This curious misalignment of forms, of buildings new and old, of wealth and decay, was something I chanced upon while wandering through the backstreets of Malacca one afternoon in early 2013. I came across an entire block of abandoned buildings, many of them partially dismantled, and was captivated by the sight of a garish yellow and white striped high-rise hotel looming over the ruins through an open window.
Malacca is a historic city on the southern coast of peninsular Malaysia. It rose to prominence as a powerful sultanate controlling much of the trade through the strait of Malacca, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes then and now. Malacca was conquered by the Portuguese in 1511, the Dutch in 1641, and later the British, all of whom left an imprint on the colonial architecture concentrated on the eastern bank of the main river running through town.
I shot this photograph while walking along the river during a brief two night stay in 2012, the same trip on which I visited Pulau Besar. The distinctive building peeking out from the trees to the left is the church of St. Francis Xavier church, built in 1856.
One of my stranger day trips in Malaysia was to the mystic island of Pulau Besar in the state of Melaka, better known as Malacca to most English-speaking people. Situated in the Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, the small island of Pulau Besar is steeped in myth and legend. It is also widely considered to be haunted—which partly explains why most of the island is abandoned.