Local Heart, Global Soul

January 1, 2013

Starting 2013 with a BANG!

Filed under: LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

New Year’s Eve for 2012 in the Kiwidutch household is turning out to be a fairly low key affair.

We’ve had friends over with their two children, seven year old twins and enjoyed a tapas style dinner from 5 o’clock onwards of all sorts of odds and ends that included roasted potatoes, parsnips, pumpkin, and sweet potato,  boiled carrots (kid favourite) a large bag of giant prawns divided into two lots, half with an indecent amount of garlic and fresh coriander (a.k.a. cilantro) the other also with an indecent amount of garlic and a very decent amount of  fresh chilli.

I made  Piedmontese Peppers https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/?s=peppers, garlic and herb bread, an Armenian recipe of meat and herbs wrapped in grape leaves, we had a sage,onion, sausage meat and orange meatloaf, fresh cucumber and red capsicums  a cheeseboard and olives and finished off with one of our family favourites: My Aunty Barbara’s Danish Pastry: https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/?s=barbara.

At 9.30 we set off some fireworks for the younger kids to enjoy and  my brother in law picked up Kiwi Daughter for a sleepover at their place,  our guests departed with their son who is disabled and for whom a whole evening of events is too much, whilst his sister stays here at our place for a sleepover  to keep Little Mr. company.

The rain which has been stuck into the Dutch calendar for most of this year, is continuing true to form tonight which is damping the spirits of some firework enthusiasts but making the fire departments a little happier.

Himself has taken the kids to visit friends just down the road and will be back to ring in the New Year as the local noise level rises to the level of “small war zone”  as more than sixty million Euro’s worth of  fireworks will be exploding as the clock strikes midnight.

Here is just a tiny fraction of the firework display that the Dutch traditionally bring in the New Year with…

It will be a deafening start to 2013,  noisy and exuberant,  full on, as 2013 literally enters with a bang…  However you celebrate your New Years Eve, wherever in the world you are, I wish you a very happy, safe and healthy 2013 full of much laughter, joy and fun ! Happy New Year!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 5, 2012

Have YOU Been a Good Child This Year?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today is a very special day in the Netherlands because it’s the day that Sinterklaas visits all good children and leaves gifts.

Officially he is called Sint Nicolaas but children generally refer to him as Sinterklaas or in our house just as the more familiar version “de Sint”.

De Sint comes to Dutch and Belgium children on either the evening of 5 December or the morning of 6th December but from what I understand, the morning of 6th December is mostly a Belgium tradition because all of our Dutch family and friends celebrate on 5th December and never the 6th.

Tradition states that because Sint Nicolaas is the patron saint who looks after children, travellers and sailors this is the reason why he takes a steamboat from Spain to the Netherlands (typically arriving to great fanfare on a Saturday roughly two weeks before the “big day” of 5 December.)

In the Netherlands a town or city is chosen to be the special place where Sint officially arrives and the day will be filled with many events and celebrations as children and parents attend in their tens of thousands.

Such a big deal is the “arrival” that the entire event is televised for most of the day “live” on Dutch TV so that children in other parts of the Netherlands can witness the great event too.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Here it is also traditional for there to be a special Sinterklaas News bulletin on children’s TV every day, from the day of Sint’s arrival up to 5 December and this programme journals the “drama” that invariably unfolds that year. (There is a drama every year, that’s getting to be a tradition too LOL)

One year “Amerigo”, the horse that Sint rides, went missing, or someone mislays all of the gifts for the children of the Netherlands, or the group who are to bring Sint to the arrival town loose their way… or this year the Zwarte Piets lost money that Sint was going to use to buy the gifts.

Naturally the “drama” is spun out on TV for this two week period and then miraculously everything falls into place on the very last night … and woe betide any parent to tries to interrupt this most hallowed of TV viewing in the yearly schedule!

Our children are certainly riveted during this programme and haven’t twigged at all that there are many howling errors contained in the programme: small details such as: most of it is filmed in secret in the summer months when the trees are full and green, whilst when the programme is transmitted the trees are bare as can be LOL, or that entire sections have been filmed on private land, and there is not a single small child in the “crowd” (how would you explain this all away to a little kid in August?)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sinterklaas delivers his gifts to children by riding his white horse and landing on the rooftops (although interestingly no mention is ever made to the fact that Amerigo can fly!) so Little Mr. has been most concerned this year that Sint will have a problem now that we have renovated and installed heat-pumps and blocked up the chimney now that the old gas heaters have gone.

