by Joy Fang
PERANAKAN fever is still raging, and Singaporeans are taking the craze one step further as more cross the border to Malaysia in search of all things Peranakan.
This follows the success of the Channel 8 hit series, The Little Nyonya, which pulled in 1.67 million viewers for its finale earlier this month, and is the most watched Chinese drama serial in 15 years.
The show - a 34-episode TV series which kicked off on Nov 25 last year - featured the unique culture of the Straitsborn Chinese, from their traditional costumes (the kebaya), to their furniture and food.
Hotels like The Majestic Malacca, a restored 1920s mansion in Malacca, have seen almost double the usual number of visitors from Singapore since the series started, said a spokesman for the hotel.
It is almost certainly The Little Nyonya that brought in the recent influx of travellers.
Ms Yong Huihua, 25, an administrative executive, was so caught up by The Little Nyonya hype that she went on a trip to Malacca last month, with the specific aim of soaking up Peranakan food, sights and sounds.
"All my friends and I watched (the show), so we were interested to see and experience Peranakan culture," said Ms Yong, who spent less than RM200 (S$82.70) on modest accomodation, food and coach fare for her 1 1/2-day holiday.
Ms Lynnie Soo, 24, a business senior associate, was another Singaporean who visited Malacca after catching the Channel 8 drama.
"My mission was to search for authentic traditional nonya kueh (bite-sized pastries) like the ones I saw on the show, not the commercialised ones in Singapore," said Ms Soo, who spent two days in Malacca late last November.
True to her goal, she feasted on six meals in a single day, spending around RM10 per meal and trying out delicacies like Melaka cendol at famous chendol stall Jonker Dessert, located in Jonker Street, well known for its night markets.
Added Ms Yong: "The Peranakan culture is truly reflected in Malacca's architecture, food and artwork. You really get a feel of what being Peranakan is about."
To find must-see spots in Malacca, visit the Malacca Tourism Association at www.malaccatourism.com or Asia Web Direct at www.malacca.ws/attractions/culture-heritage.htm
For more my paper stories click here.