Now From Melaka

Hello from Melaka! Right now I am in the bus station, waiting a few hours for my bus ride to the East coast.

So, Melaka…
Melaka is hot, but amazingly, it hasn’t yet rained. The city is fairly small and full of colonial architecture that is very interesting. There are a lot of Chinese here, and so it is slightly comforting to be able to understand a few words here and there spoken by the locals. Not to worry about communication, though because just about everyone here speaks English. Regularly you will hear Mandarin Chinese, English, Malay, Punjabi and probably a couple more languages, too.

I know I already said it, but I am so impressed with the cultural diversity here. Of course I stick out like a sore thumb with my pale skin, freckles and red hair, but I get stared at much less here than in China. I am so oblivious to it by now, though, that I may not realize whether people are staring or not.

Sunday evening in Langkawi I was talked into renting a moto and going for a tour of the island. It turned out to be a lot of fun because we got to see quite a lot of the island. It is no Koh Chang (Thailand), but it certainly has some amazing tropical rain forests. The beaches are okay, but nothing like I expected. (We were there during the off season, though, so it may be much better in the coming months.) There are many resorts all along the coast, which are very nice looking and probably have better beaches, but as resorts usually are, these are off-limits unless you are staying there. So, I would recommend the place if you are the all-inclusive resort type. Unfortunately, we are not.

On our bike ride, we stopped off at a place called “7 Wells” where there are 7 natural pools formed by a small river flowing down off a mountain. Eventually, the water plunges over a marble cliff and forms a huge waterfall. I am sure years ago it was amazing, but one of the resorts set up a huge water pipe to drain some of the water off the river and now it is much smaller than it was before. The highlight of the trip was observing a family of monkeys. (Seeing monkeys always makes me happy!) Unfortunately, they were monkeying around in the trash dump of a nearby resort. I guess you can tell what I think of resorts.

I also read that Langkawi was hit by the boxing day tsunami of 2004, but was very fortunate to escape serious damage and death. In fact, only one person was killed. Much of the Western part of the island suffered water damage and flooding, but since the waves had already hit Indonesia and had to curve around a bit to hit Langkawi, they were travelling at only 160 km/hr. Honestly, the only evidence we could see was a memorial set up at one of the hotels, made up of a bent, twisted beach chair mounted on a granite base. There was also a hotel complex that seemed to be abandoned, perhaps from water damage. Malaysia’s death toll from the tsunami reached only 68. Very fortunate, indeed.

Now that we are heading to a small island, I may not be updating this blog again until I return to SJZ on the 14th. The internet connection on Langkawi was painfully slow, so if there is internet on Tioman, I expect it to be practically prehistoric!

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