If Malacca's tale can be compacted into one place, this is it. For there is no escaping it as kings or commoners, priests or thieves, haves or have-nots, there is an end for us all. Then again, some will always have it better than others, even here. Imperial Ming subjects are clearly marked out, colonial community heads (or kapitan cinas) rest within huge horseshoe shaped masonry and the Malay chieftains share a VIP zone. Sadly however, a 1581 Franciscan Monastery had long since degenerated into a few unmarked fiat stones lying haphazardly around.
This was the primary location for congregations of Portuguese Catholics who had it constructed in 1710, during the period of Dutch rule. Now it qualifies as the oldest Catholic Church in Malaysia and still serves resident worshippers of the Catholic faith. They include descendants of the 600 men that Alfonso d'Albuquerque brought ashore after his conquest of Malacca. The existing bell in the belfry states the date and place of manufacture as 1608 - Goa, and was salvaged from an older church the Dutch had burned down. There is also an alabaster statue of the Lord Before The Resurrection.
This heritage museum focus on Babas and Nyonyas - offspring of interracial marriages, generally between a Chinese male and a native non-Muslim female. Also called Peranakan or Straits Chinese, they become culturally distinct from their community. The featured museum, a private enterprise housed in a beautifully restored ancestral home dating back to the mid 19th Century, is a rare treasure which succinctly captures the aura of an interesting era. At the heart of its charm is an archive of costumes and knick-knacks that once served the Peranakan lifestyle.
Famous for its red-painted buildings, the Dutch Square is clear testimony of Dutch masonry and architectural skills. The Stadthuys, situated in the Square, is believed to have been completed in 1650 and was home to the Dutch governors. Now, it has become the Malacca Historical Museum. Also within the vicinity is Queen Victoria's fountain that was erected in 1901 to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Next to it is the Malacca Clock Tower, built in 1886 by Tan Jiak Kim.
This highly revered Chinese temple is the oldest in Malaysia, its name translates as Temple of Bright Clouds. More than 300 years old, it was commissioned by Kapitan China Lee Wei King, a Chinese fugitive who made good. Numerous craftsmen and a large amount of materials were specially brought in from China to construct the temple. Visitors can expect an ornate monument of the Taoist faith built in the architectural style of the temples of southern China and adorned with intricate woodcarvings, panels and lacquer works. The main deity in the temple is Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.
"Before there were striking clocks, only the bell of the parish Church, cathedral or monastery supplemented the sun or the burning of a candle as a record of passing time, and it did so by announcing the hour of another act of worship," said historian J.M. Roberts. This 18th century Dutch architectural convention church was built with red bricks specially imported from Holland for its construction in 1753. Inside, don't miss the handsome handmade pews and huge overhead beams holding up the roof. When there were no more Dutch Lutherans, this church housed congregations of Anglicans. While admission is free, visitors are requested to make a small donation for the upkeep of the church.
Enjoy the carefree, sun-filled days and take a quiet evening stroll at Pantai Kundur, one of the idyllic beaches in Malacca. The white sandy beach fringed with coconut palms swaying in the cool sea breeze is a favorite spot for family picnics and a dip in the sea. Another main attraction found here is a fishing village with kelongs, huts raised on stilts over the water to enable fishermen to catch fish. You can even spend the night here if you wish. It is probably the best way for you to get a deeper insight into the everyday life of a fisherman.
Approximately 10 kilometers from the town of Malacca is Pantai Tanjung Kling, another beautiful stretch of white sandy beach set within a coconut palm grove. The pristine beach is another favorite spot for swimming and picnicking. Towards the north of the beach is the Kampung Keling Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in Malaysia, which has a Sumatran architectural influence. Another attraction found near Tanjung Kling is Hang Tuah's Mausoleum. If you walk a little further down, you will arrive at the Sungai Udang Agricultural Park, an exciting recreational park.
Devotees of Sikhism from all over Malaysia congregate each year at this well-maintained temple during the last weekend of May. The occasion marks the commemoration of the death of its former priest, Sohan Singh, who was elevated to a saint upon passing away. Inside the temple, first time visitors will be struck by a distinct sense of tranquility and sacredness. The almost surreal calm is punctuated only by the incessant chanting of the in-house priests, thus beginning an invaluable introduction to the religion. Visitors are welcome but advised to follow rules and common practices within the premises.
The Tranquerah Mosque reflects both Chinese and Indian influences in its architectural design. This is especially evident in the tall, pagoda-shaped minarets and the three-tiered roofs. Other mosques in Malacca with similar architectural designs include the Jamek Teluk Mas Mosque and the Kampung Hulu Mosque. Apart from its architectural uniqueness, the Tranquerah Mosque, which is located two kilometers out of town, is also historically significant: the tomb of Sultan Hussain of Johor, who gave Singapore to Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819, lies within its grounds.
With more than 200 exotic species of tropical butterflies, including the rare Raja Brooke and Birdwing, the farm is one of the world's most comprehensive butterfly farms. It further prides itself on an in-house butterfly laboratory - the first of its kind in Southeast Asia and only the second in the world. Besides butterflies, the farm also houses an extensive collection of more than 400 insect specimens, several miniature houses and a snake garden. It is popular with families and school children.