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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Villa Sentosa A Kampong History -Malacca

Abdul Rahim Haji Hashim, son of Haji Hashim Datuk Demang Haji Abdul Ghani, is the primary caretaker of Villa Sentosa. He looks typically Malay though and this is also reflected in the beautiful house built by his father 88 years ago in Kampung Morten, the only Malay village at the heart of the city near the Malacca River.

Listening to Abdul Rahim, 72, talk about Kampung Morten is like taking a walk back in time to when the British ruled this land. He will tell you how Kampung Morten, on the banks of the Malacca River, came about, how his father, who was the village headman, built Villa Sentosa, which is now a “living museum”.

He will also tell you how he studied under some of the best teachers in Malacca during the British rule, which explains his command of the English language.

Colonial Character Not a single day goes by without tourists coming to Villa Sentosa to experience what it was like to live and grow up there during colonial times. Inside the house, nothing much has changed, not even the cups, saucers and glasses used to serve drinks. There are tea sets from England too, which the family uses occasionally. Sometimes, these are laid on the beautifully set tables for tourists to see and admire.

Indeed, time seems to stand still at Villa Sentosa, except maybe for the plants growing in the front yard. “This was how we used to live when my late father and my 11 siblings stayed in this house,” he says. He and his family still live in the house and he has turned it into a museum of sorts.

What’s so remarkable about Villa Sentosa is that the mainly timber house was constructed without a single nail. There are four rooms and an equal number of halls, a long kitchen, a beautiful porch and a well maintained backyard that faces other traditional Malay houses there.

Abdul Rahim guides guests around the house, telling them about the intriguing collection of costumes, embroidery, furniture, muskets and an interesting array of Malay items. Among these are a 500-year-old Majapahit keris, a 100-year-old Quran, Mign Dynasty ceramics and family photographs.

He says Villa Sentosa offers four things — Malaysian culture, history, architecture and hospitality. There are more than 100 traditional Malay houses in Kampung Morten but all are smaller than Villa Sentosa and definitely not as grand though each house and its occupants have their own stories to tell about life in the village.

Heritage Village Kampung Morten was named after F.J Morten, the land commissioner of Malacca during the British rule, in 1920. At that time, there were already some 100 houses there, of which Villa Sentosa is one of the oldest. The Malacca State government has declared Kampung Morten a heritage village. Villa Sentosa is open to visitors from 9am till 1pm, and from 2pm till 5pm, everyday except Friday when the opening hours are from 2.45pm till 5pm. Entrance is free. For details and appointments, call 06-282 3988.

Come and Visit Villa Sentosa ! The friendly Pak Rahim will greet and welcome you!. How To Get There Malacca is accessible via the North-South Highway with exits at Ayer Keroh and Alor Gajah. Many bus and taxi companies offer scheduled trips to the historical State. It takes about two hours to drive to Malacca from Kuala Lumpur.


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