Day of Stress

Trip Start Apr 14, 2010
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Where I stayed
Apa Kaba Home & Stay

Flag of Malaysia  , Melaka State,
Sunday, September 18, 2011

Today is our last day in Singapore! Our day has been planned to a t:  breakfast in Little India, a bar in Clarkes Quay to catch the Wales v Samoa rugby game, sprint back to the hostel to pick up our stuff and get on a bus to Malacca at 2pm.

We take this opportunity to walk through Little India through the day, as we have only really seen it at night.  It's interesting that the Hindu temples here are just as spectacular as the one in Chinatown that’s riddled with tourists, but we are the only out-of-towners around here it would seem!

We pop into an Indian 'fast food’ style restaurant and have chicken biryani for breakfast.  As you do.  I keep glancing at my watch and see that it’s gone 11am –the game starts at 11.30am- but Dan seems pretty relaxed so I assume he has a plan.

We saunter fairly casually to the MRT and get off at Clarke’s Quay.  By this time it’s 11.45am and I’m wondering why Dan is being so relaxed…he’s giving me some explanation as to what pub we should go to and I’m thinking ‘I don’t really care…I just want to see the game!’  It’s my fault really, as I didn’t think to actually VOICE these concerns, I’m such a retard.

We stop at Brewerkz (http://www.brewerkz.com/) and I can see some people watching the rugby already so I say to Dan ‘letsitthere’ really quickly and he’s like ‘let’s sit here at the bar and get settled’.  I’m like ‘It’s gone 12!  Urrrrghhhh!!!’  He’s like ‘no, it’s only 11.25’.  I have NO IDEA what timezone his watch was in, but it wasn’t anywhere we’d been or were.  All I know is that we’d missed the first half and Samoa were winning, dammit!

Fortunately we are in a house of alcohol, so we are able to purchase some beers to calm our nerves somewhat.  Dan apologise profusely, but at the same time I’m wondering why I just sat back and let that happen…I don’t know why I thought he only wanted to see the 2nd half, surely that’s just madness?!

I have a honey apricot beer and Dan has an IPA, swiftly followed by a ‘Scholar Red’, which is made from glutinous rice and is actually very tasty.  The difference in price of the beers depending on time of day/week are shamelessly advertised on the beer menu.  It’s really weird! 

Again, I’m not about to deconstruct the game here, but I kept shouting out ‘I’M SO STRESSED!’ throughout.  I was almost certain we would choke and lose, dammit! But we didn’t, yusssssss!  As soon as the whistle blew (1.30pm…remember our bus was at 2pm on the other side of town…) we sprinted outside and got on the MRT.  I sent a text on the tube!  I thought that was rather exciting.

We burst into the hostel at 1.45 and grabbed our bags.  There is this weird (although probably perfectly reasonable when you think about it) system with the MRT where you insert your sturdy plastic ticket into the machine when you’re done with it and they give you a SG$1 refund.  We didn’t have time for this so we left the 4 that we had for the morning’s journey with the lady at the reception.  She very kindly gave us SG$4!  We sprinted down to the bus and climbed aboard.  Of course everyone there was really laid back and relaxed.  We were fairly settled in our seats when 4 other westerners come running down the road and jump on the bus, just as we’re leaving.  There’s always someone who’s more retarded than you.

I’m pretty tired due to the Snorey McSnoreson situation in the dorm, so I manage to fall asleep pretty much instantly.  It’s not even a long bus journey!  I have to wake up to be checked out of Singapore though. 

Dan is concerned he is running out of blank pages in his passport where he can get visas put (we still need them for Cambodia and Vietnam), because everyone who stamps it seems to want a fresh page just for their stamp, idiots.  When he left the UK last year he only had one stamp in it (Morocco).  I’m in a similar situation and my passport was brand new when we left!  Those three sexy visas we got recently took up a lot of space, as did all the exiting and entering in South America where for some reason they need to stamp you out of the country and then obviously in to the next one.  The most ridiculous time was when we went on the day trip to the Argentinian side of Iguazu falls whilst we were staying Foz do Iguacu in Brazil; we got a whole page of stamps just for that!  They  are quite good here and stamp on a page that’s already been stamped on.  We get on the bus in the shiny spotless Singaporean terminal, drive over a bridge, get off the bus with all our luggage, enter a shabby busy Malaysian terminal, get our luggage scanned, get passports stamped on same page as Singapore stamp.

<bus journey ensues>

The roads in Malaysia are extremely straight and flat.  The motorways seem to be surrounded by palm plantations; but I’m not sure what raw material you glean from these palms.  Dan reads about how there are rhino and elephant living wild in Malaysia, and that seems really strange…I’m sure they wouldn’t be around here, but still!

We stop after a while at a roadside stop.  We are definitely in another country now!  We realise we have no Malaysian Ringgit, FAIL.  I have some peanuts that I’ve managed to keep with me since New Zealand and have some of them.  The fruit in the stalls looks appetising.  The truck stop is probably hygienic but extremely dirty by Singapore standards.  Dan convinces the toilet lady to let us use the toilet by giving her some Singapore dollars.  She gives us change in Malaysian Ringgit which I thought was nice, but Dan says ‘she snided us on the exchange rate’.  This is the proper Southeast Asian toilet experience, with those hole in the floor jobs, doors that don’t lock, a hose and tongs inexplicably next to the toilet and no toilet paper.  The handwashing experience is adequate, however.  Outside the truck stop there is a prayer room; Malaysia is a Muslim country.  I feel bad because I’m wearing shorts, and think I should probably have made more of an effort to cover up and that.

