Melaka

Our original plans were to go to Georgetown and the Thai Border, but work called and my friend had to go to Melaka for a day. I caught a ride with my friend and her colleague, had my own day out, and then spent the rest of the weekend in Melaka with her.

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The ride down there was fairly uneventful. We had dinner soon after we arrived at Jonker 88. My stomach was a little bit unstable from my recent visit to, ironically, Singapore and so I did not get to enjoy the food as thoroughly as I would have liked. Of all the foods that I tried in Malaysia, this place served some of my favourites.

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In a clear indicator of quality, people queued up to get into this place. My only regret is the limited state of my stomach and inability to really enjoy the food a bit more fully.

After dinner, the three of us parted ways and I went to my guesthouse, the Santo Inn, near the Kampung Mosque. This guesthouse was run by a nice guy named Andy, who was very attentive and kept the place running well. The place was kept very clean and the location could not have been better. I believe that I paid only MYR 40 per night, but I do no remember so well. It was an excellent value regardless.

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At the sound of the azhan the next morning, I awoke and went to the mosque. There were about three of us praying at that time. I then embarked on a mission to find coffee. Nothing seemed to open all that early and so I wandered around a bit until I realized that I had not brought any cash with me. I returned to the guest house, picked up money, and set out again- not finding coffee until drinking some instant stuff served at a market food stall with a roti John.

I wandered the downtown area a bit and visited several museums. My first visit was the Customs Museum which was mostly cool because of the exhibits of contraband that has been confiscated over the years. Admission was free and it was good for a few minutes recreation, but I would not dedicate time for that one in particular. My favourite was the Maritime Museum, which included a lot of really cool exhibits ranging from pre-colonial Malaysia up to the modern day Navy.

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Eventually, my stomach started showing signs of acting up again and I decided to seek out a pharmacy. I received directions from several people, yet struggled to find this phantom pharmacy to which they were directing me. Several times, I passed traditional Chinese Medicine shops, and so I decided to see if they might have anything of practical value. The results are the subject of a past blog post.

Soon after prayers, I met up with my friend. She would be taking a room in the same guesthouse and we would be traveling back together by coach the next day. We had some dinner and then set out for a river cruise. The cruise was an excellent value. It was unnarrated but offered a very nice look at the city from the water. I did some laundry and we waited for it over tea near the guest house. We then walked down by the river and stopped at a riverside restaurant for dessert. As we continued our stroll down the river post-dessert, we stood on a bridge as two boats passed underneath us carrying a wedding party and announcing their presence with the beat of drums.

The evening could not have been more perfect. The weather was delightful, the atmosphere relaxed, and the setting gorgeous. The woman I was with could not have been more perfect. While I can talk about the place itself, quite frankly it is a blur because of her. It was on that walk that our conversation turned towards the possibility of us and we took our first steps towards a future together.

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Malaysia: the Arrival

What a trip! It took me a while to verify my time off and it took me a little bit longer to actually part with the ever increasing cost of the plane ticket. In the end, Malaysia was a trip of a lifetime for me.

We arrived in the darkness of early morning. Customs was like customs in most other places. I passed passport control and then went to wait for my luggage. After my luggage was secured, I passed out of the controlled area to find my friend waiting for me on the other side. My friend and I had been talking online for a couple of years but this was the first time that she and I had met in person. I recognized her easily and we were able to converse as though we had known each other in person for this time. Little did I know what fate would have in store for the two of us during the course of that fortnight.

Getting around was rather easy. There is an express train from the Airport to downtown Kuala Lumpur. From here, one can transfer to the other light rail options to get around town. The train left the airport and I caught my first glimpse of Malaysia from the windows. It was very green, which was a welcome change from whence I came. Indeed, I had left Fort Worth after an ice storm and I could not be more excited to be in warmer weather for a bit.

The goal at first was to get home, get showered and settled, and then to stay awake until it was a proper time to sleep at local time (+14 hours from Fort Worth). Later on we went to the KLCC, which is the mall between and below the two landmark Petronas Towers. Malls provide a wonderful escape from the heat and I ducked into the KLCC quite a few times while hanging out in Kuala Lumpur.

On one side of the towers is a fountain and park where my friend and I walked and talked a bit. When the azhan sounded for prayer, she led me to the mosque in the mall where I could pray. This was a feature of life that I really enjoyed in Malaysia: every mall and public space had a mosque which really facilitated me undertaking that obligation when I was out and about.

On the other side of the KLCC, we went to a really nice cafe called RAW. Here they roast their single sourced beans with a diedrich roaster, which means that the coffee is about as fresh as it gets. I had a regular coffee to boost my energy amidst jet lag, of course it is also my common reference point for cafes to begin with. My friend had a red latte, which. The red latte was a latte made of rooibos tea that seemed to be quite popular around there.

After a driving tour of downtown with my friend and her sister, we went home. With every intention to go to bed early, what started as a chat over ginger tea became a long conversation lasting until 2 A.M. Even though I had been awake for several days straight (over 50 hours at that point), I hardly noticed how late it had become. We parted ways and I collapsed on my bed, exhausted. Thus ended Day 1 in Malaysia.