Looking for “Al”

We’ve been in Lisbon the past two days, hanging out at a very cool hostel on the second floor of the train station. Although the hostel is extremely comfortable (well equipped kitchen, free flow coffee, hammocks, pool table, etc.) we did manage to drag ourselves out to have a look around town a bit.

The lounge at Lisbon Destination hostel

The city doesn’t have as many grand old buildings as we expected it would. This is because Lisbon was hit by a huge earthquake (measuring 9 on the Richter scale) on the 1st of November 1755. The earthquake (and the fires and tsunami that followed) not only destroyed almost all of the buildings, but also killed about half of the town’s population.

In any case, we like Lisbon. It has a gritty, working class feel to it, and if you forget about the pickpockets for a while (but not for too long), it’s really quite a laid back place.

The Lisbon skyline looks pretty much like this

Lisbon has many cool cats

Lisbon has many excitable dogs

Lisbon also has some unusual people

And since we’re here, we thought we’d might as well look up Alfonso de Albuquerque, the archetypal swashbuckling Portuguese male, who in any case, was much more of a man than the famous Portuguese of our times, the saloon-tanned, ballet-dancing, ball-juggling Christiano Ronaldo. While the latter is good with balls, the former was a scholar and a military genius.

Our little search for traces of Alfonso (his friends probably just called him “Al”) brought us to the Maritime Museum in Belem, 6km out of Lisbon, which houses the proud exploits of Portuguese seafarers from the time of Vasco da Gama up till today.

Alfonso - made tights fashionable

Alfonso - also has his own square and statue in Belem

Regardless of what the Malaysian high school text books tell you, the era of Portuguese exploration and conquest had  tremendous bearing on the the world we know today. The brief Portuguese rule in Malacca in particular, forever changed  the political landscape of the Malay Peninsula. It cemented the downfall of the Malaccan empire and the establishment of the Perak and Johor sultanates, as well as introduced of a lot of useful items and concepts (as well as new words) into the lives of the natives, such as chairs (kerusi), cupboards (almari), forks (garpu),  butter (mentega), soap (sabun), fire brigades (bomba) and party (pesta).

Where the Portuguese ships went in search of curry powder - part of a map at the Maritime Museum

Although on the whole the museum was impressive, we were somewhat disappointed that there was not a lot on the life and times of Alfonso, nor on the conquest of Malacca. We were also a bit disappointed that the Museum did not have anything on Enrique of Malacca, Magellan’s Malay interpreter who was among the first persons to circumnavigate the globe after Magellan met his fate in the Philippines (OK it’s probably because this was a Spanish expedition, but still, Magellan was Portuguese).

We did however manage to get our hands on the famed Portuguese egg tarts from a bakery in Belem that opened for business almost 200 years ago.

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8 thoughts on “Looking for “Al”

  1. Lagos says:

    The dogs are adorable just doing their thang and the floating sculpture is amazing! How did they get the man sculpture to not break the thin stick? Very trippy.

    • The man was actually floating! We stood there for about 5 minutes waiting for him to ‘step off’ or something but he never did. Plus he holds a world record for standing motionless for about 15 hours in 1988, so who knows how long he could be standing there 🙂

      • Lagos says:

        WHAT! That is crazy! That is crazy! Ok now i wont be able to get this off of my head. That is crazy.

  2. AnemOthman says:

    awwww..geram tgk the CAT!!! Nice place…good that you’ve met Malaysians! terubat rindu kan…take care!!

  3. syima says:

    syazieee..org yg floating tu org hidup ke??

  4. Johan Ong says:

    Debunked! – http://youtu.be/etSivpBHUmE?t=26s
    Sorry to spoil the magic, but you guys probably figure it out anyway 🙂

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