Southeast Asia: "Due the urgings of a friend, my Author had taken his wife and 2 daughters to visit my countries of Thailand and then Cambodia on a family vacation. Inspired by the trip, he wrote the brief histories of Thailand and the Khmer Empire at Angkor. These writings further piqued his interest in my part of the world. A few years later, the window of opportunity opened again. On this adventure, his family visited first Thailand again, then Malaysia, and finally Singapore. He chronicled this second vacation in Part II of Southeast Asia Travelogues. He thought he was done. How silly he was to think that he knew what was going on.
A key reason for the second visit was his interest in experiencing the Malaysian city of Malacca. He had read somewhere that it had once been a major international port. While there he had 'accidentally' entered a coin shop. The shopkeeper asked him which type of coin he was interested in – "perhaps from the Sultanate, the Portuguese, or the Dutch. We have them all." My Author had no idea that my part of the world had such a rich history. It was at this point that I captivated his imagination.
Author: “Hmmm? The quiet tourist town feel of Malacca certainly belies its past history as the busiest port in the world. How did this sleepy little town become an international port visited by traders, businessmen and sailors of all nationalities? And what happened to transform it into its present condition? And the Sultanate? What does that mean? I must do some research when I get home.”
These were a few of the questions bouncing around my Author’s mind as he left Malacca. After returning home he began research into Malacca’s history. His initial stabs stressed the European side of Malacca’s past. Nothing was mentioned of any Sultanate. He discovered that the Portuguese conquered Malacca in 1511. The Dutch conquered Malacca from the Portuguese in 1642. And the British took over from the Dutch in 1795. Then in 1958 Malaysia, with Malacca as one of its cities, achieved independence from Britain.
This raised another question that begged to be answered.
Why did each of these countries want to conquer little Malacca?
After a cursory examination my Author came to the conclusion that these European powers wanted to control Malacca because she was an international port, a global entrepôt. He had just come back from visiting my most recent entrepôt, Singapore, and seen how wealthy she became due to being a shipping center of international trade. He had seen her love affair with banks and corporations at the expense of local culture. He had seen her obsession with money and the modern. He then discovered that Malacca preceded Singapore as an international trading port. While Singapore’s function was primarily financial, he found that Malacca played a much more dynamic role.
Of course this raised other questions.
Author: “How did Malacca become an international trading center and why was she supplanted by Singapore? By what means did Singapore emerge as the business capitol of Southeast Asia? And why did it become so culturally sterile? Let’s do a little research into Singapore. Maybe that will answer some of my questions.”