February 26th 1984

posted in: The way back | 0
The view from the hotel in Malacca

We ensured we got up at a reasonable hour this morning, + went to a restaurant which we had seen advertising English breakfast.  Very good it was too, bacon, eggs, the works.  Obviously, however, it didn’t satisfy, since we also wolfed down a great pot of yogurt when we got back to the crash pad.  I wandered into the city centre to take a last couple of pictures, then back to ready ourselves to leave Singapore.  We caught the local bus to Johore Bahru, just 80c each, tho’ we did have to get off twice to go thro’ immigration, once to leave Singapore, once to enter Malaysia (making the 5th Malaysian stamp in our passport.)  We were very confused at the 2nd bus change, but eventually we sorted it out, + ended up in JB’s bus station.  We intended to hitch up to Malacca, but thought it would be best to get a short way out of town first, so decided to take a local bus.  2 problems here – first finding the right bus (we only had the map in our guide book, + that was far from clear as to the proper road to take), + then explaining to the conductor where we wanted to go.  He spoke some rudimentary English, but our requirements were quite complex.  We were going to Malacca, we told him.  The bus didn’t go that far, he replied. But the leap of understanding that we wanted to hitch-hike + wanted to get off at a good place, he was unable to make.  So we thought of going all the way to the bus’s destination, but that was a bit too far + a bit too expensive, so we ended up telling him we’d pay when we got off, when we saw a likely hitching spot.  He was definitely dubious, but seemed to understand. 

Inevitably, there was a rush to pay + leap off when we saw the place we wanted, + in the confusion I left our purse on the seat, but luckily they were an honest bunch, tho’ obviously delighted at this display of Western weakness – there were big smiles all round as it was handed out.

The hitching from here was very easy, with 3 short rides (one of them being with a stupid girl being so short as to be virtually negligible), the only problem being that we had to seek constant shelter from the fierce rainstorms.  Or maybe it was the same rainstorm, which we kept overtaking, so passed over us several times.  We were lucky tho’, + always had decent shelter at hand. 

The 4th lift was the best, taking us all the way to Malacca, our destination for tonight.  In fact, they were going on all the way to Kuala Lumpur, + we were rather tempted.  But only briefly.  We’re not in so much of a hurry that we want to miss out completely on seeing things along the way.  There were 3 already in the car: Hassan, born in Malaysia, but having spent 25 years in England, only having returned permanently last year when he married the front seat passenger, Faridah.  The other passenger was Faridah’s sister, Ima.  They spoke excellent English, which was better for us, + were friendly + very interested in what we told them about our trip.  It was a fast ride to town – the only pause was when Hassan stopped to take photos of the huge urns the local people have outside their houses to receive the fresh water delivered by tanker.  Before they dropped us, they invited us to visit them in KL, + gave us the address.

In Melaka, we went straight to one of the hotels recommended in the book – it was nothing special, but clean enough.  Later we wandered out to find something to eat, + after a beer to whet the appetite, we stopped at a stall where a guy was frying up some sort of egg mixture, a sort of broken-up omelette, so we ordered one of those each.  When it arrived, however, I made the mistake of asking what it was.  Fried oysters.  Hm.  I ate it, but with a good deal of apprehension, remembering previous seafood experiences.  I managed it too, tho’ I can’t pretend I really enjoyed it… too frightened of the consequences, I suppose.

On the road again, and with easy hitching, once we had got ourselves on the right road. And the incident with the lost purse was actually pleasing; apart from demonstrating my own carelessness, it did show that generally there are lots of good people about.

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