It was past six o’clock in the evening but the sun was still shining oh-so-brightly and we didn’t know whether to feel good or bad about it. As much as we didn’t want our day to end just yet, we also could not wait for the heat to subside a bit. (It is hot in Malacca.) We were also determined to do the Melaka River Cruise at night as recommended by Asri, our hotel owner, who assured us that the cruise was best done when the artificial lights start giving colors to the riverbanks.
Our original plan of simply checking out the museum complex was done and we wanted to do something while waiting for the dark. As we were crossing the street back to Jonker Street, we noticed a crowded structure ahead of us. While we had been busy exploring the other parts of Malacca, we totally failed to see that there was another historical site just next to Tan Boon Seng Bridge — the Middleburg Bastion. Before we knew it, we already started what many tourists call the Melaka River Quayside Square Walk.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
The Melaka River
Before I start enumerating the points of interest that await those who walk on this side of the river, let me give you a super brief background on this river. You see, rivers always play a gargantuan role in history. Most of the world’s greatest civilizations sprung up on the banks of mighty rivers. Others are used as the gateway to conquest of other great settlements. Such is the case for the Melaka River and the old town of Melaka.
The Melaka River was used by the Portuguese to conquer and take over the town in the 1500s. Today, the heritage town of Malacca (or Melaka in local language) is divided into halves by the Melaka River — on one side lies the Red Square and on the other, the Chinatown. These two areas are currently linked by a number of bridges but during those times, the Tan Boon Seng Bridge was the biggest and the most important.
The Middleburg Bastion
On one end of the Tan Boon Seng Bridge is a bulwark known as the Middleburg Bastion or Middelsburgh Bastion. It is part of the great A Famosa, the center of defense, trade and administration of the city centuries ago. While most of the fortress was built by the Portuguese, this bulwark was added by the Dutch to strengthen their defense of the city and prevent enemy naval forces from entering the city. The bulwark was equipped with a turret, used for looking out and keeping watch, and cannons. It became one of the most important bastions that the Dutch used to repel enemy forces.
The Melaka Malay Sultanate Water Mill
The Malacca Water Mill spins right beside the Middleburg Bastion. While it looks old, it was actually built very, very recently. Construction started in 2007 and completed 2008. It is said to be the first and biggest watermill in Malaysia. While this attraction is nowhere near ancient, it certainly attracts tourists! I was drawn to it as it was my first time to see a watermill ever.
The Fredrick Hendrick Bastion
Right across the street is the site where the Fredrick Hendrick Bastion used to stand. It was one of the many bulwarks of the Malacca Fort. A project to unearth the remains of the structure was started a few years ago. The excavation was still on-going when we visited.
From the site of Fredrick Hendrick Bastion, we trod back towards the river and walked to the left, to the left. (Cue: Beyonce.) The pathway on your left side will give you a great view of the scenic banks of the river. Just on the other side stands Casa del Rio, a big hotel whose architecture is inspired by the surrounding beauty.
At the end of the pathway, you’ll see a cafe, a seafood restaurant and the ticket counter for the cruise. Don’t board the river cruise just yet. Turn to your left again and you’ll see a massive ship in the middle of the land. No kidding.
The Malacca Maritime Museum
Arguably the most captivating structure along the Melaka River, the Melaka Maritime Museum takes the form of a galleon ship. It is a replica of a Portuguese ship called Flora de la Mar which was said to be carrying plundered items from the city when it sank off the coast of Malacca. The Maritime Museum was opened in 1994 in hopes of highlighting the importance of Malacca as an international business center since before the Westerners arrived.
The museum is 34m high, 36m long, and 8m wide. It is home to several exhibits, documents and artifacts from the city’s golden era.
The sun was setting when we got there. (Finally! A sunset! Finally!) I froze as I watched the gentle rays of the orange sun dodge the towering masts, gaffs, poles, and shrouds. It was beautiful, to say the least.
We decided to check out the stores across the street before finally ending the walk and starting the river cruise.
Posted: 2012 • 6 • 10
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