Friday, January 16, 2015

The Red Streets of Melaka

World Heritage Sites

Last night over dinner my travel buddy and I had an interesting difference of opinion.  It reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from Annie Hall  where the couple answers the therapist's question, "How often do you have sex?"  Woody (or Alvy in the movie) says, "Hardly ever.  Maybe three times a week."  Annie says, "Constantly.  I'd say three times a week."

Well, you might ask, what does this have to do with Melaka?  Bear with me for a moment.  We were talking about our future and I happened to say, "I feel like I haven't been anywhere."

  "You can't be serious.  We've been everywhere!"

We came up with a compromise.   Let's just say we've been to a lot of places our family and friends have not been to . . . like Malaysia.  So this morning I went through our picture archive and pulled these old photos up from the time we rented a car and drove down the Malay Peninsula.  Melaka, especially, stuck in my mind because of the eclectic mix of European, Indian, Chinese and Islamic cultures.  And that is exactly why UNESCO placed both this city and Georgetown on their World Heritage list in 2008.

Melaka is an historic city on the Straits of Malacca.  For 500 years it has been a crossroads of cultural trade between the East and the West.  Founded in the late 14th or early 15th centuries, it grew rapidly from a quiet fishing village into a major port.  It was able to remain independent from Siam, but once Islam was introduced, the local king took on the title of Sultan and embraced the religion.  It was conquered by the Portuguese in 1511, and mosques were replaced by Catholic churches,  Then the Dutch came along and built Protestant churches to replace the Catholic ones.   The bright red Christ Church, pictured above, remains to this day.  It's a delightful, energetic city with a mix of architecture, religion and cultures all thriving side by side. It is an example of how tolerance breeds peace and prosperity.

Okay, so we haven't been everywhere, but by George, we've been to Melaka!


  1. It looks beautiful, and very clean. I would say you've been everywhere!

    I swear I just saw a photo of this chapel somewhere recently - it looks so familiar.

    1. Thanks, Val. I confess I saw a picture of this church recently, too, and it's why I thought of writing about Melaka. It hasn't changed much since we were there 30 years ago.