E-ticket madness at the bus station, noodling around the night market, and meeting Mr & Mrs Jones.

Day 71: Kuala Lupis & Melaka, Malaysia. This morning we packed our bags, again. This time to head south from Kuala Lipis to Malacca (or Melaka as it’s spelt locally).

We had breakfast at the guesthouse. A choice of Nasi Lamek – rice and egg served with a spicy, fishy sauce; or another dish we can’t recall the name of, but which was spicy noodles with prawn. Jim is happy to eat spicy food (or pretty much anything, really) for breakfast, however Lil struggles a bit. She had a few mouthfuls of her Nasi Lamek, pushed the rest over to Jim, then went and raided the bread container and made herself a pile of toast and jam.

Kuala Lipis bus station was only a couple of minutes walk from the guesthouse. We got there nice and early, as always. Jim showed our e-ticket to the guy at the ticket counter, which is usually enough to get us ticked off on the passenger list, and sometimes a ‘boarding pass’ issued.

But not this time. The guy insisted we needed a printed copy of the e-ticket. We asked why, and he said it’s because “the driver likes printed copies of all tickets”. He said we could walk into town where there was a shop that would print the tickets, except he couldn’t remember the name of the shop or what it looked like, or where it was. We were just about to walk back to our guesthouse and ask them if they could help us out, when the guy called the station manager over, who – after spending ages staring at the e-ticket and shaking his head, then nodding his head, then asking “2 people, yes?”, then shaking his head again – waved us on our way and said “no need to print”. Baffling.

One thing we noticed about Kuala Lipis is there are heaps of cats everywhere. Some are definitely strays, but most look in pretty good nick. A large bunch were wandering around the bus station – presumably to partake of the free bowls of cat food and water that some kind souls have left out for them.

As we were early, Lil wandered across to the supermarket to buy some snacks for the trip. The store had just opened and was already crazy busy. For some reason there was a team of staff mopping the floors around the store, while customers skidded past and around them. Lil did likewise, holding onto counters with one hand and her nose with the other (there were huge piles of dried fish which her sensitive sense of smell doesn’t cope well with), and luckily emerged again without any broken limbs.

The bus left right on time – the last person was just lifting their leg onto the top step of the bus, when the driver hit the gas and we shot out of the car park.

We stopped at one pick-up point along the way, and a guy took the opportunity to get off the bus to head to the bathroom. Once all the new passengers were on the bus, the driver hit his accelerator again. Except the guy who’d got off was still in the toilet. So his mate had to ask the driver to stop – which he did, very very reluctantly. And then sat blaring his horn until the poor guy emerged from the loo, looking hellishly embarrassed.

We arrived at Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) in Kuala Lumpur – our third time at the station so far. Jim got our boarding passes, and we sat and waited for the bus to Melaka. Soon we were on our way, zipping along the freeway south of KL towards Melaka.

We arrived early at Melaka bus station, and caught a local No. 17 bus into the town – a quick 15 minute ride. We walked across to our guesthouse, got checked in and had a look around. Booking accommodation online, and often at the last minute, can be a bit hit and miss, but this time we really got lucky. The guesthouse is superb – it sits behind an old rice warehouse on the river and was where all the business was conducted back in the old days.

On one end, outside, is a cute cafe and bar, and inside there are high ceilings, a maze of internal staircases, antique knick-knacks for decoration, and our room has a floor to ceiling window with plantation shutters that open on to the street. There are more stairs up to the rooftop with a great view across the town. Tomorrow we’ll take more pics of the cafe and interior.

The sun was just setting as we stood on the rooftop looking out over Melaka, a really glorious evening.

We headed out to explore the town, starting with a walk along the riverside where there are heaps of great little outdoor bars, some very quiet, some with music. We continued on and turned into Jonker Street, the main tourist area with a great night market. We walked the full length of the market, oohing and aahing at all the food choices, then walked back around to the river for cold beers at a Reggae Bar. Then back to the night market for food – two fabulous noodle dishes and pork and spring onion dumplings.

Melaka was established in 1396 by a Sumatran prince. Since then it’s been ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and English, occupied by the Japanese during WWII, and became independent in 1957. It’s packed with lots of old interesting buildings from across the centuries. We’ll be taking a long walk tomorrow to check them out.

As we walked past a Buddhist temple, we spotted some sort of dance exercise class taking place in the one of the halls. Once again, Lil tried to convince Jim it might be fun to join in on a local dance class. And once again, failed to convince him.

Lil had read about a bar called Mr & Mrs Jones, a live music bar down a side lane. We found the bar and ordered beers – sadly there were only a couple of other people there. It’s run by a local couple called Hawk and Joan (aka Mr & Mrs Jones) – Hawk plays guitar and sings, and Joan runs the bar and serves drinks. They often get local musicians and tourists coming in to jam with Hawk, however for whatever reason, tonight was a really quiet Friday night. We said we’d pop back in tomorrow (Saturday) when it will likely be a lot busier. As we left, Joan called Lil back to loan her a book on the history of Melaka, which we promised to drop back before we leave town. Very thoughtful, and very trusting, of her.

We headed home, tired out and looking forward to a good night’s sleep after a busy day. Tomorrow we’ll go exploring around some of the old streets and buildings, and Lil can put her nose into Joan’s history book for a bit.

More then.

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