We solved this problem by opening a small window and putting a paper arrow on the glass to point to the new way inside.

Sint Nicolaas is said in some stories to be based on a real person who lived in Turkey and helped travellers by land and sea and also children. The story goes that his burial remains were taken to southern Italy which duly came under Spanish rule at one time in it’s history and this is how Sint ended up supposedly coming from Spain.

It’s not without irony that Sint is not celebrated on 5th December in Spain itself, but OK logical on the other hand because of course on that date is he away from home: busy delivering gifts in the Netherlands and Belgium!

When I arrived in the Netherlands in the early 90’s it was still that the 5th December was the exclusive day of gift-giving in the Netherlands, giving gifts on 25 December was almost unheard of outside of the ex-pat community.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In fact, within both our Dutch families no special dinner or any celebrations apart from a church service were ever planned on the 25th at all. It was my homesickness for a Christmas tree and a decent Christmas dinner Kiwi-style that kick-started the celebration of Christmas Day in our extended family but only the only gift giving on that day is between Himself, our children and and myself.

Slowly though, over the years, the retail section of Dutch society woke up to the fact that Christmas Day could be a whole new retail opportunity so slowly but surely there has been a steady increase in Christmas merchandise, at least in trees, decoration and to some extent food.

We clearly had no escape from doing both anyway because I love cooking for Christmas Day and because our kids have been regularly in New Zealand at Christmas where Sint arriving on 5 December doesn’t exist and every kid is hanging out for the big gift giving from Santa Klaus / Father Christmas on the morning of 25th December.

The family rule we have maintained so far is that our kids do both but they get a small amount of gifts on each (one larger one smaller) so that they don’t get to double-dip.

There are many more Sint traditions, songs and stories too, but far too many for just one post today, so maybe next year I will add more to the story and traditions of our celebrations.

I noticed that close to my Sister in Law’s house some families have made displays in their windows so I grabbed some photos for you.

If you are wondering why there are carrots in the shoes, that’s a tradition too… the carrot is of course for Amerigo, Sint’s horse and once it has been gratefully received there is sure to be a little token of sweets or a very small gift left in it’s place.

Our children may put out their shoes twice: once at home the day after Sint arrives in the Netherlands and once by Oma (Grandma). Since Himself has very large feet they attempted to use his shoes instead of their own, but we told them that it’s also a tradition that the smaller the shoe the bigger the gift, so they swiftly returned to using their own shoe!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Happy Sint Nicolaas! Have you been a good child this year???

Oooh… back later… “Someone’s” coming!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 5, 2012

Stadthuys / Stadhuis … Still Mysterious in Red…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this page of my travel diary we are in Dutch Square in Melaka, Malaysia.  In yesterday’s post we saw the most obvious Dutch building: a windmill,  but one of the oldest and most famous is situated just across the square: the Stadthuys.

Stadthuys”  in Dutch means “Town Hall” but this spelling is the outdated one and has long since been superseded in the Netherlands by the word “Stadhuis”.

The Stadthuys in Melaka dates back to 1650 and was built by the Dutch as the offices of the Dutch Governor and (say some sources:his deputy)  because Melaka was at the time the administrative capital of the region here under Dutch occupation and control.

The Square here has various names: “Dutch Square”  is one of them and another is “Red Square”.  This second name came about because  although the buildings here are made of bricks, the British  painted over it in a shade of salmon pink for maintenance reasons and then year later the state government tweaked the colour to the present day hue of  pinky-red for  they are now famous.

The Stadthuys is the oldest remaining Dutch colonial building in Asia and currently houses the Museum of History and Ethnography and inside are displays of  the history, artifacts and traditional costumes of Melaka.

I found a detailed article on the Stadthuys here: http://www.hollandfocus.com/v2/index.php/magazine/contributors/dennisdewitt/99-dennisdewitt/111-ddwstadthuys

and from it learned (somewhat edited for brevity) :

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Stadthuys of Malacca is a reproduction of the former Stadhuis (town hall) of the Frisian town of Hoorn in the Netherlands. However, the former Stadhuis of Hoorn only existed from 1420 until 1796.

