A Day and a Half in Malaysia

With the Porta de Santiago in Melaka (fort built by Portuguese in 1511) and wishing for a cold Coke and some AC right about then…

Hello again!

Wanted to check in quickly before my summer travel adventures comes to an end.  This week I had a quick excursion to Malacca (spelled Melaka in Malay), Malaysia to explore a new place for a couple days.  It’s a town on the Strait of Melaka a few hours bus ride northwest of Singapore.  To all you motherly protective types out there: Yes, I was careful and yes, I’m back in Singapore with my cousin and her family safe and sound now.  I still have lots to see in Singapore, so I’ll hold off posting on that for now (save this one comment:  Yes, I agree with what I posted previously, Singapore really is the antithesis of Cambodia).

So, since I’m now obviously an expert on all things related to Malaysia after the 30 hours I spent in the country ;), let me share some thoughts from my time there:

  • The trip between Singapore and Malacca is almost all palm tree plantations with mountains in the distance… really beautiful.
  • After my time in Cambodia and Malaysia, I have a renewed appreciation for encountering a western style toilet with toilet paper supplied (it’s possible to find them in both places, but not always probable)
  • Knowing absolutely zero words in Malay, I had fun trying to figure out some cognates of English words from the language when I read their signs (a nice change from not being able to read any Khmer letters/signs in Cambodia).  See if you can figure any of these out:  motosikal, polis, komuniti, sekyen, taksi, bas ekspres
  • I sat in the first seat on the way there and noticed that the bus driver waved to every single coach bus that was driving the other way on the highway… and there were many.  I don’t think the driver on the way back was quite so diligent in his friendliness.
  • A lady gave me directions to find a restaurant on the second floor of the mall.  I searched and finally asked someone only to be reminded that when they say second floor, that means third floor in America.  🙂
  • There are such a wide variety of cultures represented in Malacca (Malay, Chinese, Indian, etc.), that I have no doubt that I was accidentally offending one or more at a time at various points in my journey.  I think I read somewhere that you’re supposed to only eat with your right hand… well, that’s kind of a struggle for left-handed me.  Consider this my apology to anyone I offended while I was there.  🙂
  • Blue eyes are quite the novelty there.  While I was taking a picture of the fountain in the town square, I had two strangers ask to have their photos taken with me… sweaty, grungy, overheated me and my blue eyes.  Some people in Vietnam are really going to enjoy those vacation photos for years to come.  🙂
  • The malls and rest areas where I was have prayer rooms designated for Muslim men and women.
  • I met a lovely woman and her daughter from Brunei on the bus ride back and we had a great conversation where I learned all about Brunei (a country on the island of Borneo) and I told them a bit about my life as well as the Amish culture around where I grew up.  It was a really fun way to spend the bus ride.
  • I was a bit startled when the woman introduced herself and assured me that she wasn’t a terrorist even though she wore a head covering.  It made me sad to think that she assumes most Americans think that way.
  • She offered me some cherries.  When I declined, she taught me that in Brunei when you decline food, you have to touch the food as you decline it.  Interesting custom!  I wonder what things we Americans do that they would find a bit weird…
  • I tried a food in Malacca called Cendol… it involves coconut milk, syrup, iced shavings, green noodley things, and red beans.  It was actually quite refreshing after a hot morning of sight-seeing, though I could have done without the red beans.
  • The river going through Malacca made for a really lovely place to walk and have breakfast.  I look forward to sharing pics of it when I go through them all.
  • There are these rickshaw type bikes for people to ride in called trishaws.. they’re covered in gaudy decorations and each one has a blaring sound system.  Sometimes a whole hoard of them will go down the street at once with lots of different music blasting… photos and videos do not do them justice though I’ll try to share what I can when I get back.  🙂

Thanks for reading.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

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