12 – 13. January
Visit to former trader’s port of Melaka, Malaysia
Today we left Singapore after Alex recovered from her serious case of Traveler’s diarrhea and headed via bus to Malaysia and the city of Melaka. We had very little expectations to this place as did not know what to expect, besides knowing that Melaka once played a central role in the south east trade circuit. It was so hot a city that it was conquered by the Portuguese, than by the Dutch who finally subsided to the British. Because of its role in the south east trade route it was also a point of congregation for many Chinese. Once we arrived we knew that this town was very interesting. You could see the diverse cultures represented in the buildings (it’s town hall is Dutch built, its oldest church Portuguese and of course it had a thriving and well preserved Chinatown.). We stayed at a place called “twenty” which is an upscale hostel with a beautiful interior right on the main street of Chinatown. It’s best feature for us however, was that it came with free wireless internet access. As we arrived the street vendors were setting up for the night market that takes place every weekend right outside our hostel. We couldn’t wait to go explore and had no reason to wait since the hostel was out of power anyway. It was a magical evening with many oddities of foreign cultures. So we discovered young and middle aged Asians learning the line dance in a studio by the street, saw and tasted many different dishes that street vendors offered (our dinner was excellent hand bbq’d chicken and beef satay, all for less than $3) and browsed the stalls with its toys, tools, etc. The best and oddest was passing a public stage where mostly senior citizens of the town came to sing karaoke as if they were superstars. The entertainment value was amazing. Later that evening we came past a piano bar, where a patron sang his favorite “San Francisco” song for us. Well past midnight when we finally got back to the hostel, we saw other guests enjoying a DVD of a movie that was still showing in the movies near you. Welcome to South-east Asia.
Melaka by day
We slept till 9, got up and enjoyed a simple but decent breakfast and headed out to see the towns different points of interest. The Maritime Museum was really nice but the highlight was driving (on a bike Rickshaw, powered by a young Malay) through the so called “Harmony Street”. This street features religious buildings of 4 different beliefs “living” peacefully next to each other on one street. There is the Islamic mosque, a Hindu temple, a Buddist temple and Chinese temple. The Christian church was also not far away. Looks like it can work, let us wish that some of the troubled religions learn how from the Malay.
Our visit here was coming to an end and we looked forward to a restful bus ride to Kuala Lumpur (KL). Think again,….as we arrived at the terminal we learned that all bus rides were booked out for this day. (It was Sunday and people were commuting home again). We really thought that we were screwed this time, but if there is a will there is a way and so we found ourselves squeezed in a taxi cab that would take us half way from were we would take the train to KL. Surprisingly it all worked out fine and we paid only 36R (or $11) for the whole trip.
We checked into the Replica Inn in the Golden Tri angle and found this amazing restaurant called “El Cerdo” which as the title suggest offered only pork based dishes. It turned out that the owners were Germans (surprise, surprise) and we were served the most amazing dishes of our trip. Patrick got what he called the 2nd best ribs he had ever eaten (second only to his mom’s own ribs, of course!).
The one for Robin: Sounds from Moccasin Flat
Do you remember this song, my dear Brother?