8 Heeren Street, Malacca, Malaysia

Officially known as Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock, the street located within the core district of Malacca’s UNESCO site that was once occupied by the Dutch traders and merchants centuries ago was still fondly known as Heeren St among the elderly residents of today.  Many of the houses have been refurbished into chic cafes and boutique hotels, leaving rooms for tourists to imagine how life was like centuries ago. The Heritage of Malaysia Trust came up with a commendable initiative by refurbishing an 18th century Dutch shophouse. If not for the signboard ushering passerbys to enter, most tourists could have just missed the somewhat hidden gem in Malacca.

IMG_2862

Having visited Chinatown Heritage Center in Singapore years ago, I formulated an expectation of how the refurbished shophouse would look like- a meticulous recreation of a retro shophouse adorned with plenty of furniture and trinkets to provide glimpses about the lives of our forefathers. But upon entering the house, I was rather taken aback by its simplicity. According to Mr Colin Goh, the manager of the shophouse who was on duty when I was there, this shophouse was a humble abode of a Dutch trader who struggling to make ends meet after the pinnacle of Malacca’s glory has passed.

Traditional shophouses in Malaysia and Singapore feature commercial activities at the front of the house and  residential purposes at the rear of the house.

IMG_2879
The ‘rear’ of the house as shown in the image is dedicated for residential purposes. 
IMG_2877
The air well is recessed to store rainwater for domestic usage.

IMG_2867IMG_2868IMG_2870

IMG_2872
The original staircase was much steeper before it was altered to the current 45 degree.
IMG_2874
It was just intriguing how the whole family was able to squeeze into a single bedroom. 
IMG_2883
It was only about 200 years ago when the construction workers used crushed corals to mix with limestone powder as wall finishing. It helps to trap moisture in the humid climate of Malacca. Another notable feature is that the walls were considerably thicker than their counterparts today. 
IMG_2886
In an era when electricity was unheard of, natural light and ventilation was tapped to its fullest. Light was allowed to penetrate through the gaps in the roof.

IMG_2875

IMG_2885
The newly minted wall at the bottom meets the original wall at the top.

What really sets this museum apart is that it has an extremely knowledgeable manager, an energetic elderly man born and bred in Malacca. It became immediately apparent that he is someone who is really passionate about Malacca and her heritage. Turned out that he was born and bred in Malacca. Would be great if these history aficianados would pen down their experiences and their snippets about Malacca for the younger generations…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s