We decided to make a trip to the state of Malacca and stay in Malacca City, the historical city of Malaysia. It is a really interesting city if one is interested in the history of Malaysia. Before 1400 it was a fishing village inhabited by indigenous Malay people known as the Orang laut (sea people). When the last raja of Singapura, Parameswara, was chased out from his kingdom, due to the naval invasion by the Majapahit empire, he took refuge at the outlet of the Bertam river. Parameswara, with the help of the orang laut, and the vastly superior strategic location, being the narrowest part of the Straits of Malacca, founded the Sultanate of Malacca.
After some hundred years of trading with Chinese traders, which some who also immigrated, laying the ground for the Baba-Nyonya community, the Portuguese arrived. In 1511, with a force of 1200 men, Alfonso de Albuquerque conquered Malacca, and that was pretty much the end of the Malaccan Sultanate. The Portuguese ambition to rule the Asian trade failed due to them not seeing the importance of networking. They had disrupted many of the former networks, and also by removing a strong leader disrupted the power balance in the straits, leading to it being unsafe for traders to sail the straits. Also the Portuguese overtake enraged the Chinese Zhengde Emperor, in which he responded with a three decade long persecution of the Portuguese in China. While confiscating the goods and properties of the Portuguese, they were also subjected to imprisonment, torture and, in worst case, execution. The Chinese traders also boycotted Malacca after the overtake.
In 1641, the Dutch, with the help from the Sultan of Johor, captured Malacca. The Dutch were not that interested in their newly claimed territory, and were more interested in the Indonesian regions, so they did little to develop Malacca. Due to the occupation of colonial land during the Napoleonic wars, and some trade right infringements, the British and the Dutch had to solve property ownership issues. After some 4 years of negotiations between Canning and Fagen, they signed the Anglo-Dutch treaty in 1824. In this treaty the Dutch ceded Malacca to the British, in exchange for Bencoolen, in Indonesia. It was also in this treaty that Singapore came under British rule.
Aside from being occupied by the Japanese during WW2, Malacca was under British rule from 1826 to 1946, in which it became part of the Malayan Union, which became the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and finally Malaysia in 1963.
Nothing of this will be taught in Western schools. You learn about where to place Southeast Asia on the map and then it’s back to learning the succession of European kings or US Presidents. Southeast Asia have an insane amount of history, and if you could for one moment think outside the concept that the western civilisation being at the center stage of the world, you are in for a whole world of historical catching up.
We really like Malacca City. It is a really laid back city and aimed more to families and people interested in different cultures. With its history and the many different cultures mixed together, the end result concerning food and the traditional ways of the people here is nothing but amazing. Unlike KL and other modern cities there aren’t really any signs of financial business districts and mega hotels, at least in the old city centre. This is due to it being an UNESCO world heritage site. You could of course see the modern lifestyle with mega this and mega that in the outskirts of the city centre, if you like that kind of stuff. And unlike the UNESCO sites in George Town, Penang, with many old buildings being condemned, the majority of buildings here are in excellent condition. Some of these buildings are still functioning as restaurants, as they have been for decades. Many have been rebuilt into very nice hostels and hotels, as with the hotel we stayed in, Swiss Hotel Heritage, which was an excellent establishment. And then there are a few that are made into museums.
Swiss Hotel Heritage