A charter with Dunia Baru is not all about gorgeous beaches and bright tropical fish – unless you want it to be, of course. On our voyage from Singapore to Myanmar recently, we stopped to explore Melaka, a city that is absolutely fascinating.

This historic Malaysian town is as much loved for its interesting streets and bold, colourful architecture as it is for its sense of history, its intriguing cuisine and its fusion of cultures. Thanks to Melaka’s position on the old trade routes, the influence of Malay, Indian, Chinese, British, Dutch and Portuguese people over the past few hundred years has created a city that has so many interesting enclaves and buildings.

In the old town, the hard-to-miss Christ Church, shown in the photo above, shows some of the Dutch history in the city. Just a short walk up the hill is the old St Paul’s Church (a fantastic place from which to watch the sun set), first built in 1521 by the Portuguese.

The Portuguese Settlement – now called Kampong Portagis – is a few kilometres outside the old town and is still home to the descendants of the original Portuguese community. In the evenings Portuguese Square is a lively place for a tasty seafood meal, and if you’re there during the day then step into the Portuguese Heritage Museum, where the curator will enthusiastically describe life in the community.

There is still a strong Indian culture in Melaka, and the shops and restaurants in Little India make this a colourful, fascinating quarter to visit. The fabric stores along Jalan Bendahara sell absolutely exquisite saris, Punjabis and lengths of fabric; even if you hadn’t planned on doing any shopping, you’ll likely buy something here.

China has always had powerful a influence on Melaka’s trading and customs. In the old town, the Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum shows off these influences beautifully, with its collection of delicate brooches, shoes, porcelains and rings, all influenced by Chinese design and motifs and created by Chinese, Indian and Ceylonese craftsmen.

As we said – a journey on Dunia Baru doesn’t only have to be about gorgeous beaches and tropical fish… although we do find them hard to resist!

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