Day 73: Melaka, Malaysia. Our guesthouse has no clothes washing facilities, so after breakfast this morning we walked over to a local laundromat with a bag full of dirty clothes.
The lady who runs the laundromat was clearly having a bad day, or perhaps she just doesn’t like working in a laundromat. She barked at us for not taking our shoes off, then barked at us to use washer No.6 (which didn’t exist, so we spun around in circles looking confused), then barked at us again because we put too much washing powder in the washing machine.
While our clothes were swishing around with too much washing powder, we walked down the street for a coffee at a local cafe, then returned to throw the washing into the dryer. Jim hid around the corner not wanting to get berated again, but thankfully cranky lady had gone somewhere, so there was no more barking. When the drying had finished we dropped into our guesthouse then headed straight out for a long walk by the river.
Melaka is packed with street art – on the outside of guesthouses and bars, shops and walls – it’s everywhere, it’s wonderful and best of all, no one seems to tamper with it. We checked out a series of paintings along the riverside bank, then headed further north along the river.
We passed what looked like a monorail track, however in the time we’ve been here, we’ve never seen a monorail moving or promoted anywhere. Online it says the monorail was opened to the public on 21 October 2010, but after only hours of opening it ground to a halt with 20 passengers trapped inside. By December 2010, it has closed completely due to more technical issues. After many years of being suspended, the 2.5km loop line was opened again in December 2017. We saw train carriages parked in a station as we walked around the river, but can’t find anything online about what happened between 2017 and now. A question for the tourist office perhaps, out of sheer curiosity.
We walked as far as we could along the river – or at least as far as we felt comfortable. It was getting pretty overgrown and we could see stray dogs ahead, that we were keen to avoid. We crossed a battered bridge and started to walk back the other side. Around the next bend Jim shouted ‘stop!’, and pointed ahead – Lil scanned the pathway assuming another snake must be slithering about, but no, it was a scary looking giant water monitor lizard, right in front of us on the path, about two metres long.
Like most animals and reptiles, water monitors generally don’t attack unless they feel threatened – though this one was looking a little threatened by our appearance. While we stood and wondered what to do next, we heard rustling in the bushes next to us and realised it had a mate in there too. Lil started tugging Jim’s sleeve to get him to walk back, but thankfully after another minute both water monitors lumbered across the pathway and into the river.
We walked back into the town, then out the other side and down to the waterfront – this time to the west of the town. There’s another large scale reclamation project taking place, which is the subject of lots of controversy, just like Penang. The current state government is keen to put a stop to the project, which was agreed under a previous government, but it’s proving tricky. So there wasn’t much to be seen – mostly barren land with cranes and construction taking place.
We walked around in a big loop and had dinner at Jonker Street hawker centre, about a kilometre out of the busy town. It was packed with locals having their Sunday evening meal, and a much better option than sitting in the heavily packed night market in town.
Then it was time for a beer, so we headed home and up to our rooftop to watch the sunset again. It’s the perfect place to get away from the noise and crowds of the town, and brings to mind the old Drifters song “Up on the roof”.
Last night, as we were walking along a quiet side street close to our guesthouse, we spotted a very cool little bar with a group of people sitting on the ground on the front porch around low tables. We said we’d go back this evening and check it out, which we did. It’s a fabulous little bar, so long as you’re happy to sit on the ground.
The guy who brought us beers is lovely, a guy called Gary who’s from Tunisia and says travelling is his life. He travels for a while then returns to Melaka, which is now his base, to top up this funds, then off he goes again. We met and chatted with a bunch of other people from India and the US. If we lived here, it would doubtless be our local – it’s a great little laid-back spot to chill and chat.
Then it was home to bed. Tomorrow we’re planning an admin morning to catch up with finances and messages, do some more travel planning, then we’ll head out to check out an old fort and visit a kooky old bar that serves lychee wine.