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Old Malacca

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The Spice trade and the Europeans

As time went by, trading went beyond familiar shores. Merchandise and commodities were taken to the foreign lands of Europe. In medieval Europe, spices were considered more precious than gold. Curries and peppers were used to preserve and flavour meats. These spices were of economical importance as it was too expensive to feed animals through long winters and was more cost effective to slaughter and preserve the meat over the winter months.

The most lucrative trade in the straits was the 'Blue Water Trade' - collecting and distributing spices, porcelain, tea and silk to be sent to Europe through the Middle East and Venice. Pires, a Portuguese apothecary and diplomat who came to Malacca in 1512 wrote, 'whoever is Lord of Malacca has his hand on the throat of Venice.'

Spices, porcelain, tea and silk. The Europeans soon learnt that if they could control trading in the Straits, it would bring them riches beyond their dreams and hold power over their rivals. Being seafarers of origin, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive at the scene.

The Portuguese

Portugal in the early 16th century was a maritime nation with economic and demographic constraints. When the Diogo Lopes de Sequira and his men arrived in Malacca in 1509, they were the first Europeans to have set foot on Malay land. It was said that when the landed, ' crowds of Malay clustered round, twisted their beards, removed their hats and grasped their hands.' (Old Malacca, Sarina Hayes Hoyt). In Sejarah Malayu (the Malay Annals), it was said that the Malays thought them to be white Bengalis!

 

Arrival of the Portuguese, 1511. Courtesy of Arkib Negara

The King of Portuguese knew that they had to control strategic ports like Goa in India and Malacca in the Straits to break the Muslim traders' monopoly over the spice trade.

Alfonso de Albuquerque, the Portuguese Viceroy of India, waschosen to carry out the king's plan. By the turn of the century, the Malacca Sultanate was already crumbling. Without strong leadership, the sultanate was wrought with political struggles. When Albuquerque sailed into the straits in 1511, with the entire army and navy of Portuguese India made up of 19 ships, 800 European men and 600 natives. According to 'Sejarah Melayu', the Malays had never heard of gunpowder and canons.

'What sound is this like thunder?', the Malays asked. 'What may be this round weapon that….is sharp enough to kill us?'

Within a few days, the Portuguese had taken Malacca and the Sultan and his son fled into the jungles. The sultan and his descendants continued to fight the Portuguese by land and sea for 100years after.

Alfonso de Albuquerque. Courtesy of Arkib Negara

Although the main reason for such an invasion was to gain a stronghold over the spice trade in the region, the ulterior motive was to spread the religion across the area even if they had to enslave, destroy and kill.

Giovanni da Empoli was a young Italian whoaccompanied Albuquerque on his voyage who wrote of the man, ' one of those men desirous of earning fame by cruelty.'

Having secured Portugal's position in the straits, Albuquerque sailed for Goa with his ships laden with gold, silver, precious stones and other treasures looted from Malacca. I was told that the heavily laden ship didn't make it back to India. A storm blew the ship into the sharp edges of the reef and now the ship lies 37m of water, buried under hardened mud of 15m deep. The looted treasures of old Malacca lies sealed in its grave together with these overzealous officers, forever.

Porta de Santiago, the only gate left standing. Courtesy of Arkib Negara.

The Portuguese felt that they had to defend Malacca with a fort. A temporary fort was built while waiting for the construction of the main fortress to be completed. This took another 5 months to complete. Meanwhile men were falling ill and dying in the harsh tropical weather working on the fort. Life was harsh for the Europeans. Each had to do a multitude of jobs. Stones were taken from dismantled Malay graves, mosques and other buildings and mixed with laterite blocks to construct the fortress around St.Paul's Hill. There were 4 towers and its walls were 2.4m thick.

Only the Porta de Santiago, one of the entrances to into the fortress, remains standing. At the top of the arch is a Dutch coat of arms, added after the Dutch conquest.

Despite its stay of 350years in Malacca, flourishing from the wealth and position, Portugal's stand began to erode…caused by the mounting cost of maintaining a large fleet far from the administrative centre in Lisbon, widespread corruption in the higher levels of authority and manpower shortage.

The Arrival of the Dutch

Holland had an advantage over the other Europeans - a cargo ship that could carry more goods at lower costs. When the Dutch were denied entry into the Portuguese and Spanish ports after 1580 (the year of Spain and Portugal's union, for Holland was Spain's arched rival), they decided to venture to the source of the commodity…The Straits of Malacca and beyond.

