“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”. – Marcus Garvey
I couldn’t agree more with what Marcus Garvey had said. A tree without roots means the tree will die, sooner or later. And people who had forgotten their history, origin and culture will lead to a dying society, sooner or later. That is why I found my visit to Taman Mini Malaysia & ASEAN (Mini Malaysia & ASEAN Cultural Park) in the historic city of Melaka a beneficial one.
No, despite the name ‘Mini Malaysia’, a visit to this park does not show a miniature version of the Twin Towers nor a miniature version of other tourist attractions built by bricks and glasses. This cultural park is exhibiting the real Malaysia, Malaysia as the older people know it, Malaysia without air-conditioner in the main hall of the house, without gated security and without being secluded in our own houses, not talking to the neighbours.
A lot of people not only in Malaysia had forgotten about their own roots and embraced others’ culture as their own. While it is fine to adapt any good value in those cultures, we must never forget our own culture and heritage.
Presently, most Malaysians are living in brick houses, with common designs. Some rich people even built bungalows adapting the design which is alien to this part of the world. While it is not wrong to do so, do we still remember how Malaysia’s houses look like?
Being a history enthusiast, I love to figure the answer to that question. Honestly, I don’t know how original Malaysia’s houses look like, apart from the variety of kampung houses seen on my way back to my mum’s hometown (and glad I still have a kampung). And it turns out, a visit to this park answers my question.
Being a federation of 13 states and 3 Federal territories, each and every state in Malaysia has a unique design for the houses.
And some houses show remarkable skills of architecture, science and crafting.
All of these houses were built using woods and on stilts. Why were they built on stilts? Reason being, if they want to move the house, they can just lift the house together with the help of the neighbours or villagemen, and move it somewhere else. They do it in the spirit of togetherness. Today? Just call the lorry which will help us move the stuff, and sometimes the neighbours don’t even know that we are moving out!
Looking at the design of the houses make me feel how family is so important in the yesteryear. They built houses with a large veranda so that family meeting can be held there. During tea time, the whole family can congregate there and have tea together. Or Kopi O. With a hot fried banana fritters.
And just imagine, some houses were built with natural wind entrance that even an air-conditioner is not needed to cool the house down. Some houses were built without a single nail. That is exceptional architectural style. And how many youngsters nowadays who can craft woods to build such amazing houses or as an art piece?
That is the usual reply that I received when I convey my interest in visiting museums or any other cultural or history related places. Yes, I still love visiting malls [as other Malaysians do] and parks. But why not we expand the list and visit other cultural or history related places too?
Although this cultural park is a purposely-built park, but if it is not built, will we still know about our heritage? I doubt so.
If you happen to be in Melaka, have a visit to Taman Mini Malaysia. If you are a foreigner, it will give you an insight of traditional Malaysia. If you are a Malaysian, you will not be contributing to a dying society.
(And to the authority, please maintain the cultural park properly as this is one of the places for us to learn about national heritage. On my visit, although refurbishment works had just been completed, some areas especially the ASEAN section seems neglected and eerie.)
“My heritage has been my grounding, and it has brought me peace”. – Maureen O’Hara
Mini Malaysia & ASEAN Cultural Park is located beside the main road at Ayer Keroh. If you are driving, use the North-South Expressway and exit at Ayer Keroh (Exit 231). Drive further for about 5 km after the toll plaza and this park is on the left side, just before the Melaka Zoo.
If you are taking the bus from Banda Hilir (Melaka city centre), go to Melaka Sentral and ask for the correct bus to go here. I have never tried so I am not sure.
Opening Hours: 9 am to 5.30 pm weekdays / 9 am to 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays
Ticket Prices (as of January 2014):
- Adult: RM 15 (with MyKAD) | RM 20 (without MyKAD)
- Students: RM 10 (with student card and MyKAD) | RM 15 (with student card and without MyKAD)
- Children (4-12 years old): RM 8 (with MyKID) | RM 12 (without MyKID)
They are also having cultural performances at Pentas Teja as follows:
- Monday-Thursday: 11 am and 2 pm
- Friday : 11 am and 2.30 pm
- Saturday and Sunday : 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, and 4pm
For more info:
Visit http://www.minimalaysiaasean.com/v1/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: +6 06 234 9988/89
Fax: +6 06 234 9889
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