Mallacca - A Dutch-uguese-alasian town

Trip Start Feb 11, 2008
Trip End Jun 30, 2008

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Where I stayed
Twenty Guesthouse

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Malacca: a town that loves to shout about it's heritage; and my kind of place, filled with ruined churches, forts, replica Dutch sailing ships and enough museums for each day of the week!

We breezed into town via the main bus station, which is located on the outskirts, but we caught a "town bus" to take us into the centre of Malacca. This was not as successful as it could have been as the bus we hopped onto wasn't the right bus at all, and it wasn't going to the town centre but was heading into the suburbs! This I found out from the Malaysian girl sat next to me, who tried her upmost in her limited English, and with the use of the map I was frantically poring over in my concern that we'd end up somewhere we didn't want to go, to explain that this "was the wrong bus, you plonker!". Once she realised my panic and noticed the sweat of concern beading my brow she kindly said "stop, stop" to me and smiling, pointed out the stop button above my head, which I pushed at the same time as telling Jo (who asked me waht the hell I was doing) that we'd got on the wrong bus - again!

One minute later (after we'd excused ourselves and politely pushed our way through the packed bus toward the exit, trying hard not to hit too many people on the back opf the head with our rucksacks) we were stood on the roadside waving farewell to the smiling occupants of the bus as it rattled off down the street in a cloud of blue diesel smoke. Once again, we stood looking at each other with perplexed faces, wondering what the hell we were going to do next. However, Jo took the map off me, shook her head and tutted and worked out that the road we were stood upon lead into the centre of the town. So with sweaty backs we threw our rucksacks on and marched in the midday heat the couple of miles into the town where there was a guesthouse that Jo particularly wanted to stay at called "Twenty".

"Twenty" is a 17th century converted Dutch store, tastefully converted into a clean, well decorated guesthouse with spacious rooms, friendly staff and a resident cat, and located in the main tourist area of Malacca. The lads that manage the place have created a warm, welcoming home from home, where we felt relaxed from the moment we'd thrown down our rucksacks and collapsed on the bed underneath the air conditioning unit. In fact, little did we realise it at the time, but we'd feel so comfortable here that we'd end up staying for almost a week.

Malacca is a jumble of Dutch, Chinese, Malaysian and Portuguese architecture, including many wonderful sites and buildings to visit. That afternoon we wondered around the main square (called, unimaginatively Dutch Square) gawping at the buildings and taking a few photos. We made our way to the remains of the main Dutch fort which once encircled the original Dutch settlement to the A Famosa, a partially ruined gateway, etched with original 17th century carvings and surrounded by Dutch cannon, which is all that remains of the fort after the Brits laid it to rubble out of fear of the Chinese using it to gain a foothold during some scrap we had with them during Queen Vic's reign. In fact, we made such a job of smashing the crap out of the 150 year old walls that all of the fort would have been removed if it were not for Sir Stamford Raffles stepping in and saying "hang on chaps, lets leave them one gateway, just for posterity." I don't know if those were his exact words, but I imagine the arrogant xenophic imperial gob shite saying something along those lines. Still, if it weren't for him, I wouldn't have been able to have had my photo taken in front of it, along with dozens of ohter camera snapping tourists.

I'd like to point out that it was whilst I was happily taking photos of the detail from the carvings above the gateway that Jo was seconded for a second photo shoot from another Asian tourist who must have mistook her for somebody else. With a wild look in her eye and a grin on her face, she told me what had happened. Yet again, a delighted and obviously thrilled tourist, asked her to pose for a photo with them while their friend took the picture. I didn't see this happen however, so I was a little dubious about her story and told her that I thought she was making it up in order to make me jealous that I hadn't been asked for my photo to be taken and been mistaked for a famous person (maybe George Clooney, or Mel Gibson - okay, an overweight George Clooney, perhaps? More probably Peter Kay!!) The look on her face said it all though, and she even pointed out the lady that asked for the photo, who waved back to her with a huge grin when she noticed Jo pointing her out to me. Hmmpphhh, my turn next!

We spent the rest of the day mooching around the sights of Malacca and before we returned to our guesthouse for a shower (warm this time) and a change of clothes in time for dinner, we climbed the small hill in the centre of the town upon which is perched the four walled remains of the oldest catholic church in Asia, St Pauls Church. It reminded me of the motte and bailey castle in Guildford, mailnly because of the hill it was on and the path you follow to the top, which winds up the side of the hill and deposits you by the doorway.

Inside we examined the 17th and 18th century gravestones and tomb covers of wealthy, influential Dutch colonials, which were leant against the walls of the church and depicted some fine, well preserved carvings - if you like that sort of thing! As well as the joys of reading epitaphs of the dead there was a guitar strumming duo sat on wooden stools singing Eagles songs for a handfull of Ringit. They were in fact, very good and after I dropped a couple of quid into their open hat, they allowed me to jam with them for a bit, but as they were far superior guitar players than I am (I only know 8 chords and even then not in the right order) I sheepishly gave back their guitar and let them get onb with earning their keep. Great guys!
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