On To Malaysia

Melaka 

We arrived in Malaysia by dark and had fun and games trying to locate the correct bus to take us where we wanted to go. We eventually found a driver who said he would take us where we needed to go – so we hopped on. It turned out not to be the right bus at all though, which we discovered when he pulled up at the side of a dual carriageway and turfed us off with the words “over that way”!! We ended up walking along the road and then crossing several lanes of traffic to eventually get to our destination.

The next day we picked up a hire car at the airport and headed down the coast where we stopped in Port Dickinson for some lunch and then moved on to Melaka. We found a place to stay where the host wasted no time in telling us all the things we should do while we are here. I was going to ask about the Chinese night market, but before I got a chance she said if you want to go to the night market I will draw you a map for when you come back down, so we dropped our bags, got some drinks and by the time we wanted to go out she had drawn a whole map by hand and told us that she has a tourist map, but she doesn't think it's any good and too hard to read. She was a wealth of information and spent ages talking to us.

We found the night market and decided to just eat different things from the food stalls for tea. I've been desperate to try some durian fruit, I meant to do it in Thailand and in Cambodia, but never actually got round to it, so when I saw some durian pastries I decided that now was the time. I took a small bite, but a local man sat at the stall told me it was a 'one bite' and motioned for me to eat it all in one go, so I pushed it all in and chomped into it – I've yet to taste a fresh durian, but what oozed out of this pastry was a sweet creamy cheese flavour and I really enjoyed it. It's an odd taste for a fruit but I liked it, John had one too, but wasn't keen. We had some potato on a stick and some fish balls which were in a yummy curry sauce, then to finish off I had some mulberry sorbet, all very nice.

We walked along the market and came to a stage where some children were about to get up and dance, there were seats around with people sitting on them who also got up to join in with the kids, it was great standing there watching them. “You're up next” came a voice from beside me, it was a local man standing watching me grinning, I told him “after you”, “you first”, but he said he had retired and his friend joined forces with me telling him that this is exactly why he should be up there doing the exercises!! He then decided to tell me all about it and said that they are all just exercising and it's a community thing to help everyone keep fit, he wanted to know if we do this in England!! We were then stopped by some students, who wanted to do a survey on us about travelling in Malaysia, so we answered their questions and took photos of each other. It was a good night and whilst we thought we'd only been there a short time, it turned out to be a good few hours.

Breakfast the next day was at a medicine shop! They set up a breakfast stall outside with pots of noodles and various vegetarian accompaniments and they had a couple of tables for people to eat at. We seemed to be somewhat of a novelty sat here as people nodded and laughed at us. At one point a lady turned up, saw us there trying foods and actually bought some extra items and sent them over to us for us to try!! Amazing!

We drove into the centre of Malaka and parked up near the river. Melaka is like a stew, a bit of everything thrown in, at one time or another over the years it's been occupied, attacked and governed by just about everyone, the English, Dutch, Portuguese, and the Japanese got in there at one point too. Consequently it has lots of different influences and sitting by the river drinking coffee this morning beside obvious Dutch architecture gave a feeling of being in a European city – you could choose from many. Yes, so far Malaysia is a lot more westernised than anywhere else we have been on this trip to date.

We sat by the river drinking a few coffees before we ventured further along and ended up getting on a boat to take a ride up stream. Someone gave us a commentary in English, telling us about some of the history of Melaka. I got really excited when we saw some monitor lizards swimming about and on the way back down the river the man stopped the boat so that people could take photographs of them.

After this we moved on and drove further down the coast to Batu Pahat and then on to Minyak Beku where there is some headland with a lighthouse, it was fairly inaccessible when we got there though and ended in an army base. It was while we were scratching around there that we met Wong, who told us about his chalets beside the sea slightly further up the coast and once we'd finished we went and found them, checked in and went for a walk.

We then spent the next three nights in Kota Tinggi, where one day we visited the nearby waterfall and another day spent time driving out to and along the coast to Desaru.