Hoorn’s former Stadhuis was replaced in 1796 by a building that is now known as “het oude stadhuis” (the old town hall), which is still  there and in use until 1977  Hoorn’s current Town Hall is a modern building.

Therefore, anybody who wishes to see what the former Stadhuis of Hoorn looked like in the 15th to 18th centuries,  only the Stadthuys of Malacca can give an excellent representation of the now extinct Frisian building.

The Stadthuys was situated within the walls of Malacca fort and located opposite the northern gateway into the fortified town, across the river. The fort itself encompassed a considerable area surrounding the hill of St. Paul’s, which accommodated offices and warehouses for the VOC and all the amenities needed by its colony. The fort walls no longer exist today thanks to the folly and vandalism of the British who maliciously ordered its destruction while safeguarding Dutch possessions in Asia from the French, during the Napoleonic wars.

The Stadthuys is a massive complex. The building’s interior has two floors and it is 30 metres wide. Apart from being the governors’ house, the Stadthuys also includes the Secretary’s office, a prayer room, a dining room, a guest house, servant’s quarters, the home of the Chief Merchant, a prison, trade office, warehouses, courtyards and a detached bakery. 

The spacious records room of the Stadthuys is exceptionally suitable for the preservation of official documents, even though tropical climate is often the cause for the swift deterioration of paper. With massive metre thick walls, a high ceiling and big floor tiles, it provides a cool interior atmosphere and apparently has a dry-cellar effect.

Standing at the Dutch Square, the Stadthuys appears majestically impressive with its big windows, doors and stairs. On the outside, a stone balustrade leads a dual stairway to a small balcony that is also accessible through a door on the first floor. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

During the Dutch rule of Malacca, the Stadthuys, like all the other Dutch administration buildings in Southeast Asia, was painted white. By way of the Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1824, Malacca was given up by the Dutch and the town became a British colony. In 1911, the British painted the Stadthuys and the Christ Church a salmon red.

The actual reasons as to why these buildings were painted red by the British is now lost in time but legends and theories are abundant.

One opinion was that the buildings were painted red to copy the colour of red brick stone houses in Holland. Apparently, the Dutch painted the buildings red to remind them of their homeland. However, this theory is flawed because it was the British, and not the Dutch, who painted the buildings red.

Another theory was that the British wanted to differentiate British built houses from the old Dutch houses. Therefore, the British painted the old Dutch buildings red. However, there were other old Dutch buildings in Malacca that were not painted red by the British.

Most amusingly, it was also suggested that the red discharge from chewing sireh (betel) was constantly spat onto the white walls of the buildings by the locals in venting their hatred and contempt for the Dutch. Later, the British simply decided to cover it up with red paint. A witty tale probably perpetuated by anti-Dutch propaganda and contrived by nationalistic British colonials.

A more plausible reason given was maybe due to the lack of maintenance, the red laterite stone used to build the Stadthuys showed through the whitewashed plastering. Also, perhaps heavy tropical rain often splashed the red soil up the white walls. So, the British decided to paint it all red to save maintenance costs.

There are also tales of secret pathways and tunnels that were suppose to serve as strategic hidden entry and exit points in the building. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The famous Malacca-born Malay scholar and teacher, Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, who as a young man worked as a scribe for Sir Stanford Raffles in Malacca, wrote in his historically acclaimed autobiography that there was a tunnel that ran through St. Paul’s hill into the Stadthuys. Abdullah also remarked that the building had a door which gave direct access to the Malacca river, located about 200 metres away. It was thought that the river exit provided the governor with an escape route out of the fortified town, in case there was trouble.

Although the rumours of secret tunnels have perpetuated in Malacca throughout the generations, these stories have never been substantiated. Dutch conservation architect, Laurens Vis, in his thorough investigation of the Stadthuys in the 1980s found no evidence of any secret tunnels or hidden pathways. But maybe the building still closely guards its age-old secrets?

Today, the Stadthuys is Malacca’s premier museum, welcoming over 48,000 visitors annually. However, it now goes by the name of Museum of Ethnography and it is used for displaying bits and pieces of the different eras of Malacca’s colourful history and the culture of its people.

Unfortunately, the museum provides no information on the architectural layout, historical function and past activities of the Stadthuys itself. The only feature that gives a somewhat true representation of the history of the building is the governor’s room, a single room that attempts to recreate the atmosphere of how it was during Dutch times there.

