POPULAR: It may not have been a meeting place as its name suggests, but Padang Temu in Malacca continues to attract visitors, writes Syawal Syahrin
WHEN one drives past the old road from Malacca town to Alai, it is almost impossible to miss the village of Padang Temu.
Padang Temu would loosely translate as a meeting (temu) at a field (padang).
However, few are aware that the name Padang Temu originated from the abundant growth of the temulawak plant on a field in the village.
Temulawak (Curcuma xanthorthiza Roxb) is part of the ginger family of plants (Zingiberaceae). It is similar to turmeric.
While turmeric is used for cooking, temulawak is commonly used in traditional medicine.
Padang Temu native Dol Nekmat, 67, a retired teacher, said sadly, the field from which the village took its name was no longer around.
"As far as I can remember, the field which was covered with the temulawak plant existed till 1969 but after a land embankment project was carried out, the field disappeared.
"The temulawak plant flourished as the villagers did not think of turning it into a source of income," said Dol.
He said the villagers then made a living from weaving attap roofs.
"The village was initially made up of three communities: the Javanese, Malays, and Bawean or Boyan.
"Now, it's mostly Malays although a few Javanese and Boyan families are still around."
According to Dol, Padang Temu was also famous because of its association with Hang Tuah.
"It is said that Hang Tuah often came to Padang Temu to polish his silat skills.
"Hang Tuah apparently lived in Duyong, which is near Padang Temu, so maybe that is why he used to come here to train."
Besides the legendary Hang Tuah, Dol said that Padang Temu was also known for the keramat (grave of a holy person) of Haji Kamarudin at the Parit Cina river.
"Haji Kamarudin was well known as an Islamic teacher in the area.
"Some villagers also sought his help in treating illnesses. When Haji Kamarudin died, he was buried near Parit Cina," he added.
There is a road with a rather macabre sounding name in Padang Temu.
For generations, the name Lorong Mayat (now Jalan Mayat) has sent chills down the spine of many a visitor to the area.
In the not too distant past, it was a common sight to see villagers carrying coffins or the shroud-wrapped bodies of the departed along the road.
This was because there was no Muslim cemetery in Padang Temu then and villagers had to carry the departed through this lane to the nearest Muslim cemetery in Kampung Duyong, about 2km away.
But a more interesting feature in Padang Temu must surely be the "Rumahku, Muziumku" (My House, My Museum), a private museum run by pensioner Nordin Ali and his wife along the main road running through Padang Temu.
The septuagenarian, an avid antique collector, has turned his modest terrace house into a mini-museum housing some 1,000 artifacts chronicling the state's history and cultural diversity.
Visitors to Padang Temu should also not give its famous Hassan Mee Rebus a miss.
The mee rebus and rojak sold at the stall not far from the entrance to Padang Temu from Ujong Pasir are usually sold out by mid-morning.
Padang Temu is also along the way to the popular grilled fish stalls at the mouth of Sungai Duyong.