Friday, November 28, 2014


The Shore located at Jalan Bunga Rays Pantai has a soft opening in early November 2014. This opening is to cater to year end visitors and Christmas. Tang's department store has also open her doors for business. Tang's look elegant as well.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Published: Friday August 29, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM Updated: Friday August 29, 2014 MYT 12:22:45 PM

Once a gangster’s paradise


The Discovery Cafe is a famous landmark on Jalan Bunga Raya The Discovery Cafe is a famous landmark on Jalan Bunga Raya ONE of the busiest streets in Malacca, Jalan Bunga Raya, is a far cry from its old image of being a perilous place in town.

Between the 1940s and the early 1970s the road was notorious for its gangs, especially around the once-famous City Park, the area around the town’s cluster of movie theatres and the nearby Bunga Raya Pantai village which borders the Malacca River.

The gangster menace was first highlighted in a local newspaper in 1946 by an exasperated local, identified only as ‘G-Man’.

He wrote that what was once a sleepy hollow had become a place of refuge for wanted gangsters from Singapore who lived in grand style in one hotel or another.

Citing the extent of the problem caused by the then powerful “Sin Kongsi” (new gang), he wrote that members of the powerful triad thrived in town and that the gang “fears nobody but is feared by everybody, including detectives”.

Just before the publication of the letter, one cop had been shot dead by members of the gang, which collected protection money from businesses in addition to committing robberies, thefts and running brothels.

“This gang infests the park, cinemas, cafes and dance halls every night. Whenever a stranger happens to jostle against a member of the gang, woe betides him.

“I could rattle off a dozen more facts or so but what is the use. The powers that be cannot be so sleepy as not to be aware of what is going on,” he wrote.

A year later, another detective, Tay Ah Ming and his wife were murdered in cold blood by six gangsters along the road, opposite City Park.

He was in a trishaw with his wife and five-year-old son when they were confronted and shot at. The boy was injured but survived.

The landscaped walkway behind Jalan Bunga Raya offers great views of the Malacca River The landscaped walkway behind Jalan Bunga Raya offers great views of the Malacca River. Two off-duty police inspectors, Mubarak Ahmad and Bacha, both unarmed, heroically confronted the gangsters, forcing five of them to flee.

Despite being slashed, Mubarak held on to one of the gangsters, later identified as Ong Kim Toon with the help of Bacha.

Ong was later found guilty of murder and was hanged, but the five others were not caught.

Throughout the next three decades, hoodlums remained a constant threat in Bunga Raya. My old schoolmate Vincent Tay, who grew up in Bunga Raya Pantai, recalled that during the 70’s there were two active triads in the neighbourhood.

“Goh Sek (Five Colours in Hokkien) and It Tiam Ang (One Red Dot) controlled the area outside while the gang that was powerful where the people lived called Tuah chu lai (place of the big house) was the 18 Immortals gang known locally as Chap Puek Kiah.

“Fights were very common then. People were even scared of the wives of the gangsters who passed their time gambling, usually by playing mah-jong, pakau and chekki (a kind of card game), “said Tay.

He said when he was growing up, the most fearsome gangster was one “Ah Chuan” but did not know which triad he belonged to.

Today, Bunga Raya Pantai is dominated by The Shore @ Malacca River, an ongoing mixed development project, comprising four imposing condominium towers, retail outlets and a five-storey carpark.

But amidst the road, the river and the towers, a few old houses dating back to the era of the gangsters still remain, including those of two Malacca Portuguese families which settled down there along with a handful of the original Chinese households.

Frederick Blankanett, 68, said his family and the Sta Maria family next door were the only non-Chinese living in the neighbourhood.

He lives with his fellow bachelor brothers, Stanley, Micheal and Bert while the other occupants of the house are his married brother George and his wife.

Smack in the middle of the ruins of the St Lawrence Chapel is an old grave of a Portuguese noble Smack in the middle of the ruins of the St Lawrence Chapel is an old grave of a Portuguese noble. “We don’t know how long we will be here. We have been asked to leave but the authorities are still deciding on compensation,” he said.

Bunga Raya Pantai still has its hidden attractions, beginning with the ruins of the St Lawrence Chapel or more accurately the “Capela de Ermida de Rosario” or the Rosary Chapel , which replaced the original Saint Lorenzo Chapel erected in the early 1600s.

The significance and use of the chapel declined after the St Peter’s Church, the oldest functioning Catholic church in the country, was built a few hundred metres away in 1710.

