The Hainanese Village of Melaka
MyKampung 2012-10-09 16:53
The Hainanese people started to emigrate to Melaka about a century ago. Photo courtesy: Guang Ming Daily
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Translated by WINNIE CHOOI
Guang Ming Daily
MELAKA — A translucent sunlight makes a perfect timing to explore Hang Tuah’s tomb with a wonderful setting of azure sea and blue sky. A complete journey should be accompanied with a search of the Qiongzhou accent omnipresent in the Hainanese Village as well as the unmistakable Hakka Dongjiang cuisine.
Melaka is such a casual and romantic place where the beach could be reached within 30 minutes. One of the popular beaches in Melaka, Tanjung Kling is also the final resting place of national hero Hang Tuah.
Tanjung Kling is located about 10km northwest of the historic city. Along the road are rows of shophouses erected on reclaimed land with the coastline beyond. The beach is easily accessible with a short 10-minute drive from town. Its serene ambience makes it a perfect venue for leisure and recreational activities.
Half way towards Tanjung Kling from the city centre, along the small road leading to Pantai Kundor is a milestone standing next to a shabby Malay shop house marking the entrance to “Hainanese Village, where environment is our common responsibility.”
Walking into the alley and not far away lies the sea followed by a few houses at one corner. Some 95% of residents living in the 9-acre Kampung Hailam are Hainanese, with only three Hokkien households.
During the West Han dynasty of China, the Hainanese people began emigrating to Southeast Asia. The Hainanese people started to come to Melaka about a hundred years ago. They came together to form a tiny fishing village rich in the Hainanese culture.
Fishing and cooking
There are about 50 households in the Hainanese Village leading a typically laid-back lifestyle in a strongly bonded society. However, due to the lack of development, most young villagers have moved to the city to make a living.
According to older villagers, their livelihood was mostly dependent on fishing during the colonial days. Many families here boil and dry the salt in their own compounds and almost every vacant plot of land in the village has been turned into salt fields. As fishing is the most primitive skills of the Hainanese people, many villagers have started to make fishing their main source of livelihood.
Records show that during the colonial days back in the 1950s, villagers quit fishing because of inconsistent income and became domestic helps for senior British officers in order to earn more lucrative incomes. In addition, the Hainanese were also known for their cooking skills and almost every Hainanese family has produced at least a chef serving at major restaurants worldwide.
83-year-old villager Lin Jin Luan told Guang Ming Daily she had been living in the Hainanese Village for more than six decades ever since she was married to her husband and relocated here. She said majority of the fishermen in the village used to be Chinese but now there are more and more fishermen from other races.
Having grown accustomed to life by the sea, Lin said she would have problem adapting to the new life if she were to move away from the beach.
“How would you like to live in the city?” When confronted by the question from the Guang Ming Daily reporter, Lin replied, “Urban people lock themselves in the concrete cages; city living is not my cup of tea.
“I would never want to move into a bungalow even if I become rich one day. I would prefer to live by the beach and stare at the open sea.”
Lin’s daughter Yan Yu Zhuan, a maths teacher in the nearby SMK Bukit Rambai, chooses to remain in the tiny fishing village, unlike her contemporaries.
“If possible, I would like to continue living in the village.”
He Ping Hakka Restaurant
Hakka dishes are also known as Dongjiang dishes. Traditional Hakka food is characterised by its heavy taste and is somewhat salty, spiced and fatty. The saltiness is to prolong the preservation period of the food while fat provides the energy for Hakka people who used to be engaged in manual works, while spicy food stimulates the taste buds.
Located at Pantai Kundor about 10 minutes from Tanjung Kling and the Hainanese Village, the restaurant has been in operation for 15 years now. Among the Hakka specialties served are the abacus yam balls, pork with preserved vegetables, steamed duck and stewed bean curd.
Kampung Hailam is also near to the Malacca Club Rotunda which is Malacca’s oldest club which was founded in 1890. Melaka Sailing Club used to be located near Kampung Hailam during the 1970s. Unfortunately, the sailing club is non-existent now.