Cuisine in Melaka


14 June 2013| last updated at 11:38PM

Sungai Melaka project a model for others

By Jason Gerald | [email protected]

REHABILITATION: The once lifeless waterway has been turned into Malacca’s most lucrative tourism product

THE phrase “Everything began in Malacca” is not something which was just coined to attract tourism, but is in actual fact what this state has to offer to other states in Malaysia.

The birth of the nation is attributed to the glory of the Malacca sultanate in the 15th century, and Malacca is where the independence of Malaysia was first announced by the country’s founding father, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj at the Dataran Pahlawan in Banda Hilir.

Malacca has been a benchmark for many developments in the country after the state was steered into becoming a developed state — recognised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) — and is now spearheading the nation’s green technology initiatives.

And now, what was once famed as one of the busiest ports in the world, the Melaka River, is becoming a benchmark for the rehabilitation and beautification of rivers throughout the country.

Known as the Venice of the East in the 15th century, the waterway had slowly deteriorated and became one of the dirtiest rivers in the country till some 12 years ago.

In 2001, the state government, with assistance from the Federal Government, had embarked on the first phase of the Melaka River beautification project costing some RM200 million.

The first phase of the Melaka River rehabilitation project started at the tip of the river mouth to the Hang Tuah bridge which included the construction of two new jetties and an archway across the river.

The restoration and beautification project paid off handsomely, as now the once lifeless river has not only been revived but it has been turned into the most lucrative tourism product that Malacca has to offer.

The recent Sungai Melaka International River Festival created history when the Drainage and Irrigation Department director-general, Datuk Ahmad Husaini Sulaiman, said the State administration’s success in turning the river into one of the finest in the country, region and also the world would be the main point of reference for the revival and beautification of all rivers in the country.

The effort taken by the Malacca government in beautifying the Melaka River has not only managed to turn the river into a commodity for tourism but also helped in mitigating floods.

Under the 10th Malaysia Plan all rivers in the country were allocated RM3.47 billion for flood mitigation works, rehabilitation and beautification exercise. Melaka alone was allocated RM285 million.

In Malacca’s case, this money was not only used for flood mitigation works but also for the cleaning, beautification, and upgrading of the river system from the Sungai Melaka estuary right up to Malim.

This success of making Sungai Melaka into a living river is proposed to be replicated across the country.

Sungai Melaka is flanked by several delightful structures such as the Dutch or Red Square, traditional villages and other tourist attractions. In the second phase of its rehabilitation would start at the Hang Jebat bridge up to Batu Hampar, covering 5.2km.

The second phase would be divided into three main work packages; first would cover a 2.4km waterway from the Hang Jebat bridge to the Tun Razak bridge, followed by 1.2km from the Tun Razak bridge to the Melaka Sentral bridge, and the final package from the Melaka Sentral bridge to the Tidal Control Gate that stretches for 1.6km.

This would also include deepening the depth of the river, constructing walls and walkways along the river, landscapes, three water taxi stations at Taman Rempah and Jusco AEON, building unique bridges and beautifying the banks of the river.

Once the project is completed, the water quality of Sungai Melaka is expected to improve from class 111 barometer to class 11B by the year 2015.

The current success of the Melaka River rehabilitation and beautification project could also be seen through the Melaka River Cruise.

When the cruise started in 2006 there were only 56 visitors, but last year alone it attracted some 1.1 million passengers, and this year it is targeted that the Melaka River Cruise would attract some 1.4 million visitors.

Besides being a benchmark for rivers in Malaysia, the Malacca government is also aiming to work towards getting this event listed on the World Tourism Calendar of Events, similar to the San Antonio River festival in Texas, United States.

Read more: Sungai Melaka project a model for others – Columnist – New Straits Times

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Tourism Malaysia

To The Top of Mulu Summit (Part 2)


Words by Ariel Chew, photos by Zainal Abidin Othman

Enter if you dare!


The next morning dawned bright and we woke up feeling chirpy after a good night’s rest.  But to my horror, I discovered my pillow stained with blood.  

The view was pretty – fallen leaves and lovely trees as far as the eye can see.  And when we pause to look further between the trees, we can see the tops of neighbouring mountains – bluish green from a distance. 

Calm surroundings

To Give Up or Not – That Was the Question!

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who entertained the thought of giving up.  Our boss upon seeing our tired faces as we rested at Camp 2 asked us if we would like to turn back to Camp 1.  One by one, we shook our heads.  If we proceed to Camp 3 at this late hour, it would mean trekking in the dark when the night fell.  The clouds were ominously dark and it might rain at any time.

