Archives for posts with tag: Melaka

June 21, 2012

I’m taking a ferry from Melaka to Dumai, on the east coast of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. It’s overcrowded and a little scary as I am sitting on the lowest level (below the waterline) and in the very front. The way out to an exit is up a very narrow staircase and I know if we crash I’m a goner. So, after realizing all these facts I decide not to worry about it, what else can you do? On the ferry I meet a young woman who wants to practice her English with me, this is going to become very familiar over the next few days. She offers me a ride to the bus terminal with her family who will be picking her up from the ferry, what a sweetie. I also meet a man who is traveling with his family, wife and 3 children (aged 17-22), they also offer me a ride and as he will be the one driving I accept because I feel it will inconvenience him less than the young woman.  They wait patiently for me to make it through getting my visa on arrival and going through customs (where for some reason the officer takes a very thorough interest in the padding in the back support of my bag and scans it 3 times before letting me through). The family has a driver and everyone is crammed into the back 2 seats of their suv, they insist I take the front seat, I have no choice but to accept.

We drive to the bus station and the father jumps out of the car and tells me to wait, that he will arrange my ticket for me. When he comes back he gives me the ticket and I try to reimburse him the $9.00 but he won’t take it. I leave the money sitting on the front console of the car, hoping he won’t notice until it’s too late.

They then insist on taking me out for lunch, again, I have no choice and I know better now than to try to pay, I just thank them many times and try to be an interesting eating companion. We are having a “Padang meal”. What this mean is that many, many dishes are placed on the table in front of us and we eat what we want to. When we are finished the server adds up what has been eaten and charges accordingly. It’s a good meal, and while I am trying to make conversation the family is busily and speedily eating away, probably downing about twice as much as I do in the same time period and then waiting for me to finish up. I hadn’t realized eating customs were so different. Perhaps because it’s lunchtime? Maybe because they are Chinese Malays? Maybe they just typically eat really fast as a family? In any case it’s a serious business and quickly finished.

After the meal they invite me back to their house to wait for the bus. I accept happily and we drive to a large 3 storey building that looks more like a warehouse than a home. There is fencing all around and cameras as well. I’m getting the impression that this is a pretty wealthy family my Indonesian standards, and the dad is a bit evasive when I ask him what he does for a living. I am in their home for about 45 minutes, and spend most of it chatting with the 2 older girls. Eventually the bus shows up, it’s actually another suv, it turns out that a lot of the “buses” here are suv’s. I say goodbye to my hosts and settle in for what is supposed to be a 5 hour journey (was actually 7) to Pekanbaru, about halfway across the island heading westward and my stopover for 2 nights.

June, 22 2012

Pekanbaru turns out to be an ugly place, god, I though KL was bad but this is terrible. I can’t think of one redeeming thing to say about the place as there just wasn’t anything to do. It was hot and smelly, really dirty and smoggy. It looked a lot like Dumai and I was starting to wonder what I had gotten myself into coming to Sumatra. All I could do was keep my fingers crossed that my next stop, Bukittinggi, would be better.

June 19 – 21

Melaka is to be my last stop in mainland Malaysia before I head into Sumatra Indonesia. It’s a quaint little town and I enjoy wandering through it. I get my hair cut, desperately needed, and meander into Chinatown.


While I am walking I meet a trishaw driver who is shining up all the metal he has decorated his ride with, he lets me take his picture, what a smile.


I find some lunch at a little hole in the wall and watch as 3 Malaysian guys work their way through a bottle of Jack Daniels, then they start on the beer. They start chatting with me and insist I join them, I do and for a while I manage to convince them that I don’t drink before nightfall but eventually they wear me down and I agree to a beer.  I sit with them and chat for a while they are pretty drunk so it’s mildly entertaining when they all ask me the same questions again and again. It turns out that one of them is the manager of a temple just down the road (Richard) and he agrees to give me a tour. One of the guys heads home (to nap I assume) and the other, who has taken a bit of a shine to me, insists on bringing his car down to the temple. He seems to think that I am going to go out for dinner with him, I’m not sure why as I haven’t agreed to it and when I tell him that I won’t get in a car with a drunk person he calls his driver to come and join us, I still have no intention of going anywhere with this guy and start to try to think of the best way to be rid of him. Meanwhile I am getting a personalized tour of the temple from Richard (who insists that he take my picture many times, in front of everything), it’s quite beautiful and the history is interesting but I am a little distracted by the Malaysian guido who’s breathing down my neck.


Eventually the tour ends and I thank Richard for showing me around, My guido friend is all impatient and says ok we can go now. Finally I just flat out tell him that I’m not joining him but make vague promises to call him later in the evening, so he gives me his phone number. As he drives off, having dismissed his driver, I see two guys (tourists) coming towards me, they hear me laughing so I tell them what’s gone down. They had seen me in the temple and noticed the letch as well and are pretty amused with my story. I join them and we roam through the town for a little longer.



We meet another girl and I convince everyone to go come out for Indian food with me, it wasn’t hard. We had a delicious feast, happy all round and then headed down riverside for a few beers to cap off the evening. All in all a great last day in Malaysia.