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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Friday, 06 Apr 2007

Location: Malacca, Malaysia

MapWe caught our first SE Asia bus from Singapore up to Malacca (or Melaka) on the west coast of Penisular Malaysia. The bus was fine and the border crossing was a breeze (much easier and quicker than South America). Malacca is very interesting historic sort of place - the Dutch, Brits and Portuguese were all there plus the usual Malay mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian people (note to John - Francis Xavier was temporarily buried there before his body was taken to Goa). It used to be one of the most important trading ports on the Straits of Malacca but when Singapore took over it became something of a backwater so has lots of old, crumbling unrestored buildings - reminiscent of parts of Cuba.

Our hotel, the Heeren House, was very nice - before we arrived we were slightly concerned by adverse comments on Tripadvisor website (which we swore never to look at again - what do people expect for 20 quid or so). One particular female correspondent commented on the the lack of curtains and therefore privacy but had obviously failed to notice the wooden shutters. Anyway we had a good room overlooking the river and tourist boats and English style cooked breakfasts.

Our first stop was the shopping mall (despite being hopeless shoppers we are growing to love shopping malls - they are so cool as in cold). We went to buy some mozzie repellent but also found Colin some new Teva sandals so could finally discard his foul, stinky ones which should have been condemned weeks ago.

Next stop dinner which was harder than we expected as most of the restaurants were shut. We then bumped into Adele and Jerry (who we had met on the bus) sitting outside a Chinese food court so we joined them. It was really good chatting to them - they are doing a similar but shorter trip to us. We discussed the things we had lugged round and didn't need such as mosquito nets and then foolishly first aid kits - I told them that the only plasters we had used were for other people - we touched wood but Colin noticed (but didn't tell me) that my wood was in fact plastic - more of that in a future blog. We had some powder noodles to eat - wide noodles and odd little dumplings and balls all freshly cooked in a huge pot for 3 ringits each (there are about 7 ringits to the pound). We also bought a couple of large beers for the 4 of us with no idea of the price. Adele and Jerry bought a couple more having already had two. We were a bit surprised when the beer cost us 28 ringits (2 quid a bottle!) - Adele and Jerry were even more surprised their beer bill was 56 ringits - more than the cost of their accommodation! We then got soaked walking back to our hotel, had we brought our new umbrella - no.

We stayed for two more days - a mixture of sightseeing, interspersed with siestas and shopping malls or internet cafes to cool down. We had a walk round Chinatown - more temples and a really interesting tour of a restored Dutch building which is intended to be a model for future restorations. We also took a boat trip - these seemed to be aimed at the coach parties arriving from Singapore so we ended up going with a party from the local infant school who were all very excited but very good. Their teachers had vast quantities of food and we got hot dog type sausages along with all the children. We also decided to have Chinese foot reflexology type massages - quite strange but relaxing. My masseuse, who would effortlessly have beaten Colin's slighter masseur at arm wrestling, was strong to say the least - it felt like being hit with a wooden mallet at times. I think they found our ugly, large western feet quite odd as well.

We left on Good Friday just as Malacca was filling up with weekenders from Singapore where they have a public holiday for Easter. Malacca also has a traditional Good Friday procession but we didn't stay for that (just as well as there was no accommodation to be had). Next stop Kuala Lumpur.