Posted: 27 Jul 2009 12:00 AM PDT
With Singapore behind me, and a tour group of 12 new friends to get acquainted with, we all entered Malaysia by coach in the pouring rain for the port town of Melaka. Not that it dampened the spirits one bit - it still feels like a complete bonus and privilege to be travelling in tropical lands at all - rain or shine!
I'm getting hungry just thinking about the absolutely gorgeous food that's available here, for next to nothing too. The national dish is coconut rice, surrounded by breaded chicken, chilli and onions, cucumber, anchovies and peanuts - all in different piles so you can mix them up.
With the rain finally stopping, I had time to wander the town at my own pace and soak up the atmosphere (as opposed to the moisture). Slightly run down and a little rough around the edges (although probably ANYWHERE in the world could be described like this, compared to Singapore!!), Chinese Buddhist Temples compete along the many side streets with local homes and shops selling tourist tat. Our hotel overlooked a temple that was in the middle of a haunting ceremony. All day, a chinese puppet show was going on, with chinese drums and tiny puppets on sticks - the actors not visible behind screens, the viewers not visible because they are ghosts... it is believed that this ceremony keeps the ghosts of the departed occupied and happy. I made sure my hotel window was shut, just in case.
We all met up and ate with the locals at a food hall, then a few of us had a cheeky drink in a local watering hole - the term cheeky is probably apt, as this moderate Muslim country has much less of a drinking culture than back home! Overall, a lovely start to the tour.
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