I didn’t know how to start the first blog post on Melaka. Can I just say I fell in love with the little city? There are many reasons why I thought Melaka was a great place to visit and it started with the minute our bus entered the Malaysian peninsula. Do you still recall the country’s tourism advertisement? The “Malaysia, Truly Asia” one? That was the first thing I said when we left Causeway Link. As soon as the bus entered Malaysia, it felt like home. And, it should be. After all, we Filipinos are of the Malay race.
This was taken by my husband inside the teksi (taxi) that took us to our guesthouse from the bus station. You will know you have come to the right place because of the red paint. This red square is the Melakan trademark (which I knew beforehand though books and the Internet). But what I did not anticipate were the many sights that delighted me on our 2-day stay in this tiny city. Our first order of business after getting refreshed at our guesthouse was to check out the town square. I did not do much research (at least not as much research on Singapore) prior to our trip to Melaka. What I wanted to do was just walk around the city and check out their malls (because I learned prices are cheaper). You know you are in the right place because you will be seeing red all over. Literal red. The Melakan town square is painted red. The reason? I don’t know.
Christ Church of Melaka was a Protestant church established by the Dutch colonizers in 1753. It may look small and was indeed small with only a few pews inside, but the ceiling was high and bare (in comparison to our town’s Catholic church), which made the church look very spacious. I was surprised to see someone selling tourist merchandise at the entrance of the church. What captured my attention inside was the epitaph erected by a husband for his wife.
The epitaph says: “Beneath this stone is interd with her still born infant the remains of Mrs. Mary Betty, who departed this life, Sept. 20th 1800, aged 30 years. Her disconsolate husband has caused this stone to be placed here as a small mark of his regard for an amiable and affectionate wife.” I was touched because, although not “cheesy” in today’s standards, this must have been romantic in the 1800s.
The British then took over in Melaka and added newer structures to the red square, including this clock tower. On the side of the Christ Church are Baba merchant stalls, some of which have been converted to museums and cafes, others closed, some still selling Baba merchandise. Baba Nyonya (also referred to as “Peranakans”) are Chinese-Malaysian residents of the city. Peranakans are also found in the Malaysian peninsula, including Singapore.
In the town square, appropriately named “Red Square” or “Dutch Square” where the fountain is located, you will find influences of the Dutch and the British. Don’t believe it when the books say Melaka is a ghost town on weekdays because tourists abound, especially in the town square. A walk around the town square will fill your memory card because of the many architectural and design delights you’ll find along the way. Further from the town, there are displays of vehicles — train, planes, military trucks, used during World War II. Also just near the town square is the maritime museum. You won’t miss this because it’s a replica of a galleon. There is also a replica windmill, in honor of the Dutch people who once lived in the city. Also, there is Taming Sari, a watch tower that will give you a good bird’s eye view of the city. If you have only one day in Melaka, do not miss the town square.