3.5: Melaka

Day 129: Kuala Tahan to Melaka

I woke up not feeling very well and I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep so I wasn’t particularly keen to spend the day traveling. I went to catch the minibus at 8:00 and it spent the next half an hour driving up and down the Kuala Tahan picking up random people. The diver drove like a lunatic, constantly trying to overtake on blind bends and he never had more than one hand on the steering wheel. When I got to Jerantot, the guy suggested that I change at KL rather than at Tamerloh, like they suggested at the NKS office, on my way to Melaka. This seemed better to me as I would rather be stuck in KL than Tamerloh and the bus for KL was leaving in a few minutes time. It took about 3 hours to get to KL and I got a metro from the bus stop on the outskirts to Puduraya bus station in town. Puduraya was as chaotic as usual and when I got my ticket I waited below on the platform to escape from the crowds. I got to Melaka at around 16:00 and I went to book a bus ticket for Singapore. I then realized that I was in Melaka earlier than I thought and had four days here rather than three. I got a bus into town and looked for a guesthouse. My first choice in Chinatown was full so instead I went to the Samudra Inn which was further out of town past the big shopping malls but it is a nice place with friendly owners. In the evening I went for some dinner and on the way back I met the English couple that I’d met on the boat in Taman Negara. They had come to Melaka via Tamerloh and it had taken them about 5 hours longer to make the journey than it had taken me, so looks like I’d made a good decision earlier.

Day 130: Melaka

The morning was spent searching for a launderette near to the guesthouse. It took quite a while and I had to ask where it was at the guesthouse twice. After I found it I went to a small Chinese restaurant and had some dumplings and then spent the afternoon sightseeing around town. I went to the picturesque town centre which has some Dutch colonial buildings including the Christchurch. There is also a small windmill with many flowers decorating it and a fountain dedicated to Queen Victoria. There are many ornately decorated trishaws nearby which are nice to look at but their owners play really awful music very loud.

130.1. Melaka town centre and its Dutch colonial buildings and heavily decorated trishaws.

I then walked around Chinatown which is well decorated with lanterns ahead of the Chinese New Year celebrations that will take place soon. At night the streets glow red with their light. When I came back through town I met a Chinese girl called Ying who asked me if I would play an extra in a Chinese drama series that she was involved in filming at St. Paul’s Church tomorrow at 14:00. It was an unusual request but it sounded interesting so I agreed. I then went up to St. Paul’s hill and visited the Porta de Santiago, the remnants of A Famosa, the Portuguese fort that was built here in the 16th Century.

130.2. The ruins of St. Paul’s church and A Formosa from when the Portuguese held Melaka.

In the evening I went for pasta and red wine, the first I’d had since I left Vientiane. Afterwards I went for a walk around Chinatown and met Dan, who had just arrived and was looking for a guesthouse. I suggested the one that I failed to get into yesterday and after he secured a room we went for a beer.

130.3. Melaka at night.

Day 131: Melaka

In the morning I went to Chinatown and had breakfast at the Traveler’s café. It is a touristy place but the food is reasonably priced and it has free internet. After breakfast I walked around the streets of Chinatown for a bit before coming back to the guesthouse. I then went out to get a haircut but the girl didn’t do a very good job of it. I came back to the guesthouse and tried to sort it out myself but only ended making even more of a mess of it. In the end I decided to go to another hairdresser and get the lot shaved off, which solved the problem.

131.1. A tower at the mosque in Melaka and a building in Chinatown.

131.2. Figures on a Taoist temple.

By the time that was sorted it was time for me to go to St. Paul’s hill to meet with Ying. I met her at the top of the hill by the side of the church and she introduced me to Khalid, a student in Melaka from Dubai, who was to be in the scene with me. He studies computer animation and wants to do a master’s degree in England. When we began I had to put on a jacket, trousers, a hat and a backpack, which left me feeling quite hot in the Malaysian humidity. I was to play an archeologist who explained to the lead couple about the gravestones in the church. Khalid was a photographer. I got some information from a panel to the side of the gravestone and based my explanation around that. The first few takes went OK but each subsequent one seemed to take longer than the previous one and I kept running out of things to say. The sound wasn’t to be recorded but even so Aenie, the lead girl, laughed when I got stuck and that made me laugh as well. In the next part I had to walk with the couple past a few more of the gravestones and explain about them briefly. It went more smoothly than the first part. Afterwards, Khalid and I went for a lunch break and he drove us elsewhere in town and we stopped for chicken and rice. We came back to St. Paul’s hill and did a couple more scenes that were less involved and I was no longer an archeologist. When we finished we said goodbye to Ying and she thanked us and paid us 50 ringgit for our time.

131.2. With Aenie and Khalid at the end of our day of acting. The results can be seen here.

2020 edit: Many years later I  found out that the drama was called Iron Lady and I was eventually able to find the episodes on YouTube and later on Netflix. I managed to acquire the scene I was in and video can be seen here.

Khalid dropped me off at my guesthouse and in the evening I went to a bar in Chinatown that I had gone to on my first night here. I had fried rice and a beer and after dinner I untied the Baci bands that I still had around my wrists from the ceremony in Laos.

131.3. Chinatown under the light of lanterns ahead of the New Year celebrations.

Day 132: Melaka

I decided that today I would post some more stuff back home to lighten my bag a bit. In the morning I walked around Chinatown and bought some souvenirs and things to send back. Later I went to the post office and found that it was much cheaper here to send by sea rather than by airmail, but it will take 2-3 months to arrive. I spent most of the rest of the day at an internet café backing up my photos.

132.1. Illuminations by the river.