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March 14, 2004

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Although it holds a place as Malaysia's most historic city, the centerpiece of the region's trade during the colonial years, Malaka is a quiet town and feels like one of those places that history forgot. We enjoy exploring it for another day. The tourist infrastructure is superb but not that many tourists seem to be around. Memorial plaques explain every site, maps and information booths keep people from getting lost, shops and foodstalls await at every corner, and facing the historic quarter looms a large grandstand dedicated to a nightly sound and light show. We watch the sound and light show throb and flash the story of Malaysia's history. It plays to an empty stadium.
St. Paul's Hill overlooks Melaka, a Christian landmark in a Muslim town. Atop the hill decay the ruins of St. Paul's Church, built by the Portuguese over 400 years ago. St. Francis Xavier prayed here often. He was buried within for a short period before being transferred to Goa in India. After the Portuguese lost Malaysia to Holland, the Dutch continued to use the hill as a burial ground. Then the Brits arrived and with solemn respect for tradition, used the church as a gunpowder store.
In Muslim eyes, Jill dresses like a stripper, but nice ladies will still pose with her for a picture.

Melaka's Old Quarter lights up at night (besides the sound and light show). Next to the antique shops stand some real antique temples. One of them is the oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia, built in 1646.