A little more about Malacca


When i first visited Malacca in 2002, it looked to me like a bunch of old houses with some cute ones readily disneyfied for tourists, a sleepy backwater with a muddy river and monitor lizards on it. Nice but empty and therefore sort of  false , an empty shell .
What a nice surprise is to see that nothing of that can be seen today and somehow Malacca is not  a “cute” old city but is alive again in rediscovering his identity. The heritage status gained together with Penang in 2008 must have given a strong contribution to what we found today , yet instead of simply giving shine to the old buildings it seems to have refreshed a sense of identity , which makes the city alive again.
Of course many of the quaint old houses are now turned into hotels or restaurant or cafés, but the small  scale of them makes them sustainable and better to have a living family running a hotel and hopefully maintaining interest to preserve old traditions rather than outsider developers not having any sense of belonging to it. Malacca was quaint ten years ago when i came first but it lacked spirit and liveliness, whereas today there is a desire to infuse life in the old shophouses. Cultural centres, soaps workshops, single origin coffee places and of course antiques are a way of doing this resuscitation. But above all my favorite highlight of this renewal is certainly the river, with its quays now made pleasant to walk along and with bars and restaurant where to watch the stars or smell the jasmine plants. In many ways, the river has dictated the fortunes of Malacca, from thriving cosmopolitan trading town, at the crossroads of two monsoon, where merchant would have to wait and store their goods, to sleepy backwater after it silted up. Now the river from that muddy sluggish pool has transmuted itself in a colorful walk, with bars and restaurants and murales. That is the best way to make a city alive again in my opinon, that is to say to give something to the local people to enjoy, something that can be lived through daily. This makes the blood flowing again through the alleys and the streets. After this, I really hope too that Malacca goes into that cultural revival and pride that seems to inspire Penang and at that moment maybe we will be going to see the WangKang festival more often than every fifty years, to have cantonese opera within one hour and a half from Kuala Lumpur , for  now  it is exciting enough to enjoy that new different ripe feeling walking down the alleys and strolling along the river, we are not anymore in a hellokittified space like it felt it was going to be ten years ago.




In the interior of a furniture workshop one can still see among the tools, the beautiful wood carved panels that used to decorate the house


Beautiful pintu pagar (half doors)


The Hokkien temple in Jonker street is not as rich and old as the Cheng Hoon one but it is still presenting some joyful examples of folk art craftmanships


Interior of Hokkien temple in Jonker street


Hokkien temple in Jonker street


Hokkien temple in Jonker Street


Another temple in the lanes of Malacca



Lunar Year decoration


The hokkien temple has a swallowtail roof whereas the gable is more typical of notable private houses (as Robert explained to me)


Small temple


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