Sunday, May 11, 2008

Day Trip to Malacca

Went for a day trip to Malacca yesterday. Started the day at 6am, left home at 7am, reach Woodlands Checkpoint at 7.40am, then a long wait started. The roads leading to Woodlands Checkpoint was again jam packed. I waited at the departure hall for more than two hours, then the tour bus arrived, by the time I boarded the bus, it was already 9.45am!

Malaysia Custom for Tour Groups

Once we reached Malaysia, our stop was a breakfast stop. Everybody was hungry. Our Malaysian guide brought us to a famous fish-ball noodle shop for breakfast.

The Famous Fish-Ball Noodle Shop

My Breakfast - Seafood Fishboall Noodle

The fishball & the noodle were not bad, but the price is not low. That small little bowl of noodle of mine cost RM7.20. I was not full at all. More than food sampling than a serious breakfast.

After the breakfast, we continued our journey north to Malacca. Our second stop was at a Bee Farm. To be more precise, a honey shop, a very commercialised honey shop. They are selling local produced honey, but their honey is really pricy. A small little bottle costs about RM20.00. Considering a bottle of similar volumn of New Zealand honey is only about half the price, don't you think their honey is pricy?

We finally arrived in Malacca at 1pm. Lunch till 2pm, then we started our city tour of Malacca. No other place can be a better starting point than Jonker Street. It is the part of the town that was left (almost) untouched over time, where the charm of old time lingers.

Starting Point of Our City Tour - Jonker Street

Jonker Street Shops

Jonker Street Scene

Another famous place is the QingYunTing (青云亭) Temple. It is the oldest Chinese temple in Malacca, which still yeilds lots of influence. About a decade ago, the Malacca government wanted to level Bukit SanBao (三宝山), a Chinese cemetery dating back to the Ming Dynasty in the city centre of Malacca. Strong opposition came from the local Chinese community, but the local government still pressed ahead the decision. A legal tussle started. At the end, it was QingYunTing Temple that came up with the original decree from one of the Sultans that clearly stated that Bukit SanBao was awarded to the Malacca Chinese community. The decree proved the local Chinese community being the legal owner of Bukit SanBao. The government lost the suit and had to scrap the plan.

QingYunTing Temple Main Hall

QingYunTing temple has some unique features that other Chinese temples don't have.

1. If you look at the horizontal pillar across the main hall, you could see 8 golden men supporting the pillar. These eight are not of Chinese origin only, they include Indians, Bangadesh, Westerners as well.

2. There are two poles in the front of the temple. They represent the sails of a ship. It signifies the local Chinese, being overseas Chinese, will one day sail back to their home country - China.

3. The temple has camourflaged signs of anti-Qing Dynasty & support for the movement to restore Ming Dynasty.

It is quite interesting to learn all these, right? When I was there for the first time many years ago, I didn't know any of these. QingYunTing just looks like any other temple, boring! Now with such knowledge, everything becomes interesting.

And how can we miss the landmark of Malacca - The Dutch Square, with its red buildings.

Dutch Square

Another place that the Chinese tourists will not miss is SanBao Temple at the foot of Bukit SanBao. SanBao Temple is very much a mis-nomer. The god being worshipped there is an earth deity, not Admiral Zheng He (郑和). Zheng He's original surname was Ma (马), and he was a Muslim. His tribe lost a war with the Ming army and he became a prisoner of war. As he was still at a tender age, he was chosen to become a eunuch to serve the imperial family. He made great contribution to the success of Emperor Yongle, so the emperor awarded him to have the surname of Zheng, and a title of SanBao.

Then why is this temple called SanBao Temple then? Mainly because of a well in the temple's premise that was said to be dug by Admiral Zheng He when his fleet came to Malacca during Ming Dynasty.

Main Entrance of SanBao Temple

Statue of Admral Zheng He

There is a sad story about the statue of Admiral Zheng He. The statue was donated by some community. At first, it was supposed to be placed in QingYunTing Temple, but the temple management rejected the proposal, reason being QingYunTing temple is a buddhist temple, but Admiral Zheng He is well-known to be a Muslim. For a period of time, nobody wanted to have this statue on their soil. At the end, the statue found home in a museum. Now, with the rise of Chinese economic power, Chinese tourists flock to cities along the silk road on the sea. Everybody is competing for the Zheng He statue.

No comments:

Post a Comment