The Stadhuys. The Headquarters for Dutch VOC. Courtesy of Arkib Negara

As the Dutch arrived in Malaya, they were received with much enthusiasm by the locals in hope that the hated Portuguese would be ousted by the new Europeans.

The Dutch, with their headquarters in Batavia made exclusive trading arrangements with South-East Asian rulers and formed alliances with the enemies of Portuguese Melaka, including Acheh and Johor. With the aid of the Dutch, the Portuguese threat was removed and Johor managed to become a busy entrepot and pre-eminent power in the Straits. They concentrated on obtaining control of the Straits and cutting off trade from Malacca in the sea-routes. In 1640, with aid from Johor, the Dutch captured the city after a bloody 5 month battle. The siege damaged much of the Portuguese architecture and even the suburbs. Finally, the Dutch entered A'Famosa through the Santo Domingo gate. When all was over, over 7000 people had died of famine, disease and all the consequences of war. By this time, most of Malacca's inhabitants had left with their riches and population dropped from 20,000 to only 2150.

St.Pauls Hill. Courtesy of Arkib Negara.

Unlike the Portuguese who ruled under the royal crown Malacca was owned by a national trading company - the VOC during the Dutch rule. Life for the senior Dutch officials were good but the lower-ranking employees of the VOC suffered through their tenure in Malacca. There was shortage in basic supplies caused by shipwrecks, piracy and few people were willing to work outside of the fortress for fear of wild animals and the fierce Minangkabau people who had settled just north of Malacca.

By 1780's, VOC began losing its grasp on Malacca, exacerbated by several factors. One was Sir Francis Light, a 'country trader' who had set up a bustling settlement at Penang - taking away the trading activity from Malacca. Fending off attacks from the Buginese was taking its toll on the Dutch …..causing trade to suffer. Finally, due to the volatile situation in Europe and the rise of Napolean Bonaparte who overran Holland in 1795, the Dutch retreated from their stronghold in Malaya and the ousted Prince William of Orange (ruler of Holland), fled to London. From there, he informed his Dutch subjects in the settlements to admit the British troops as protector against the French until hostilities were resolved in Europe. The British entered the gates of Malacca soon after.

The British Administrators

This comes the time when I can elaborate history through my own eyes. The British stepped in to manage Malacca in August 1795. This happened 10years before I was born. It seems that when the British entered our gates, there were only 200men guarding the fortress. The British had already set up a trade settlement in Penang but they did not want the French to occupy the forts and settlements built by the Dutch. They knew that if Malacca fell into the hands of the French, it would seriously jeopardise their trade with China. No longer was Malacca occupied for reasons of a strategic trading entrepot but rather to position garrisons in expectations of war.

Sir Stamford Raffles, Courtesy of Arkib Negara

The importance of Malacca dwindled. The British had set up the East India Company, just as the Dutch did with VOC. The British had learned about the region from their 'country traders' like Sir Francis Light, who operated independently of the East India Company. The country traders spoke Malay and cultivated an amicable friendship with local rulers and traders. With such advantages, they were able buy and sell spices and tin at more attractive prices than the Dutch. Unlike VOC, British East India Company also traded weapons, gunpowder and opium.

Their China market was a motivation to set up a trading and housing port in Malaya. They needed a protected harbour and found one in Penang. Here, they planted a naval station to protect and service their trading ships who were actively involved in the China opium and tea trade.

As the British troops sailed in on the misty August morning, they found Malacca peaceful. 'The town spread out on both sides of a narrow river spanned by a wooden bridge near its mouth. Waves lapped against the dark walls of the ancient fortress and its bastions on the right, a church crowned the top of the hill, and on the left a row of tile-roofed houses hugged the shoreline.' (Old Malacca, sarnia hayes hoyt. oxford university press). This is how I remember Malacca. The fortress stood proudly. It was 'the pride of Malacca'. Malaccans like me and even my father who have lived in this town all our lives, thought that it would never be demolished, 'because it was so strong and because so many ghosts inhabited it.' (Hikayat Abdullah).

The Governor of Malacca by the name of Governor William Farquhar watched Malacca disintegrate into ruins as the Company continued to debate our future. The long anticipation for a solution prompted the governor of Penang to propose the complete destruction of our town. He wanted to wipe us off the map and resettle the townspeople in Penang. With this move, he believed that this would reduce the cost of placing a garrison in Malacca and they could concentrate fully on Penang.

