Monday, October 3, 2016

Andrew travels to Malacca – alone, and survives!

In September a window of opportunity for travel arose when Paula had a 10-day Lao business trip away from Vientiane.  She recommended Malacca, Malaysia (and got me set up for the trip) [editors note: booked his flights, accommodation, bus tickets and gave him guides, restaurant recommendations, maps and printouts]  

A  flight Vientiane to Kuala Lumpur and then a 3-hour bus trip, finding the right bus was a bit hairy. The notable sights from the bus were the endless Palm trees (Malaysia produces 40% of the world’s palm oil), a bus that had just been driven off the motorway down a bank via the safety barrier (no injuries apparent) and heavy traffic so we travelled about 50km for a good part of the trip.

Malacca old city centre was made a World Heritage site in 2008 by UNESCO. It was at times ruled by Portuguese, Dutch and British with a strong Chinese influence due to the trade routes. 

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I went to the Belge Café for a meal and the main listed item was NZ mussels which the owner said were consistently excellent. I passed on them and did enjoy the Belgian beer with my meal.

I had been instructed by an old NZ mate to go on the river cruise which I did. It was a good way to see the old part of the town and the new 30/40 storied buildings without getting lost. They have an interesting walk way alongside the river which allowed some more exploring.

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The town was busy given a long weekend with a public holiday and accessible from a couple of big cities. People queued along the street for access to the popular food places. Some food shops had mystery processed Durian items. I was at a loss as to how they would be used.

 
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The Tri-shaws were parading in the city centre with flowers and loud music. The drivers did not really look strong enough to move me about any faster than I could walk.

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There are lots of museums though many were closed. The old historical places, such as St Paul’s church on a hill top, were interesting. The Sultan’s palace had historical items and was set out so one could understand some of the issues they dealt with.

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One gem was the Baba & Nyonya Museum is a Peranakan heritage town house which has been in the same family for more than 150 years and has a significant Chinese input. It was three houses in one. It had its own water collection setting, some very smart furniture, different dining places, a large kitchen, stairs with a locking mechanism, a spy door to see downstairs, gaming tables and some very ornate clothes. Worth a visit. www.babanyonyamuseum.com

I did stop for a beer alongside the river at a small cafe, the people were friendly, I was given some free biscuits and the young man asked where I was from and “how old are you”. Not sure why the age question.

There did seem to be an excessive display everywhere of the national flag such as 15 on one building.


[Editor:
Andrew managed to get back on a bus to Kuala Lumpur airport and back through to Vientiane without any international incidents!  He did manage to fall off his bike going up the kerb of the drive-way of our local shop.  They all rushed out to pick up the big farang (foreigner) with his grazed and bleeding knee :-)

Meanwhile back in rural Laos we had a staff annual meeting of 130 people, visited some plantations, drove for hours, flights home got grounded for a day because of torrential rain]

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