Smack in the midst of the ruins is an intriguing old grave of one Emerinci de Souza, reportedly a Portuguese noble.

A boardwalk by the river, occasionally patrolled by the leader of the last remaining pack of monkeys living in the mangrove trees, leads to two old Chinese shrines – the Sea Dragon Temple where local fishermen used to pray before setting off to sea and the Three Treasures Hall, a shrine sought after by childless couples seeking to be blessed with children.

The Jalan Bunga Raya that most locals and tourists are familiar with begins at the left turn from the Jalan Kampung Pantai’s Tan Kim Seng Bridge.

The first colourful building on the road is the Discovery Cafe where one can run to all kinds of interesting regulars, including Kota Melaka MP Sim Tong Him.

The Sea Dragon Temple is where local fishermen used to pray for good catches before setting off in their boats The Sea Dragon Temple is where local fishermen used to pray for good catches before setting off in their boats. The cafe is also a much sought after traveller’s lodge, run by the affable Teng Kim Sia, one of the city’s pioneers in the backpacker accommodation business.

As hinted by its name, there are lots of things to discover, especially Teng’s impressive collection of antiques and curios. Most of the tables in the cafe are recycled tops of old sewing machines.

Many of the buildings in the streets can be traced back to the 1920s and 30s. If the front of the shops are typical, the backs of the premises, linked by a landscaped walkway, offer beautiful views of the river.

A good place to know more about the architecture here and other old roads is the Malacca Conservation Centre located at No 45, Jalan Bunga Raya.

The centre, which focuses on the conservation of historical buildings and artefacts, is managed by the Malacca Museum Corporation with the support of the state World Heritage Office, the Malacca Historical City Council and two local colleges.

In addition to its many goldsmith shops, textile dealers, stationery shops and those selling electrical goods, Jalan Bunga Raya is also a place for famous Malacca food, dating back to the 40’s when there was apparently a famous ‘people’s restaurant’ selling a complete meal for 30 cents.

According to the old folk, the eatery was at the location of today’s ‘Medan Makan Boon Leong Bunga Raya’ an alley sandwiched between two buildings on the street.

Commonly known to locals as “Hungry Lane”, the place is famous for two stalls selling char siew rice during the day and for its three generation-old or chien (oyster omelette) stall at night.

It is usual for customers of the stall to wait for up to half an hour before getting their share of or chien, a scrumptious combination of oysters, flour and eggs, dished out.

The city’s famous popiah stall is also here, next to the Madam Kings department store. It’s another place where customers have to wait to buy.

When I was growing up, two places were a must when going to Bunga Raya – the Tai Chong Hygienic Ice Cafe, the best spot for pat poh (mixed ice kacang with eight ingredients) and the Min Chong stall directly opposite which served a delectable version of rojak with cendol to wash it down.

As I found out last week, both these places are still as popular as ever.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Published: Sunday May 25, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM 
Updated: Sunday May 25, 2014 MYT 7:58:04 AM

