I love history and the heart of Malaysian history is in Malacca or Melaka. Hence, that explains my affinity to Melaka. And with all the Strait States element (infused with all the colonial ambiance and the sea) and also the rapid urban development taking place, I am definitely loving Melaka as it caters both my sides of preferences; the historical part as well as the modern one. I guess growing up in Penang and mingled with friends who were predominantly Chinese & Indians has made me somewhat very tolerant in having various ethnics of friends and are opened into witnessing or experiencing new cultures to broaden my horizon as a citizen of the world. First and foremost, I refuse to bow to typical orthodox comments that besmirched the idea; though I hold tightly to my piety, I’d like to demonstrate what my religion preaches on the peace and harmony AND REFUSED to being continuously abused by the fools “taklid” (blindly follow) followers – to RESPECT other people’s faith!
I love Melaka!
Anyway, we pushed off to Melaka around 2.30 p.m. and only reached there around 6.00 p.m. due to the IMMENSE traffic jam in the town! Well what do you expect? It was the eve of public holidays and Melaka as tourist destination will be definitely packed, aite? Walked to the restaurant arcades in front of the Melaka River Cruise as our budget motel (definitely!) isn’t that far – we did this Westerners’ style! Hahahah! Initially I thought of having seafood at the Portuguese Settlement in Ujong Pasir but later I learned I had to abort that idea because of piety-taboo-pertaining-food. So, I resorted to this stall and quite satisfied with the deep-fried calamari (“sotong goreng tepung”)! (,”)
The Portuguese Settlement in Ujong Pasir, Melaka! A must-visit for variety of culture.
Around 8.30 p.m., the journey to Portuguese Settlement began. Finding signboards to Ujong Pasir were easy but sometimes you overlook them because it was dark and the glares from car beams make it worse. Irregardless, found the place and my, it was congested with cars and people thronging along the D’Albuquerque Street from the entrance of the Portuguese Settlement to the shore of Portuguese Square! The atmosphere was joyous with people from all races thronging! It was so congested that few traffic policemen were asked to monitor the traffic! You could see beautifully-decorated houses with neon and LED lights; the Christmas songs were played audibly. There was a gigantic Christmas tree and Santa and stalls were erected at the sides of the road, selling red hats and toys related to Christmas.
At the seaside area, we could see seafood restaurants with few bands playing Portuguese music. People were also trying to let the lanterns flew, blown by the sea breeze. It was magical! I felt like it was a scene from Disney’s “Tangled” although not as majestic as the Disney’s depiction. People wrote their wishes on the lantern and let them blown by the wind. Ethereal.
Scene at the seafood arcade.
In the inner-side area of Lisbon Hotel. I guess it was opened to public for Christmas. Nice place.
A little bit brief on the historical element (because I am such a historical freak!) : The Portuguese in Melaka are the creole (interracial marriages descents) ethnic of Portuguese settlers when they colonized Melaka back in 1511 (the downfall of Melaka Sultanate), and the native women. The name coined for these descendants is “Kristang”, derived from the colloquial version of ‘Christ-Tongue’, so they said. You know, the very existence of Creoles around the world are the symbols of interracial integration and I am very curious and fascinated with that. Beyonce Knowles for example is a French-Creole although she is known generally as Black American; but her ancestors hailed from France and her name was inspired by that of her French-speaking grandmother, Agnez Beyince! Amazing to read about the integration footprints, no?
Along the pier. People were trying to let go their lanterns; blown away by the sea breeze. Astonishing!
I felt like I was in Disney’s “Tangled” when “I See The Light” was serenaded! Not as majestic as the animation scene but it was surreal. Malaysia is indeed beautiful with different cultures, no? A melt-pot of various cultures need to be preserved!
I googled and found in Wikipedia that actually the Viceroy of India, Alfonso D’Alburquerque endorsed a policy to encourage the Portuguese settlers to marry the native women so that they can raise their own Oriental community that would be loyal to the Portuguese Government! Wow, talk about the tactics of colonialism! And there are around 300 Portuguese words that were “Malaynized” and incorporated into Bahasa Malaysia. All these are remnants of Creole, no doubt! Their most known dance would be the song of “Jinkling Nona” and the energetic dance are somewhat very European culture! Too bad they were busy celebrating Christmas when we went there. Perhaps some other weekends in non-festive days!
Anyway, enough with the history. Initially I was planning to savour seafood but since I have my own principle pertaining food and the crowd was immense, we decided to have dinner in front of River Cruise spot. The night felt so young that a taste of Hollywood would be nice (movies and I, you can’t separate us!) so went to GSC Cinema in Melaka Megamall to watch “Jack Reacher”, starring Tom Cruise.
Rosamund Pike as Helen Rodin. The beautiful damsel in distress.
Jai Courtney. The show-stealer.
Werner Herzog. The man of the movie. His portrayal somewhat emanated chill.
Well, what can I say about the movie that is a loose adaptation from a novel which I don’t read? I guess more or less it’s just OK but Tom Cruise is so predictable as the hero who-knows-it-all. Well, hero always wins and remain unscathed throughout the film, no? Hahahha. Rosamund Pike’s facial expression were somewhat quite convincing although her role was merely as damsel-in-distress. She’s really beautiful indeed and I guess the film director really used that. Well, after all it’s a SkyDance Production film – produced by Tom Cruise; nevertheless, I would say that the one that really steal the show was Jai Courtney who played the assassin Charlie and Werner Herzog as The Zec. Uncouth and brutal. On whole, I give 3 stars out of 5!
