I hadn’t been to Melaka for a few years. So when I ventured back to that historic city a few weeks ago I was surprised to discover how much it had changed. It was indeed a New Melaka!

Tourism had landed. From the huge model of the Flor de la Mer to the spectacular ferris wheel that was once the Eye on Malaysia, Melaka has certainly transformed itself. There were crowds of visitors, lots of becas and hawkers.

The river bank was transformed so that anyone could enjoy a walk along the water without getting their shoes muddied. Boats plied up and down the waterway, their passengers snapping photos. There were art galleries and lots of museums (although strict speaking not all of them could be called a “museum”).

I could hardly find the spot where I’d spent the night in a car by the river all those years ago. Well, actually it was only 5 or 6 years past!

View from the top of a ride
View from the top of a ride

It wasn’t all rosy (or bungaraya-like) though. The traffic was bad and crossing the road was dangerous. Sure it is the inevitability of a modern city, but it was intrusive. This did not feel like a 600 year old city. The Stadhuys was surrounded by a horde of cars. That was a pity.

Melaka can capitalise on its listing as a world heritage city by further promoting its history. Its centuries-old buildings can be better enjoyed if its environs were more peaceful. If there was more time and serenity to contemplate history.

A new river bank
A new river bank

I’ve not done a study of Melaka’s traffic flow (and probably never will), and I’ve no idea of how it would affect the day to day commute, but a pedestrian mall running down Jalan Laksamana, around Jalan Kota and including Jalan Gereja would be wonderful for tourism.

The Malays, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British and the Malaysians have made Melaka their own. Now that the tourists have arrived, perhaps we should give them an even better experience and perhaps the city will further thrive and become a real international destination. That would be a New Melaka!

P.S My heart goes out to all those who lost homes and family in the Australian bush fires. With probably more than 200+ lives lost and 750 houses burnt, this has been the worst bush fire in the country’s history. Small towns have been wiped out.