12 October 2009

History Walk

As part of Southeast Asia, Indonesia always teach their children at school with historical of big kingdoms existed before colonizers came, such as Sriwijaya, Majapahit, Pasai, Aceh and Melaka (or Malacca). Pasai Kingdom was located very near my hometown Lhokseumawe, but nothing much left from it. Aceh Kingdom was located in Banda Aceh now, I saw some of its heritages last year in my trip to Banda Aceh. And last weekend I just visited Malacca, which is already announced by UNESCO as world heritage site. It is very nice that Malaysia can keep their historical sites well. Indonesia should learn from them, really, we Indonesia also have, even better and more unique cultural heritages. Be proud!

So about my trip, me and friends took bus from Kovan bus terminal, Singapore. It takes 3-4 hours to get Malacca depends on how hectic there in CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine) of Singapore and Malaysia checkpoints. The bus ended in bus terminal Melaka Sentral. Our inn is located in Jalan Portugis, so we asked some people in terminal which bus to take to get there, and they all gave the same answers, by Bus 17 or Panorama. After we got there, we apparently did not arrive at the hostel area, but at one of tourist spots: Portuguese Settlement (Perkampungan Portugis). We got lost... but it's OK, at least we had already come to one famous spot :P We tried to stop bus like in Indonesia, you know... in random place of the road, not in a particular bus stop (cause we couldn't find any bus stop nearby!!). Luckily it stopped nyahaha! Yes, Malacca is a small city without too many restrictions, you can alight, board bus and cross the street anywhere.

We put our belongings in the guest house, Ringo's Foyer. I don't know how my friend found this place (booking fee is only $1.5), it doesn't look fantastic (yea it's a backpacker hostel, very cheap, what da ya expect) but the owner (Howard) is very friendly. The place is just a walking distance to the city. We then went looking for foods in Jonker Walk, it's an antique street full of souvenirs, unique shops and local dishes (reminds me of Braga Bandung and streets in Macau). The street ends with the bridge of Malacca river. From this part, the city of Malacca in past times begins. Malacca Kingdom fell when Portuguese colony under Afonso de Albuquerque sailed and conquered the city on 15th century. On 16th century they were defeated by Dutch. This place is really attractive since many people did commercial trade around Straits of Malacca. Dutch built forts and administrative area which is called Stadhuys means town hall, also named Red Square because of the color. We can find ruins of forts, museums, churches and many historical buildings around this area.

Interesting places: Jonker Walk, Stadhuys, Maritime Museum (inside a ship), Ruins of Fort A Famosa, Ruins of St Paul, Taming Sari , Eye on Malaysia (it's like Singapore Flyer), River Cruise, Cheng Hoon Temple. More pictures can be seen in my facebook (courtesy to Fajar for some pictures shown here).
Traditional foods: All Baba Nyonya foods, Chicken Rice Ball, Satay Celup, Baba Laksa, Es Cendol (I drank it 3 times a day, so damn hot there). Nyonya means Chinese women who get married with local people, and their descents are called Baba.

So, will Sriwijaya and Majapahit be my next destinations?!

05 October 2009

Where There is Water, There are Chinese

Last weekend many parts of Singapore made an event to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. First I found it strange since here in Singapore we don't have such that season. But apparently it's Chinese tradition to celebrate harvesting time in the 15th day of the 8th moon of Chinese lunar month, around the time of the autumn equinox. In the Western calendar, the day of the festival usually occurred sometime between the second week of September and the second week of October. This year it falls on 3rd October.

This is a day to worship the moon god. This festival signs that the year's hard work in the fields had been finished, with fruits, vegetables and grain had been harvested by this time and food was abundant. Chinese people use this opportunity to express their gratitude to heaven for the blessings they have enjoyed over the past year. One of special foods for this festival is moon cakes.

Thanks to omy for inviting me (again) to explore more about this festival and Chinese culture in general in Hua Song Museum, inside Haw Par Villa. I think it is the best place to celebrate this festival. The event includes mooncake tasting, calligraphy, free dinner and goodie bags, walking by the light of lantern, and a tour of the Museum.

Hua Song means 'In Praise of Chinese', it is a museum about Chinese community. It shows statues, posters, and descriptions about their jobs in the past, their women, their education, their festivals, their kitchen and foods.

It shows also how they went around the world to seek a better life. There were 2 big migrations in the past, first was on 14th-16th century where China people went to Nanyang, or now we call it as Southeast Asia. In this museum we can find also the history of Lee Kuan Yew's ancestors emigrated from Dapu. The second one was on 19th century when they migrated to America, working on railway track project or mining.

I like this phrase:

Don't you agree?