Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Snapshots! Melaka Revisited

The flight enroute to Penang Airport. Doesn't look like much here, but this sunset view appeared, breathtakingly looking like burning coals in the twilight. An encouraging sight to view, somehow giving me hope. I never book my seats on budget airlines (this one's tiger), but somehow I always get the window seat near the wing, something I like very much.
 Here are some of my favorite snapshots from my stay in Melaka - was there in October 2011.
Black and white postcards like these are now rather hard-to-find. Found, in a shop called Harmony Street along Jalan Tukang Besi/Emas.

This second hand bookshop has some obscure titles and classics. I could sit inside for as long as I like.

After reading Allende's 'Eva Luna' I was a fan of her writings but was not able to find her other titles anywhere.

I spent the better part of an hour inside this large Chinese temple. It was never part of my culture so I was fascinated at how the locals and tourists made offerings and prayed to deities.
The decorated roof just looks surreal!

This souvenir shop sells small zodiac amulets. Behind the lady are black bangles made out of coconut. I had asked an elderly man next to me what was it worn for, and he said, to represent 'ping an', 'peace'.
Red theme. There are two elderly men folding papers the whole day.
A shoemaker specialising in turning the beaded artwork Nonya ladies handsewn, into leather sandals and shoes. It's a very old craft and he needs to handstitch it too, often it takes a week for the shoes to be ready. Very friendly uncle who remembered me after I popped by a few days later.

His humble tools and desk.
I chanced upon The Clay House's shop, without any storeowner in the front of the shop, I ventured to the back and was pleasantly surprised to find a cosy pottery studio. Having always wanted to try making something useful out of a lump of clay on the pottery wheel, I located the Uncle owner and persuaded him to teach me for a few hours in the afternoon the next day. We chatted for a while, me in my rudimentary grasp of Mandarin interspersed with English. Most Melakans are so good in both languages!

This is Uncle Clay, shaping patiently the lump of clay into a cylindrical object, a simple cup. I will never look at a ceramic cup the same way again. It is so difficult to mold the clay into something you want, evenly and it took a lot of patience and at some parts, a fragile touch, others, a firm, consistent modeling. I was exhausted and my fingers were trembling at the end of it but I would do it again!
Then I wanted to make the cute animals I saw for sale, so I chose to make two seaturtles. One is the normal kind and the other is the anime version. They look deceptively simple to make but it took an hour!

Old school bicycles at my guesthouse, Jiong House at Kampong Pantai. I had not ridden a bicycle for more than a decade, but while on holiday you tend to do strange things; I found myself going with other guesthouse people to a Pasar Malam, night market. On the open roads, I was so scared, but rather proud I made it all the way there and back. Oh, and I was wearing a skirt (the rest of my clothes were in laundry), and attracted too much attention from lusty drivers. 

Traditional brekkie found at any chinese coffeeshops, this shy uncle allowed me to share his table and I just love this soft bread kaya toast that melts in the mouth.
 A provision shop where you can buy almost anything. We also have this in Singapore but rarely now as it's all replaced by the modernized convenience stores. The owner has a winsome smile and he was unaware I was taking a photo!
These are all handstitched bags of himalayan leather and one of the better souvenirs!

Priceless, literally.

These gypsy purses look like orange slices.

I hung out here a couple of afternoons for my coffee addiction. The vibe is just fantastic to read a book or sketch here.

Met a fellow traveler, Canadian. Here he is looking mighty pleased with the shot of the harleys we spotted. This area is the start of Jonker Walk, an overcrowded night market filled with cheap tee shirts and local delicacies, a favorite for most people going to Melaka for the weekend. The long queue behind is a queue for chicken rice ball, a local dish unique to Melaka.
The Baboon House is on Heeren Street just behind Jonker Street. It does not look like much from the front but the long passageway leads to an ever evolving art gallery, a cafe where you can sit and sketch all day long, and a beautiful garden in the back passages. There is also a golden retriever and a house cat I loved disturbing.

 Having more than a week in Melaka with no firm agenda, and on a limited budget as well, I asked the resident artist, Roger, if I could paint something. He generously lent me his oil paints as well as this old, lovely piece of wood. (Spot my hat which picks up men lying innocuously at the back). And I often painted at the Baboon House, my memories of my recent trips and did a portrait study of someone in my heart. The later canvas was sponsored by a Penang Uncle who is retired and painted for leisure, I was touched by his generosity. And on my last few days I met this artist, Titi Kwok. I had admired his black and white and red paintings of cats in my guesthouse, not knowing who he was. I chanced upon his shop and he also, generously sold me two small square canvases at cost. I am humbled by these artists. I know they don't earn much.Yet, they are really passionate about their art and keep going on every day, working at it.

On a weekend, some friends with travelers came over. Had a fun day of walking around and showing them the places, then went to eat 'satay celup'. This is a fun version of the western fondue, there is a pot in the middle of the table with spicy peanut gravy. Some people will find it too spicy! We can choose different meat or veggie sticks and soak them in the hot gravy, it's wonderfully tasty and a supper snack or light dinner. Long queues are often found at the one in town, 'Capitol Satay', but we went to Ong Kim Wee Road where there are several shops, still crowded, but not with horrific queues.
My last night in Melaka, along Kampung Pantai. It was a relaxing and enriching trip for me in this well-loved place. Painting each day really helps to take the mind off other pressing matters, and let time handle things to settle. I've left some artwork unfinished there; so I hope to go back one day and finish and collect them. I hope Melaka will stay this way for some time; the recent developments seem to be good for the profit of this state, and the river is really very cleaned up, but it remains to be seen whether the other areas that were once quickly developed and now left in a quandary, such as 'the jetty', and the 'island with the mosque' that is now arab-owned and developed, will be successful. Still, the many hardworking locals doing their daily stuff for years and honing their craftsmanship remains a stalwart.

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