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                                PORT DICKSON, MELAKA & KUALA LUMPUR -   MALAYSIA

From Singapore we headed up the Malacca Strait stopping briefly at Pulau Pisang, 65 miles from Singapore, then continued to Pulau (meaning "Island") Besar the following day.

Pulau Besar, Water Islands.

November 11

We anchored at a beautiful quiet spot in front of a tiny beach. Tony from Tactical Directions had us all over to his boat to celebrate our 16 Anniversary (Sept 10). We had a great potluck party

Leaving the anchorage from Pulau Besar, we rounded the island, surprised to see an impressive skyline of high rises and large buildings of Melaka. It was so incongruous to the serene bay we had just emerged from.

The Malacca Straits were a challenge to endure, with floating debris and garbage, long fish nets everywhere, logs,  muddy waters and numerous fish boats, ships and cruise liners everywhere. But the hype about piracy was really not an issue. We did not hear of any incidents and we did not experience any unusual activity. In fact, there was a notable presence of military ships throughout the Straits and we could hear them contacting merchant vessels to confirm their credentials.

There is NO wind in Malaysia! We motored everywhere, often against current. We used an enormous amount of diesel during our passages but at least the waters were usually relatively flat. The only absolute was the predictable violent afternoon thunderstorms packed with hazardous lightening accompanied by torrential rains. We got in the habit of putting our electronics in the oven each afternoon in preparation for the onslaught.

Malaysia was a surprise to us. We did not expect it to be so developed and modern. There is a wide mix of cultures here but we did not find the people nearly as friendly as in Indonesia.

PORT DICKSON Admiral Marina

Nov 12-14

We arrived at Port Dickson Admiral Marina one day after all the scheduled activities for the Rally participants so as we were pulling into the marina, most of the boats were vacating to move north and we waved hello-goodbye in passing.

We were pleased to find the marina very upscale and modern. The slips were new, the dock clean and the resort included a swimming pool, always a bonus!


Since we arrived at the Port Dickson Marina on Sunday afternoon, we were able to forgo our check in until Monday so we wouldn't have to pay overtime charges. We headed for the pool to cool off and visited poolside for the rest of the day

We spent the next days getting settled, cleaning the boats and making a quick trip to town by taxi. Port Dickson is a small centre, with rather conventional streets and storefronts, but we found an ATM, a phone card centre, a grocery store and a restaurant for lunch. We were reminded of the cleanliness of Singapore compared to its neighbors, Indonesia and Malaysia. It was difficult to adjust to the smell of garbage in the sewers alongside the streets and wondered about eating at the restaurants beside the road.

It was very hot and humid, almost impossible to sleep at night even with our little table fan plugged into the dock and situated inches from my face in bed.


MELAKA (Melacca)

Nov 15-16   Our group took 2 taxis to Melaka where we planned to stay overnight and explore the fascinating old trading port. We left the Marina early and so our rumbling tummies prompted a stop at a roadside cafe for breakfast.

Gord thought he would keep it simple and order an omelet. He always says that it's hard to screw up an egg! Well it turned out that they had no idea what an omelet was and something was lost in translation between us, our driver and the cook, because out of the kitchen came a single boiled egg on a plate. However when Gord cracked it the running innards quickly squirted out....it was just barely warmed!

So he tried again, explaining that the egg needed to be cooked without the shell. He eventually settled for a version of fried egg! The driver ate the original boiled egg and seemed to really enjoy it!

Upon arriving in Melaka an hour later, we drove down narrow streets into the oldest section of town where we checked into the Baba Hotel. The Baba Hotel was the location where "Entrapment" was filmed and it was interesting to recognize many of the sets that were used in the movie.

Old Town Melaka

The buildings surrounding the hotel were hundreds of years old and we did not see any indication of the highrise shoreline that we spotted coming from  Water Islands.     

Melaka is known for its history, museums (which are surprisingly numerous!), and the unique Baba-Nyonya community, descendants of the original Chinese settlers who married Malays. The old town reflects the Portuguese, British and Dutch era in its architecture. Hundreds of small shops and eateries line the narrow streets with no sidewalks.

