Saturday, November 19, 2011


The replica of a Portuguese trading vessel
The Dutch influence.

Barry has decided that he would like to leave for South Africa from the top of the island of Sumatra, which means we would not be going back down the Straits of Malacca.  I really wanted to see the historic town of Malacca, so here we are.  Malacca was a centre of trade where East met West since the 14th century.  An admiral appointed by an Emperor of the Ming Dynasty traded here in the 1400's offering protection to the Sultan of Malacca.  The Portuguese took over the port after the Chinese withdrew their support due to some ill omens in China and a change of Emperor.
 The Dutch challenged the Portuguese and burned the town and imposed draconian taxes and duties on the trading goods.  Malacca's star dimmed as merchants chose other locations.  The British took over and were a little fairer but a fellow named Raffles decided Singapore was a better location and it became the hub to trading.

Chinese shophouses on the canal
I have been really enjoying my time away from the boat, we have been seeing the sights and visiting some of the myriad of museums that are here.  We both enjoyed learning about Cheng Ho the Chinese admiral visiting the home of a Chinese Malaysian.  The family has been here for six generations and the original immigrant made enough money to purchase three adjacent shophouses and make them into one home.  They are long skinny houses with only a front door, the first house was to house the servants and prepare the food, the middle one was to entertain guests and the the third house was where the family lived.  One of the most interesting features was in the master bedroom which overlooked the front door.  There was a peep hole in the floor and if the master of the house didn't like who was knocking at his door he could poor water or worse on his head.
Through just pure dumb luck we ended up here at the same time as a performing arts festival.  I took in 3 dances this afternoon, one which was held on top of the hill in the ruins of an old Catholic church.  The food is terrific here as well, I have been gorging on the local speciality bean sprouts while Barry enjoyed chicken and rice balls this afternoon.  We are headed off to sample some night life after spending part of last evening watching a judged Chinese karaoke contest.