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Monday, 12-Dec-2005 00:00
Bukit Merah Lake Town Resort #4
Treasure Fleet: The Adventures of Zheng He

Yesterday evening, my much awaited documentary film was screened on the National Geographic channel. The film featured the famous NG photo journalist, Micheal Yamashita.

In the West, not many knew the name Zheng He. In Malaysia, people will identify with Cheng Ho, the Chinese Muslim admiral of the Ming Dynasty who visited Malacca and married off Hang Li Po to the Sultan in the 15th Century (1405). They were the same person. The documentary highlighted of the fact that Zheng He commanded the largest fleet in the world then of about 300 ships and 27,000 men. In 7 successive sea voyages spanning over 25 years (1405~1430), he visited Vietnam, Indonesia (Semarang, Surabaya, Acheh), Malaysia (Malacca), Sri Lanka, India (Calicut), Iran, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia (Makkah), Somalia (Mogadishu), Kenya and Tanzania. Micheal primarily referred to the accounts of Ma Huan (a Muslim) who accompanied Zheng He's voyages.

Zheng He was 70 years ahead of Christopher Columbus (Spaniard) and Ferdinand Magellan (Portuguese), the 2 well known explorers who, from Western History point of view, were touted to have 'discovered' the new world and route to America and Asia. This theory is gradually being challenged. In 2002, Gavin Menzies, a British submariner and historian published a book, ' 1421, The Year China Discovered The World '. He categorically concluded that Zheng He did sail to Portugal and Holland and it was Zheng He who first reached the Americas.

The world was indeed once led by Asia.

Back to BMLTR, it offers plenty of recreational activities. A weekend stay, from my experience, will be barely sufficient to explore all the attractions of the resort. For a photographer, the opportunities for good shots are limitless. I was unhappy as I could not get a shot of the train on its tracks taken from the middle of the lake!

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