A-Famosa “Unplugged”

(The very common image of the A Famosa fort in Malacca – something we have seen since we were kids but what is in the inside? What happens if one walks past the famed entrance? Will we be transported to another era? Image source: http://www.maleisure.com)

We went to Malacca for holidays recently – we picked Malacca primarily because we have heard about it, have read about it, we knew it is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list and in fact, have several times passed through it (couple of years ago) but we had never really stopped and see the heritage places in Malacca.

So we decided for the holidays, we will actually stop and visit the heritage & historical places in Malacca. Sadly accommodation was not up to our expectations but it was my mistake anyway. I should have done more “research” on the so-called 3 star hotel before I booked it. By the time we realized our mistake, it was too late – most of the other better hotels have been fully booked and we even saw people coming over to our hotel looking for rooms to stay for the night, only to be turned away. Anyway we decided not to have our holidays ruined due to a “glitch” in accommodations. After all, we only need it to sleep for the night – we were out early in the morning and only come back late in the evening.

For those who have been to Malacca, you know the drill – the places to visit, the food to eat and things to do. We had done some planning ahead of our trip and basically knew what we were planning to do on daily basis and in a way we did. I say “in a way” because unlike many who ventured into Malacca for the first time, we did not ride on a beca (we rather walked – it was faster and cheaper), we did not buy the ticket to go up the Taming Sari tower (it was raining and I guessed there were nothing much to see from the top with the heavy clouds. Besides, the ticket seemed too expensive – we rather spent it on food and souvenirs), we did not go for the satay celup or the chicken ball rice (the queue was just too long) or the Portuguese food (my wife was not feeling well) but we did go for Peranakan food and a long waited steamboat treat.

And out of the many things we did, we finally managed to visit the famed A-Famosa fort. The reason I say this in an “excited” manner is because all this while, since the day I saw the picture of the fort in Buku Sejarah in my primary school, I only have the seen the front of the fort (or rather the front gate) – the rest of the fort was destroyed by the English in 1806 (and not the Dutch as I always thought in the past). What is inside remained a mystery and only now that question has been answered.

(What the fort looks like in whole on paper back in 1780 before the English decided to destroy it in 1806. Image source: Wikipedia)

(The entrance from the inside – it was empty except for bricks and white mortar – the air seemed stale as if it has been locked from another era)

(The exit reinforced with steel arch – it is a sign of the historical site starting to crumble down, perhaps with the increasing number of visitors trampling on site and change of weather)

(Another angle of the entrance close up – it looks clean but rather very narrow. Perhaps it was meant to be so 400-500 years ago when narrow entrance was easier to be defended against a more weaker rebels)

Yes in the end, there was nothing but only bricks and mortar (and an old man with a violin). But it was satisfying – I touched the bricks and imagined the Portuguese and the Dutch in the old Malacca with the full glory of the Malacca Sultanate with its famous warriors like Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat facing each other in the background. I imagined the guards staying at the front manning the cannons. Perhaps in time, someone will recreate the fort as whole – in its glorious days for the future generation. That would be interesting indeed.

If one wants to see the so-called 1Malaysia in a true sense from the historical pages – Malacca seems to be the place. Malaysian in many form, culture and background – Malays, Chinese, Indians,  Baba-Nyonya, and Portuguese descendants and yes, count the Singaporeans, Indonesians and Bangladeshis in as well – there were more Singapore registered cars than Malaysia registered cars at the hotel car lot. There were plenty of cars in the city indeed – made worse by the long public holidays.

Traffic was bad but it all depends on how far is the hotel from the heritage and historical places. Walking around town would be the best but if there is a kid tagging along (like in our case), struck that out. Taxi on the other hand was way too expensive (we were taken for a ride on the first day – a short trip cost us RM10). So we opted to drive instead – that solved one problem but created another – where to park especially along the narrow one way streets with limited parking lots dotted along in Malacca. We parked far and did some walking – thankfully my son was up to it – especially when we decided to go to Jonker Walk.

It was a good trip and we have promised ourselves for another trip to Malacca very soon – but this time with a better hotel of course and perhaps do things that we opted to miss in this trip (more on food than others).

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