(Dennis De Witt is a Dutch Eurasian from Malacca who as a hobby studies the history of Dutch influence in Malaysia and the surrounding region. He is currently the Project Co-ordinator of the Malaysian Dutch Descendants Project, a community effort working to bring together the forgotten Dutch descendants in Malaysia. For further information, please visit www.dutchmalaysia.net)

Whilst I was delighted to be able to see the local Melakian market in full swing on the day we visited, the one downside was that it made getting decent photos of the Stadthuys very difficult indeed. In fact I ended up with more Market than Stadthuys… also probably because of the presence of the market, the front entrance area was rather restricted in space so there were people everywhere, taking photos, coming out, waiting to go in, and my photos didn’t come out well at all.  We also saw the queue and knew immediately that there would be no hope of even a super quick tour on our tight schedule… but yet another reason to return one day for a longer stay and a closer look.

November 3, 2012

Go On… Take Me For a Spin!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are looking around Melaka in Malaysia as a side trip to our extended stopover in Singapore as we head back to the Netherlands from New Zealand.

I’m delighted to see colourful trishaws coming down the main street at regular intervals and as we make our way up the street they start to appear in even greater abundance.

Since many of them are so heavily decorated that they would put a Rio Carnival float to shame, they are hard to miss… but I find them fascinating and love the colours and floral additions.

Since I’ve been doing my fair share of walking on my crutches today, that later after we had seen a few of the sights we decided that this mode of transport would be an ideal way to get back to the bus which our guide tells us is now parked back at the Equatorial Hotel where we had lunch earlier. We also have a strict time limit  to get back the the bus by, so walking back isn’t going to be quick enough for me anyway.

She also tells us the amount that it should cost to get back there,  just in case a driver charges “tourist prices” instead of the correct fare.

I’m interested to gather a little more information about the tradition of trishaws so here’s what I found on Wikipedia:

The cycle rickshaw is a small-scale local means of transport; it is also known by a variety of other names such as bike taxi, velotaxi, pedicab, bikecab, cyclo, becak, trisikad, or trishaw or, simply, rickshaw which also refers to auto rickshaws, and the, now uncommon, rickshaws pulled by a person on foot.

Cycle rickshaws are human-powered, a type of tricycle designed to carry passengers in addition to the driver. They are often used on a for hire basis. Cycle rickshaws are widely used in major cities around the world, but most commonly in cities of South, Southeast and East Asia.

In Malaysia, pedestrian-pulled rickshaws were gradually replaced by cycle rickshaws (beca in Malay). Cycle rickshaws were ubiquitous up to the 1970s in cities. Since then, rapid urbanization has increased demand for more efficient public transport, resulting in dwindling cycle rickshaw numbers.

Today, cycle rickshaws are operated mostly as a tourist attraction, with small numbers operating in Malacca, Penang, Kelantan and Terengganu.

I love how different some of the styles are, from neat and beautifully arranged rows of plastic and synthetic flowers to the throw-it-all-together method in a more tacky fashion, all of these trishaws have a charm of their own.  One even sports batman wings…  and guess what?  To my children’s delight I was destined to be the lucky member of our tour party who turned up back at the bus in a trishaw decorated with a giant spider on top of the umbrella complete with  Barbie dolls clutched in some of the feet!   …eek!  but at least riding in that  one meant I didn’t have to gaze at it all the way back!

(Note: the Dutch word for “spider” is “spin”… so I do suppose that in this city with it’s Dutch historical influences,  you could  say I was  “going for a spin” in this  particular trishaw with no trace of irony whatsoever!)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycle_rickshaw

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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My favourite: one occasion when OTT looks amazing!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 2, 2012

Feeling, Tasting and Seeing Harmony…

Filed under: FOOD,MALAYSIA,Melaka,PHOTOGRAPHY,Specialty,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You are turning another page in my retrospective diary of our travels to New Zealand earlier this year.

We are now on our way back home  to the Netherlands but have a long stopover of almost a week in Singapore to visit with a fellow Foodie and good friend that I first met on the internet who I’ll call here by her internet nickname “Velvetine”.

