From its role as a meeting point between the East and West
in the 16th Century, the Melaka River has morphed into a tourism
destination today. Both locals and foreigners come to soak in its history
from the diverse architecture found along its banks. There are old churches,
mosques, bridges, clan houses, warehouses, temples and villages that have
withstood the test of time.
When I first saw the Melaka River 20 years ago, it was small and
murky, with fishing boats crowding the river mouth. It was hard to
imagine that this was the same river that attracted the Portuguese,
the Dutch and the British to build a port and fortress here. Today,
I see a modern waterfront with gardens, a fort, a fountain,
performance stages, breezy walkways and a large windmill.
The Melaka River with its cruise is the biggest surprise. The muddy, murky
water is now quite clear, with a tinge of emerald green. Clean
embankments on both sides stretch for several kilometres. The river
has also been widened and a mechanical device has been installed to
control the depth of the water. The idea was to make the river
completely pollution-free, so as to develop exquisite gardens on its banks, and
pave the pedestrian pathways to perfection.
Passengers on the Melaka River cruise get a feel of the
multi-cultural and historical fabric of the country. One can even
see the Melaka tree, under which Parameswara was so inspired by the
sight of a mouse deer kicking a dog that he named the place Melaka.
The 26 fibre-glass boats are named after historic figures such as
Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Munshi Abdullah and Tun Perak. Passengers are
also serenaded with traditional songs such as dondang sayang.
There are two types of cruises. One offers recorded
commentaries and the other has a tour guide on board. The approximate touring time
for Melaka River Cruise is about 45 minutes (9 KM) from the
Quayside Heritage Centre to Taman Rempah, Pangkalan Rama.
The boats are available daily at every thirty minute interval
between the following times: 9.30am to 5pm and 6pm to 12 midnight.
A must-see on the cruise is Kampung Morten, a living museum showcasing a
village that's been around for hundreds of years.
There are private museums
here where one can get a deeper understanding of the local Malay culture
including their costumes and crafts like embroidery work.
The houses are fine examples of Malay architecture, with sweeping staircases
in the centre and a veranda where family members can sit in the evenings to
enjoy the air.
You can also see the replica of a pirate ship, the Eye On Malaysia ferris
wheel, the abandoned Cathay cinema as well as the old express bus terminal.
There is also a replica of a royal windmill and a fort, complete with
cannons around the walls.
The cruise boat passes under many bridges that had important functions in
the old days. The first one, Tan Boon Seng Bridge, marks the strategic place
captured by the Portuguese in 1511 in their bid to occupy Melaka. The other
bridges are Chan Boon Cheng Bridge, Ghostbridge of Melaka, Old Market
Bridge and Jalan Hang Tuah Bridge.
MELAKA RIVER CRUISE Venue: The Melaka River jetty in front of the Quayside Heritage Centre.
Departs daily from 9am to 11.30pm Ticket:
- Adult Foreigner
- Child Foreigner
- Adult Local
- Child Local
- One boat for Locals
- One boat for foreigners
Touroperators 20% discount
Can be arranged by calling Melaka River Cruise
at 06-281 4322 or cruise guide Bernard Kenneth Gooting at 012-9127210