I was staying on Jalan Tukang Emas, which is known as harmony street due to having Chinese temples, a Hindu temple, and the Kampung Kling mosque all within a stones throw from each other, so what better way to start a day of exploring Melaka than to have a mooch round the temples of Harmony street….
Opposite my hostel was the Tua Pek Tong temple, this is a small Chinese temple, which as well as others contains a shrine to the god of hell, who along with his two minions is partial to a drink and a smoke, people leave offerings of loads of cans of beer (especially Guinness) and loads of cigarettes apparently to atone for bad things that they have done, judging by all the crates of beer stacked by the shrine there has been some pretty naughty behaviour going on in the city lately….
The next temple you come to is the Sri Poyatha Moorthi Hindu temple, this is a temple for the Chitty people (more about them later). There isn’t a great deal to see inside but it is the oldest hindu temple in Malaysia. Almost next door is the Kampung Kling mosque with its strangely shaped minaret that looks more like a pagoda. Further up the street is the Cheng Hong Teng taoist temple, known as the temple of the green clouds and is the oldest temple in all of Malaysia. This temple has a great atmosphere with its incense smoke and many devotees. Opposite from the Cheng Hoon Teng temple is the Xiang Lin Si Buddhist temple, which is much more quiet and tranquil.
After Harmony street I wanted to visit Kampong Chitty, this is an area where the Chitty people traditionally lived. The chitty are Indians who married the local Malay and Chinese and have a distinct way of life that contains elements of all three cultures. This chitty culture is slowly being lost as the younger generation are assimilated into mainstream Malay and Indian culture, even the kampong Chitty traditional urban village is being lost as parts of it have already been taken for modern redevelopment. There is a Chitty museum close to the entrance to the kampong that deals with chitty culture but this was unfortunately closed.
Also close to Kampong Chitty is Kampong Morten, this is a Malay urban village and is like a living museum of the colourful old-style traditional homes, some of which are available to rent as homestays.
My next stop was Heeren street in Chinatown, here you can find the shop “Wah Aik” where a shoemaker makes the tiny lotus shoes that used to be worn by Chinese women with bound feet, apparently he is the only shoemaker left making these. For 95 Rm you can buy a pair of the hand made shoes that make quite a cool souvenir to take back home. Also in Heeren street is the Baba-Nonya house, but with an hour and a half until they were doing the next tour there was time to go and see the relics of Melaka’s colonial past.
All that is left of the Portuguese fort is the A’famosa gate, the rest was demolished and used by the British to build other defenses. You can walk through the A’famosa gate with the path taking you up the hill to the ruins of St Pauls church, which was built by the Dutch and contains huge gravestones of the early Dutch settlers. Coming down the other side of St Pauls hill brings you to the Dutch square with it’s pink coloured town hall, church, and clock tower.
It was now time to head back to the Baba-nyonya house for the tour. This house was the home to a very wealthy Chinese-Malay family and is now a museum showing how life was for the wealthy Nyonya families in colonial times. The tour costs 16 rm and the house is gorgeous inside.
At the weekend Jonker street in Chinatown becomes a sea of people as the street turns into a night market with many stalls selling food and souvenirs, a good excuse to try many of Melaka’s food treats if there ever was.
A few years ago now the night market was also home to the coconut kung fu guy who used to bash a hole into a coconut using just his finger, which was a great spectacle but sadly he has retired from his coconut busting ways.