Together we have made a side trip from Singapore and have taken a three hour bus trip to Melaka, Malaysia where we have  been visiting the Cheng Hoon Teng temple but now after waiting a while for one straggler in our group who was busy seeking her fortune with “lucky sticks”, we all spill out onto the street to start a walking tour and see the city centre.

The street we are on is  officially called  Jalan Tokong Besi  but it’s also known as “Harmony Street”  because on it and standing in harmony are the places of worship of the three main religions of Malaysia.

These consist of the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple that we have just visited, which was buit in 1645, and is the oldest chinese Temple in Malaysia. Just a short distance down the street is the Kampung Keling Mosque tht was built in 1868 and looks like no other mosque I have ever seen before.

It’s a tall tower of a building some six stories high, very square in shape and has a sight pagoda look to it, actually I asked the guide if it was a Japanese building and when she told me it was a mosque I was quite surprised. It’s a stunning piece of architecture, with pure simplicity that draws your eye straight up the tower to the top.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The last of the trio is the Sri Payyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple which, built in the late 1700’s is the  oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia but which sadly I didn’t manage to grab a photograph of.

I find it amazing that two of these building are the oldest of their type in all of Malaysia and that they are situated in the very same street… brilliant!

Don’t you just wish at all religions could so peacefully co-exist in their own “harmony streets” everywhere in the world as they do here?

Of course I’m captivated too by the street scenes all around us… there is so much to see.

The decorations for the upcoming Chinese New  Year,  street vendors, a freezer full of ice-cream  grabs the full attention of my children, and  for my lens too since these ice-creams are  egg-shaped and come in rounded clear plastic containers.

Then there was the table of durian sweets… but the one I really wished we could have had time to stop and try, a local speciality that our guide pointed out and explained: chicken rice balls, which consists of rice cooked in chicken stock and molded into balls. We are told that come evening time there will be a long queue outside this establishment for these rice balls,  touted as one of the best in Melaka are very popular with locals and tourists alike.

Darn, I wish we could have stayed longer… I want to try it all (ok, maybe not quite so fast on the durian… but those chicken rice balls were definitely calling me). Let’s take a look…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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November 1, 2012

More Luck Than You Can Shake a Stick At…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In a continuation of  my previous day’s posts, we are visiting the Cheng Hoon Teng temple in Melaka, Malaysia.

Whilst we take a quiet look inside people come in to pray and leave offerings, then I hear a clattering noise and my attention is drawn to a young lady kneeling in a prayer stool with a canister in her hands.

Our guide explains that the canister contains “lucky sticks”, also known as Guanyin sticks and they are used to tell someone’s fortune.

I think I managed to follow the explanation correctly,  but my understanding was that you are to shake the canister vigorously and then let one of the sticks fall out, there is detailed chinese writing on the stick and this is your “fortune”.

Accompanying the sticks are two pieces of red painted wood shaped like the two halves of a bean, one side of each of them is mostly flat, the other is rounded and when these are thrown down together there are three possible outcomes.

The first outcome is that they each land flat side up, the second is that one lands flat side up and the other lands rounded side up and lastly they could both land rounded side upwards.

If I understand correctly,  then the person wishing to know their fortune throws the beans three times and if they land one rounded and one flat side up three times in a row then it’s a confirmation that the lucky stick drawn is indeed the correct one.

If the three throws do not confirm that the lucky stick is correct, then the canister is shaken again and another stick is drawn  and the process is repeated  until the “beans” confirm that the correct stick has been drawn.

On the table is a folder of at least 40 pages in plastic, which depict at the top a drawing of the symbols on each of the sticks and below (in this instance in English) a translation of the meaning of all the symbols depicted.

I photographed on the of the pages of the book with the explanation but between the shine on the plastic and the low light inside the temple,  the photo did not come out particularly clearly so I’ll repeat the text here:

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

GUO ZI YI

When the sunrise the sky become clear
Bright and pure shines the world
The future leads to a great path
All matters become clear and safe and luck prevails

EXPLANATION

Successful in all endeavor
Good time to seek wealth, you’ll be physically wonderful
Have merit, fame and glory
Marriage will be matched and successful
Safe and peaceful in the household
Safe in all your journeys
Pregnant give birth to boy
Feng Shui excellent
Worry not about illness, but health at risk during old ages

I don’t know which stick the young lady drew, but she seemed happy enough with the results.

