Monday, May 17, 2010

Land of Nyonyas and Babas *by JS* Part 3/3

Melaka is not all about jonker street, christ church, A' Famosa (St Paul's hill), popiah along Jalan Bunga Raya, ikan bakar/nasi lemak at Sg Duyung and Nyonya food at Aunty Lee restaurant or Ole's goes back further than we think.

JS: we must visit Hang Li Po's well next to the Sam Po Kong Temple at the foot of Bukit Cina.

Monkey : what for?? why the sudden interest??

JS : it's in our history lar. It's all about Chinese heritage in Melaka. We should also take a hike up Bukit Cina and who knows......maybe you can trace your history afterall you have roots there :)

According to the Malay annals, in the mid-15th century, princess Hang Li Po, the great granddaughter of the Chinese Yongle Emperor, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, was sent to be married to the sultan of Malacca, Sultan Mansor Shah, to seal relations between the two countries. She brought with her a vast retinue (500 sons of ministers and a few hundred handmaidens). The hill, Bukit Cina, a gift from the sultan, was established as their residence. The presence of Ming vases and pottery found in Melaka in present times suggest close relationship between the two countries back then.

On the contrary, was Hang Li Po really the fifth wife of Malacca's Sultan Mansur Shah as taught in our history books? It is disputed whether such a person exists because she was never recorded in the Chinese court of the Ming Dynasty in the Ming Chronicles and in the genealogical record of the imperial house of Zhu, the royal family of the Ming dynasty. The claim of a Ming princess converted to Islam is also disputed as the conversion of any aristocratic member of the Ming court to a foreign religion or belief was forbidden. However, in many chinese historical text, she was said to have been a princess in the court of the Yongle Emperor which was dated back to 1402–1424 but no mention of her travelogue to our part of the world.

So what is what then?? What is history?? Should we doubt history? For those of you who are my age, you could have been learning "lies, lubbish and lonsense" from history books!!! :)
Admiral Zheng He could have been the person who discovered the Americas and sailed round the world (with the treasured fleet consisting of 100s of ships) but instead Christopher columbus entered history as the man who discovered the Americas with merely 3 ships (the Pinta, Nina and Santa Maria) and to make it even more unconvincing, he had a map. WTF!
To me history is the outcome of the clash of civilizations which resulted in the winner writing history be it true of false.......some food for thought :)

We found ourselves at the entrance of the Sam Po Kong temple on the quiet Sunday morning. In order to beat the crowd we woke up early (woke up at 8am.....believe it or not!!).

At the right hand side of the temple you will find Hang Li Po's well. This well is reputed to be always filled with water despite the worst of drought.

Note the weathered sandstone paving stone.

Yes, it's still full of water :)

On entering the left hand side of the temple you will find the statue of non other than Admiral Zheng He. Some of you may have noticed that i have on many occasions mentioned about Zheng He's achievements......yes, i do admire the man!

A commanding statue of Admiral Zheng He.

We then proceed up Bukit Cina. This is reputed as the biggest cemetery outside of China with about 12000 graves!

Early morning joggers on Bukit Cina. Note the tombstone next to the joggers.

Although this is a cemetery, it's a favourite jogging spot for joggers be it morning or evening.

The hillside was littered with graves and believe it or not, during ching ming you can still find relatives cleaning century old graves......probably 7+th generation!

Amongst the newer graves, you will find many forgotten graves with inscriptions missing(eroded) .......the sandstone tombstone of some graves had already crumbled from the effect of time.

This one probably belong to a sailor who sailed with Zheng imagination going wild :)

Notice the "tei chee kung" stone at the far end.

A more recent grave on Bukit Cina.

The feeling of trekking up Bukit Cina is one of Dejavu. I cannot help feeling some closeness to this location even though it's my first time here. I had the same feeling when visiting the forbidden city and walking through the "wumen" = Meridian gate, the largest gate leading into the forbidden city. Maybe i have been watching too many Jet Li's movie or maybe......just maybe, i was really part of my previous life :)

*this line was edited and added by Monkey: Rooooolllssss eyes tsk tsk*

As we descended from Bukit Cina, i took a quick glance back and yes, this place is so so familiar..... i do really feel the attachment and like i have been here before!

That dejavu feeling as i glanced back.......and with that our tour of Bukit Cina came to an end.

For waking up so early, we then treated ourselves to the famous Taiwan noodles on the other side of town. This is like compulsory routine everytime we visit Melaka and it's worth the drive and wait.

The famous melaka Taiwan noodles.

"Kah Liew" of deep fried spare ribs.

You may have noticed i missed out part 2/3 ............. will try to fill in the next time around :)


CHER-RY said...

I like the sephia pic...really set the tone of the place :))

Tsu Lin + + said...

JS : Maybe you were Hang Li Poh in previous life! Wahahahahaha.... (funny or not?)

Whatever it is, it means time & time again, you're chinese true & true!

CHER-RY said...

TL: wakakakak I like your theory!!!!