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.
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.
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…