One of the tourists in our party, also a young lady, then proceeded to start the process of trying to find her fortune which started off ok, but in the end it was taking so long that everyone was standing around for ages waiting for her to finish and it was clear from the tour guide lady’s face that she was not best pleased by the hold-up in the schedule.

I think the entire group ended up waiting for more than twenty minutes by the exit gate before the young lady came hurriedly out of the temple with a grin on her face, apparently her fortune had been favourable too.

Stupidly I didn’t read the explanations on the other pages in the book (other people crowded in to read the open page that I had photographed)  so I have no idea if they were all  favourable or not… Who knows?

I’m not personally into fortune telling,  horoscopes or anything like this but it was very clear that these people took it quite seriously, so I suppose each to his own. If this is your thing, then shake those sticks and good luck!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 31, 2012

Welded Together by the Gods…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are visiting the Cheng Hoon Teng temple in Melaka, Malaysia.

Now we have come inside, and as with the outside we are met with a perfusion of decoration and colours.

The temple is dimly lit, calm and cool… people are coming and going offering prayers and leaving   foodstuffs  at the long  alter/counter in the center of the back wall, presided over by an doll-like figure  (possibly porcelain?) dressed in rich yellow gold.

Wikipedia tells me that the  large main prayer hall is dedicated to the goddess of mercy, Kuan Yin, so possibly this is the figure that represents her.

My research also tells me that:

“The Cheng Hoon Teng temple, literally “Temple of Green Cloud” is a Chinese temple practicing the Three Doctrinal Systems of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism located at No. 25 Jalan Tokong, Malacca Town, Malaysia. 

The Cheng Hoon Teng is situated close to Jalan Tukang Emas, also known as “Harmony Street” because of its proximity to the Kampung Kling Mosque and Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple.  The richly decorated Cheng Hoon Teng temple covers an area of 4,600 m2. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Featuring a magnificent main gate along Jalan Tokong, the Cheng Hoon Teng temple consists of a complex of several prayer halls, with additional smaller prayer quarters were added later. One of these is dedicated to the Buddhist gods of wealth, longevity and propagation, while another houses ancestral tablets.

One of the most dramatic features of Cheng Hoon Teng temple is the seven-metre red flag-pole facing the left wing of the main prayer hall, which houses the remains of two of the three Kapitans who contributed to the construction of the temple.

Across the road is a traditional opera theatre, which forms a part of the Cheng Hoon Teng temple complex.

Built in 1645 by Kapitan Lee Wei King with building materials imported from China, Cheng Hoon Teng served as the main place of worship for the local Hoklo (Hokkien) community.

In 2003, Cheng Hoon Teng was awarded a UNESCO award for outstanding architectural restoration

I also find out some interesting facts on the Malacca Tourism Guide website:

It’s porch is supported by columns. On one side of the column in the entrance, you can see Chinese calligraphy in the form called cao-shu, or “grass script”. The calligraphy was done, surprisingly, by a Dutch diplomat and authority on Chinese history and culture, Robert van Gulik (1910-1967) in the early 20th century. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The main prayer hall was first constructed in 1704 by Chan Ki Lock. What we see today was rebuilt by Kapitan China Chua Su Cheong in 1801.
The central altar is dedicated to Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva avalokitesvara, or known locally as the goddess of mercy. To her left (in the worshippers’ direction) is Ma Choo @ Ma Choe Poh, which is the same deity you would find at the A Ma Temple in Macau, Thian Hock Keong in Singapore and Hainan Temple in Penang.

This is the patron deity of fishermen, sailors and sea travellers, and is commonly worshipped in communitys across southern China and Nanyang. Next to her is the goddess of birth. On the far end is Kuan Kong. The deity with the gold face is Pau Sen Ta Tek, the god of welding.

Unlike other Chinese temples, the Cheng Hoon Teng does not employ door gods. Instead the doors are guarded by the famous Taoist monks, The Eight Immortals.

At the outer gate are the Eight Immortals on the beasts that they ride on. At the entrance to the main hall, the Eight Immortals are not shown in human form, but rather symbolized as dragons with four claws.

Within their claws are the Eight Immortals’ instruments, namely the flute, knife, lotus and fan. These dragon representations are called Ar Enn Pak Sien, or Hidden Eight Immortals. On the walls of the prayer hall are murals of the Eighteen Lorhans. To preserve them from the fumes and smoke, they are now encased behind glass. Their depictions have almost disappeared under centuries of smoke.

