27 November 2009

Malacca and Malacca Strait

In the 17th century Malacca was a stopover for the big ships of the Dutch Eastindian Company (VOC) on their way to Batavia and the Maluku spice islands. They could take in fresh water, meat and vegetables and also there were opportunities for trade. There are still several (mostly restored) buildings from that period e.g. the church and the 'stadthuys' (town hall). In 2008 the United Nations have decided to declare Malacca a world heritage place and so Malaysia got some extra money to restore the historical buildings and sites of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English period. In the 'stadthuys' is an extended and interesting museum where a lot of 'souvenirs' of the VOC and Holland have got a place.

In Jonkerstraat you walk along small old buildings with mostly shops on the ground floor. At Low Yong Mow, one of the many Chinese eateries we have a breakfast with dim sum's, these are filled packages with delicious pork or shrimp meat and vegetables that are steamed in big round baskets. With it you drink jasmine tea as much as you want. Very interesting is the museum of Cheng Ho, the great Chinese seafarer who by order of the emperor of China from 1406 on with a very extended merchant fleet discovered and charted the world. In seven journeys he visited many countries, did business and started diplomatic ties of friendship and trade. There are more and more suspicions that Columbus must have had sea maps that have been drawn by cartographers engaged by Cheng Ho and further traded on. In Malacca Cheng Ho had established a large depot for his trade goods and in between his sea travels he must have lived and done business here. From the hill you have a nice view over the city and strait and in the ruins of the old St. Paul's church you find a collection of tombstones of Dutch citizens of the 17th century. At the foot of the hill there is one gate left of the fortress that the Dutch have build in the time of the VOC.

One day sailing to the north we meet bad weather and flee into Admiral marina near Port Dickson. The marina is part of an impressive apartment complex and has a stylish colonial clubhouse with a restaurant and bar. And we can use the swimming pool for a refreshing dip! There is not a lot of wind along the coast northbound and with a stop over in Port Klang, the busy harbour of Kuala Lumpur, and an overnighter with a lot of lightning, we reach Penang island.

Slideshow Malacca