Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Malaysia - The first rice ball

Hello everyone!

Even a foot massage didn’t cure our pains from the mountain. What wasn’t going to aid our recovery was a morning flight to peninsular Malaysia. We were flying to Kuala Lumpur (KL), but that city is our final stop on tour. Next stop was a 90 minute bus journey south – Melaka.

Melaka has a lot of history behind it. It used to be a key trading port during the colonial era, and has been owned by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British before Malaysian independence. This history is visible in the layout of the city, and the architecture within it. It certainly has a European vibe to it. From the canal flowing through the centre to the curvature and colour of the church and hall in St. Paul’s Square, you get the sense that this was a place to be hundreds of years ago.

Though not a big port now (thanks to Singapore’s close proximity), Melaka still has a lot to attract a visitor. Museums abound, though we opted not to go in any. Not even the Museum of Enduring Beauty. We did check out the last large remnant of the Portuguese era, Porta Santiago, and the St. Francis Xavier Church. A little bit on the morbid and spooky side, especially in the dank weather that we were currently experiencing.

Another reason was the food. One of the region’s – and indeed Malaysia’s – famous dishes is called chicken rice ball. Picture it, and you probably have it right. Chicken with...balls of rice. Those are a little strange – they seem to have a slight skin, and the whole thing seems to have the texture of a slightly soft potato. Still, the dish was less than a quid. I would eat that a lot if I lived here.

We also had Peranakan food, cendol, and even stepped away from the Malay onslaught to have Indian food. You eat the rice with your hands – something I will have to get used to next year. On the final morning we ate laksa, which is a spicy noodle soup.

But its often the little things and the random experiences that make your memories in a place, and this was certainly the case for me in Melaka. Jason had gone to a museum, the content of which was similar to the one I saw in Singapore. So in addition to buying souvenirs and trying to repack, I went to get a haircut. I was considering this anyway, but the deal was sealed when the hostel owner said I ‘look like shit’ in the morning.

I was directed to a very local place on the other side of the river. I walked in and was greeted by a look of shock from the haircutter. Luckily, there was another worker there who wasn’t struck by my presence, and he set to work chopping my curly mop. And giving me a shave. And giving me what I can only describe as a neck crack. ‘Softly...softly...softly...CRACK’, as he crunches my head to the side. He claimed to be a pro at it, and I guess he is as I’m still alive. He was a lot of fun to talk to, and even claimed that he has a poster somewhere in London. I’ll have a look, but I’m not optimistic of finding his face.

Love you all


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