Buying dodgy reading specs in the DIY store, sampling Chinese medicine a la gecko, and a tortoise goes past on a trolley.

Day 76: Melaka, Malaysia. We headed out mid-morning to the mega mall for a spot of dreaded shopping. Thankfully as it’s midweek, the mall was pretty empty, so at least we weren’t tripping over people, even if we were frowning and grumbling about having to do the ‘shopping thing’.

We’ve almost run out of insect repellent – and given we’re heading to Borneo tomorrow and will be spending a fair bit of time wandering about the jungle, we badly needed to top up. We visited 5 pharmacies, but none of them had any 30% or 50% DEET repellent. From what we can tell, the selling point here for insect repellents is natural and DEET-free. Eventually we found one that was 15% DEET, and came in a giant orange can, but it was better than nothing. Time to dig out the 80% DEET gel that we’ve been storing at the bottom of our rucksacks in case of emergency – that should repel pretty much anything, including snakes and wild boars (hopefully).

We also needed to get Lil some off-the-shelf reading glasses – her current pair fell apart yesterday. After a lot of searching we tracked some down in a DIY shop (go figure) – for around a dollar. Lil said they’re fine so long as she stares straight ahead when she’s reading, if she moves her eyes left or right, or up or down, things go blurry. Hopefully we’ll be able to find a better option when we reach Kuching.

While it can be hard to find stuff we’re used to finding readily available in Sydney – we’re also discovering some things that we’ve never seen in Sydney at all. Including Ginger Diet Pepsi, which we’re fast becoming addicted to.

Late afternoon we paid another visit to the rice wine shop around the corner. Jim found more Chinese medicine – this time it was 36% alcohol, and included gecko – and is good for improving energy. The dosage this time says 20-40ml, twice a day (Jim thinks 40ml must be the best). Lil had lychee rice wine again – which is safe and doesn’t contain any reptiles (as far as she could tell from the ingredients list). Jim finished off with a Malaysian sake, then we paid our bill and headed out for dinner.

The weekend in Melaka was crazy – it was absolutely packed and every single bar, restaurant and shop was open and doing good trade. Midweek it’s a bit different, a lot of restaurants and bars are closed (particularly in the evening) so we had to do a bit of search about to find food in a restaurant that wasn’t too touristy. We found a food stall type eatery at the end of Jonker Street that had some rice dishes, which were served in plastic baskets with a paper lining. The upside was the eatery was open and was selling food, the downside was the eatery was about to close and all the food was cold.

After dinner we walked around to see if the bar where we sat on the pavement was open (we now know it’s called the Busdriver bar). On the way to the bar we spotted the tortoise that was having a bath the other night – tonight he was being wheeled along on a trolley with a bag of rubbish. Hopefully his owners haven’t got tired of him and decided to take him to the dump. We also saw a cat using a car tyre as a scratching post (giggle) – sadly it stopped its antics before we could get a pic.

We had a couple of beers at the Busdriver bar, watched a guy painting, and chatted to the manager and others who were chilling out on the pavement. And then it was time to head home and pack up our stuff again.

Tomorrow morning we’re up at silly o’clock again to catch a Grab to the bus station, then to catch a bus to KL, then to catch a plane to Kuching, Borneo.

More then.

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