Posts Tagged With: Malaysia

The voyages of 15th century Chinese admiral Zheng He and today’s rising tensions in Asia

Did Chinese admiral Zheng He discover America before Columbus and Vasco da Gama? I think he could. but more important, read how Zheng He’s travels can lead to a major conflict today…

During my visit to Malaysia I walked into a rememberance stone in the world heritage city center of Melaka and read about the visit of Zheng He in 1405. This visit was a first of seven voyages which he made between 1405 and 1430. He visited not only the countries of South East Asia, but went well beyond that: India, Sri Lanka, the Arabian peninsula and the east coast of Africa. Till so far the official reading.

Not much later I found the Cheng Ho museum which turned out to be a wonderful museum about the life and times of Zheng He. His fleet is build at scale in a diorama and then you start to think how impressive this must have been. The admiral build his biggest Treasure Ships measuring 120 meters long and over 50 meters wide each. Compare Columbus 30 by 10 meters ships. Columbus sailed out – 70 years later – with 3 small ships. Zheng He with close to 200 ships.

Now the Chinese emperor was not in a conquering mood, lucky world. They sailed to all the kings and sultans to show off their power and increase trade. Some researchers think have found prove that parts of the fleet sailed around Africa and hit the American continent. Direct prove has not yet been found, but one of the first appearences of Asia and parts of South America show up in 15 century maps in Italy (see Fra Mauro map) and Turkey (see the Piri Reis maps) and it could be very well possible that early travelers from Venice to the east might have encountered Chinese treasure ships and copied their sea charts. It is still indirect proof, but seems more reasonable then prehistoric Atlantis blah blah.

IMG_1241 3 copyI bought myself a few books about this in the west so unknown explorer to enrich my collection of obscure history and cartography memorabilia , well hidden in a vault somewhere in Holland.

Today China expresses that “Chinese activities in the South China Sea date back over 2000 years ago” with China being “the first country to discover, name, explore and exploit the resources of the South China Sea islands and the first to continuously exercise sovereign powers over them.” For instance, Chinese sources claim that maps of the South China Sea islands were published throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties, including in navigational charts drawn up by China’s fifteen-century admiral and explorer Zheng He. (source)

And so Zheng He is back in today’s politics, not only because of the South China sea rising conflict, but also as an example of China’s modern day silk road initiative called: One Belt One Road, where China is increasing its influence over the Eurasian world to build airports, railroads and seaports to connect China’s industrial areas over land and sea. For many poor countries a great opportunity, for the sceptic west another thread of the upcoming eastern powers.

As long as they handle in the spirit of Zheng He – collaborative with win-win trade benefits – it would be fine with me.


Categories: Boeken, Ontdekkingen, Reizen, Standbeelden | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Discover Malacca, a rickshaw ride through a world heritage city in the heart of Malaysia

I was more than surprised when I arrived in the old town of Malacca, what a beautiful place this is. The old center of town is roughly divided in three parts: the Portuguese area with an old church and remains of a fortress.  The Dutch part is at the east side of Malacca river, an old townhall, a church and a handful of redbrick buildings around a square. And at the west bank of the river the large Jonker street area, a labyrinth of small colonial streets filled with local shops, galleries and restaurants.

I went there without any expectations, and so the effect on me was great, such great architecture and so much to explore and discover. It reminded me of just a few cities, none of them comparable on how it looks, but they can describe the kind of mood that flows through the alleys: Cartagena des Indes, Cusco, Ubud, Glastonbury and Florence. I mean, the feeling that after each corner something wonderful will show up, and then it actually happens. Got it?

If you also know of such a surprising town or city, let me know in a comment below because I would definitely put it on my bucketlist and visit it!

Categories: Ontdekkingen, Reizen, Steden | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Malaysian Grand Prix 2017: Max Verstappen wins Formula One

For the first time I watched a Grand Prix live and lucky me, the one I supported did win as well. Even more lucky; he did his brilliant overtaking move on Lewis Hamilton right in front of our K1 stand at the first turn. To celebrate this, the board Turn 1 was taken by some supporters as a souvenir. After the race doors to the grid were opened and audience speeded over the circuit to the Grandstand where national anthems were played and Champaign bottles were opened. It was one big party and pretty sure I will add another GP on my bucket list soon.





Categories: Reizen, Steden | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Discover Kuala Lumpur: twin towers, Chinatown, Central market and Merdeka square

And it was in a far corner of the Central Market where I found myself the perfect souvenir. A yoga sculpture, or at least, that is what I understood from Nathan, the owner of the antique shop, who gave me quite a lecture on the origins of the small statue.

Categories: Ontdekkingen, Reizen, Steden | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blog at