Shophouses were interspersed with temples, shrines and mosques, each with amazingly intricate decor of carved stone, inlaid gold, elaborately engraved pillars and fine craftsmanship.

We spent the first day shopping and exploring the city, wandering up and down the quaint cracked streets, each with its own cultural personality and charm.
 

 

 

The windmill in Dutch Square with beautiful gardens as seen from the windows of the Art Gallery. Overlooking the main square is Melaka's Christ Church landmark.

 

Jonkers Street (China Town) is best known for shopping treasures

A group of Muslin girls wanted to take OUR photo

 

Trishaws decorated with flowers will take you anywhere

We visited the Maritime Museum, housed in a replica of the Portuguese galleon which sank off Melaka.

Later we met for lunch for scrumptious Malay food.

Kongsi (Clan Temples)

As we walked down the sidestreets, clouds of incense billowed out of an abundance of striking Chinese clan temples, each with an extravagant array of carved colorful mythical figures made from porcelain and glass reflecting Anglo-Indian design. Red and Gold were always the primary colors, accented by elaborately engraved showcases of lacquer work in the form of porticoes and pillars. .

Cheng Hoon Teng - oldest functioning Chinese Temple in Malaysia>>>>

We had met an ex-pat from New Zealand who, along with his Malaysian wife, operated a Jazz Bar in Melaka. He offered to open the bar up for us at 10:30 that evening so after dinner we joined a few locals and had a fun night of partying and dancing.

We found many street bars and frequented a number of them after supper.

Our new friend jumped from piano to keyboard to guitar and accompanied his wife singing. Becky and I were recruited for backup.

Because Annie would not partake in the backup chorus, she was subjected to a test of suitors. First, Liam does his best to win her heart Gord thinks a dance will do the trick But Tony gets a ribbon for going on his knees!
Nov 16 Breakfast together next to Hotel A walk along the river that runs through Melaka ramshackle housing along the river banks Melaka Tree Business is slow!
We all visited the Cheng Ho Cultural Museum (1421 Museum) and our guided tour revealed much history and culture of Melaka 600 years ago. The museum occupies the original government depot built by Admiral Cheng Ho, the Ming Grand Eunuch. His fleet of several hundred ships visited 33 countries in the Pacific and Indian Ocean over half a century before Columbus discovered America.

Included in the interactive exhibits was a puppet show

Once again, Gord and I took the opportunity to pray for safe passages and fair winds. .From the top of the museum there was a great view of Melaka, old and new intermingled.

Trishaws for Transport

Everywhere were colorfully decorated trishaws, overloaded with flowers, ornaments and lights. Most had a bank of batteries that supplied the power for the lights, sirens, horns and music.

We organized 2 trishaw to tour around the city. Ours was pedaled by an 80 year old man, with sticks for arms and toothpicks for legs. He had been operating his rickshaw for over 30 years. At 18, he worked his trishaw during the Japanese occupation of Melaka!

There were several spots, although flat, where his struggle to keep the bike moving was proving fruitless, so Gord got off and pushed!

We slowly traversed the streets of downtown Melaka and ended up in the oldest part of the city where we stopped at the Hang Li Ph Well which was once the main source of water for the town.

Traditional Homes

A short walk across a bridge took us into a rather traditional neighborhood with beautifully kept decorative houses surrounded by fabulous gardens.

We were invited into one of the homes that was furnished with original artifacts, photos and furniture.

Vividly patterned and decorated example of local tradition

We all took the opportunity to bang the gong 3 times for good luck!

After a bit of a climb for our Trishaw, we reached St Peters Church, the oldest functioning Catholic Church in Malaysia.  

Throughout Melaka were buildings displaying the ornate pagoda type decorated rooftops.
Our Trishaw took us to a part of Melaka where the street was lined with Peranakan homes. Beautifully updated and restored colonial buildings, these buildings now house hostels and shops. The lavish 19th century original fine Chinese decor still remains.