Huh? There’s a God of Welding?  Wow, who knew? (well, probably welders do). Come on, you know you want to keep this crumb of useless information for casual dropping into conversation and thus stopping the family know-it-all stone cold in their tracks next time the need arises. I mean, how do you top that gem?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheng_Hoon_Teng

http://www.malaccaguide.com/cheng_hoon_teng_temple.html

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 30, 2012

Cheng Hoon Teng, the Oldest Functioning Temple in Malaysia.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Welcome to another page of my travel diary. in January this year we found ourselves in Melaka (Malacca) and after weaving through little streets and learning something about the history of the city, we alight from the coach and after a short walk down the street, find ourselves at a small but beautiful gateway.

Inside is a kind of a courtyard, and opposite us a long rectangular shaped building that is beautifully decorated. The gateway though which we just passed is also amazingly decorated, figures, flora and fauna pack it’s surfaces, leaving  me with the dilemma of where on earth I need to point my lens first.

Our guide explains we have arrived at the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, the oldest functioning temple in Malaysia.

The official website of the temple explains “When the Chinese migrated to the Malay Peninsular, they brought along their culture and heritage. Cheng Hoon Teng’s architecture reflects the skills of migrant builders and craftsmen from China’s southern provinces, mainly Fujian and Guandong.

The building conforms strictly to the principles of feng shui, incorporating the fundamental belief that every aspect of life is closely related to attaining perfect harmony with nature. According to granite tablets, the temple was carefully laid out to ensure a view of the river and high ground on either side. 

While the Cheng Hoon Teng is representative of the more peasant Southern temple form there are features that depart from the usual Southern temples found in Malaysia. Its roof slope attemps to attain a steeper incline than the generally lower and flatter Fujian form. The flag masts are of dramatic height, beckoning attention.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The temple has three bays rather than one found in most temples, whilst most of the columns are not circular and are in timber rising from stone bases. Here there is an extensive use of lacquer. All these elements indicate the uniqueness of this architectural masterpiece.

Cheng Hoon Teng was founded in the 1600s by the Chinese Kapitan Tay Kie Ki alias Tay Hong Yong. During the Portuguese and Dutch eras, Kapitans were appointed chiefs or headmen of the various ethnic communities.

In its early years, besides serving the community’s religious needs, the temple also functioned as the official administrative centre and a court of justice for the Kapitans.

In 1824, the British abolished the Kapitan system and the leader of the Temple, now known as “Teng Choo”, assumed some of the Kapitan’s responsibilities.

Subsequently, a Board of Trustees was formed to look after the temple. The pioneers included included Tun Sir Tan Cheng Lock, who also initiated the Temple’s unique incorporation under an act of Parliament {Cheng Hoon Teng Temple Incorporation Ordinance 1949}. To the locals, the temple is also known as Kebun Datok (Gods’ Garden) and Kwan Yin Teng.”

Outside the temple door is a kind of table where large platters of uncooked noodles stand. I assume these are offerings or donations because there are also some bowls of fruit, and further in, large sacks of rice.

We are requested to wait outside whilst our guide goes inside, and meanwhile everyone with a camera has it pointed at the decorations and are delighting in taking photographs. Our guide soon returns and beckons for us to join her inside.

http://www.chenghoonteng.org.my/index.html

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 28, 2012

Eek! There’s a Dragon in The Street!!!

Filed under: MALAYSIA,Melaka,PHOTOGRAPHY,Traditional,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is a page out of my travel diary, of our trip to New Zealand and back, via Singapore and Malaysia in December 2011- January 2012.

We’ve just had lunch in the Melaka Equatorial Hotel, Malaysia and are now on the bus into the centre of town.

We are here just a few weeks before Chinese New Year so there are decorations galore and the entire town looked very festive.

It’s with some surprise that we round a corner and are confronted with a huge decorative dragon suspended in the middle of the street: by chance I did get a photo out of the front of the bus window, but I was seated too far back for the photo to be properly sharp.

I’ll include it in the photo series anyway so that you can get an idea of how it looked like to get a “face full” of dragon out of the front window.  Later we walked back past the dragon so I got photographs from ground level too. The dragon takes over the entire space around the roundabout and the tail weaves around itself, a very impressive piece of construction and engineering as well as decorative detail.