50,000 Sikhs converge at Malacca’s sole gurdwara

Volunteers rolling out chapati during the anniversary of revered missionary Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji at Malacca’s sole gurdwara.
Volunteers rolling out chapati during the anniversary of revered missionary Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji at Malacca’s sole gurdwara.
MALACCA: Over 50,000 Sikhs from all over the region turned the historic city into a sea of turbans when they converged at Malacca’s sole gurdwara to commemorate the anniversary of revered missionary Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji.
The commemoration that began on Friday reached its climax yesterday when devotees and pilgrims made a beeline for the temple at Jalan Temenggong here.
The temple also witnessed daily recitals of the Kritan (holy verses), chanting and singing of religious hymns and reading of the holy scriptures a day before the three-day festival.
The annual commemoration that is observed in the third week of May was also attended by several renowned Sikh priests from India, as well as community leaders from Australia, Canada and Asian countries.
Over 50 stalls were also set up within the temple compound and along Jalan Temenggong, selling a host of merchandise ranging from traditional foodstuff to religious articles.
United Sikhs Malaysia, an NGO representing the local Sikh community, also completed a 300km goodwill walk from Singapore at 6pm yesterday.
The walk, which commenced on May 17, was led by Rishi Singh Randhawa from Singapore’s Silat Road Gurdwara Sahib.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Jalan Bendahara or Wolferstan Road, is a bustling area for locals and has become a must-visit destination for tourists.
Jalan Bendahara or Wolferstan Road, is a bustling area for locals and has become a must-visit destination for tourists.
JALAN Bendahara in Malacca, one of the historical city’s main roads was obviously named after Tun Perak, the most eminent of the ancient Sultanate’s courtiers who held the rank.
Historians have traced the word bendahara to the Sanskrit bhandarin or the keeper of the store.
As trade played a vital role in the sultanate with the rulers, the Bendahara was effectively the royal treasurer, besides being the head of the court officials, the leader of the soldiers and the peasantry.
The position of Bendahara was second only to the Sultan in status, power, and authority.
Tun Perak, served under four rulers — Sultan Muzzafar Shah, Sultan Mansur Shah, Sultan Alauddin Ri’ayat Shah and Sultan Mahmud Shah.
But then again, there is also another key road named Jalan Tun Perak that stretches from the Jalan Malim junction to Jalan Gajah Berang/ Jalan Hang Tuah.
So, in addition to the illustrious Tun Perak, one can suppose that Jalan Bendahara could also have been named for these other not-so-famous holders of the post — Tun Perpatih Tulus, Raden Bagus, Raden Anum, Tun Perpatih Besar, Tun Perpatih Sedang and Tun Perpatih Putih.
The older residents of Malacca recognise it by its former name of Wolferstan Road. Not many, though, are familiar with whom it was named after.
Littleton Pipe Wolferstan arrived in Malaya as a cadet of the British colonial office on Dec 3, 1889 and served in various posts in Penang, Singapore and Kedah before being appointed to four terms as Resident of Malacca between 1910 and 1920.
The St Peter's Church, the oldest functioning Catholic Church in Malaysia, is among the rich landmarks of Jalan Bendahara.
The St Peter's Church, the oldest functioning Catholic Church in Malaysia, is among the rich landmarks of Jalan Bendahara. 
His last job in the colonial service was Resident Councillor in Malacca, where he was much respected.
On March 9, 1922, a week before Wolferstan left for retirement, a grand dinner was hosted by the Malacca Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Straits Chinese British Association (SCBA) in his honour.
In paying tribute, SCBA leader Tan Cheng Lock, (later the founder of MCA) said:
“Malacca has today, better medical services, electric lighting, a splendid site on which is being erected a badly needed municipal market, two new roads added to that part of town and what more, a good and handsome revenue.”
Besides being rich in culture and cuisine, Jalan Bendahara is also steeped in history, involving both the hallowed and the profane and linked to kindness as well as cruelty.
One of the country’s hallowed Christian places of worship is located on it and down the road there used to be the town’s party spots and a hidden hub of sin.
At the start of the road, at the junction of Bunga Raya Pantai, stands the St Peter’s Church, the oldest functioning Catholic church in Malaysia, built in 1710.
The church, which has a life-size alabaster statue of Jesus before the Resurrection, is most crowded during the Holy Week celebrations for local Catholics and members of the Malacca Portuguese community.
Since the mid-1800s, many non-Christian locals have also been taking part in the observations, especially Palm Sunday, the Stations of the Cross (Datuk Pikul Balak) and The Lord is Dead (Datuk Mati).
Further down the road, at the junction of Jalan Munshi Abdullah, is the rather unremarkable grey-painted Meng Seng Charitable Association Hall.
Not many people know its historical contributions to the local community and to the birth of the nation.
The association, set up in June, 1923, was at first located in a shoplot in Lorong Bukit China before moving to Kee Ann Road, and then to Bunga Raya.
The Meng Seng Charitable Association Hall has played a significant role in the local community as well as the fight for Independence.
The Meng Seng Charitable Association Hall has played a significant role in the local community as well as the fight for Independence. 
Locals went to the association for medical aid, cultural performances and to read books provided by its free library. There was also a night school for adults.
The present building was completed in 1941 but soon after the opening ceremony, the Japanese Occupation turned it from a hall of mercy into a chamber of horrors.
It was the base of the dreaded Japanese Kempeitai and among the local Chinese leaders massacred were the association’s committee members Ong Teck Ghee, Lim Tai Tian and 50 ordinary members.
The hall also played a significant role in the quest for Merdeka. In early 1954, Tunku Abdul Rahman returned home from London sad and disappointed after his first failed mission to gain independence.
Tunku called for an emergency meeting in Malacca for the struggle to go on and the only place big enough to accommodate the large number of people who turned up was the hall.
The response was overwhelming. When sheets of cloth were stretched out to collect donations, people threw in their jewellery — gold chains, rings, brooches and such — along with watches and cash.
The amount of money raised spurred similar appeals throughout the country, enabling the Tunku to make another, more successful trip, in April 1954.
At the start of the stretch of Jalan Bendahara across the road, there used to be two grand landmarks on either side.
One end of Jalan Bendahara  is most famous for being Malacca's 'Little India'.
One end of Jalan Bendahara  is most famous for being Malacca's 'Little India'.
On the right was the majestic Capitol Theatre and the right, the splendid mansion of Chan Koon Cheng, a prominent merchant of Malacca who built a fortune as a rubber planter.
The Chan Koon Cheng mansion stands to this day, complete with its lion-guarded gateway, exquisite architecture and features, despite being turned into a CIMB Bank branch.
Alas for the Capitol, it’s all in ruins. The most impressive movie theatre of my childhood days is now derelict and roofless.
But before it was a cinema, the building had a colourful history as the Capitol Dance Hall. Opened in 1936, it was touted as “Malacca’s one and only most up-to-date palais de danse”.
There were nightly dances and the waltz, quick step, foxtrot, tango and cha cha were the craze then.
Tea dances were held on Thursday and Saturday.
The floor was lit up by orange and green lights concealed in the ceiling — surely a technological feat then, while the sound system was said to be among the best in the country.
English writer and poet Hugo Williams immortalised the hall in his book All the Time in the World.
He wrote that the Capitol might as well have been the Commonwealth Relations Office in the late 1950s when troops from New Zealand, Australia and Britain were still in the barracks of the Terendak Camp.
“In the hall, whites aided natives with vouchers called dance coupons. But natives were only obliged to stay faithful to whites while the music lasted. Then they would declare their independence, or rather break off diplomatic relations again”.
During the 60's this block of nine-storey municipal flats was the tallest building in town.
During the 60's this block of nine-storey municipal flats was the tallest building in town. 
Thanks to the Commonwealth soldiers, Jalan Bendahara was also dotted with bars and hotels and midway on the left side of it was what the locals used to call “Coconut Island”, a seedy squatter village where vice was the prime business.
During the mid-60s, Jalan Bendahara also gained fame for having the old city’s tallest building — the nine-storey municipal flats.
It later gained notoriety for its growing number of suicides but has since ended up as just another crammed housing area in town.
Today Jalan Bendahara, or its junction with Jalan Temenggong, is most famous for being Malacca’s “Little India”.
Most of the traditional Indian businesses — shops selling jewellery, sarees and other clothing, sundry goods, prayer items and flowers, among others — are located on both sides of the street.
The city’s most popular banana leaf eateries can also be found in the area.
The oldest is Sri Lakshmi Villas, set up in 1962, which serves vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, in addition to thosai, idli and other traditional foods. It still has the same proprietor — K. Periakaruppan aka PK, 79.
Over five decades, the restaurateur has seen Wolferstan Road transform from what it was before to what it is today — a bustling area for locals and a must-visit place for tourists.
PK owns Sri Lakshmi Villas, the oldest South Indian restaurant in Malacca’s “Little India”.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


