Road Trip: The Charming Malay Kampung Morten.
A blast from the past.
Kampung Morten is one of the many Malay villages that can be found in the middle of the historical city of Melaka, maintaining its’ traditional architecture, design, interior decoration, landscaping just like the historical Malay Sultanate era. A total of 200 homes are placed in this area, and at night the homes would shine under the yellow lights, attracting the night cruise customers who ride along the river area. This was also the main reason why we wanted to visit Kampung Morten as it looked so beautiful and charmingly built for the community.
The village was named after an Englishman, Frederick Joseph Morten, who played a role in the opening of this village in the 1920s while Mr Othman was credited as the founder of Kampung Morten.
We headed here the next day and drove to the main entrance of the village where we could see traditional houses arranged neatly in rows, colorful flower pots brightening their compound. Most of the homes here have been restored to its original form and have kept the essence of the Malay home with a middle courtyard, curved roofs with sharp steels on both ends (to ward of the evil spirits they say), looking sharp and sturdy on its’ wooden stilts. As we were driving around the village we stopped at Villa Sentosa, the Malay Living Museum and one of the local homes who invited us into her house.
A warm welcome by Makcik Kamariah Bee in Kampung Morten.
We saw this unique looking home with a mini Malay house on the front lawn and a courtyard that opens to a garden of colorful bougainvillea flower pots. A bright Malaysia flag with the word Merdeka can be seen on the dark colored roof and tiled steps led us into the house. The house belonged to Makcik Kamariah Bee, the second child in a family of 6 siblings, a Malay housewife and the current heir. She greeted us from her verandah and invited us in to see her home, leading us up to the stairs that was built without nails.
The house was built in 1945 by Mr Mohd bin Daud, the grandfather of the current owner. It used to be a small grocery shop for 10 years before renovated into a village home in 1963. Being an imam in the village, his house was often filled with children who had gone there for religious studies. After his passing in the 1950s, his house was handed down to his son-in-law and then to Makcik Kamariah, his daughter. She then fixed it up to be a completed traditional Malay house which is now one of the main attractions in Kampung Morten.
The house comes with a corridor at the main entrance, middle courtyard, a kitchen area, 4 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. What is unique about this home is that there are still furniture from the past that she has kept until today such as the vintage dressing table, old version beds made of steel and wood, a vintage typewriter, an imported water tank from London that is made from stone, a copper water tank as well as the traditional wedding wear.
Villa Sentosa, The Living Malay Museum.
Another traditional Malay house that was turned into a Museum can be found here in Kampung Morten, cared for by Tuan Abdul Rahim Hashim, the son of owner Tuan Hj Hashim Hj Abdul Ghani. This museum is an example of a wealthy living Malay family back then and maintains it’s courtyard, living space, dining area, an attic above, and bedrooms from its’ original look. Tuan Hj Rahim is gracious host who welcomed us into his home (yes he is staying there) and took us around for a tour, telling us the history as well as the functions of the rooms.
As we walked up the steps inside the house, we were brought out to the courtyard, or the middle compound of the house with a view of the sky above. The rest of the house was covered under the roof, shielding the residents from the sun or rain. Tuan Haji showed us photos of his family from the owner to all 20 family descendents who have all lived here once upon a time. The house used to be frequented by many visitors near and far as they were a well known family.
Walking into the family living room, we spotted a pillar which said ‘Tiang Seri’ and I knew this was the first pillar that was stuck to the ground before the rest of the panels were constructed, without using any nails. Some people said there is spirit in the first pillar as it also protects the owners from unwanted spirits. I did feel strange when I was standing near it so I moved to the next room, which is also a living room but mostly for guests who come to visit. A total of 14 windows can be found around the house, providing some breeze inside and because of this, no air conditioner is needed.
The bedroom is dressed up like a wedding room with a yellow colored dais and wedding attires hung neatly on the rack just next to it. Other items in the exhibit include a 100-years old cupboard, ceramics, an 80-years old Al-Quran and a glass cabinet displaying vintage cameras. At the corridor sits a brass gong welcoming visitors into the home and a brass case where donation money can be placed.
In the kitchen I saw a woman preparing desserts for tea time and she walked around with ease, not bothered by visitors like us who come everyday to see Villa Sentosa. Near the dining table was a flight of stairs which leads up to the attic or storage area. Tuan Haji Rahim said that there are no charges implied when anyone visits the house but donations are welcomed as it would be used to restore parts of the homes throughout the years. They are not able to rely and be dependent on the State Government all the time and this donation drive helps them to fix any wear and tear of the house so that it is maintained as per its’ original state.
We thanked Tuan Hj Rahim for his hospitality as we made our way from the house. The traditional Malay home reminded me of late grandparents place in Cheras where we would spend most of our weekends with our cousins. It looked similar, except for the inner courtyard (we didn’t have that). But we did have the living room upstairs with 3 rooms and 3 more rooms downstairs near the dining area. The house could fit more close to 30 and sometimes even 40 people at one go. I miss it a lot and hope that these homes would stay on until the next generation so that they can appreciate the family bonding and togetherness under one single roof.
Address: Villa Sentosa, 138 Jalan Kampung Morten, 75300 Melaka | Entrance Fee: Free (Donations are welcomed).
About Yafieda Jamil
A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.