Malacca make it happen, Malaysia!
I would have loved to write this last publication of the trip much earlier, but the return to everyday life has been anything but return and everyday. Let’s say that Spain was waiting for me with open arms but not precisely to give me a hug. But it doesn’t matter, because this is not a drama blog, Nothing Included is a travel blog. And no matter how many sticks life gives us, nobody is going to take away the desire to put on our backpack, smile, and go out to conquer the world. And less with experiences like the one we had in Malacca.
( 09-13-14 ) The last time we spoke, we just spent a few days in the very surprising Singapore , from where we took a comfortable bus (3 hours) to Malacca . Malacca was from the beginning a mandatory stop on our itinerary because it seemed to be a very pleasant coastal city. After spending three days there we can confess that it is a very pleasant city but it has nothing on the coast, since if there was a beach we have not been able to find it. Come on, neither us nor those who live there forever.
But even without a beach, it didn’t take long for us to realize that we had just arrived at one of the most touristic places we have been in our entire trip. We visited up to 8 hostels until we found one with free beds. It was not the best hostel we had ever been to, but there was no other. Okay, we arrived in the city on Saturday, but if there is something that has surprised us about Asia, it is how easy it is to find accommodation. Except in Malacca.
While staying, we did little more than settle in and go out to explore the city. We didn’t get very far though, because a huge market on busy Jonker Street caught our attention. Crowded to the rooftops. Of course Asia and the markets have a very special relationship.
Apparently, a market that is installed in the city every weekend (if time permits) where we became aware of the passion of Asians for karaokes (surprisingly, the coldness with which the public received the brave who would go on stage to sing and dance) …
… And where we discover the most curious work in the world: «The Trash Man». Between purchases and surprises, the dream would not be long in coming.
( 09-14-14 ) As much as we wanted, we got up early. For us, Malacca was going to be a vacation from our vacation, so we didn’t give ourselves too much trouble to leave the hostel soon. When we feel ready, camera in hand and kick the city.
What to see in Malacca
First conclusion: Malacca is extremely crowded. Let me explain, Malaca is a beautiful, authentic city, with a lot of charm, but I think that the level of tourism it has does not correspond to reality. Yes, 90% Asian tourism. Second in conclusion: Malacca is nice to see in general, but nothing in particular. Searching the internet for the typical “What to see in …” we came up with a series of highlights that we couldn’t miss … but if you miss them, nothing happens. Malaca is like a football match with many, many occasions in which no goals are scored. But come on, to get to these reflections it was first necessary to do the traditional tour. First stop at Cheng Hoon Teng , a Chinese temple with almost 400 years of history.
Cheng hoon teng
Beautiful like most of the Chinese temples that we have seen, although in this case only because of its “old age” it is worth highlighting. As I have already told you several times throughout this trip, on this side of the world almost all the monuments are of recent construction.
From Cheng Hoon Teng we went to a Buddhist temple located a few meters away, where we were struck by the affable statue of Buddha at the entrance …
Istana Kesultanan – The Sultan’s Palace
… And from there, travel to the past. The history of Malacca , like that of almost every major maritime enclave, is one of fishermen, merchants, and conquerors. Due to its position on the map, there are many who have wanted to take over this city in one way or another. Thus in 1400, shortly after its founding, Malacca was the presidential center of a sultanate that ruled much of Malaysia for a few years. A replica of the Sultan’s palace remains from that time: Istana Kesultanan.
A quite attractive palace on the outside and with a simple museum inside. Taking into account that the price of the ticket does not reach the euro, it is worth doing a visit …
… At least to take a walk through its gardens.
But the Sultan’s empire lasted as long as it took Europeans to take an interest in him. First of all, the Portuguese, who in the 16th century took over the city. Years of many wars that they endured as best they could using soldiers and fortresses. Like that of A Famosa, of which some remains are still preserved.
Ultimately it would be the Dutch who would take over the land for almost 150 years. Dutch Square, a pleasant red square with a Catholic church at its center, dates from this period.
What remains of Malacca today is the result of years and years of power struggles. Apparently one of the most historic cities that we have come across on our trip. But studying history is exhausting, so 66.66% of the group retired to rest for a while. For my part, I decided to get lost a little bit in Malaca beyond its urban center. I didn’t get very far …
… but it was enough to find me with a kind of convention of rare gentlemen with strange birds.
I also discovered the figure of Gan Boon Leong, whom the city reveres as one of the most important personages in the history of Malacca. It is surprising if we take into account that his greatest achievement was being Mr. Universe, which is fine, but I say that someone from there will have done something more important for the world. The point is, this muscular man has several statues and his own gym.
It’s funny, but the best way to get to know a place is to go where the cameras don’t reach …
… and get closer to what the city is, regardless of what many would like it to be.
Satisfied with my discoveries beyond the tourist window …
… I went back for the rest of the gang and we celebrated our two separate hours with a smoothie in a nice cafeteria but at quasi-European prices.
The Malacca River
And the afternoon was falling and at that moment we discovered the most beautiful corner of Malacca. The river and its bank.
Without realizing it, it seems that you have entered an art gallery.
The residents have managed to work the charm of this area until they turn the riverbank into a giant museum. A museum that ends next to this Ferris wheel, to which we climbed although I already tell you that it is not worth it. You can save that ticket.
Tired of so much walking, we decided to throw ourselves to the ground in any place on any street. At another point on the map, Monika, a Slovak living in Malacca for some time, took her bicycle with the aim of distributing some hummus and chicken sandwiches left over from an event. And in those circumstances we crossed paths, and of course we gladly agreed to its gastronomic offer. After dinner, we did nothing but resume our walk to the hostel.