A month just after the start of the Chinese New Year of the Horse, a steel fence has been constructed at the site of the new Vedromall.

From the website of Vedromall and the authorised marketing agent office at Jalan Kee Ann, at least 75% of the retail lots have been sold or booked.

The take up rate of the freehold mall is good. The project is expected to be completed in 2017.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


New Hospital For Malacca

PIC: gotomalacca.blogspot.comPIC: gotomalacca.blogspot.comMALACCA: The state government is planning to build a new general hospital as the state's existing Malacca Hospital is no longer relevant with the passing of time.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said he had discussed with the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and plans are ongoing into identifying a suitable location to build a new state hospital, here.

"The 80-year-old Malacca Hospital, which is also the state's major public health centre, is increasingly irrelevant due to its location at the city centre, surrounded by rapid developments.

"Therefore it is much needed to identify a suitable site to build a new major hospital to cater to the medical demands of the patients in the state," he said, adding that the Malacca Hospital would be utilised as a public medical cluster centre.

"A preliminary discussion with the Malacca Hospital director Dr Za’aaba Baba has concluded to maintain the existing Malacca hospital as a public health cluster centre to offer specialised healthcare services to patients from local and abroad.

"Further details of the suitable site and the construction of the new hospital would be discussed between the Health and Sports Development executive councillor, Datuk Ab Rahaman Ab Karim with Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam, scheduled to take place on Monday," he said to reporters after officiating the 80th anniversary of Malacca Hospital, here, today. 

