Cracker in Melaka part 1

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September 21st 2010
Published: September 21st 2010
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Welcome to part 10 of the blog!

We left Singapore on a local bus, sometime around 2pm (Fri 3rd Sept), this took us through passport control and dropped us at the chaotic Larkin bus terminal in Johor Bharu. After fighting off crowds of ticket touts and much haggling we managed to get on a coach too Melaka. It took around 2 hours to get there and just as we were nearing the travelers lodge hostel it started to rain very heavily. We checked in then ran across the street to eat at an Indonesian restaurant opposite the hostel. After some very tasty dinner we went for a walk around town, however, it was late and the weather was crap so we didn't see much before we headed back.

I slept late the next day and when i woke up i found a note from Reuben and Livia saying they'd gone for a walk and would meet me in the bar later. I decided to go look at some of Melaka, namely the old dutch fort and St Pauls church in the center of town. However when i got to town I found everywhere swarming with tourists down for the
Zheng He tea houseZheng He tea houseZheng He tea house

livia and reuben
weekend, groups of school children and rickshaws by the hundreds playing loud, terrible music. It was like Trafalgar square or oxford street on a bank holiday, thoroughly depressing! I was in a bad mood and not enjoying my day when i decided to find little India. I walked around for maybe half an hour and when i did arrive in little India my mood improved quickly. I strolled past shops selling all kinds of Indian goods, my favourite being Mr Plumbs which sold a variety of hand carved wooden pipes. I stopped for lunch at a small south Indian restaurant and then went to meet Reuben and Livia at Discovery Cafe.

We drunk a few jugs of beer, after which i was feeling much better. Then we walked into Chinatown which on the weekend is a crowded, bustling, noisy place with a great atmosphere. Jonkers walk is the main st in Chinatown and at the weekend it is pedestrianised, with stalls lining the road, selling all kinds of things from traditional Chinese crafts to tacky plastic winnie the pooh models which play the drums! Dotted amongst these are an array of Chinese restaurants, we stopped at one on a wide part of the road which had tables and chairs outside. We ate satays and watched old people sing karaoke and danced on a large stage in the middle of the road, we were here for a good few hours drinking beer before we headed back to discovery cafe. Bob the owner had promised to open late so that I could watch England v Bulgaria, we watched the game over a few more jugs of beer then headed back to our hostel.

On Sunday morning we moved out of our travelers lodge and into discovery guesthouse. Bob had promised us good rates and cheap beer, also it was much closer to town centre and Chinatown. Livia was annoyed at having been in Melaka for 2 days and not having done much but eat and drink beer so we agreed to go to the sultans Palace museum with her. It's a reconstructed 15th century wooden palace which from the outside is actually pretty cool, trouble is the museum inside is crap. Just lots of weird looking manikins and some boards describing the story of a legendary warrior who went into hiding when sentenced to death, then came back out of
Zheng He tea houseZheng He tea houseZheng He tea house

jane our hostess
hiding and murdered his best friend for trying to avenge him, this all seem pretty pointless to me. We left the museum and went for coffee in Chinatown before checking out a few nearby temples, Melaka like the rest of Malaysia has a mix of many different peoples and religions. No where has it been so evident as Melaka though, one street (Jl Tukang Besi) in Chinatown has a Hindu temple, a Chinese-Buddhist temple and a Mosque all practicing within 250 metres of each other. After the temples we headed to Zheng He tea house. It's a traditional Chinese tea house situated in a 350 year old building, we sat at a table and ordered tea. The owners daughter Jane brought it out and sat with us for the best part of 2 hours, expertly brewing and pouring tea, all the time explaining to us the history and significance of different teas. It was a very peaceful place and the time flew by unnoticed. Before we left Jane told us there would be a celebration in the street later and we should come back.

After a few beers in a cafe off of Jonkers Walk we headed back to see what kind of celebration was happening. It turn out to be the festival of hungry ghosts, a Chinese celebration which happens on a different day depending on what street you are on. The residents of Jl Tukang Besi write prayers for the spirits of their dead relatives and build many colourful statues. A monk comes to speak to the spirits and offer up prayers, after this all of the statues and prayers are burnt in a huge fire. All the time this is happening people give away free beers to their neighbours, and us, whilst everyone dances in the street to the sound of karaoke coming from a stage at one end of the road. It's one big party which the locals were happy for us to participate in. It was here i met John Thang, a guy from Myanmar who runs the Sama Sama guesthouse on the same street. Me and Reuben got talking to him and once the party in the street had died out he took us and all the Sama Sama guests out to a bar as he wanted us to teach him some dance moves (god knows why!). We all got quite drunk and taught john some cheesy euro dance moves until the bar closed about 3am.

The following day we moved into Sama Sama, it's a very chilled out place that I'd recommend to anyone traveling in Melaka. They have free internet, free pool table, free bike hire, the owners (john, rocky and lucky) are very friendly and it's right opposite the cheapest beer/spirits shops we've seen in Malaysia. We sat around in Sama Sama for most of the day then went to a Pakistani restaurant called Pak Putra. The food here is amazing, some of the best Ive ever had. As we were leaving a Hindu procession was passing through the street outside. We went to have a little look and got swept into the crowd. We followed the procession for maybe and hour, at the front was a truck carrying a number of people playing traditional instruments and a fast pace. Following that was a mobile shrine, pulled by 2 huge ox. 4 or 5 monks sat on the shrine and they stopped outside many house to take offerings from people too old or sick to make it to the temples themselves. Every now and again someone would jump out in front of the ox and smash a coconut on the floor right in front of it, this is supposed to bring you good luck (assuming you don't get gored by the ox's horns!). At one point we stopped and a band of performers appeared playing drums and singing whilst one of them dances, balancing a huge statue on his head. We left the procession before it headed out of town and went back to Sama Sama.

Reuben and Livia wanted to leave for the beach in the morning but i was enjoying myself way too much in Melaka and we agreed to meet up in a week or so.

Too be continued ........

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21st September 2010

Searle, the diarist....lovin it xx

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