|Please note that we are having some difficulty in getting photos uploaded. This is because we've changed the computer for this trip and it will not work the same as the other. If we can't sort it we'll have to move to another site but will let you know.
Monday 5th December
Left Singapore this morning on the bus and crossed the causeway into Malaysia. Met a guy called Ravi who liked to practise his 'Western accent' (anyone who knows Dave well will realise that he did not appreciate this attention so it was mostly directed at me). He was very interested in the property market in England and had an aunt in Bradford. Her husband had been in the British army and was kicked out in 1968 when the British left. It never ceases to amaze me how knowledgeable other people are about the UK. He could name several British politicians at the top of the list being Maggie of course (he hadn't heard of David Cameron though), how many Malaysian politicians can you name?
Having been very traveleresk with our rucksacks and public transport we then proceeded to pick up a hire car (I know letting the side down eh?). We had fortunately ordered a GPS as well otherwise we would still have been in JB.
Got out to the coast road and went down to a fishing village where there were lots of fish farms and the houses were on stilts. It was great to watch the hustle of the young men whizzing around handling their boats with great skill collecting scrappy old fish to feed to the live ones. A lady told me what was going on and said that the water was very polluted and that we should go to Sabah. The restaurants looked really good as well, shame that we had just had lunch!
Staying in Pontian Kechil tonight. It is a holiday place though it definitely wouldn't make it to the UK brochures. Had a pleasant evening though, sitting on the shore eating Satay and something we think was fish roes in banana leaves, really tasty.
Travelled up the coast to Melaka. There was an abundance of greenery and flowers that line the road and surrounded bungalows at various degrees of decay or opulence. splendid temples dotted the routes. The Chinese were most dramatic but Hindu, Buddist and Moslem were there as well.
We had lunch at another fishing village, really tasty squid and prawn and then arrived in Melaka. I don't know about you but it sounds exotic doesn't it with a slightly dangerous edge. It certainly is colourful with flower bedecked trishaws blaring their music, alot of red is used to paint the buildings, and Chinese gateways and temples all add to the atmosphere.
We checked into our hotel which is in the middle of the China town area and is one of those old Dutch buildings that used to back onto the sea until the 1980's when they reclaimed the land. It's certainly the most atmospheric accommodation to date.
The hotel gave us a free ticket to go and see the bird house museum of birds nest soup fame. Swiftlets nest in the building and return every evening in response to a call. They make their nest from saliva and when their young leave the nest they are harvested, cleaned meticulously and then sold to the highest bidder.
We were also lucky enough to see the latest boy band filming a video. We had a delightful chat with a group of girls who were cooing over them, they even wanted pictures of us!!
Since not having the bikes (saw a cycle tourist today but boy was it hot) some of our aches and pains have returned so decided to have a massage. Two sisters pummelled us and told us that a Muslim man can take 4 wives with only 2 having to be Malay, the others can be Chinese or Indian but they have to convert to Muslim. Apparently the government pays 2000MR (about £500) to a Chinese girl to convert and marry and then they get much more help with housing etc. She said that she wasn't tempted though as Muslim men still go on the hunt even with 4 wives-don't know where they get the energy especially in this heat!!
Fabulous meal tonight-Portugese/Malay only to be found in this area .
This morning we wondered around the sights of Malaka. It has some lovely bits but it isn't very good for walking. The car is king here and often there are no pavements or crossings which is annoying. So if you can't beat them join them. After lunch we drove out to the beaches just north of the town. They were local places where I didn't feel comfortable stripping off and sunbathing as all the Muslim women were clothed head to toe even in the sea. On the way back we stopped at a reclaimed beach where kids and adults alike were enjoying flying kites. It's weird though, they seem to keep reclaiming land and then leaving it just sit there. It looked as though there were plans to make it into a resort and there are a couple of big new hotels, so beware as they may come up as a good deal!
Writing this from the highway enroute to the Cameron Highlands. That's one thing I couldn't do from a bike eh?