Meanwhile Idris stressed for more improvements to take place to improve the overall image of the government hospitals.

"Back in those days, the government hospitals were perceived as reliable in terms of health product and service delivery. However today, those perceptions have changed, and people position the government hospitals as inefficient.

"There is also the saying that has been going around that 'if you want to die fast, go to the government hospital. This has caused many people to opt to go to the private hospitals," he said.

He said however, not all private hospitals are equipped with sophisticated instruments to cure chronic diseases and patients would still come to government hospitals to seek treatment.

"This shows that we have good quality products and therefore, the challenge today is to improve our system and mechanism to rectify the image of the people towards the medical services provided by the government," he said.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


MALACCA: The second phase of the Sungai Melaka conservation and beautification project will be completed by June, further enhancing the river as a tourist product.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said the RM285 million project was a sequel to the success of restoring the "once a lifeless river" into a thriving waterway, following completion of the first phase in 2001.

"The first phase of the project has proven to be a success, which involved cleaning, beautification and upgrading the river system from the Sungai Melaka estuary up to the Hang Jebat bridge.

"The second phase is divided into three packages, where the first would cover a 2.4km waterway from the Hang Jebat bridge to the Tun Razak bridge, followed by 1.2km from the Tun Razak bridge to the Melaka Sentral bridge, and the final package from the Melaka Sentral bridge to the Tidal Control Gate stretching for 1.6km," he said after a cruise in Sungai Melaka.

He said the second phase would also include the construction of pedestrian walkways, beautification of the riverbanks, water taxi station, pick-up jetty and beautification of the Melaka Sentral bridge.

Read more: 2nd phase of Sg Melaka beautification project to be ready by June - General - New Straits Times


Royal Caribbean investing in new cruise terminal in Malaysia

Royal Caribbean is one of the investors in a 246-hectare Melaka Gateway project that aims to build a brand new cruise terminal, theme park, seven-star hotel and the Malaysia Eye in Malacca, Malaysia..
TTG Asia reports the mega project will be comprised of one natural and two man-made islands with an estimated gross development value of $12 billion (US).
                  Royal Caribbean is investing in the plan that was created by KAJ Development.
Royal Caribbean V.P., Commercial and New Business Development, John Tercek, believes the new cruise termincal can, "grow and boost tremendously the cruise market for Melaka and the region in the years to come."
The project is slated to be completed by 2025 and is expected to increase the port's importance.  The new Melaka International Cruise Terminal and Ferry Terminal will be able to accomodate up to three cruise ships, a world-class maintenance and repair facility for mega yachts and the region’s largest marina with up to 1,000 berths.
The Gateway Beacon Tower, a 288m tower with over 80 storeys, will be home to a seven-star hotel and premium condominiums. Marina villas with individual berths right at the resident’s doorstep will also be available.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Published: Friday February 7, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday February 7, 2014 MYT 6:32:37 AM

