Cuisine in Melaka


20 October 2012 | last updated at 12:14AM

Old Malacca on St Paul’s Hill

By PHILIP LIM | 0 comments

MALACCA: THERE’S an old scent of history on St Paul’s Hill in Malacca that draws tens of thousands of visitors there every month.

There are about 10 old Portuguese tombstones inside the church.
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Even though the roof is missing, with only the walls left standing, visitors who walk on its grounds can’t help but feel that history has left a long trail of invisible footprints left behind by forgotten Christian missionaries.

The original building on the hill was built in 1521 as a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The chapel was named Nossa Senhora da Annunciada or Our Lady of the Hill. In 1548, the Bishop of Goa handed over control of the chapel to the Jesuits and a missionary named Francis Xavier took over the deed.

Renovations to the chapel took place in 1556, 1590 and 1592. In due course, the chapel was renamed Igreja de Madre de Deus or Church of the Mother of God.
When the Dutch took over Malacca in 1641, the church was renamed St Paul’s Church. One hundred eighty-three years later in 1824, the British gained control of Malacca but the name of the hill remained.

On any given day, one will find on St Paul’s Hill souvenir pedlars and artists who seem to be drawn there more by the place’s serenity than by anything else.
Foo is one of them. He is on the lighter side of his 50s, but looks like someone who has emerged unscathed by the Flower Power of the 1960s.

His greying moustache and his lean frame give the impression that he is a bohemian seeking his fortunes amid 400-year-old ancient ruins. Sporting shoulder-length hair, a red jockey cap and cropped pyjama-style pants, Foo has that enigmatic smile that reveals he has seen far more of life than he is willing to share with strangers.

But once he warms up to you, Foo, who is sometimes called Patrick, is quick to recount tales of those early years when he was a fisherman. He weathered the storms on the high seas for two or three years before he realised that it was not his true path in life.

“During those fishing years, I was out at sea for two or three days at a time. Occasionally, it was about one to two weeks,” said Foo.
The weather was unforgiving and life sometimes seemed to hang in the balance, added Foo with a whimsical smile.

About 10 years ago, Foo decided he had had enough of the rough seas, scorching sun and vacillating fortunes. He returned to being a landlubber on terra firma where his feet did not have to sway.

With the help of some business friends, he obtained an ample supply of prints of old Malacca. The prints, popular among tourists, are given sepia tones to lend an old charm to the historical city.

Among the 20-odd pictures of old Malacca are scenes of Jonker Street in 1890, Heeren Street in 1910, Malacca River in 1880 and Kwee Meng Kuang footbridge in 1890.
A batch of five prints is sold at RM20. For a KL resident, the price seemed immensely reasonable. In Jonker Street, where some photo shops are located, a similar old print which is framed is priced at RM45 each.

Foo readily admits that he is not an artist and that the items spread on the floor are not his work. Sitting on a stool in the corner of the interior of the church, the congenial individual seems to like life as it is right now.

His “work station” is in the rear of roofless church, which houses an old burial vault and Portuguese tombstones removed from the grounds in the 1930s.
The Portuguese tombstones, which number about 10, form a boundary of sorts around Foo’s “exhibition area”.

A few feet from Foo is a sign in three languages (Bahasa Malaysia, English and Dutch) that says “laid to rest here is Ioanna six who was born in Tayoan, wife of Jacobus Pedel, a merchant and harbour master for Malacca town. Departed this life on 1 January 1696 at the age of 40 years, 9 months, 15 days also, before her on 21 May, 1695, their son Jacobus Pedel Junior passed away at age less 2 days to 7 months”.
With these centuries-old tombstones and relics on St Paul’s Hill, the old Malacca that Foo somehow seems to personify, has come alive with its ancient walls and tombstones speaking in whispered tones about lives come and gone.

This former holy ground, like many others, is not without its own tale and mystery. The story lies in a statue of St Francis Xavier, erected in 1952, that has a broken right arm, at the front of the church.

The statue was to mark the 400th anniversary of the saint’s stay in Malacca. One day after the statue was put up, a large tree fell and broke the arm.

It would not have been an unusual occurrence if not for the fact that in 1614, the right forearm of St Francis Xavier was removed from his body as a relic.

Today on St Paul’s Hill, if you care to listen in silence to the whispers of the slow, incoming sea breeze, you, too, may hear something.

Read more: Old Malacca on St Paul’s Hill – Central – New Straits Times

Cuisine in Melaka


MALACCA: The historical site of St John’s Hill here is poised to receive a major facelift after the state government gave approval for upgrading works at the hilltop.

Malacca Historic City councillor Ronald Gan Yong Hoe said he was informed by a state executive councillor that the allocation was approved during a special exco meeting following a report in The Star on Thursday about couples having sexual trysts on St John’s Hill and St Paul’s Hill.

“The city council has given the go-ahead for the installation of solar-powered lamp posts at the hilltop and to improve the surrounding areas,” he said after a visit to the site yesterday.

It was reported that Chief Minister Datuk Seri Ali Rustam had directed the local council to curb undesirable activities after he was briefed on the discovery of used condoms at the unlit St John’s hilltop and lovers having their rendezvous at St Paul’s Hill.

Gan said plans would be implemented to turn the hill into a tourist attraction.

Among them were asking the local authorities to acquire a plot below the hilltop to be turned into parking bays for tourist buses, public toilets and other tourist amenities.

“Currently, there are only a small number of tourists going to St John’s Hill.

“More tourists will come if improvements to the facilities are carried out,” he added.

Cuisine in Melaka


Thursday April 14, 2011 CM blows his top over hill trysts By R.S.N. MURALI
MALACCA: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam is hopping mad over reports that young couples have been having sexual trysts on the historical hilltops of St John’s Hill and St Paul’s Hill. He immediately directed the local council to thwart the undesirable activities after he was briefed on the recent discovery of used condoms at the unlit St John’s hilltop and also the sighting of lovers having their rendezvous at St Paul’s Hill.

“These historical sites have been turned into havens for unsavoury acts. I want all those responsible for the maintenance of the sites to meet me. “I will not hesitate to issue show-cause letters to council workers who have been tasked to supervise the sites,” he said yesterday. Lovers’ spot: St John’s Hill in Malacca has been turned into a haven for unsavoury acts. Mohd Ali will make suggestions for both St John’s Hill and St Paul’s Hill to be lit extensively.

Mohd Ali said he will make suggestions for the sites to be lit extensively using solar-powered lamp posts. “I will work on the costs and expedite the upgrading work of the lamps. A gotong-royong programme will be carried out very soon to clean up the surrounding areas, especially St John’s Hill,” he added. He also said enforcement agencies will be asked to intensify patrols at the areas.

“I don’t want the sites to be known for the wrong reasons and I am surprised that the authorities are unaware of this,” he added. A check by The Star yesterday showed some spots at St John’s Hill had been turned into a meeting point for people who were believed to have been involved in sexual trysts.

Joggers going up the hill also reported sighting dozens of used condom packs strewn all round the historical site, including the fort where the 18th century Dutch cannons are. Locals had also observed lovers gathering at the hill during late nights.

Founded in 1571 by Portuguese conquerors, the hilltop has been recognised as a Unesco world heritage site. The site once housed the remains of Roman Catholic missionary St Francis Xavier, who was buried there in 1553 before his body was moved to Goa, India.

Tourists throng the sites daily, which are famous for their unique ruins and the breathtaking view of Malacca town.