Sunday, September 23, 2007

Touring Melaka Historical Sites by Melaka Red Double Decker Bus

23rd. September 2007

Melaka :

Our historical tour of Melaka on the Red Bus started at about 11.00am. We have heard about Melaka’s newest tourism product – See Melaka historical sites on a Red Double Decker Bus but we have yet to try it until today.

With a baseball cap, a bottle of drinking water and casually dressed for the occasion, we waited for this bus at No. 13 designated stop for the Melaka Red bus. No. 13 stop named “Renaissance Stop” is located opposite Melaka Renaissance Hotel. In fact, it is in front of Hotel Okid at Jalan Bendahara and near Hotel Accordian too. We had to wait for about half an hour before the Red Double Decker was sighted coming down towards us at about 11.00 am. We had earlier spotted the “Panorama Red Bus” but it did not come our way. We found out later that the “Panorama Red Bus” route covered the historical sites and outskirts of Melaka City at only RM 2.00 per adult for the whole day. Very affordable by any standards!!

The “Melaka Red Double Decker Bus” route only covered the historical sites around Melaka City. The fare is priced at RM 5.00 per adult per day. Travellers can hop on this bus and hop off to see the sites at your own leisure. Then, hop on the next bus for the next site. This is certainly a good and cheap way to see Melaka historical sites for the whole day.

After boarding the double decker bus, we climbed up to the Upper Saloon of the bus for birds’ eye view of Melaka. The bus was brought in from London as we can still see some signages in English and fares in Sterling! Driven by one driver whom you have to pay your fares to, this bus is also air-conditioned. A Plus point against the hot and humid weather of the tropics.

The bus first passed Meng Seng Charitable Hall which is linked to the founding of Malaya and turned right towards Jalan Munshi Abdullah.

It crossed over Hang Tuah Bridge and we reached Jalan Hang Tuah where we will see Hang Tuah Mall . Also located on Jalan Hang Tuah is the new Melaka City Campus of Technical University of Malaysia.

It passed Soon Seng Plaza and Legacy Hotel at the end of Jalan Hang Tuah before moving passed Tesco Hypermarket and towards Melaka Sentral (Melaka Bus and Taxi Terminals).

After a brief stop for passengers, it travelled back to Jalan Hang Tuah and veered left into Jalan Gajah Berang. For visitors interested see the “Chitty Museum”, you can hop off at the designated stop. We moved towards Jalan Tranquerah via Jalan Ong Kim Wee and to the end of Jalan Hang Jebat (Jonker’s Street).

It continued into Jalan Kubu and turned into Jalan Kampung Hulu where Kampung Hulu Mosque is located. The bus then moved slowly into Jalan Kampung Pantai and visitors can see the old Pre-war Chinese shop houses.

It then crossed over the Melaka River by using the Chan Koon Cheng bridge before turning right to Jalan Laksamana (or Riverside Road). This road will lead us into the historical old sector of “Stadthuys” or the “Red Dutch Square” area.

Besides the “Stadthuys”, the Clock Tower, “Christ Church” and “Youth Museum” are located here. You can stop (Stop No.5 or Stadthuys Stop) here for your photo shoot or enjoy Malacca's famous "Chendol" across the road.

Moreover, the newly discovered “Middlesburg Wall” of A Famosa is also located here.

The historical journey continued by passing by the newly discovered “Middleburg wall" towards the replica ship of “Flor de la Mar”. This Portuguese ship was the flagship of Alburqueque who conquered Malacca in 1511. After capturing Malacca, the Portuguese took Malacca’s treasures and loaded them up into their galleons. However, on their journey back to Portugal, the fleet was caught in a heavy storm and the “Flor de la Mar” with Malacca’s invaluable treasure, sank off the coast of North Sumatra.

After passing this replica ship, we entered the reclaimed land of “Banda Hilir”. Before the area was built up, the site was Malacca’s Esplanade where Malaccans used to enjoy their morning and evening walks besides the Malacca Straits. In the evenings, we enjoyed the sight of sunsets and cool evening breezes. In late 1980’s, the sea in front of the Esplanade was reclaimed and now, the air-conditioned Mahkota Parade shopping mall was built on it.

Recently, in 2006, Malacca’s newest shopping mall, Dataran Pahlawan was opened. This 2 storey shopping mall was built on the padang” of Banda Hilir.

Since then, the padang has been reduced to a third of her original size. The construction of the mall has been turned the area into another concrete jungle and traffic jams are seen especially during weekends.

By late 2008, Melaka Tower will rise 140 metres in the same area and another hypermarket such as Carrefour will operate just in front of Hotel Equatorial.

The Red Double Decker bus passed by Hotel Equatorial and moved towards Jalan Bandar Hilir. On this road, there are a few hawker complexes which are opened during the evenings. You can get Malacca’s famous ho chien, popiah and delicious local cuisines along this road. At the end of the road is the Henry Gurney Prison for teenagers and the St. John’s hill.

Soon, we reached the Semabok junction and turned left into Jalan Panjang before moving towards Bukit China. We then passed the “Martyrs Memorial” which was built in honour of the fallen heroes against the Japanese Occupation of Malaya during the 2nd. World War.

Just around this memorial lies the “Poh San Teng” temple and the “King’s Well”. This well never goes dry and a wall has been built around it to protect this well during the Portuguese/Dutch eras. As the legend goes, any person who drinks the water from this well, will always come back to Malacca in his/her lifetime.

Both of these historical sites are located just below the foothills of “Bukit China”. Bukit China or Chinese Hill is now the largest Chinese cemetery outside China. Before, legend said the hill was the area where the Chinese princess, “Hang Li Po” and her entourage stayed thus the name “Bukit China”. Now, Bukit China is the largest green lung within Malacca and many joggers climbed up the hill for their morning/evening runs.

Our historical city tour continued down Jalan Munshi Abdullah. Passing Meng Seng Charitable Hall again, we then turned right into Jalan Bunga Raya. The last stop for us in front of the former “Majestic Hotel” just before Kampung Morten.

Overall, the journey took about an hour and fifteen minutes. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and was able to see Malacca from this double decker bus. We hope to take the "Panorama Bus" in the future to see the outskirts of Malacca from our last stop.

Meantime, we hope you have enjoyed our blog. We hope you will also come and see Malacca on this Red Double Decker Bus. Enjoy.