Happy New Year - of the Pig!

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February 17th 2007
Published: March 4th 2007
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Singapore to Malacca


Not really...unfortunately
Eight am, checking out from a sweaty Singapore (Hot & sticky). A couple of SG$ and 40 minutes later, on the bus, at the Singapore/Malaysia border. Now, where do we find the bus to Malacca (or Melaka in Malay)? 20 min by taxi across the border town, Johor Bahru (aka JB), and we then had 10 min to buy a ticket and jump on the bus. Perfect!

After a 3.5-hour pleasant, air-conned, bus journey we finally arrived in Malacca, the capital of the Melaka province. "Wanna room?" A school of hostel agents surrounded us at Melaka Sentral, the main bus station. With some hostel leaflets in our hands we boarded bus 17 to the main hostel area, just south-west of the town centre. Travellers Lodge looked nice, with its roof terrace and A/C-equipped rooms.

Installed there, we set out to find some dinner. Next to the hostel there's a large mall and a, what looked brand new, roofed area of food stalls. After some looking around (not easy to pick a dish when you don't know the lingo) we had a couple of very nice noodle dishes for 3 Ringgit ($0.86) each. The plan was to go to the small island Pulau Besar, in the Strait
Oil palm plantationOil palm plantationOil palm plantation

on the way to Malacca...all the way to Malacca
of Malacca, the next day, so off to bed early.

The bus to Anjung Batu Jetty, the port, should take less than an hour and the boat would leave at 10, so a bus leaving at 9 sounded perfect. There was no such bus, even though the bus drivers insisted there would be a bus to Anjung Batu within 10 minutes, when we arrived at Melaka Sentral 8.45 am. It left at 9.25 instead. Not even 15 min late to the port we had obviously missed the boat. Two hours to next one.

The port is not much more than a couple of buildings and a few small piers. A little shop sells drinks and crisps. That's all. The, to say the least, very basic toilet had of course no seat and nowhere to was your hands. The 2 hours went rather quickly though and after a 20 min boat ride we were at the small island of Pulau Besar.

What a sight. Green palm trees lining the white beaches leading down to the turqouise water. "Let's find a secluded area of the beach and jump in the water." After a 10 min walk along the beach,
Food stalls i MalaccaFood stalls i MalaccaFood stalls i Malacca

Food, divine food, must be one of the top reasons to travel to South East Asia.
we hadn't seen one person going into the water. Why? Stopped at a small "restaurant" on the beach for a drink to cool down and then found ourselves a lonely palm tree 5 meters from the shoreline. As we got down to the water, we could see why no one was swimming there. The bottom was a bit on the muddy side and the water way too polluted for us, all we could do was to sit and watch, in the shade of our palm tree. 😞

H did soon discover a Hermit crab in the white sand. At closer inspection, the beach was full of them. One particulary liked D's daypack and tried to climb into it. Don't think customs would have been too thrilled about that, so we kindly refused entry, as it didn't have a valid Singapore visa.

The hours went by slowly and by 4.30 pm we had had enough and decided to go back to the mainland to get the bus back to Malacca.

The next day we spent sightseeing in Malacca. The town has a very strong Dutch influence, with the town hall called Stadthuys, for instance. We went to see
Pulau BesarPulau BesarPulau Besar

in the Straits of Malacca
the many Buddhist temples around town and spent a lot of time in Chinatown.

Towards the afternoon we felt a coffee would be nice and went into Honky Tonk Bar, run by a slightly mad Scotsman, in the centre of town. The only two other guests were a Scot who'd converted to Islam (when marrying his Malay wife) and a guy from Morocco, currently living just outside Hong Kong, on mainland China. No coffee was on offer but Carlsberg would do. Several hours later, after being entertained by the mad Scotsman on piano and keyboard (in the same song!) and his wife singing (D also contributed with "My Way"), we set off to watch the fireworks to celebrate Chinese New Year's Eve - it is now the Year of the Golden Pig - along with our new Moroccan friend. As the Chinese invented fireworks we had high expectations.

