We saw a mix of cultures and beliefs when we visited the temples at Jalan Tokong. Our afternoon walk continued through the stretch of Jalan Tokong towards the Jonker Street. This side of Malacca houses some of the old dwelling places dating as far back as the 17th century. It’s one of their versions of our very own Vigan which is also a UNESCO heritage site, an old town heritage site preserved.
Aside from the temples at Jalan Tokong, I noticed that the street have a line art shops one after another. We also passed by this shot creating puppets, kites and festival decors. The shop owner was making the frame for this huge decor. It reminds me of how our parols (Christmas Lanterns) were made but this one is designed like a warrior or puppet.
Another thing which makes Malacca popular is the shoes. During the peak of Peranakan culture, the Nyonyas wore elegant clothes even down to their shoes and sandals. The designs were very intricate and unique to each owner that it takes weeks just to make them. We passed by an established shop for beaded shoes and sandals and the owner demonstrated how he makes those shoes. Each pair is very pricey ranging from RM 200 to RM 500 each and can get more expensive.
I also noticed these small shoes which I thought at first were for children. They were nice and cute but they are also for adults with “Bound Feet”. Foot Binding is an age old Chinese practice for young women and children as they believe those tiny little feet are a thing of beauty.
We finally reached Jonker Street on a turn from Jalan Tokong. Both streets are actually parallel to each other. But the moment we got here, it gets more crowded even at mid-afternoon. I heard that during the weekends it gets more crowded especially during the night market at those times. The street is also open to vehicular traffic.
Jonker Street also called Jonker Walk has a long line of old Peranakan houses and many of the ground levels of the houses have been turned into antique shops. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs here, ref magnets especially. The side streets are filled with vendors selling from candies, dumplings and those cute flour sculptures of animated characters done on the spot.
I think my only qualm with Jonker Walk is the thick crowd and vehicular traffic merging together. I would have preferred if they closed the street for traffic so it would have been easy to go around and enjoy taking photos. But I have yet to see the night market so I’ll reserve my final judgment on the place whether I like it or not since we were only there for a few hours. At almost 5 in the afternoon, we were on our way back to Kuala Lumpur.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.