Indian Table-top Lunch

After our tour, we were dropped at an Indian restaurant for lunch. There were many locals eating on basic wooden tables with a list of food items written on the wall.

We were shown to a table and banana leaf "placemats" were put in front of each of us. Then a pot full of rice appeared and a mound was scooped by hand onto each leaf. This was followed by some sort of greenish creamed vegetable, a corn/soy mix (I think) and an array of other items, all topped with a ladle of Dahl Soup. Some curried chicken, chopped complete with bones, was added to the pile of food.

We all wondered how we should eat this mountain of food. There were no eating utensils, but worse, no napkins! We all decided just to order roti so we could use it as a scoop and that worked great.

The food was good and a great experience too!

After a full day of sightseeing we were ready to return to Port Dickson so arranged a taxi back to the boats.

KUALA LUMPUR

Nov 18  Stardust and ourselves took a taxi to a nearby town where we boarded a bus to Kuala Lumpur, the sprawling, chaotic modern capitol city of Malaysia.

KL is a modern dynamic cosmopolitan city. Its architectural heritage includes Moorish styled edifices, colonial buildings and old shop houses, mixed among the new modern condominiums and high office buildings. Multi-racial communities occupy the busy streets.

We had booked a room in the heart of Chinatown, a short hop from the bus station. The room was basic but had a shower and a/c for $30 Cnd and the location could not have been better.

We walked all over town, visiting Central Market, an art deco style shopping complex, as well as Chinatown. We met up with Annie who had bussed form Klang to meet us and we window shopped at some of the more exclusive stores. Gord got prescription sunglasses for the equivalent of $100 Cnd (300 ringet) and I bought presents for everyone to give when I return to Canada.

The highlight of KL is the Night Markets of Chinatown. AT 5 pm, the main street is transformed and a huge array of shoes, purses, sunglasses,  T-shirts, jewelry and of course, the Rolex knockoffs, appear from nowhere as the hawkers set up their temporary stalls, crammed together along narrow aisles packed with people looking for a deal. But you have to haggle hard. These guys are pros, and tough. But I did manage to get some good deals and it was really fun.

Petronas Twin Towers

Nov 19  We checked out of the hotel early to stand in queue for tickets to see the Petronas Towers, the impressive KL landmark that towers over the city's skyline.  We had an hour and a half wait but managed to be included in the first group of visitors in front of a line of hundreds of others who had not got up so early!

  Inside the impressive structure structure, a luxury shopping complex houses the top designer labels, names like Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Versace, Armani, and many more.

KL boasts the world's tallest twin towers towering at a height of 452m.

The view from the bridge connecting to two towers at the 41st floor was impressive and we marveled at the dynamic cityscape of Kuala Lumpur.

Its architecture is representative of the country's dominant cultures - the Malay, Chinese and Indian.
Afterward we walked around the massive grounds and parkland surrounding the towers. The area was busy with children enjoying the pool and water park. The never ending wailing was resounding from a large mosque as a group of Muslim girls passed by.

KL Radio Tower

Next stop, a visit to the KL Radio Tower, one of the highest free standing structures in the world. This sighting involved an entrance fee but it included a personal MP4 description of all the buildings, which encompassed 360 degrees so we got a great overview of the city from that perspective.

We got another view and different perspective on the Twin Towers from the top of the Radio Tower.  

A group of school children were visiting the tower. We were awed at how regimented, well behaved and quiet they were.

For a change of scenery, we took the train back to Port Dickson, which proved to be a mistake. The scenery was not much more impressive, the seats were hard, the cars packed, and the commuter made stops every 2 minutes all the way to the end of the line so the trip was long and uncomfortable (and more expensive than the express bus).

The sky opened up just as we returned to the boats, with the usual display of vivid lightning and a heavy downpour.

Nov. 20 We left Port Dickson deciding to bypass Port Klang and the Selangor Yacht Club because we heard that the water was polluted and shallow. Instead, we made way for Pulau Pankor.

PHOTO ALBUMS OF MALAYSIA

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