We settled down outside a bar in Chinatown an hour before midnight, watched the people, sipping away on a Coke. What a disappointment. We could watch bigger fireworks a couple of times a week back in Canary Wharf, London, as investment banks celebrated big deals. Three minutes of rather small
Are people actually living here?Are people actually living here?Are people actually living here?

We can think of worse places to live, plenty of them.
and low fireworks and it was over. A very nice atmosphere on the street made up for the lack of big explosions. After a 10 min trishaw ride back to Travellers Lodge we went to sleep. The bus back to Singapore was leaving 10 am the next morning.

With three days in Malaysia, one town and an island visited we ca hardly claim that we've seen the country, but as a getaway from Singapore it served a purpose. We definitely have to come back to this country on a later trip.

Atta pa morgonen, pa vag fran ett svettigt Singapore (Hot & sticky). Nagra SG$ och 40 minuter senare, pa bussen, vid gransen mellan Singapore och Malaysia. Var hittar vi nu bussen till Malacca (eller Melaka pa Malaysiska)? 20 min med taxi tvars over gransstaden Johor Bahru, aven kallad JB, och vi hade 10 minuter pa oss att kopa en biljett och hoppa pa bussen. Perfekt!

Efter 3.5 timmar pa en trevlig luftkonditionerad buss anlande vi till slut i Malacca, huvudstaden i Melakaprovinsen. "Wanna room?" En flock hotellagenter omgav oss pa Melaka Sentral, huvudbusstationen. Med nagra hotellbroschyrer i fickan hoppade vi pa buss 17 till hotellomradet sydvast om centrum. Travellers Lodge
Glorious white sandy beachGlorious white sandy beachGlorious white sandy beach

at Pulau Besar. The rope from the tree is a swing, so don't get any funny ideas. When you saw the water close up...not so glorious anymore.
verkade trevligt, med sin takterass och luftkonditionerade rum.

Installerade dar gav vi oss av pa middagsjakt. Bredvid hotellet lag ett stort shoppingcenter och ett, till synes nytt, overtackt omrade med matstand. Efter att ha kikat runt lite (inte helt latt att valja mat nar man inte kan spraket) fick vi ett par smarriga nudelratter for 3 Ringgit (SEK 6) styck. Planen var att aka till den lilla on Pulau Besar, i Malaccasundet, nasta dag, sa i sang tidigt.

Bussen till Anjung Batu Jetty, hamnen, skulle ta mindre a en timme, och baten skulle ga kl 10, sa en buss som gick kl 9 lat perfekt. Det fanns ingen sadan buss, aven om chaufforerna insisterade pa att det skulle ga en buss om 10 minuter, nar vi kom till Melaka Sentral kvart i 9. Den gich istallet 9,25. Inte ens en kvart sena till hamnen hade vi forstas missat baten. Tva timmar till nasta.

Hamnen ar inte mycket mer an nagra byggnader och nagra sma bryggor. En liten kiosk salde chips och lask. Det var allt. Den minst sagt enkla toaletten hade forstas varken sits eller nagonstans att tvatta handerna. De tva timmarna gick dock ratt fort och efter
One of the 573,892One of the 573,892One of the 573,892

hermit crabs on the beach
en 20-minuters battur ar vi pa den lilla on Pulau Besar.