Melaka with the fortress removed. Courtesy of Arkib Negara

Fortunately, the higher authorities of the EIC at Calcutta considered this proposal too much of a responsibility on them and further consultation was needed with London. However, our fortress was in an advanced state of deterioration by this time. The Dutch had added a moat along the eastern and southern walls and despite further repairs, the city walls were in poor condition. Governor Farquhar ordered convicts from the nearby gaol to manually dismantle the walls. The walls were 4.5m thick and 18m high. This made it almost impossible to manually dismantle them. 'The next morning, Mr Farquhar appeared on horseback holding a slow match in his hand. He sent his men to clear out everyone on the Fort side, and they ran away in all directions. Then he touched off the fuse and at once spurred his horse away. After about ten minutes the gunpowder exploded with a noise like thunder, and pieces of the Fort as large as elephants and even some as large as houses, were blown into the air and cascaded into the sea.' (Hikayat Abdullah; Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir)

In one move, the Fortress walls were no longer. Malacca changed from then on: its grandeur, its importance, its fame and its history were erased in one move. Lord Minto, a British who led the 1811 expedition to Java remarked, 'A most useless piece of gratuitous mischief.' Many were unhappy with the decision, and one of them was Mr. Stamford Raffles. Mr. Raffles was intent on retaining Malacca. He argued that Malacca's roots could be traced back several centuries while the Penang settlement was, 'still an island of transitory adventurers.' He pointed out that we could grow most our own food like chocolate, pepper, indigo, coffee and cotton whilst surplus rice could be imported from Java. To uphold their promise, Mr. Raffles further elaborated that 'Britain was honour bound to protect the people attached to the soil.' There was no need to give up what the British already had in their hands, knowing that it was extremely difficult to clear lands in tropical soils. The report was submitted and the EIC eventually decide to keep Malacca.

When I had the opportunity to observe these English at close proximity, for I was under Mr. Raffles employment, I noticed that the British officers wore different types of uniforms. They wore hats with cock feathers dyed pink and black, trousers made of animal skin, tiger skins or tunics made of cloth striped like tiger skin. The troops were rowdy and aggressive and when they have had to many a glass - they follow women around, damage gardens and smash house doors.

Despite such misconduct, for a time, we were in the 'safe hands' of the British. From 1818 till 1825, however, Malacca was reverted to the Dutch. Mr. Raffles recommended that Singapore be made into a trading centre to protect British commerce, since Malacca was no longer under their rule. Mr. Farquhar was relieved of his duties in Malacca and was sent to head this new settlement in the south. With such uncertainties still hovering over Malacca, many of the Chinese from Malacca immigrated to Singapore to make their fortunes. Our population began to shrink again. Little did we know at the time but once again London was to take an active role in the future of Malacca. At the negotiation table, it was finally agreed that the land in the straits be divided among the British and the Dutch. Singapore, Malacca and Penang were to be under the British and java and Sumatra was to be taken by the Dutch.

In 1825, the British returned to Malaccan soil as colonial masters. We were grouped together with Singapore and Penang to form the Straits Settlements with headquarters in Penang. In 1826, the British Law was imposed and Malacca became the official penal colony where convicts provided cheap labour for Public Works Projects.

When the East India Company(EIC) lost their monopoly of the china trade, Malacca began to pose problems for the British. Foreigners referred to our town as a 'backwater' and those of us who remained in Malacca had little work to do. The British encouraged us to plant crops so that we could sustain ourselves. Things are not much brighter than before. Residents like I, hope for better and more prosperous days and perhaps a ray of hope may one day shine through with the British involvement.

Malacca after the death of Munshi Abdullah

Through years of perseverance, Malacca finally regained a small fraction of its old days of fortune when a tapioca planter, Tan Chay Yan converted his tapioca plantation into rubber plots. Today, Malacca is swarming with visitors from all over the world, looking for a historical city that tells a tale of merchant traders and European conquerors. The remnant of that city lies in little pockets around the old city centre and if you look closely in the back alleys, you may just catch a glimpse of the spirits who built our history.

What we have here is just the tip of a massive iceberg of the History of Malacca and its residents. For more on the Sultans and even about a Malay slave who some historianns are claiming to be the first person to have sailed around the world - click to www.sabrizain.demon.co.uk/malaya. You won't regret it!

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Melaka & Surrounding Day Tours ~ Malacca

 

Melaka Tours
(ex- Melaka)

Hrs

Day of Operations

Departure

Min adult

Include

Rate (Nett)

AM

PM

Adult
(RM)

Child
(RM)

Historic City Tour Itinerary

3

Daily

10.00

2.00

2

Transport, driver / guide

85

75

Ayer Keroh Tour Itinerary

3

Daily

10.00

 

4

Transport, driver / guide. *Excludes entrance fees.

