Sunday, May 31, 2009


We drove the 2 hour trip down to Malacca for a dear nephew's wedding and in between marriage ceremonies, feasts and the final wedding celebration we managed to squeeze out of the hotel and spill out onto Jonker street and the famous Red Square in charming, quaint and clean Malacca.

Curious and with an appetite for anything whimsical, old and historic and in search of some tangible memories that I can physically hold on to Jonker Street sounded perfect. My first visit and I was charmed. It was everything that I imagined it to be. Old world, bijou and unpretentious as it lay just there right across the Malacca river from the Red Square and the famous clock tower built 300 hundred years ago by Dutch conquerors.

The cradle of Malay civilization and awarded the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006 Malacca, as I see it, lives up to its name. Malacca is old, Malacca is historical, Malacca is well preserved and Malacca is clean. Every alley that we passed and peeped into, every village road that we wound around, every nook and edge of its modern buildings were spotless and every garden was well manicured. I was impressed.

But Jonker Street was my goal. For the few times that I have been to Malacca I have always missed Jonker Street. The Red Square, the A' famosa and museums were not on the itinerary this time and with very little time to spare our Jonker Street walk was quite a rush too. However I managed to snap glimpses of it in between dashes, walks and stops before rushing back to the hotel to change and freshen up for the wedding and these were what caught my eye.

As we crossed the bridge over the Malacca River a cruise boat sped by and I heard the monotone of a tourist guide giving a history lesson.

Past the river and this was the first shop we plunged into at the beginning of Jonker Street. Antiques, curios and some strange looking items.

Some strange looking items.

The old and the new, juxtaposed.

I must make a cake of that lovely aqua blue green!

Is this a secret garden locked and forbidden for some tragic reason? Or is this the work of an enthusiastic green fingered being? I was smitten.

Why do locked gates attract me so and especially one that guards a lush tropical garden behind it?

A tea house named after Admiral Cheng Ho. It must have seen better days I'm sure. But absolutely charming nevertheless.

These used bottles welcome you to a shop that sells dirty plates for expensive prices. I fingered an old brown English looking one in a tattered gritty cardboard box stuffed with some other broken and dank china. I yoo-hooed at the shopkeeper for the price. Being caught in an animated conversation at the front of the shop he didn't hear me or just didn't care and I was glad he didn't for I'm sure I wouldn't have bought it anyway. I was just being curious.

I remember some of these bottles as a child especially the F & N one but I'm not that old and dirty.

Ronaldo in Jonker Street!

Another one of those sovenior shops.

Love those dark, flappy wooden windows against the stark white of the wall and the crimson red of the shop next to it.

'O you shaggy-headed banyan tree standing on the bank of the pond,
Have you forgotten the little child,
Like the birds that have nested in your branches and left you ?.....'

From 'The Crescent moon' by Tagore

These things are begging for attention. It is a confusion between cowboy, Malacca and the Pasadena Flower Parade. How could I not take a picture. Or two.

A bazaar at the Red Square.

Part of the Stadthuys (pronounced 'stat-highs'), buildings built by the Dutch in the 1600's and said to have been painted a salmon red when the British took over. It was the administrative centre of the Dutch colonists and also housed the office and residence of it's governor all located at the Red Square. It is said that the Studthuys is the oldest remaining Dutch colonial building left in South East Asia.

The Clock Tower and Christ Church in the Red Square just about 200 meters from Jonker Street across the river.

Did I tell you that I bought 4 lovely coloured tablemats? Yes I did.

More about the Stadthuys here.


Anonymous said...

A great posting and wonderful pictures Zurin!

In the 70s when I used to scour Jonker Street for interesting finds,I was warned even then that much of the stuff was actually fakes or junk! But that didn't stop me from rummaging through broken plates and furniture to discover that one amazing nyonya ceramic!

I agree - Melaka is charmingly quaint but orderly unlike chaotic Penang.

Some do not agree that its heritage preservation has quite met the exacting international standards but I think it is fine.

Being A Melaka Minangkabau on my mother's side I've always been partial to the history and legends surrounding this ancient watering hole, especially that of Puteri Gunung Ledang and Nenek Kebayan.

There's definitely a certain mystique surrounding Melaka!

Zurin said...

Agree...Penang is chaotic n quite dirty! :D unike Malacca...The Malacca ketua menteri did a good job and I salute him for that...m nt sure myself if it meets the international standard bt Im happy with it simply bcos its clean ! I find that so important.

M a minangkabau on my mother's side too ! :) but nt malacca tho.....I think my ancestors settled in Kajang. most of my relatives on my moms side are there.

I love Malacca. wld go there again in a second...

Didnt bother to look at antiques tho....ys lots of fake ones m sure...but I wld buy anyhting if Iike it even if it costs 5 sen n is as cheap as dirt!


Related Posts with Thumbnails