A Dream of Old Malacca

St Francis Xavier

St Francis Xavier

In 1883, the celebrated author and explorer, Isabella Lucy Bird had this to say about her extended sojourn in Malacca, to which she had decided to wend her trans-continental journey, on a whim:

“Malacca fascinates me more and more daily. There is, among other things, a mediaevalism about it. The noise of the modern world reaches it only in the faintest echoes; its sleep is almost dreamless, its sensations seem to come out of books read in childhood.”

These words were contained in Ms Bird’s most famous book, The Golden Chersonese and the Way Thither, which reintroduced a whole generation of Grand Tourists to the idea of Malacca (and the Malay Peninsula) as an ancient and fabulous civilisation. These days, Malacca is far less mediaeval and dream-like than it was before. Its streets are quite literally thronged with tourists, at least during the weekends. There are still many places in the city where history seeps through to the present.  But these are almost always juxtaposed against inevitable signs of development and modernity.

This gallery presents views of Malacca today, illustrating how the mediaeval coexists easily with the contemporary.  Some of these views present the city as a Chinese one – in her book, Ms Bird had also remarked on how it was “to all intents and purposes a Chinese city,” and it certainly still fits the bill today.  Many others present the European city – British, Dutch and Portuguese, showing how one colonial power has simply “written” over the other, like multiple layers sediment in a cross-section of earth.

Present in this gallery are the two most important personages in Malacca’s illustrious, one the city’s resident deity, the other its patron saint. The first is the inimitable Admiral Cheng Ho, who came with his treasure ships to Malacca no less than six times and brought with him those who would become the Peranakan Cina. The second is St. Francis Xavier, who of all cities, loved Malacca the most.

Interior of St Paul’s Cathedral

Interior of St Paul’s Cathedral

View up towards St Paul’s Cathedral

View up towards St Paul’s Cathedral

Musuem Islam Melaka.

Musuem Islam Melaka.

Stadthuys

Stadthuys

Alternate view of Christchurch

Alternate view of Christchurch

Alternate view of A Famosa

Alternate view of A Famosa

Dutch Harbor Cafe

Dutch Harbor Cafe

British Merchant

British Merchant

Chinese merchant

Chinese merchant

Picture Postcard View

Picture Postcard View

Casa Del Rio

Casa Del Rio

The Malacca Club

The Malacca Club

St Francis Institution

St Francis Institution

Fruits of the Malacca Tree

Fruits of the Malacca Tree

Shophouses on Heeren St

Shophouses on Heeren St

Malaqa House

Malaqa House

The Peranakan Restaurant

The Peranakan Restaurant

CYC Mansion, Heeren St

CYC Mansion, Heeren St

Down the street

Down the street

Façade of Peranakan Mansion.

Façade of Peranakan Mansion.

22 - Another facade

Orangutan House

Orangutan House

Eng Choon Association

Eng Choon Association

Old Biscuit Tins

Old Biscuit Tins

Early morning promenade.

Early morning promenade.

Theatre Complex across from Cheng Hoon Teng, Jalan Tokong.

Theatre Complex across from Cheng Hoon Teng, Jalan Tokong.

Within Cheng Hoon Teng, Jalan Tokong.

Within Cheng Hoon Teng, Jalan Tokong.

Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Hindu Temple, Jalan Tokong.

Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Hindu Temple, Jalan Tokong.

Kampung Kling Mosque, Jalan Tokong.

Kampung Kling Mosque, Jalan Tokong.

Kampong Hulu Mosque, north of Jalan Tokong.

Kampong Hulu Mosque, north of Jalan Tokong.

Grave at the top of Bukit Cina

Grave at the top of Bukit Cina

Alternate view of Bukit Cina.

Alternate view of Bukit Cina.

Statue of Cheng Ho, Sam Po Kong Temple.

Statue of Cheng Ho, Sam Po Kong Temple.

Ruins of the former Capitol Theatre, Jalan Bendahara.

Ruins of the former Capitol Theatre, Jalan Bendahara.

Kampung Morten

Kampung Morten

Peranakan Mansion on Jalan Bendahara.

Peranakan Mansion on Jalan Bendahara.

St Peter’s Church

St Peter’s Church

Restaurant de Lisbon

Restaurant de Lisbon

Hotel de Lisbon.

Hotel de Lisbon.

Next month: the final stop, Singapore and the Raffles Hotel

About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Cities & Regions, Culture & Lifestyle, Landmarks & History, Literature & Philosophy, Photography, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Dream of Old Malacca

  1. Aloysius Colin Jeremiah says:

    Beautiful sights of Malacca nice landmarks so relaxing to see and just being there again would fulfill one’s desire to make frequently short trips from Singapore just for a breakaway.next visit must visit Hotel de lisbon never knew it existed.Thanxx a million for the information and photographs.

  2. As always beautiful photos, took me back to the few days I spent there in 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s