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May 22nd, 2011 | Asia

Meander thru Melaka…

On Sunday morning after another 30km of pounding pavement, Rory suggested we take a ride up to Melaka, the former Portuguese and later Dutch port on the west coast of Malaysia…

We followed the coastal road rather than take the highway, as we did not want to use the same route there and back again… We passed through Seggarang and Batu Pahat, and although the road was not in bad condition, there was heaps of traffic to impede our progress… Somewhere between Parit Jawa and Muar, I began to study the inside of my eyelids…

The small metal plate that guides the "rubber" into the cup...

Hard to belive the elasticity of this stuff...!! A cup-ful of rubber a day hardly seems worth the effort...!!

I had no idea the scenic route would take so long….!! Neither did Rory, and his exertions earlier that morning also began to take effect… We pulled over to take a look at a rubber plantation, as I had until now not managed to take a closer look at exactly how the latex was tapped…

I found that a large patch of bark had been sliced off the trees at various intervals, and a thin metal plate hammered into the trunk of the tree at the very bottom of the “scar”…

To protect itself from insects, the tree exudes an abundance of sap in the area that was “opened” to the elements… Excess sap then runs down the metal spigot and into a cup tied under it… The “rubber” is collected at the end of each day, the “cuts” having been made very earlier the very same morning…

We stopped in Muar to buy some water and then motored directly to D’Formosa, and the old fort built by the Portuguese, Porto do Santiago… And would you believe it, I got in amongst another wedding party….!! Will this endless parade of brides and grooms ever end…?? I had by now lost count of how many I had come into close contact with…!!

It was interesting to see this couple wearing western wedding attire... They seemed far too young to be tying the knot...!!

In keeping with the history of the immediate area, many of the building are painted a deep rust colour, including this hotel...

There isn’t much left of the old Portuguese fort, apart from the main entrance and a few passages leading off that…

After taking a quick look around, I spent some time getting into the photos of the Japanese tour group who were clicking away with their cameras, and played along by including me with much laughter and friendly banter…

The remains of Porto do Santiago...

We look the long flight of steps that led up to the Dutch and British cemetery, strolled amongst the memorials to ships captains and administrators, then climbed the last few flights to get to the roofless St. Paul’s Church…

Dutch gravestones line the walls of St. Paul's Church... For once I was able to do some translating, and gave Rory the gist of what was carved into the stone...

A short history of St. Paul's...

I had never come across the term "piously fell asleep to the Lord" before... It was repeated on many markers throughout the church...

This one made me stare in wonder...!! A connection to history lessons from long, long ago...

Malacca, as it was once known has served as a trading port since the fifteenth century…

Vast amounts of spices from the East Indies, and textiles from India were moved to the far ends of the world from here…

It was administered by the Portuguese, the Dutch and later the British, and buildings in the immediate vicinity reflect the different cultures that once held sway here…

Rory and I take a breather inside the ruins of St. Paul's...

Rory had met a fellow Malaysian during his escape from Egypt’s Cairo airport at the end of January, and had not had a chance to catch up with him since then, although they had stayed in contact with each other… Budi had spent seven years studying in Cape Town, and was keen to meet up with us when we got to Melaka, where he had lived all his life…

Budi arrives to spend some time with us...

Tourist Central, Melaka...

The one we are all searching for...

He met us at the bottom of the hill below St. Paul’s and after a light meal of rice pudding; we went for a stroll down Jonker Walk, a narrow street lined with tourist traps…

It is part of Melaka’s Chinatown, and it is in this area where Chinese immigrants first settled and began trading… At night, the narrow streets are lit up with red lanterns, and is a favourite haunt of tourists who come to eat at the many small restaurants here…

 

Some of the homes above the shops are beautifully decorated...

We then went to visit the nearby mosque on Harmony Street, so called because within a very short distance from each other, stand the mosque, a Hindu Temple and a Christian Church…

At the mosque, afternoon prayers were in session, and after taking a quick look at the cemetary dominated by one of the largest mango trees I have ever seen, we quietly left the grounds of the mosque and continued our walk, back towards the Melaka Canal…

We hopped aboard a tourist barge that motored up and down the Canal for a few kilometres each way, passing the old village of Morten, where authentic Malay homes dating back centuries can be found… The many hotels, lodges and restaurants that line the banks are painted with giant murals, depicting anything from Pirate-like figures to those detailing the history of this old port…

A double-carriage sky train buzzed along on its rails above us as we turned and headed back towards the landing near Chinatown and the old Colonial Quarter…

We decided to take a tour down the Melaka Canal on one of the many boats that operate there...

Many of the buildings lining the canal have been decorated with huge murals...

Passing under the bridge close to the amusement park...

A weird mixture of historic and modern can be found all along the banks...

Near the Clock Tower, close to where we had parked the car, we said our goodbyes to Budi and prepared to take the quickest route back home to Johor Bahru…

By the time we had made our way out of Melaka and onto the freeway, it was dark… We got back to Rory’s condo in half the time it had taken to make the outward loop to Melaka…

But before we went home for the night, Rory stopped at a Chinese restaurant and we enjoyed another huge meal while sitting out under the stars…

Painted sky on the way back to Johor Bahru...

These Malaysians will do anything to sell their rubber...!!

This would be our last meal together before I left for Kuala Lumpur the following morning, and this played on both our minds I think… We kept harking back to how we had met and the things we had done over the past week…

A large group of Korean technicians sat down at the table next to us, and began ordering huge quantities of food… Rory pointed out the differences between their general behavior compared to his own Chinese culture… The Koreans smoked and drank up a storm while we sat observing them…

I have enjoyed comparing different cultures to each other, and observing how they are able to mingle with the locals but at the same time remain apart from them… It’s a weird place, this planet of ours…!!

Much laughter later, we headed back to the 20th floor of his condo and drank coffee until the silences between us became longer and longer, indicating that sleep’s crooked finger was beckoning…

Melaka had been one of the places I had wanted to see when I first planned my ride through Malaysia, and I was grateful that Rory had taken the time to drive us all the way there and back on a day when he would usually be meditating with friends or just relaxing at home…

As usual he waved away my thanks with a smile, also happy that he had made contact with Budi again, and had seen and done things in Melaka that he would have otherwise never experienced on his own…

Good man, this Mr. KO….

©GBWT 2011

6 comments to Meander thru Melaka…

  • Rory

    Glad you enjoyed the short trip to Melaka…!!

  • Hi Ronnie: I am a fellow Saltspring Islander who came across your blog as I followed Trevor and Chenty’s travels.
    A fellow adventure rider living vicariously for the time being…
    I own a bar here on Saltspring and I will put a beer or two away for your visit in a year or two. You won’t be able to drink all the beers that I owe you for providing the great stories and photos that I read weekly.
    I’ll look forward to the pleasure of your company when you get here. (I’d offer you accomodation here on Saltspring but I think you probably have that covered 😉
    Ride safely,
    Steve Knight

  • Vince

    On behalf of the Gypsy Biker’s couch followers around the world, thank you Rory for providing him with such great company and such great material to share with us!

  • Vince my man…!! I hardly think losing blood makes for great material….!! I’ve tried hard to keep the stuff inside my body, you know…!! Ha-ha…!! R.

  • Hiya Steve…!! Great to have you along to live the dream with me buddy…!! I look forward to sharing those beers with you when I get to Saltspring in 2012…!! Take care… R.

  • Mark Behr

    Nice area – looks really colourful.

    Good to catch up on the missing pieces.

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