90

80

Cultural Heritage Tour Itinerary

3

Daily

10.00

2.00

2

Transport, driver /guide, entrance fees

95

80

Vanishing Trades Trail (Walkabout Tour) Itinerary

3

Daily

10.00

 

4

Transport, driver / guide

80

70

Melaka Night Tour Itinerary

4

Friday, Saturday & Sunday only

-

6.30

4

Transport, driver / guide, dinner

110

105

Melaka Tours
(ex- Kuala Lumpur/ Selangor)

Hrs

Day of Operations

Departure

Min adult

Include

Rate (Nett)

AM

PM

Adult
(RM)

Child
(RM)

Historical Malacca (Itinerary)

8

Daily

9.30-9.45

-

2

Lunch

120

80

Johor Muar Tours
(ex- Melaka)

Hrs

Day of Operations

Departure

Min adult

Include

Rate (Nett)

AM

PM

Adult
(RM)

Child
(RM)

Muar Countryside Day Trip ~ (Itinerary)

10

Daily

8.30

-

2

transport , guide , river cruise , entrance fees

200

200

Please Note:

~ The seat-in-coach can only be conducted with the minimum number of person/adults required
~ Pick-up and drop-off service from major hotels at Melaka town centre (not applicable for tours departing from locations outside of Melaka)
~ Services of an English Speaking Driver cum Guide
~ Touring by air-conditioned car, van or coach (depending on the group size)
~ Rates are not inclusive of entrance fees to places of visit (unless stated otherwise)
~ Child age between 4-12 years old
~ Any unused services are non-refundable, non-exchangeable and non-deductible
~ 100% cancellation charge applies for NO SHOW OR CANCELLATION within 48-hrs
~ In the event of unforeseen circumstances, the local operator reserves the right to alter, amend or withdraw the package anytime with or without prior notice.

Redemption Instructions :

~ 24 hours prior to travel date, please call our local tour representative (during working hours) to reconfirm your booking details. Pick up time is required 30 minutes prior to tour departure time.

Postponement of Trips:

* Please be advised that the trip will not be allowed to be postponed unless we are advised of any changes at least 3 working days before trip commencement date

Tour descriptions :


Historical City Tour

Melaka, where it all began. Known as the “VENICE OF THE EAST”, she was once the richest port in the WORLD ! On this tour you shall be visiting interesting and historic places such as the The Dutch Square (The Stadthuys, Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower, Queen Victoria Fountain, Christ Church), Heeren Street/Jonker Street (Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum-optional), Street Of Harmony (Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Kampong Kling Mosque, Sri Vinayagar Temple), St. Paul’s Hill Complex (Independence Memorial, Porta de Santaigo, Ruins’ of St. Paul’s Church, Replica of Palace of Malacca Sultan) and Portuguese Settlement (Portuguese Square). Shopping at Tan Kim Hock local food product centre before we return to the hotel.

Ayer Keroh Tour

 Ayer Keroh…. Malacca’s recreational playground. The Recreational Forest, Crocodile Farm, The Zoo,  Mini Malaysia & Mini Asean, The Recreational Lake and Golf Courses are all located here. At Mini Malaysia & Mini Asean, view the 13 different types of traditional Malay Houses from the 13 states of Malaysia and houses of some of the Asean Nations. On this tour we shall visit Mini Malaysia & Mini Asean and one other attraction only. 

Entrance fees : Mini Malaysia & Mini Asean – RM4.00 per adult/ RM2.00 per child
Malacca Zoo – RM10.00 per adult/ RM4.00 per child
Crocodile Farm – RM8.00 per adult/ RM5.00 per child

Cultural Heritage Tour

This tour will enlightened you on the different lifestyles and cultural aspects of the various ethnic groups in Malacca. Termed as the " Peranakans ", these various ethnic groups comprising of the Malacca Malays, Babas & Nyonyas, Portuguese Eurasians and the Chittys have lived harmoniously in Malacca even before the arrival of the Dutch in 1641. You shall be fascinated with the different ways of life ranging from their unique cuisine, ceremonies, adobes and their spoken languages.

Vanishing Trades Trail (Walkabout Tour)

 “ A MALACCAN TRAIL WITH A DIFFERENCE ” …….. we bring you deeper beyond the realm of the tourist.

After six centuries of existence, Malacca has a lot to offer the visitor. All it takes for anyone to really feel the pulse of this old charming town is to walk with our experienced and knowledgeable guides. On this walkabout tour, you will be exposed to Malacca’s old charms. It also serves to bring the point home that cultural co-existence had brought about the intermingling of the various races living as one tolerant society.

