy this time we were exhausted but happy and definitely ready for a rest. Once revived we headed back to Jonker Walk where most restaurants are and see what we fancied. As ever the ones which look more touristy have mediocre food, and do not get Dave started on the quality of the live music with drum machine and soulless singing. Not a patch on Chris and Graham’s practice session with their band back in Tassie. On the way home via the river, we discussed our favourite places we have visited, places we felt we had done and places still on the to do list, but not this trip. We also feel our history of how the world became an integrated society and especially which explorers visited where and when, as well as the changes in the ruling nation of each country we have visited. As Dave found with the Dutch couple in Java, the “competitiveness” of our two nations of who ruled whom. It beats the boring history lessons I had to sit through at school.

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