We left Singapore right after lunch, as we had some leftovers from the previous night. We took the LRT for one last time, enjoying the scenery and saying goodbye to this beautiful city. We got off at the North West end and caught the CauseWay bus to take us across the border and into Johor Baru (JB). The crossing itself was the easiest thus far in terms of immigration checks. Both sides had a lot of staff ready to do their job efficiently, and we got our passports stamped without further delay. Which means on the 1/9, we were back in Malaysia, with 90 days to do whatever we pleased.
We had not planned to stay in JB. It is just a city with shopping malls, where people from SG go for cheap stuff on weekends, and where quite a few actually live in, since the rent is a lot more affordable, and they go back to work in SG every day. Instead, we caught another bus to Malacca, a historical city. By chance we ended up on a luxurious bus, as some people we met on the CW bus had recommended it and taken us to their counter, and the next bus was departing a few minutes after our arrival at the terminal. The seats were huge, and more comfortable than most beds we had slept on in our time in Indonesia. We got out of the city, and the familiar Malaysian landscape came back into view: Oil Palms. I got bored quite fast and fell asleep, only to wake up upon arriving at the next bus terminal. We asked at the info counter for a bus going to the city, and were directed to bus number 27.
We had to sit around for a while waiting for the bus to depart, but it eventually started moving and left us at the Dutch Square half and hour later. This place is famous because it is in front of the Stadthuys and Christ Church with the matching clock tower. It is also known as the centre of tourism in town, which means many locals roam around trying to convince travellers to get into their becak for a tour. Now, these are not those regular flimsy vehicles at all. They are all adorned with flowers, fabrics, photos, colours, teddy bears and fluorescent lights, along with big speakers on which they play songs depending on the theme of the transport. In summary, they are hilarious and a tad ridiculous.
I left Tim with our packs and set out to find us a hostel. I walked for almost two hours and only found 2. Lets just say the city was not designed with a grid in mind, so trying to do a loop turned out to be a really difficult task and I had to end up retracing my steps. We moved in to an average hostel and decided to stay there for two nights only, so we could get to KL in time to meet Wojtek one last time. We went out for dinner but were quite exhausted so settled for McDonalds (What a crime, I know!) and went to bed rather early.
The next morning we got up and went to explore Merdeka Square, right across the street from us. The park has a bunch of old school military equipment, including a WW2 plane and some cannons, among other things. There were some amazing trees around, so I could not help myself and had to climb one, which prompted me to think about my lovely cousin Laura and our times together at the top of trees… For lunch/breakfast we went to an Indian place and had some bread with dal. We had been trying to find some north Indian food as I really felt like paneer, but it proved to be rather difficult. Instead we found a funny pelican statue!
The afternoon was starting to get hot, so we hid in an air conditioned mall and walked around without a clear aim or purpose. I was keeping an eye out for dresses as my current Malaysian dress was close to disintegrating, and Tim was looking for sun glasses, as his had broken and been abandoned in Padang almost a month before. I did find a few items that would have served my wishes, but they would not let me try them on, so I politely told them where they could shove the clothes. Tim was a bit more lucky and found what he was looking for after a long time looking through options. We also found an indoors camel hanging out there.
Our next stop was an St Paul’s church at the top of a hill. Malacca has a very rich history, as it was colonized in turn by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. This building in particular had been constructed by the Portuguese as a small chapel first, then expanded to be bigger and turned into a school, then the Dutch came and used it for a while, until they built the formerly mentioned Christ Church. After that they strenghten the walls as part of the fortification efforts for this important port city. In 1824, the English were asked to “look after” Malacca ( but decided to destroy a bunch of forts and key buildings before returning it to the Dutch instead) and they let it deteriorate further. The result is, the church is pretty much abandoned and falling to pieces, but it has a great view of the city below, and many people are still buried there with their correspondent tombs.
Down the hill you can find an old fort called “A Famosa” or more precisely, the entrance to the fort, as the rest was destroyed by the British… It is a very beautiful and old place, and you can almost breath its long and gruesome history if you pay attention. There were two guitarists playing inside the place and the acoustics as pretty awesome, making it sound very loud, and getting some tourists off their feet to dance.
We kept walking around in the historical part of town, along really old houses with big archways extending towards the roadside. We stumbled upon an old Dutch graveyard that we investigated with curiosity until the mosquitoes kicked us out.
Eventually we came out at the Dutch Square where we had started the first night. There is a pretty fountain on the square and a windmill on the other side of the road, and we joined the stream of tourists waiting for their turn to get pictures with them.
Once satisfied we strolled on the side of the river towards little India, where we enjoyed a selection of vegetarian curries on a banana leaf that was cheap and tasty.
We then headed back to the starting point, with a detour towards the Chinese part of town, where we encountered some beautiful temples, old Dutch architecture everywhere and where I finally found a dress I liked.
As the sun came down we visited the old watermill, another ancient fort and an art installation.
We hit the bed like rocks that night, as we had walked quite a lot during the day. We packed our stuff the next morning and jumped back into the bus to be taken to the terminal. This time the bus took us the long way around, so we got to have a cheap tour of a few other areas of Malacca before being dropped off. There is a lot of construction going on, and a ridiculous amount of hotels everywhere. One has to wonder if they ever get filled with tourists…