The sight of all the traders, merchants and vendors, who have been carrying out the same businesses for generations in the same premises as their forefathers. The aromatic smells of the Chinese medicinal shops, the bustling bazaar with the proprietors calling out to potential customers will arouse all your senses. A rare treat will be to observe two old and quaint enterprises ; one is a bamboo basket weaver and the other, a wooden clog maker. This tour is definitely off the beaten track. It will also be a good chance for you to pick up some souvenirs at good bargains

Melaka Night Tour

Meet and greet at the lobby of your hotel and commence the Melaka Night Tour. We shall first visit the Taming Sari Tower (Menara Taming Sari). This is the first revolving ‘Gyro Tower’ in Malaysia. She stands at 110 metres high. Dinner will be at a popular Nyonya restaurant. Nyonya cuisine is from one of the unique ethnic groups of Melaka. Enjoy the assimilation of various styles of cooking that brings about the Nyonya food.  After dinner, we then proceed to the embarkation/disembarkation point for the River Cruise. When we complete the cruise, we shall end the tour with a visit to Jonker Walk (on Fridays to Sundays) / Mahkota or Dataran Shopping Complex (Mondays to Thursdays).

**Please Note that there will be a non-refundable handling charge on payment made. Conditions apply.

booking
booking

 

 

Accommodation and Packages to Melaka ~ Malacca town , Ayer Keroh , Tanjung Kling & surroundings

Accommodation :

Melaka(Malacca) Town

Budget stay | Cyclamen Cottage | Hallmark View Hotel | Hash House Hotel | Kancil Guesthouse | Tony's Guest House | Eastern Heritage Guest House | Baba House |

Boutique Stay | Courtyard @ Heeren Boutique Hotel | Hotel Puri | Heeren House | Jonker Boutique Hotel | The Sterling |

Boutique Inn | Hangout@Jonker |

1 Star | City Park Hotel |

2 Star | Accordian Hotel | Hotel 906 | Fenix Inn | Hallmark Leisure Hotel | Sentral Riverview Hotel | Seri Malaysia Hotel | Mimosa Hotel |

3 Star | Aldy Hotel | Arenaa Deluxe Hotel | BEST WESTERN Wana Riverside Hotel | Hallmark Crown | Hallmark Inn | Hang Tuah City Hotel | Malacca Straits Hotel | Mio Boutique Hotel | Hotel Orkid | Felda Residence Seri Costa Melaka | Prima Hotel | Hotel Sentral Melaka | The Emperor Hotel | Venus Boutique Hotel |

4 Star | Bayview Hotel Melaka | Avilion Legacy Hotel | Hotel Grand Continental | Hatten Hotel | Mahkota Hotel Melaka |

5 Star | Hotel Equatorial | The Majestic Melaka | The Renaissance Melaka |

Apartment Hotel | Garden City Melaka Service Apartments |

Tanjung Kling

| Everly Resort Hotel |

Gunung Ledang

| Gunung Ledang Resort |

Ayer Keroh

| Grand Paradise Highway Ayer Keroh ( North Bound ) | Kings Hotel Ayer Keroh | Puteri Resort | Phileo Resort & Spa |

Packages ex-Melaka :

Melaka (Malacca) Town

| Historical Malacca Day Trip |

Muar Countryside

|

Gua Batu Maloi Forest Reserve

| Gua Batu Maloi Forest Reserve Caving Adventure Trip |

Gunung Ledang (Mount Ophir) National Park

| Gunung Ledang (Mount Ophir) National Park Challenge |

 

Malaysia Cities , Towns & Villages

Peninsula Malaysia Cities , Towns & Villages

Kedah

| Alor Setar |

Terengganu

| Chukai | Dungun | Kemaman | Kijal | Kuala Terengganu | Paka |

Perak

| Ipoh | Kuala Kangsar | Lumut | Taiping |

Selangor

| Klang | Kuala Selangor |

Kelantan

| Kota Bahru |

Federal Territory

| Kuala Lumpur |

Johor

| Mersing |

Negri Sembilan

| Seremban | Kuala Pilah | Lukut |

Pahang

| Sungei Lembing | Kuala Lipis | Kuantan |

Melaka

| Melaka |

Sabah and Sarawak Towns , Cities & Villages

Sarawak

| Kuching | Long Bedian | Long Lama | Long Terawan | Miri | Marudi |

Sabah

| Sandakan | Kota Kinabalu | Tawau |

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