But it wasn’t going to be that easy, someone had a better plan for us. Arnau, Catalan, musician, about 30 years old (I estimate), started a tour of Asia after losing his job in Spain. In those he arrived in Malacca and for some time he has worked in a bar in that city playing the clarinet. They don’t pay him much, but enough to live in Malacca. Well, Arnau, who was beer with some friends on the street, encouraged us to join.
And when we wanted to realize it, we were surrounded by beer and a really funny “fauna”: a nice Algerian on his last night before going to New Zealand to work, a French with a wicked look, an Indian Bob Marley who only said ” happy, me happy ”, a girl from Malaysia, her cousin, a Malaysian living in Japan who makes a living making videos for Youtube , a Japanese family who loves hot air balloons, a South African who left as soon as she came, the Slovak of sandwiches and, of course, Arnau.
As soon as we realized that we were getting too crowded to be partying in the middle of the street, the Indian Bob Marley offered to take us to a restaurant he owned. There the lights were lowered, the music turned up and the spontaneous party continued under the cover of a disco ball. And there we were dancing, in the style of each one, in the culture of each one, but all united by the desire we had to have fun. The celebration ended with a surprising and delicious Indian dinner prepared by our host at 5 in the morning. And thinking how fun life can be, we went to sleep.
( 09-15-14 ) Happy nights, sad mornings … they say. Well, our sad sad morning was not, there was no tomorrow. It turns out that something we had eaten the day before (be it the street sandwich, the clandestine beer, or the dinner at the Indian) did us terribly wrong and, to be subtle, let’s say we spent a few hours in the bathroom. It’s easy to tell when you’re in your room and the toilet is next door, but in this case we were on the third floor and the bathroom was all the way down. It was tough, but we survived. When our bodies eliminated whatever it was that it had to eliminate, we went out again for a walk around the city. It was already late, and all we did was take the same route by boat that we had done the previous day on foot.
Now, just as in our passage through Bangkok we loved the experience of touring the city by boat, in Malacca I recommend doing the route on foot: you see the same thing, there are not so many tourists and above all it is free. The good thing is that she dropped us near a shopping center where we had dinner. If we have eaten in clubs on any trip, it has been in this one, and until this day we had not had any kind of problem. But as we had spent the morning, that night we did not want to gamble much so we opted for a place with a tablecloth and covered. Mixed sandwich and hot soup, our battered stomach could not do enough. And from there we went to our appointment with Arnau and company. Tonight’s plan was to go to Honky Town, a downtown bar where Arnau played. A very pleasant evening to leave Malacca with an even better aftertaste.
( 09-16-14, 09-17-14 ) Of the last two days of travel there is little to highlight. From Malacca we returned to Kuala Lumpur, with a day to spare to make some purchases and some logistics. We stayed there near China Town, in a better place than where we were in our first days of travel. In general, everything was much more pleasant than in our first days in this city, which makes me think of one thing: Kuala Lumpur has not changed, it has been us.
There we took the plane back, Turkish Airlines again, and another good experience. Between movies, dreams and scales …
… we arrived home. 27 hours of travel in total that give much to think about. 27 hours in which to remember the coldness with which Asia received us upon our arrival in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), how much we gladly wet our socks in Cameron Highlands and Penang (Malaysia) , the discovery of our vices and virtues and those of Thailand in Krabi and Phuket , the mark that Chiang Mai (Thailand) left us for a lifetime, how much we were surprised by the kind face of Bangkok (Thailand), the infinite beauty without labels of Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor , the sincere smile from Cambodians in Phnom Phen(Cambodia) and the ships in the sky that money allows to build in spectacular Singapore .
In total, 5000 kms of travel by land (plus the Phnom Phen – Kuala Lumpur plane) in which we have traveled four countries: Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Singapore. Curiously, following a route very similar to the one we considered when we organized this new madness.
( Click on the map to enlarge the route )
In general terms, Southeast Asia has surprised us for good, especially after discovering the level of economic and cultural development in which it is located. Today there are a few things in which this part of the world is far ahead of many European countries: for example, the introduction of English (we have been able to understand each other with almost everyone) and the respect that have for the traveler.
Asia has helped us to open our minds, to eat without looking where, to do everything possible to help those who ask for your help, to smile with our heart even if life strives otherwise, to respect and try to understand others religions, to heal ourselves of prejudices, to develop our morals and our promising backpacking career. Asia has taught us physical beauty beyond blue-eyed blondes or dark-eyed brunettes. Asia has opened up a world of possibilities for us.
Obviously, not all the forest is oregano and we have encountered several problems along the trip: for example, how difficult it has been to find accommodation / guide in the cities via Couchsurfing; how complicated it has been to go beyond the typical tourist routes; how much we have wanted to travel and the time that has made us lose that between trips; and how impossible it was at the beginning to keep you at 20 euros a day of spending. But unlike in other years we have been able to detect problems, talk about them and seek a solution as a group, without losing our nerves, without disrespecting each other. We have been more team than ever.
Now I have no choice but to thank all of you who in one way or another have crossed our path and have made this trip a little more special. Of course, I also thank you three, Víctor, Diego, Álvaro, for this trip, for the previous ones, for those who will come and for so many years that we have been friends. And thank you also to the more than 4000 people (which will be said soon) who have been accompanying us throughout this month of adventure, who have supported us with more than 150 comments or silent but knowing that you are there. Nothing Included is starting to be a very serious project, and we are going to take it seriously. You already know that the blog does not die until the next trip, but as far as possible I will be making publications as a guide on any of the 18 countries through which we have already gone. Asia is no longer something unknown, and the world begins to have no barriers for us. I don’t know about you, but I’m already counting the days that remain until the next adventure arrives. And believe me, it will be soon, much sooner than we all expect.