There were no motor vehicles then and people used bullock carts for travel and to transport goods. Bullock carts were one of the earliest forms of transportation in the country. The driver and passengers sat in the front section of the two-wheeled vehicle and goods were placed in the back. Traditionally used to transport bulk quantities of agricultural products like padi and straw, bullock carts were also used for garbage collection in major towns before World War Two.
But it was no ride in the park. The cart driver was often at the mercy of the stubborn animals. When they were overworked, no amount of persuasion could make them continue the journey. More often than not, the driver had no choice but to wait patiently until the beasts were ready to move again.
This ancient mode of transport is still in use today in places where modern vehicles are considered to be too expensive or when the terrain is too rugged. Closer to home, tourists in Melaka can still go for a ride in a gaily-decorated traditional bullock cart (kereta lembu).
Bullock carts were said to have been introduced by Indian traders during the Melaka Sultanate. Some even sported a woven attap roof to protect against the elements.
Firewood was the main source of fuel for cooking in the early 20th Century as electric and gas stoves had yet to be introduced.
A bullock cart ride is one thing that a visitor to Melaka must not miss out on as it provides an exhilarating experience to both young and old alike.
The bullock cart, which at one time was the main mode of transportation for the rich in Melaka, is unlike those found elsewhere. The carts are beautifully decorated, with bright colours and trappings and has the shape of a pointed roof, similar to the horn of a bull.
The bullock cart ride area in Ayer Keroh, directly in front of the Orang Asli Museum, virtually comes alive with eager visitors on weekends and holidays.
Although the ride covers only a short distance in the surrounding areas, it nevertheless is an experience not to be missed by all.