Java Lane offers great glimpses into Malacca's past

The Kampung Jawa Bridge is also called the ‘Ghost Bridge’ because severed heads of people killed by the dreaded Japanese military police were hung along its pillars
The Kampung Jawa Bridge is also called the ‘Ghost Bridge’ because severed heads of people killed by the dreaded Japanese military police were hung along its pillars
THE “Gate to Hell” is one of the ways to get to Malacca’s colourful and historically rich Java Lane (Jalan Jawa).
Lorong Jambatan, a short and narrow alley of old shophouses in Kampung Pantai, earned its nickname of “Guimenguan” (Gate to Hell) during the Japanese Occupation.
The lane leads to a stairway linking the Kampung Jawa Bridge across the Malacca River.
Locals call it the “Ghost Bridge” because during Japanese rule (1942-1945), severed heads of local Chinese businessmen killed by the dreaded kempeitai(military police) were hung along its pillars.
But even before that, the 300-year old pedestrian crossing was deemed to be a spooky place because of the large number of suicides committed there.
Sleepylane: Among the thriving businesses along Java Lane are several goldsmith shops
Among the thriving businesses along Java Lane are several goldsmith shops.
Despite its dreadful name, the bridge offers a vantage point for heavenly views of the river and beyond.
Java Lane and Lorong Jambatan across the river used to be lined with ramshackle wooden houses with attap roofs before Tan Hoon Guan, an affluent local merchant, spearheaded a major development project in 1885.
Decades before it took on its hellish moniker, Lorong Jambatan was known as “Xin Jie” (New Street).
Hoon Guan and his brothers, Hoon Chiang and Hoon Hin, are credited with building the bridge and 85 shophouses on both sides of the river.
The area eventually grew into Malacca’s first nightlife hub while Kampung Jawa, further down the road, ended up as a sleazy red light quarter.
There were bars, opium dens, brothels, food stalls, shops stocked with a wide array of local and imported stuff and even a theatre along Java Lane.
During the 1920s and 30s, the theatre staged Bangsawan dramas in addition to Chinese opera and English plays based on the works of Shakespeare and such.
A check with old newspaper records showed that Victor Hugo’s Prince Hernani, starring K. Dean, Mohd Noor and Miss Tijah, was a big hit in Aug 1924.
Java Lane opens up to a landscaped area along the river leading to Kampung Jawa.
Java Lane opens up to a landscaped area along the river, leading to Kampung Jawa.
Two months earlier, locals were raving over Abu Hasan an Arabian enactment,The Sculptor and The Three Dangers, both English dramas and a Malay play called Slendang Merah.
With the advent of movies, the theatre changed into a cinema for a brief period of time.
When the cinema went out of business with the entry of newer and bigger theatres built by the Shaw Brothers around City Park in nearby Jalan Bunga Raya, it was turned into a tenement house.
Sadly, the old drama theatre, built in 1887, was torn down in 2001, marking one of the most tragic losses of the historical city’s cultural heritage.
During China’s War of Resistance Against Japan (1931–1945), Java Lane was the focus of fund-raising efforts by the Chinese immigrants, mostly labourers, petty traders and hawkers.
Three underground groups declared “unlawful” by the British operated from the area. They were the Chinese Anti-Enemy Society, the Iron Blood Weeding Out Traitors Party and the Dare-to-Die Party.
They eventually merged to form an organisation with the even more mouthful name of: The Chinese Dare-to-Die Youthful Corps to Resist the Enemy and Weed out the Traitors with Iron and Blood for China’s Salvation.
From as late 1880s up to the 1970s, Java Lane was also a hotbed of triads and fierce gang fights.
Today, the street leading to Kampung Jawa is a rather quiet place.
An old trade: Barber Tan You Hock using his traditional digging tool to skilfully remove the ear wax of a customer
Barber Tan You Hock using his traditional digging tool to skilfully remove the earwax of a customer.
Among its remaining thriving businesses include several goldsmith shops, one of the last barber shops offering earwax removal, a hardware store, a pet shop and the last remaining family-run bar, dating back to 1934.
The Sin Hiap Hin bar, is a living relic, reminiscent of the days when weather-beaten stevedores sat at its bars, quaffing cheap rice wine while waiting to unload goods from the next bumboat coming up the river.
Lian Suan, the wife of the owner, manages the bar with the help of her two sons, a veterinarian and a hotelier.
“It used to be packed in the old days and when people got drunk, there used to be violent brawls,” she said.
These days, it is only open during the day and has a string of regulars coming in for their shots of rice wine, herbal and fruit-based liquor, locally distilled whisky and cold canned beers.
Over the past few years, it has turned into somewhat of a tourist lure for those longing for the nostalgic spirit of the city.
One is always assured to seeing an interesting character or two at the Sin Hiap Hin bar.
Last week, I was pleasantly surprised to bump into Sarawak-based journalist and author James Ritchie drinking with his new-found friend from Tampin, Lim Peng Hock, there.
Across the road from the bar is a popular barber shop where Tan You Hock, 65, still uses the old-fashioned razor to shave beards and heads, and skilfully removes earwax for customers with his traditional digging tool.
The ¿Gate to Hell¿ lane leads to this stairway linking the Kampung Jawa Bridge across the Malacca River.
The ‘Gate to Hell’ lane leads to this stairway, linking the Kampung Jawa Bridge across the Malacca River.
It costs RM5 to get earwax removed while the price of a regular haircut is RM10, just as it has been for decades.
Java Lane opens up to a landscaped area along the river, leading to the traditional commercial area of Kampung Jawa.
Before the arrival of shopping centres, this was the busiest business area in the city, within walking distance of the former central municipal market.
Although the operators of shophouses and businesses there today are predominantly Chinese, Kampung Jawa was indeed a Javanese village once.
The Portuguese called it Campon Jaio and during their rule and subsequent occupation by the Dutch, the inhabitants were mostly traders, fishermen and day labourers working at the port.
They were eventually assimilated into the local Malay population but with the redevelopment of the area, very few members of the community remained in the area.