Saturday, February 5, 2011

Malacca: A Walk down Jonker Street

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If you are ever in Malacca, you should never forget to take a walk down the famous Jonker Street/Walk, which is located right in the middle of the town.
You could not miss it, as you drive around the town.
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If you can't find it, stop and ask any local and you'd be sure to get your directions.

It is famous for the shops along the streets in the day, and the night market at dusk.
This time, due to time constraints, we only traipsed the famous street during the day.
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Jonker Walk/Street is lined with rows of shophouses and also stalls along the street, beckoning to tourists on foot to taste/buy their products.
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There were lots of interesting things to look out for; from antiques to clothes, to collectibles, souvenirs and even local famous food!

Pineapple tarts and cendol are found in most of the shops around here; and they are all freshly baked from the oven.
Pineapple tarts are trademark local products of Malacca, and is especially popular among local tourists.
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The golden pineapple tarts, fresh from the oven!
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There were also homemade traditional sweet candies such as molasses on sale; claiming to hail from Dinding, Perak (a little town slightly up north of Malaysia)
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The molasses are made from thick heavy syrup which hardens to form the sticky candy on the stick.
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If you are an antique or collectibles lover, Jonker Street offers lots of choices.
However, do beware of the prices and be ready to negotiate. You should also know the terms of the pricing before offering your bargain.

Being a place rich with history, you can find almost everything related to the tradition and customs; particularly that of the Peranakan Chinese culture.
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These wooden clogs are commonly used by the Chinese communities in the olden days, and they were so favoured and considered symbolic of the culture that there are still folks who would buy a pair at home, for the festive season of the Lunar Chinese New Year and even for marriages!

Antiques are also found in some of the older rustic shops which displayed items dating to our forefathers' time (or even earlier)
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An old gramophone record/player
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Barber Chair
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Antique table lamp
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Ancient telephone and radio
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Most of the antiques are also significant of the Peranakan culture in particular; such as this set of chinaware
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Baskets
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Vase
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Old bottles, glasses of an assortment of sizes and shapes
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Even old toy cars
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Jonker Walk is indeed iconic to the colorful culture of Malacca, as it not only displays the varieties of the influences of the culture but also creates a very nostalgic path as one takes a walk; a walk down Memory Lane, reliving the past brought alive here in Jonker Street.
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Malacca: Buildings and Architectures

Malacca has recently gained the status of World Heritage City, a prestigious award by UNESCO along with sister state, Penang.
It is no wonder as Malacca is a state brimming with her histories and is still an image of the past with her pre-war buildings and landmarks dotting the state.

Even if you are a clueless tourist driving around town, you will be sure to spot buildings like these; which date all the way to the pre-war or the WWII period.
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Coffee shops like these are similar to that found in Penang
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Famous Tan Kim Hock; selling the famous and localized Dodol (a type of sticky and sweet dessert) along Jalan Bendahara.
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It is often packed with tourists as this place sells the famous products made from the local produce of Malacca; coconut and also durian-based desserts/pastries.
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The building architecture in this historical town is heavily influenced by the local culture of the mixed marriages; forming the Peranakan group.
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These shophouses or some are houses, are the symbolic architectures of the Peranakan; also known as the Baba and Nyonya houses.
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The houses are fairly spacious and even has the signature airwell; an open space in the middle of the house, which were pretty popular back then in the pre-war period.
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Houses with similar architecture can only be found in the sister state, Penang; which is another home to the Peranakan community.

Influences from the times of colonization are also seen in some of the buildings; i.e: the Stadhuys or the Dutch building which is a striking and famous tourist spot drenched in red.
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Malacca has fallen under different foreign powers in her early days of civilization; thus giving birth to the rich and varied culture existing to this day.

The influences are also clearly seen through the places of worship; such as churches and temples.
The famous St Peter's Church (often featured in the newspaper during Easter and Good Friday celebrations whereby folks from KL, Singapore, Johor, and some from the Northern region or even overseas flock to join in the mass procession on Good Friday)
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St Francis Xavier's Church (a short distance from St Peter's Church)
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Temples from the times of Chinese colonization
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Christianity and Buddhism seems to be rather profound in the state; from the colonization period.
In fact, there were still descendants of the foreign forces still residing in the state and was even made a tourist attraction for the close relationship among the residents and also the unique cuisine.
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The Portuguese had long made Malacca their home, and established the Portuguese Settlement.

Due to the majority of the population being that of Christians, it is no wonder that this is the chosen spot for the annual Malaysia Christmas Open House to be held for the nation.
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The place truly gave a Christmassy spirit as each of the houses here compete among each other in their festive decorations.
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The place was blocked for the Christmas celebrations and we did not have a chance to have Portuguese food.
However, we did have a chance to have the unique Peranakan cuisine at one of the local haunts here

One of the latest addition to the architectures in Malacca would be the Menara Taming Sari (Taming Sari Tower)
Note: Taming Sari is the name of a famous kris (a Malay weapon in the shape of a crooked knife) belonging to Hang Tuah (a prominent warrior in the early civilization of Malacca).
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The tower is modeled after the iconic KL tower in the capital of Malaysia; but with a revolving and mobile circular observation point which ascends and descends with visitors in it to provide a spectacular view of the town.

Another unique landmark to look out for which provides a fabulous background for photography would be the state library housed in a huge ship like this
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With landmarks and beautiful architectures like these, Malacca is never short of attractions and her natural beauty to draw local and foreign tourists alike to the state.

To be continued...