We reach Malacca and I keep saying to Dan ‘I’ve been conned!’  There is a massive Tesco and boys racers going about.  It looks like a crappy new city anywhere.  We disembark at the bus terminal and some guy somewhere says there’s an ATM in the 7-11, so we head there along with all the other Westerners.  We grab a cab because we can’t be bothered to faff about with buses and that. 

We head into the proper ‘UNESCO World Heritage’ part of the city and I see why we’ve made the effort to come here!  We drive through the walls of the old city and suddenly all the buildings are colonial and painted red (there is a rumour that the Brits didn’t want to pay the upkeep of constantly re-painting the buildings white after the red soil splashed on it after the rain, so they just painted them red…).  We are dropped off at our hostel/home stay and it’s amazing!  Like a little jungle lodge on the outskirts of the city.  The lady who runs the place tells us that we are in luck as the night market is running tonight in Chinatown, so we dump our stuff and head there.

The first thing we notice is that they don’t exactly ‘do’ pavements here!  Everyone is buzzing around on motorbikes, and there also a number of swish cars.  We read that Malacca is a popular weekend destination for Singaporeans, so they probably come here and flash the cash a little!  When we get to the old centre of town there is a ridiculous number of trishaws gathered (we learn later that they’re in some sort of union or another).  The trishaws are something special: completely lit up all over with fairy lights and decorated with brightly coloured umbrellas and plastic flowers.  The piece de la resistance, however, is that they’re blaring out the latest and greatest techno/trance hits that Malaysia has to offer.  I really wish I’d taken a video, but you can imagine!  You’d be walking down a quiet alleyway when you’d hear what sounded like a boy racer coming up the road; only for a trishaw to slowly drift around the corner with its amp turned to 11.

We saunter over to Chinatown and the night market is in full swing!  I needn’t have worried about covering up as the place is riddled with Chinese and sophisticated Singaporeans rocking what I like to call the ‘prostitute look’.  There are lots of stalls selling Angry Birds merchandise; it would seem the obsession with it extends to Malaysia.  I am intrigued by various stalls selling I-don’t-know-what foods that the vendors are making themselves…but we step into Hainan ‘Food Court’ Street and decide to eat there instead. 

This street is turned into a food court over the weekends, but for the rest of the week it’s just a regular street.  There’s table service and everything!  It transpires that a local speciality is chicken rice balls, so we order some of them.  They sound really simple but somehow manage to taste amazing!  I can’t imagine being able to make these myself, even if I had the right ingredients!  We also order a noodle dish which I think was Hokkien mee…Hokkien being a Chinese people prevalent in Malaysia and mee being yellow noodles (aren’t I clever!  I know stuff).  I was tempted to get the shellfish (they looked like really small cockles- I want to call them ‘winkles’ but whenever I say that everyone titters), but Dan pointed out that you got a massive amount, and I suppose I only wanted to try it.  Since Singapore we’ve decided to pace ourselves a little more with the food as well; geez I must’ve put on a stone!  From now on we are going to eat several meals a day, but only get one dish between the two of us…or I’ll have to buy a whole new wardrobe! 

Dan wants me to write ‘despite this, I call Dan a food Nazi’.  This is because whenever I want something to eat he’s not hungry and so doesn’t understand why anyone would possibly want to eat at that time, so I say ‘OK fine, I can wait’.  Obviously there’s always room for beer however.  Humph!

After the food we drift towards what is obviously Chinese karaoke going on at the other end of the market.  Oh my sweet lord we are not disappointed.  There is a woman up on stage crooning away to some pop song or another that everyone else seems to know; but the most important part is that she’s brought her own backing dancers.  One of whom looks like the aging Chinese version of Bez and the other looks like Leonard Nimoy, doing very elegant yet inappropriately-rhythmed ballroom dancing (with an invisible lady).  To set it all off, the stage is decked out in shamelessly garish advert for what I believe is a pot noodle.   What makes it so much fun is that we have to watch like we’re enjoying it, but not in the ACTUAL way we’re enjoying it, if that makes any sense.  ‘Oh she’s such a good singer! <those guys are hilarious>’

Walking beyond the street market, the buildings that are painted white have all got red lights on them- presumably to make it look like they’re painted red?!  There are some very swish houses around and about!  In its time, Malacca has been a rich port, but it’s since declined.  It seems to have found a new lease of life with tourism however!

We go back towards the night market and have a drink at the Geographer Café.  It is full of Westerners, but whatever.  It seems to be a ‘thing’, as people keep walking past, pointing and taking lots of photographs.  I still don’t get it.  It’s a really good spot for people-watching however, and we sit there for a good hour commenting on people walking past.

On the way back to the hostel I stop and get a durian crispy roll.  It had to be done.  I can’t decide whether I like the taste or not; it’s one of those weird things like some people don’t like too much onion or garlic because they know it makes their breath reek.  I’m convinced my breath stinks of smelly socks now.  It tastes a bit like mango custard mixed in with really ripe, runny cheese.  As I said, I can’t decide whether that’s a good thing…

We walk along the river and find a number of bars and restaurants that we decide we will go to tomorrow.
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