And so, we slowly got up to our feet, every sore muscle protesting, hoisted our backpacks and went on to one of the hardest journeys we’ve ever known. The rain came strong and heavy.  We hurriedly donned our ponchos, mainly to protect our backpacks even though they were already protected by their rain covers. Although the rain made the slopes slippery, it had a cooling and rejuvenating effect on our tired bodies and strangely enough, made the journey easier. 

There was another group who stayed overnight at Camp 3 after descending from the summit.  They left early in the morning, descending to Camp 1 and then back to Park HQ.  To my relief, they looked none the worse for wear after conquering the summit.  After my harrowing and slow performance getting to Camp 3, I was having serious doubts whether I could actually make it to the summit.  

If you stop to listen, you can hear the slow dripping of water from the rock formations as part of the process of forming a new stalagmite.  Of course, this process is painstakingly long with only about one centimetre growing every hundred years.  Looking at the rock formations in the cave, we guessed that the cave must have been around the block for a long, long while.  The pebbles and rocks on the cave floor resembled those typically found on river beds.  This was evidence that the cave systems were formed by strong gushing underground rivers once upon a time. 

I decided to cross the bridge when I get to it.  At any rate, by reaching Camp 3, I managed to do what 20 soldiers purportedly couldn’t.  With that uplifting thought, I cheerfully packed up, don my wet trekking clothes and together with the others, left for Camp 4 after breakfast.

Camp 3 was cold at night, making it difficult for me to sleep much despite my warm sleeping bag and jacket (perhaps I should have gotten better gloves for my hands were freezing).   

Similar to Camp 1, both camps have basic flush toilets and fire places to cook food but unlike Camp 1, their only source of water was the rainfall collected in several big tanks.  We were thankful for the heavy rainfall on our journey;  for the water tanks were filled to the brim, giving us enough water for cooking and cleaning ourselves.  We used the water to fill our water containers but after applying one water purification tablet into every one litre, of course.   

Day 5 ~ Hie Ho, Hie Ho, It’s off to the Summit We Go!

Waking up before dawn (3.30am to be exact) and getting ourselves out in the freezing cold to climb a steep summit was hardly my idea of fun.  But that was exactly what we did the next morning.  The only consolation was we got to leave our backpacks behind at Camp 4 and just bring necessities to the summit. 

As we climbed guided by our torch lights, we got warmer. As Zainal said earlier, there were two false peaks to go through before we could reach the true peak.  Which meant a series of steep ascends and descends that took the wind out of my sail.Still, that did not deter me from pausing to admire the soft golden glow of sunlight illuminating the lovely trees and stunted vegetation along the way.  The air was crisp and utterly fresh.  There were times when I found myself trudging all alone and I embraced those moments of quietness in the midst of such beauty. 

On the flipside, never had I felt so helpless and terrified either.  At one point, I found myself dangling on both hands with my feet trying in vain to find a firm foothold to pull myself up the 90 degree ledge.  I felt the strength in my arms giving out and I tried to grip the tree roots tighter.  If I were to let go, it would be one steep and long drop.   

It felt like we’ll never reach the elusive summit.  The false twin peaks fed us a lot of false hopes that we have arrived.  But we eventually got there.  Up there, the vegetation resembled adorable bonsai plants and the wind was strong and chilly.  There was also an abandoned battery recharging station/shack, a tall pole that beckoned us to climb it and three poles tied together with a metal pail on top to signal the summit.  


Strange, but intriguing



Night crawler


Black wonder 

Sticking grasshooper 


Back to Camp 3

All that goes up must come down.  And it’s the same for mountain climbers. Our success not only lies in conquering the summit but to return safely to our point of origin.  

The descent from the summit to Camp 4 took as long as the ascent earlier that morning.  

We reached Camp 3 just as it started getting dark. Was it a coincidence that I always reached Camp 3 after an immensely tiring trek at nightfall? Whatever it was, Camp 3 (not the Summit) to me is the symbol of being the most difficult goal to attain. 

Day 6 – Back to Royal Mulu Resort

Our final day on the Mulu Summit trail dawned upon us bright and cheery.  Silly grins were firmly plastered upon our faces as we fantasized about finally getting back to civilisation. 


We were delighted to see the beautiful leaf-covered paths that greeted us as we continued our descent.  This must be the fantastic view we missed when we struggled to Camp 3 in the rain and dark. 


Lunch was at Camp 1, and after trekking uphill and downhill for many days, it was sheer bliss to walk on flat terrain.  We passed several rivers where some of us took the time to swim in them, enjoying one last river bath before going back to the urban jungle.   

When time has erased all scratches, wounds and heart-stopping memories of the Mulu Summit Trail, we know that we will be back for more.    

You can take an adventurer out of the rainforest, but you can’t take the love for the rainforest out of the adventurer.  



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