Who Actually Discovered the World in the early 1400's
25 November 2008 | The Straits of Melaka
Melaka retains the architectural styles of the Portuguese, Dutch, Indian, British, and Chinese to form the true "soul of the Malay nation". By the beginning of the 16th century, tiny Melaka's population had grown to 100,000 with 2,000 ships in port thanks to the spice trade and her strategic location between India and China.
What a hidden treasure Melaka is! Thanks to our buddies on "Barefeet" we enjoyed a couple of nights at the Puri. This was formerly an old Chinese Rubber Baron's mansion at the turn of the century that had been remade into a boutique hotel keeping the charming parts of antiquity while affording us the modern conveniences. There were lily pads and koi pools in the breakfast room, a wall of water in the open air bar, flowers bushes and plants everywhere especially hanging from the exposed hundred year old brick walls - Fung Shui you know.
We not only read every piece of information in their "history room" but visited at least 6 other museums in town, remaining at the Cheng Ho location for over 3 hours - now that's an accomplishment for the Captain.
I'd have expected him to linger in the Maritime museum but since we'd read the book, "1421", (a fascinating treatise proving that the majority of our known world was discovered by the Chinese explorer, Chen Ho, in the early 1400s) we enjoyed this museum immensely. 'Course we had the perfect guide - a Chinese gentleman with a cultured British accent who had not read the book and was very impressed that we had and the fact that we were circumnavigating.
When we museumed out, Jeni had a blast shopping down the alleys of the village and visiting the ornate temples of the Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Confucianism, and Muslim mosques.
Harpers Restaurant, wonderfully situated in an old Chinatown godown was strong on character and atmosphere as well as offering the best food we've had in Malaysia so far! We'd found a local pub on the East side of the river where we'd seen a baby monitor lizard swimming as we sipped the local Jaz beer so it didn't bother us that we didn't see the huge 6 foot lizard that lives below Harpers. But we did watch a diver searching for coins just across the river where they were excavating the 600 year old river bed to build another museum. We'd thought he was looking for some delicacy for dinner but our waiter said he'd found valuable coins and the day before and was looking for more.
Cheers to history, civilization, exploration, and fine food! KK