Today was a travel day. After returning to the room from the breakfast buffet, we finished packing. We were downstairs at 7:45 to checkout, and our driver was already there. He was only taking us to the border, then we were to transfer to another vehicle. It took about 30 minutes to the Singapore-Malaysia border, but then we were in a long queue in the bus lane since we were in a minivan. It was amazing the amount of people crossing the border going both ways in cars, on motorcycles, vans buses and just walking.
Between getting out for Singapore border control then back in the van, and then the same for the Malaysia border control and then the transfer to our private Nissan Teana car and our guide/driver Yus, it took until 9:20. Many people who do the crossing everyday have cards to scan and pass through their lines quickly not encountering the passport officials. Being tourists, we went through the lines with the passport officials which slowed us down.
We traveled along the North-South Expressway that runs the length of the country from Thailand to Singapore, which is approximately 772 kilometers. We passed a lot of rubber plantations along the highway. We discussed about cars (they have two auto companies in Malaysia, to import a car you pay 200% tax rate), jobs, careers, children (he has a six year-old boy), government (their PM is 92 and has been in power for many years. Only the 4th PM since the formation of Malaysia in 1963), saw houses built for swallows (they build the houses to attract the swallows, sometimes using bird sounds. They then sell them to the Chinese for 1,000 MYR (Malaysian Ringget), about $242 USD for a clean nest), etc.
We arrived in Malaysia on Coronation Day. Apparently, a new king is chosen every five years from the Royal family. But, the previous king abdicated after two years, so they had to install a new one quickly. Sultan Abdullah of Pahang was installed and his wife Tunku became the queen. Because of the coronation, some businesses and museums were closed.
We did a WC about 11:00 at a rest stop along the expressway. Afterwards, we walked around the little market area looking at the fruits and vegetables for sale. Then it was back on the highway.
We arrived in Melaka about noon. We drove through the city which reminded me of New Delhi by the style of the shops I observed along the streets. We arrived in the old section of the city, kdrove past the Red Square and crossed over the river into the Chinese section of the city. We parked the car and began walking around the area. Our first stop was at the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum, which was closed because of the coronation. Oh, well. We continued walking along observing the various architecture and murals and art work along the streets.
We stopped at one shop that still makes the shoes used by the Chinese to bind a female's feet to make her more beautiful. We talked with the shop owner about the binding of feet. He was proud that the business has lasted in the family for many generations. I told the gentleman that Jean & I had talked with an elderly woman during a home visit while on an OAT trip in China back in 2005 who had her feet bound.
We made our way over to Harmony Street, so named because you can find a Chinese Taoist Temple, a Mosque and a Hindu Temple all on the same street. We entered the Chinese Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, where Yus explained about the temple architecture and the gods within the temple. Next we visited the Majid Kampung Kling Mosque. Jean had to get properly dressed by putting on a head scarf and robe to just to be sble to go up the steps to look into the mosque. She could not enter the mosque since only men may enter. After explaining about Islam and the mosque, Yus needed time for prayer, so we left him in the mosque and walked around the area on our own for 1/2 an hour.
We walked down the street and found the Sri Poyyatha Vinayaga Moorthy Hindu Temple, but did not enter as it was closed. We continued to explore the area, even stopping in a shop to make a purchase. Gotta pump up the economy. Once we hooked up with Yus again, we walked the streets while I was taking pictures of odd and curious things.
We walked over the river to the Red Square area and walked up St. Paul's Hill to see St. Paul's Church ruins. The ruins had a lot of old Portuguese tombstones along the interior walls, plus a covered crypt. We walked down the hill on the other side of the church ruins to see the A'Formosa Fort gateway, the only part of the original Portuguese fortress still standing, having been taken down by the British. According to Yus, when the British took over Melaka from the Portuguese, they tore down the fortress and ruined the harbor so that ships would use other British ports making them more profitable, which doesn't make sense to me. A story I read about Melaka was that the British destroyed the fort after they wee leaving the ara so it did not fall into the hands of the French. There were also small wall remnants, and nearby excavations that show the fortress wall foundations.
As we walked back towards the car, we saw gaudy decorated trishaws, usually with a theme, such as Hello Kitty, Disney's Frozen, etc. that you can rent for an hour and the drivers will blare whatever music you request. A couple of horse and buggies for hire went by us. Before we walked back over the bridge, Yus wanted us to try a natural watermelon drink. After we ordered our drink, the woman cut off the top and used a handheld mixer to liquify the innards of the water melon. Then she threw in a straw and spoon to use. It was a refreshing drink that hydrated us since the weather was very sunny and hot at 33 C (91 F).
On the way back over the bridge we were able to observe a monitor lizard along the river. As we passed a Melaka tree, Yus plucked one of the fruits and had Jean try it. She said that it was a little bitter. Back at the car, because it was like an oven in the car's interior, we let the hot wind air out the heat before sitting in the car. Yus then drove us over to our hotel for the night, the Swiss Garden Hotel Malacca, which was located along the river.
After check-in, we showered and changed for dinner. We then exited the hotel and took the riverwalk back to the Red Square area. Along the way we saw that the majority of the backs of the buildings along the river had murals, some about their history, others of famous people or other designs. I took copious amounts of pictures. When we arrived in the Red Square area, we crossed over the river to visit the Hard Rock Cafe. We sat by the windows overlooking the river. Tonight I had the BBQ Chicken entree and Jean had the Nasi Goreng, a dish with fried rice, chicken on skewers, a sunny-side up egg on top with three shrimp and prawn chips. After dinner we took some HRC pictures and I bought my souvenir pin.
Since it had been a long day, we decided to do the 30 minute walk back to the hotel on the other side of the river instead of walking around the area. Well, most of the river on the HRC side are small restaurants that begin to encroach onto the pathway. It was interesting to see what everyone was having for their dinner. Since it was now dusk, all the lights along the bridges, in trees and along the riverbanks were coming on to make it a beautiful city at night.
To see it from above, when we returned to the hotel, we stopped to drop off the HRC merchandise and headed to the 30th floor to use our complimentary drink coupon we received upon checkin. The area was open air, with low-level lighting so you could observe the lights of the city below. We were served our drinks, and the warm night air was fine as we sat and looked out over the city and the river below. After Jean and I finished our drinks, we headed back to the room to pack for tomorrow.