Friday, February 22, 2013


Click the pix for larger picture.

After a restful night at the Embassy Hotel in Mersing, we caught an early afternoon bus to Melaka/Malacca.   This is an historic World Heritage city that was the original trading port for the Malaysian peninsula.
This was also to be the most trouble free bus trip of our entire journey.  The scenery was basically palm oil plantations, and palm oil plantations that had been cleared for replanting.  Its novelty wears off rather quickly, so I used this mundane scenery to do some reading and writing.
Malaysian buses are very nice, especially the seats.  They are roomy, deeply cushioned and have the ability to recline in a manner I’ve only experienced with a La-Z-Boy easy chair, never mind the person behind you.  They all have decorative curtains with a distinct oriental flair.  Except for the smattering of ill washed fellow travelers one feels like a real pasha. 
The Melaka bus terminal is decent enough, and we took a taxi to our hotel.  The hotel we booked is a modern three star place on the edge to the historic district.  The street was Chinese and had a number of food carts along the edges.  Since it is the Chinese New Year holiday season, there were also stalls selling the same crappy Chinese candy and cheap decorations we thought we had escaped from.  Fireworks were also readily available.
Melaka is a little disappointing.  It has a very nice area with well preserved buildings, but the effect was spoiled by all the cheesy New Year decorations and the constant stream of cars through its narrow streets.  Food and drink prices were extortionate.
However, we had several pleasant visits with shop owners, who were invariably friendly after finding out we lived in China.  The Chinese antique shops had a much greater selection of antiquities than anything we ever encounter in China.  The Chinese in China have little appreciation for this sort of thing.  It’s a little sad that you have to leave China to get a good look at artifacts from its past.
There is a maritime museum located in a replica of a Portuguese trading ship.  It gave a pretty good account of the history of the port, with a healthy lambasting of the Portuguese and a generous accounting of the merits of Islam on the Malay people.  Across the street from there is a wonderful shopping bazaar and food court.  Food courts are the way to eat in Malaysia.  Malay and Indian food abound, and you can point out what you want if you don’t know the names.  If you like spicy foods you are in heaven.  Since many Malays eat with their fingers, there is no problem for you to grab a chicken leg slathered in chili paste or curry and woof it down.  Hand washing sinks are everywhere to accommodate just such dining methods.  If you don’t like spicy food, then you will be sad.  Bland food is rare, and if that's what you want, then you should visit England.

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