It came as a pleasant surprise that there was also art to be found in the streets of Melaka. I had just come from Penang, the famous street art capital of Malaysia. And a week into my solo backpacking in Indochina. Art greeted me the minute I stepped into my hostel. For the rest of my 2 days, art also kept popping up in streets that I stumble on.
History of street art in Melaka
Penang started the street art trend in Malaysia and Melaka soon followed suit with their River Art Project in 2012. Water has always been a big part of Melaka’s history. It was once one of the world’s most important trading ports. So it also makes sense that they start with the buildings beside the river. The murals painted on old and rundown houses, reflect Melaka’s melting pot of cultures. These colorful and vibrant murals add flavor to the otherwise drab riverside. They are best seen by strolling around the riverside or taking the river cruise. Some of these buildings though were converted into guesthouses for backpackers.
Street art inside Melaka World Heritage City
As soon as you step into Melaka World Heritage City, buildings with murals will welcome you. Like this one painted with trading ships. The following pictures are only some of the street art that can be found in Melaka.
Walking along the streets on our way to Jonker Walk, we saw this closed café with a painting of anime characters. They were from Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro. The owner must be a fan. 🙂
Trying to find my way back to my hostel after a jaunt inside the UNESCO World Heritage City, I stumbled on this long alleyway filled with street art. Best thing is, there weren’t even many people around, unlike the more popular Kiehl’s Heritage Mural. To me, they looked like 3D art that resembles the artworks you will see in a 3D art museum or a trick art museum.
One of the most popular murals is Charles Cham’s yellow and peach orangutan. Found in Lorong Hang Jebat, Orangutan House is a studio gallery cum T-shirt store. Charles Cham is one of the locally acclaimed artists whose pieces range from abstract faces to witty slogans like “to lah or not to lah”.
The largest mural to date is done by Fritilldea for the cosmetic brand, Kiehl’s. This is the brand’s contribution to raising awareness on the importance of preserving heritage. The vibrant and colorful mural was finished only last June 2015. And it has been a popular spot in Jonker street for the tourists ever since.
The street art in Melaka has surely added life to the heritage town and encouraged more tourists. But some locals believe that there should also be a balance between history and creativity. And that it should add value and reflect the local culture, and not take away the nostalgia and history of the place.
QUICK GUIDE TO MELAKA
Melaka/Malacca is best reached via a flight to Kuala Lumpur and a bus to Melaka Sentral. From KLIA 2, you can board the Transnational bus straight to Malacca. It takes 2 to 2 and a half hours to go from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka. From Singapore, you can also take a bus direct to Melaka Sentral, and the ride takes 3 to 4 hours depending on the traffic condition.
It is easy to go around on foot but you can also hire a trishaw, or rent a bicycle to go around the heritage city.