Vilken syn. Grona palmer kantade de vita stranderna vid det turkosa vattnet. "vi letar upp en avskild strand och hoppar i vattnet!" Efter 10 minuters proenad langs stranden hade vi inte sett nagon som badade. Varfor? Stannade till vid en liten "restaurang" vid strandkanten for en avkylande drink och hittade sen en ensam palm 5 meter fran vattenkanten. Nar vi narmade oss vattnet insag vi snabbt varfor ingen badade. Botten var i det lerigaste laget och vattnet alltfor fororenat for var smak, sa allt vi kunde gora var att sitta och titta, i skuggan av var palm. 😞

H upptackte snart en eremitkrafta i den vita sanden. Efter en narmare inspektion visade det sig att stranden var full av dem. En av dem fattade tycke for Ds ryggsack och forsokte klattra in i den. Tror inte tullen hade varit alltfor glad over det, sa vi motade bort den eftersom den saknade giltigt Singaporevisum.

Timmarna gick sakta och vid halv 5 hade vi fatt nog och gav oss av mot fastlandet for att ta bussen tillbaka till Malacca.

Nasta dag angnade vi at sightseeing i Malacca. Staden har starkt hollandskt inflytande, stadshuset heter exempelvis Stadthuys. Vi gick for att se nagra av de manga buddisttemplen och stannade lange i Chinatown.

Framat eftermiddagen kande vi att en kopp kaffe skulle sitta bra och gick in pa Honky Tonk Bar, som ags av en galen skotte, i centrum. De tva gasterna bestod av en skotte som konverterat till islam (nar han gifte sig med sin malaysiska fru), och en marockan som bor just utanfor Hong Kong, pa det kinesiska fastlandet. Inget kaffe fanns att uppbringa, men Carlsberg fick duga. Flera timmar senare, efter att ha blivit underhallna av den galne skotten pa piano och keyboard (under samma lat!) och hans fru pa sang (D bidrog ocksa med "My Way") gich vi for att se in det nya kinesiska aret - det ar nu den gyllene grisens ar - tillsammans med var nye marockanske van. Efdtersom det var kineserna som uppfann fyrverkerierna hade vi hoga forvantningar.

Vi satte oss utanfor en bar i Chinatown en timme fore midnatt, ittade pa folk, smuttandes pa varsin cola. Vilken besvikelse. Vi kunde se storre fyrverkerier flera ganger i veckan i Canary Wharf, nar bankerna firade sina stora affarer. Tre minuters
The Dutch built a fort hereThe Dutch built a fort hereThe Dutch built a fort here

This is what remains
ganska sma och laga fyrverkerier och det var over. Atmosfaren pa gatan var dock bra nog for att vaga upp bristen pa fyrverkerier. Efter en 10-minuters trishawtur tillbaka till Travellers Lodge hoppade vi i sang. Bussen tillbaka till Singapore skulle ga klockan 10 foljande morgon.

Med tre dagar i Malaysia, en stad och en o besokta kan vi knappast havda att vi sett landet, men som en avstickare fran Singapore tjanade det sitt syfte. Vi maste definitivt aka tillbaka hit pa en senare resa.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


More of the Dutch remainsMore of the Dutch remains
More of the Dutch remains

Christ Church in Malacca
Pretty as a picturePretty as a picture
Pretty as a picture

luckily pictures don't transmit smells...yet.
Flower arrangementFlower arrangement
Flower arrangement

at a round-about in Malacca.
Everything's set forEverything's set for
Everything's set for

(Chinese) New Year's Eve celebrations
Since it's the year of the PigSince it's the year of the Pig
Since it's the year of the Pig

Lizards do best to hide.
Father New Year?Father New Year?
Father New Year?

He did hand out pressies, well, chocolates...
And we thoughtAnd we thought
And we thought

the Chinese liked fireworks...

4th March 2007

It's a "kelong"
Thank you for you lovely travel blogs. That "house" in the water is not a house :-) It's what's called a "kelong". Have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelong Basically it's built by fishermen as a sort of tent in the sea for fishing. Jag hoppas att ni ska ha en bra semester! Ocksa vi har manga vackra strandar i norra och östkust Malaysia. Sorry my Swedish is hopeless :-(
5th March 2007

Thanks for the explanation and the link. We were not sure what they were called, but figured they must be used as fishing "tents".

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