Soong Ai Ling as Princess Hang Li Po in “Hang Li Po” theater.
The next morning; more like afternoon, went to Bukit Cina (Chinese Hill) which is just actually around the corner as we stayed in Banda Kaba! That’s what I love about Melaka; it’s small and cute. Unfortunately, the signboards were not helping much because the writing was a bit miniscule but either way, we found our way after asking a friendly Melakan-thick-accent “Ah Soh” who told us that the well was just right front of the Sam Poh Teng Temple. The well was actually one of the 7 Dragon Wells of Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho).
Sam Poh Teng Temple in Chinese Hill (Bukit Cina), Melaka.
The Royal Well or Princess Hang Li Po’s Well.
The very existence of Hang Li Po received many collisions of opinions especially in the year 2008 where Malaysian politics were a bit shaken due to vigorous tactics by both parties and histories were one that were questioned as well in order to manifest their support for votes; and also some eye-brows question from the historians themselves. But whatever. Anyway, it was said that Princess Hang Li Po (or Han Li Bao) is a princess from Ming Dynasty, sent to Melaka to be wedded off as Sultan Mansur Syah’s fourth/fifith wife. She brought around 500 servants, handmaiden and guards led by Admiral Zheng He. After the marriage happened, a palace was erected at Chinese Hill for the princess and the Chinese entourage. It is said that the “Baba & Nyonya”, another creole formed from interracial liaison between Chinese people & the natives. Amazing!
The interior design of the well compound.
The information board.
The exterior design of the Sam Poh Teng Temple.
The paintings on the wall of the temple.
But one thing that stunned me was that I learned that Admiral Zheng He was actually an eunuch! He was castrated when he was 11 years old. So sad…. I wonder how life must have been during those time… Anyway, although it was just a remnant of history, a well to be exact; but I was quite satisfied because at least I’ve been there. Oh, I just love Melaka!
Admiral Zheng He, China’s greatest Moslem admiral who explored half of the world. But I sympathized and felt sad to learn that he was an eunuch. Life in China must be pretty hard back then. So sad.
Initially planned to go back straight to KL due to unwanted potential traffic jam (it was Christmas!) but then just dropped by at Melaka Mall which is at Ayer Keroh. It was OK but not too crowded; so there was a cineplex, so watched another the delayed “The Life Of Pi” which I was like wanted for ages but somehow did not make it.
OK, I’ve read the novel (Refer to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/lavishing-life-strong-survival-iftar-degrees-pan-pacific-klia-hotel-at-sepang-reviews-of-life-of-pi-novel/) and I put the novel as quite overrated. The theme was strong but the plot was fragile. And now what about the film? As a someone who has read the novel, I would say Ang Lee did tremendous job in translating what Yann Martel wrote into the silver screen; I don’t think anyone could ever surpass him. The visual were extraordinary, fueled with rich bioluminiscence ala Avatar and artistic sequences that really captivated the rich culture of India; the musical composition was great by Mychael Danna featuring Tamil singer, Bombay Jayashri.
Suraj Sharma as Piscine or Pi. Not bad for a 19 years old beginner! He brought the character to life!
Tabu as Pi’s mother. I am glad she did it – it’s been ages since I last heard about her. Sterling performances in Bollywood (Hindi) and Kollywood (Tamil) movies.
Adil Hussain as Pi’s father. He is good in his character albeit minimal scenes. Stern, open-minded New Indian but devoted father.
BUT the film was quite monotonous at the part of where Pi was confronting Richard Parker, the Bengal Tiger. Of course, that was the best way on how to flesh out the sequence and Ang Lee did his best but if we were to look from neutral point of view (shed off the fanaticism or obsession or bias of favouritism), it was quite boring for people who don’t read the book to fathom why the duration of 20 minutes were spent merely on that emotional confrontation because movie-goers don’t give a damn about philosophies; they just want their bucks to be worthy one very minutes of the film! Like the plot of the novel, the climax ain’t that big except if you counted the encounter with the carnivorous island, but on whole, it’s just a bit yawning. But the essence is strong, which is about a mother’s love and I guess Tabu played it well.
Absolutely beautiful CGIs. This movie is artistically done and Oscar accolades are expected to be on the way. BUT, not exactly a perfecto enjoyable flick as the conflict between Pi & Richard Parker are somewhat draggy and monotonous. But a positive far cry from the over-rated novel.
I rate this movie as 4 stars outta 5 although it is nominated as Best Picture in Golden Globe; I mean not all Golden Globe/Oscar nominated flicks are ‘of good quality in terms of casual watch, no? It doesn’t mean you have to concur with the critics. Be your own man of preferences. BUT if Ang Lee won the Best Director, I would concur with that! He’s good. And I also think that Suraj Sharma who played Pi and Aidil Hussain as the father did so well in their characters respectively. Ang Lee did create extra scene of Anandi, Pi’s love interest although it didn’t appear in the novel. Perhaps as minor sub-plot to refresh the audience (and she’s beautiful!)
So, that was it about my Melaka short trip. Historical and urbanized intertwining. I love Melaka. I do!