Thursday, 13 June 2013

Melaka Part 4: A Walk in the Red City

After reminiscing the past at the A Famosa, we decided to continue the journey on foot to the popular cendol stall by the river for evening meal. Bandar Hilir was not that big, I guess. Even though there are various mode of transportation to bring you to your desired destinations around town, the best mode would still be walking on your own. On the way to the Dutch Square, we encountered numerous museums located as tourist attraction sites, with minimal fee as low as RM 0.50 per entry, ranging from Islamic museum to architectural museums. 

Trishaw Anyone?
On our way to the Dutch Square, I could see almost twenty trishaw, heavily decorated with flowers playing loud music (from Giyomi to Indonesian band music), carrying foreign tourists all the way from A Famosa to the Dutch Square. 

Tough-looking Malay man. On trishaws designed with flowers and girly materials (like Hello Kitty?). An amusing juxtaposition. 

Anyway, if you do intend to get a ride, get a price from them and then bargain wisely before boarding. They are available at the Dutch Square, nearby Christ Church or in front of A Famosa entrance. If I could recall clearly, a ride would cost RM 40 an hour (before bargaining). 

Melaka River Cruise Boat
Officially commenced somewhere in 2001, the boat ride costs RM 5 for adult and RM 2 for children from 9 am to 12 am, which will take about 45 minutes. Along the ride, you will be able to see some historical preserved buildings including residential houses. I believed that there were efforts undertaken by the local authority to purify the river. As far as I could recall, when I was young, the river was not as beautiful as it is today.

In Dutch it carries the meaning of "city hall', but it was also referred to as the Red Square, obviously attributable to the color of the paint of the building. Nearby Stadthyus, a Christ Church is also located, where the pious Christian Dutch people had long congregated. Stadthyus is actually a huge building, housing not only the residence of the governor, but also the secretary's office, guest house, dining room, kitchen, warehouse, servants' houses and also a prison. However, the real function of Stadthyus remained a mystery. 

Also, the reason why the building was painted in red remained a mystery, with many theory and legends justifying the current state. Other than these, while further discovery of Stadthuys, there were secret passages and tunnels discovered in the buildings, which were built for undiscovered reasons. 

Anyway, today, Stadthuys plays a passive and dry role as a Museum of Ethnography.

Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower
Descending the stairs at the Stadthuys, I saw a beautiful clock tower, standing tall in the middle of the Dutch Square. Blending in perfectly into the surrounding, I didn't know that the clock tower was not from the Dutch. The clock tower was given in the 1886 to the people of Melaka by Tan Jiak Kim, fulfilling the desire of his late father, Tan Beng Swee. But I was informed that the original clock was removed from the tower to Melaka Museum and replaced by a new one, donated by a Japanese company.

With hawkers flooding the centre of Dutch Square with their stalls selling souvenirs, the small roads which is filled with merciless traffic, the trishaw decorated with flowers and the people heading to get their delicious cendol by the river; Dutch Square promises a congestion if visited during the peak hours. 

Speaking of cendol, we did not spend that much time at the stalls selling souvenirs, rather we need something cool to sooth our stomach. So we quickly crossed the small road to get to the warong near the clock tower to enjoy our cendol.

San Shu Gong
Unfortunately, the warong was full. No empty seats for us. There were people standing, waiting for empty seats. And we were impatient. Luckily I recalled a nearby located shop, selling among others, the famous durian cendol. San Shu Gong. Located at the corner of the road, on our way to Jonker Street, San Shu Gong could easily be found. We made our way passed the cendol stall by the river, further up until we found Hard Rock Cafe Melaka, and oh yeah, drop by for cheap ice cream too, and ta da... the San Shu Gong.

It is a super duper awesome local delicacy store selling fruit tarts, biscuits, coffee, cakes, cookies and other type of food. For some reason, I think the local would enjoy the cendol by the river better, but to me, the cendol here is definitely a bonus, with a mix of durian in it. After walking under the humid atmosphere and the hot sun, cendol at that particular hour, was definitely refreshing. As expected, a bowl of cendol cost RM 7.


Jonker Street
As we walked out of the restaurant, we turned left into the Jonker Walk. Along the narrow and winding street, beautifully decorated shop houses and small temples were lined up neatly. It was late in the evening, very few stalls were completely set up, while other vendors were preparing for their businesses of the day. People began to fill into the street, that caused regret among the vehicle drivers who were trying to make their way passing the road, as honking, would not make that much difference. 

The best time to drop by at the Jonker Walk would be at night. But still, taking a walk late in the evening was also a nice experience. There were many things sold here, in Jonker Walk, primarily the souvenirs of your choice and cheap local delicacies. 

After about half an hour wandering around the area, we decided to make a move and head to Duyong for lovely seafood dinner. It was a brief visit to Melaka, but like people said, keep it short and sweet. Indeed mine was. How about yours? Tell me. 

Till then, 

Hairi Tahir

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