Malacca—a work of art in progress (14 photos and 1 duplicate)
Everyone I know who’s been to Malacca has raved about how wonderful it is, and I have to agree. But before I go any further, I need to clarify that Malacca is spelled Melaka in Bahasa Malay, so keep that in mind if I seem to switch between the two—both are used here.
Situated on the Straits of Malacca and on both sides of the Melaka River, this attractive Malaysian city was once a bustling seaport for traders from all over the world. It’s claimed that 84 languages were once regularly spoken here. Then, starting in 1511, along came the conquering Portuguese,* followed by the conquering Dutch and finally followed by the conquering British. Each had their own agendas and plans and, over time, other ports surpassed Malacca, the mouth of the river silted up, the ships stopped coming and the community languished.
Today Malacca is a lively tourist town, that doesn’t really feel too touristy. And the townspeople are doing a lot of things right to make Malacca a popular destination.
One of the things I liked best was the effort being made to beautify some of the waterfront. On a long section of the river, homes and businesses are being gussied up with fun and colourful street art. Many of the works are in progress, and over the time we have been here, we have seen many pieces grow and take shape. The many bridges—whether for vehicle or foot traffic—look fantastic too. And most of the waterfront is wonderfully lit at night, turning the whole area into a fairyland.
These photos were taken over two days—some from an afternoon river cruise and others near dusk when Poor John and I were on foot. According to the spiel on the river cruise, the waterfront has nine kilometres of walkway. All the bridges seem to be done. Most of the building/street art is happening on one side of the river (the west), over about a kilometre.
It will be interesting to see how the art progresses and expands over time. Two images show the state of things on the opposite side of the river—obviously, there’s a lot still to be done.
* The Portuguese first came in 1498, but didn’t conquer until later.