0060 A Glimpse into Malaysia’s Past (Mal 010—new)

Malacca Travel Blog

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Day 045: 12 hours, 10.0 kms

 I did it… I made it all the way from Malaysia to Hanoi—and then down to Singapore… discovering, exploring, and playing music in six countries in one month…

Now, I have just enough time to squeeze in on more city before zipping up to Kuala Lumpur to catch my plane…

Malacca… this is where foreign armies, traders and civilizations first arrived and left there indelible mark on Malaysia.  The Arab traders who first introduced Islam to the region… The British who saw it as a strategic point to control ship passageways to the far east… Hopefully this city will have a bit more history than the other Malaysia cities I’ve seen lately.

An ancient Javanese style mosque

I don’t want to waste time, so I catch a city bus from the bus station into town.  I get off at what looks to be close to the heart of the city and set off on search of Malacca’s history.  Within minutes I’m in the cities fascinating historical district—a nicely preserved “old city” with narrow streets and an architectural style I’d never seen before.  The minaret of the mosque, for example looks like a hybrid of Buddhist and Islamic cultures.  It turns out that when Islam was first introduced here, many Buddhist elements were still maintained in the culture and construction.  A really cool discovery.

I continue on to a footpath along the main canal, with some of those enormous lizards scurrying underneath the houses… The footpath continues on and on, right to the edge of the city and beyond, with little shelters where you can rest and escape the sun….

I take a couple of video clips—one showing the contrast of a nearby shack and a high rise apartment complex in the background.

There’s not a whole lot going on on the footpath, so I head back into town.  It seems like there’s still more to see over towards the seaside so I head that way, past a couple of museums and old ships docked in the canal. 

There near the seaside, I find the ruins of the oldest British fort in this area, with the shell of a church at the top of the hill.  Various plaques describe the history and the struggles of the British, as they clung to this strategic juncture.  I have a mixture of feelings as I walk about… Despite their faults and the harm they caused, the British did lay the foundation stones for the modern Malaysia we see today…

On my way back, the mosquito team is spraying the whole area with thick mist—another reminder of Malaysia’s determination to be a malaria free country… Quite a challenge, considering that it is, after all, all a tropical jungle…

And so my journey of discovery of Southeast Asia slowly comes to a close… I take another stroll around the Old City… I join the locals who cram every single restaurant table at the bus station anticipating Ramadan break-fast time… I get on a bus back up to Kuala Lumpur, get myself a cheap room in Indiatown, take one last hike around downtown up to the Petronas Towers and back… I relax in a little park in what’s called “Arab town” gazing up at the beautiful glow of the towers, pondering on all that I’ve experience over this last month…

Overall, I feel really good about all that I accomplished and experienced.

Entrance to the British fort
  Every country was my “favourite” in a different way… Vietnam, my favourite for its people and warm reception… Cambodia my favourite for its countryside—endless flooded fields and unchanged stilt villages… Laos for its truly Buddhist vibe… Thailand for its temples, excitement and amazing variety… Malaysia, for proving you can build a first world country in the jungle… and Singapore, for bringing out the best of every culture to create and almost perfect city…

As far as playing music, I did have some very cool experiences with eager audiences… but I do feel I fell a bit short.  In a number of the cities—KL, Ipoh, Surat Thani, even Bangkok—I opted for a quick concert in some quiet corner rather than really trying to connect with folks… I guess my excuse was that I was so tired out from just wandering around and exploring that I didn’t have the energy to put on a full blown show.

So, as an adventure trip, I’d give myself an A… but as a concert tour trip, maybe a C-… I guess that’s OK—it was my first trip to the region after all, so I did need to focus on just exploring and discovering it.  And I DID play music in every city, so I managed to keep the parkbenching vision alive…

Now, it’s back to Pennsylvania…

                Day 046: In the Air…

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An ancient Javanese style mosque
An ancient Javanese style mosque
Entrance to the British fort
Entrance to the British fort
Malacca
photo by: louise2553