Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Winter Travels - Part 4: Malacca/Melaka, Malaysia

Malacca, in Malay spelled Melaka, is the capital of the Malaysian state of the same name. Located about a two hour's drive south of Kuala Lumpur on the west coast of the peninsula, the town was an extremely important port in the past, especially due to its strategic location on the Malacca Straits. It was the center of a Malay kingdom known as the Malacca Sultanate before being conquered by the Portuguese and then the Dutch before finally being ceded to the British. The city is also a historical center of the Peranakan, Straits Chinese, or Baba-Nyonya, a community that arose from the intermarriage of Chinese immigrants with local Malays. Their cuisine in particular is famous throughout the region, and is one of Malacca's tourist attractions. Its other draws include the historic buildings of the town center, including Dutch colonial buildings, historic churches, mosques in a distinctive local style with pointed, sloping roofs and pagoda-like minarets, and remnants of the Portuguese and Dutch fortifications, but most of all several streets full of ornate town houses and Chinese temples. These are now filled mainly with restaurants, antique shops, and boutiques catering to tourists, but they are beautiful nonetheless. Moreover, there is plenty of lovely greenery here and there.

Flower-ringed fountain in front of Christ Church and the Stadthuys

A potted lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)

 A close-up of that lotus blossom

An assortment of potted plants in a side street

A bowl full of water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)

An apricot Ixora cultivar

The lush front yard of a home decor store

At the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, the oldest functioning Chinese temple in Malaysia

A bicolor cultivar of desert rose (Adenium obesum) at the temple

Further container plants at the temple - does anyone know what the shrub with those reddish bracts is?

There is also a botanical connection in the name of the city itself. It is thought to be named for the melaka tree, which is either the Indian gooseberry or amla tree (Phyllanthus emblica), originally native to South Asia but spread through much of Southeast Asia with Indian cultural influence in ancient times due to its culinary and medicinal uses, or the closely related and local species Phyllanthus pectinatus, also called melaka in Malay.

1 comment:

Thanks for stopping by!