Today I am writing from Melaka, Malaysia. Or Malacca. Or Malaka. There are dozens of ways people spell this city, but one thing is constant: it’s beautiful. It’s a photographer’s dream. There are so many interesting buildings and people that I have to fight not to take constant pictures of everything. We’re staying at a guesthouse near Chinatown currently that has a lot of character and contains many characters.
Our first night we spent wandering the walk-friendly streets and eating at a small ‘Riverside’ restaurant. Not only is that the name of the place, but it sits next a small canal that runs to the ocean. Boats run up and down it occasionally filled with tourists. The streets here are full of shops and restaurants, all of which contain the friendliest of people. There’s also an enormous amount of Michael Jackson music blaring from all manner of businesses and even the becaks. It’s a little bizarre to hear Thriller from a boombox that is tied to a pedal-powered people mover, slowly rolling down the street. Perhaps MJ music is a phase of western development. It’s everywhere.
We’ve met a host of great people. We had some interesting conversation with Ali, a young man from Iran. Originally hailing from Tehran, he has been traveling for the last several years and was eager to talk about America and Iran. He reaffirmed things that I’ve read about Iranians generally liking Americans, but the gov’t getting all the press. He was a friendly soul and I hope to meet him again. We’ve also met Jon, from Wellington NZ. He has been traveling for the last four years throughout SE Asia and had much advice on where to visit and what to expect. He also enjoys drawing and seems to have re-awakened Indi’s artistic bug.
Tonight I met up with Yee, a local tea master. We had reached out to him on Couchsurfing.org but he was traveling in China and didn’t respond (naturally). He has a little tea shop along the main street and welcomed me in for a pot of black tea. We talked about the nuance of clay teapots and the cultural importance of tea before adjourning to a local beer garden, where we talked more of our individual travels and enjoyed 660ml of Tiger Beer. He was also kind enough to show me how a Chinese donut is made and kindly offered me one. It was delicious.
Tomorrow we decide if we’re spending more time in Melaka or moving on. Yee is holding a two hour class on traditional tea ceremonies that we’re attending in the evening and we hope to see the ruins of an ancient Catholic church. It’s raining outside and that’s the best thing ever. I shall sleep soundly tonight.