Connections to our roots can occur in many places… now to Malacca!
The next stop of our journey was Malacca – the third smallest Malaysian state. It is located in the southern region of the Malaysia Peninsula and the start of the Baba Nonya or the Peranakan culture in Malaysia. (Peranakan Chinese and Baba-Nyonya are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants to the Indonesian archipelago and British Malaya (now Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peranakan)
I am a descendent of the Peranakan family, so Malacca was a fascinating place to visit. We boarded the bus from Kuala Lumpur and after slightly less than three hours, we were there. A town with much historical significance – there for us to explore.
We enjoyed the buildings, the food, the night markets, but most of all, the history of the town – both during the Portuguese occupations and with the Paranakan culture.
We explored the old buildings, sampling the Peranakan dishes, homes, their cookery and utensils. I was reminded of the similarities of the tools we used to have at home in Penang when I was growing up.
We explored the streets, visited ‘must try’ restaurants and food stalls, enjoyed the night market and street food, while exploring the historical homes of the babas and nonyas…
I’ve noticed the difference in taste in the Peranakan dishes in Malacca and Penang… this could be due to the influence of neighboring countries and the spices and ingredients that are available.
Later the next morning, we met up with one of my school mates from high school, whom we have not seen for the last 29 years. She took us for a quick tour of Malacca and introduced us to the local food and we discovered a hidden treasure – a teo chew restaurant that had been running for 3 generations, which served the most amazing teo chew dishes (both myself and my husband are of teo chew decent).
On our way back to KL to board our flight to Penang (my hometown), we’ve decided to hire a taxi. It was an eye opening 2 hour trip as the taxi driver was a friendly guy who shared the history, places of interest, where to find the best coffee “secrets” with us… that will have to wait until our next trip. We continued to learn.
So what have we learned?
- The appreciation of the origin of the culture
- The variation of taste of food of the same culture in different regions
- The different tone of the same dialects that are used in different regions.
By tracing back to the roots of the origin of our culture and to reconnect to the traditional food that we used to consume, the homes and cooking utensils that they used to use – all of this brought back a sense of connections to our roots of who we are. It was definitely an educational trip for both of us.
Next port of call – Penang. My hometown!!