The roundabout itself is a fountain, with fish in the middle, which I also manage to get photos of .

What a wonderful introduction to the city…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 18, 2012

The Best Laid Schemes o’ Mice an’ Men…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You are leafing through the pages of my travel diary of earlier this year. We are in Singapore and had grand plans for today,  but as Robert Burns well knew,  the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley    (often go awry)**.

We should have been going off to Indonesia later today on an extended side trip, and  to this end our Singaporean friend “Velvetine” had been busy finding out about all the best possible places to see, what to do, where to stay etc.

All was well until she was confronted with the problem of visas. Indonesia is a ex-Dutch colony and it’s made fairly easy for most nationalities to visit, but apparently not if you are Dutch.

They are perfectly free to enter the country of course but first they are made to jump through hoops, their visa process is longer, costlier and more complicated.

There’s no problem for me or the kids because our dual nationality means we can park our Dutch passports in our pockets and switch to our  New Zealand Passports to enter Indonesia  and Velvetine has of course a Singaporean passport, but Himself has the Dutch nationality only and getting him into Indonesia today looks neigh on impossible.

Of course this is supposed to be totally unrelated to the fact that Indonesia is an ex-Dutch colony and of course there is no bias  “officially”. We try to make some phone calls and see what’s possible, and everything is possible, just not very easily in the time frame we need.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are fully prepared though to do a little running around when Kiwi Daughter comes back from  a walk outside complaining of a stomach ache.

This is a common complaint for her and usually means she’s overtired and hasn’t been drinking enough water.

My foot swelled up rather dramatically on the flight (simply because I couldn’t elevate whilst we were in transit) and the swelling hasn’t reduced much yet so I’m laying on the bed with the phone,  trying to sort things with my foot in the air via almost every pillow available.

We take stock of the situation and decide that trying to rush around getting Himself’s visa in order  is only going to get stressful and we can’t ignore the physical signs that we probably haven’t done enough to shake off the jet-lag.

We are on the phone to Velvetine and jointly decide that a change of plan is needed.  No far flung adventures today. Instead, more rest is required and we can look for something different for tomorrow. Indonesia is better planned for another time when Himself can come fully prepared for the visa drama and when I’m back walking normally again.

Instead, Kiwi Daughter drinks a lot of water and then curls up next to me and we both sleep soundly for a few hours whilst the boys go swim in the  pool and play sandcastles further down the beach.  Kiwi Daughter wakes up later feeling totally refreshed and  the swelling in my foot is even a bit less.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We spend the day lazing around and the whole family feels better for it.

We voted earlier in the day to return to our favourite restaurant  “Trapizza”just down the beach and Velvetine will join us after she finishes work.

The kids start a small argument about who gets to sit on my knee  if we get to take the beach wheelchair again… they both plead exhaustion and say they really can’t walk there. The beach wheelchair was brilliant within the grounds of the hotel, but the car park at the bottom of the hill has some tall curbs which are difficult to negotiate so  I have a better idea.

There’s a large golf-cart like vehicle parked outside the hotel, I ask at reception if  it’s possible to be given a lift to the restaurant and back, no problem at all… our carriage awaits. After our meal all we need to do is to give an indication when we need transport back and they will send someone down again to collect us.

I order Pizza to share with the kids, Velvetine orders the Ravioli al Salsa di Noci (mushroom ravioli and sage tossed with walnut butter sauce) and Himself goes for the Spaghetti (I think it was “Aglio Olio”, a spaghetti with garlic, basil, olive oil, chilli and parmesan cheese).

For both the verdict was the same, very tasty but miniscule portions. Even in this heat Himself wants more than the tiny amount of pasts that barely cover the bottom of the plate. Oh well… it’s a definite “yes” for dessert then.

After dinner our “taxi” comes to  retrieve us and once the kids are in bed and sleeping, with the assistance of some helpful staff at Reception and some telephone calls we plot revised adventures for tomorrow.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

** From Robert Burns’ poem To a Mouse, 1786. It tells of how he, while ploughing a field, upturned a mouse’s nest. The resulting poem is an apology to the mouse: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_a_Mouse. The saying has now come to mean that even the most carefully prepared plans can go wrong.

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