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Friday, December 2, 2011

Last Minuet in Melacca

Old Colonial Melacca centre

0. Last Minuet in Melacca
1. Melacca Temples on Harmony Street
2. Kampung Chitti

2006-11-22 We decided to take a short detour to Melacca because we had a couple of days up our sleeve before hitting the plane back from Singapore, because its another ancient cultural capital and is within a couple of hours drive of Singapore.

Melacca is another quaint multicultural historical relic. Colonized by the Chinese, the Indians, the Portugese, the Dutch, the British and finally the tourists and now the backpackers. It has a small Chinatown, bordered by old Dutch colonial buildings with a string of temples of all kinds on a street called 'harmony street' for this reason. In the same view in the same street there is a South Indian Hindu temple, an elegant semi-colonial mosque with many cultural influences and several Chinese temples and clan shrines. The people are as mixed, from brazen Chinese women with naked belly buttons and double shimmy mini-skits to demure Muslim women trying to look fashionable in a colour matched veil and hanging drapes, with Indian women dressing freely somewhere in between in Saris.

Divergent styles of women's dress

There is of course another Malacca. We're holed up in Traveler's Lodge, a nice place with an electronic security gate, a kitchen and roof garden with an overview of the modern Malaccan establishment, a place just like home in the last destination of our Asia circuit. It has internet, TV, a basic cafe serving breakfast and snacks and a self serve kitchen where we have just made a fruit salad of mango, dragon fruit, mandarin, apple, banana and lychees.

It's in the newer quarter of town with vast shopping malls ironically sporting Christmas Santas and snowmen and large modern housing estates leading down to a rather forlorn industrial coastline where it is almost impossible to get to the water.

It's a place you expect to find McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried all giving us a chance to eat a few rounds of junk food we at least know is sterile even if it fails all nutirition tests. No wait a minute - we TRIED to get sterile chicken from "The Chicken Rice Shop" and lo and behold once we chomped into it it was streaming with raw blood just like the chicken in Penang! More complaints to please cook our food properly!

Tomorrow we'll hire bikes and circuit the town. Our bus to Singapore is already booked next day for the Lavender Bus Terminal in Little India from where we can take a subway to the airport a few hours later.

Having visited many of the Chinese temples, and Christine had received a banana offering from the priest at the Indian temple and we had visited the mosque, I did ride out to Kampung Chitty a stylish Indian 'ghetto' enclave on the outskirts of town which had a temple and a series of chic alternative houses, that probably started out as non-permitted buildings but have now become fashionable looking. The Chtty are also associated with the Indian temple and form an early migrant group from South India that settled here and in Singapore and no longer are fluent in Tamil, but speak a Tamil-enriched form of Malay.

There is also a good site with photos of the night markets.

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