Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Land of Spices

I didn't even know that Melaka existed before today, and now here I am, loving every inch of it. This small coastal town (I say small...the population is 650,000) used to be the port to South East Asia back in its heyday. It has been ruled by the British (who hasn't?), the Dutch, the Portugese and the Sultans of Indonesia. The result is a beautiful mix of cultures, tastes and architecture. The quaint and colourful streets are host to Mosques, Chinese temples, Christian churches and everything in between. It's awesome.

Today we took a trishaw ride (think rickshaw with more flowers and "hood" ornaments) with a Portuguese man named Sebastian. Sebastian (whose Chinese name is Lek) was raised by a Chinese family, speaks five languages and took us to all the historical hot spots of Melaka. He was informed, genuine, and so sweet - I wanted to hug him. He really made the day for us and we ended up spending a lot more time with him than we originally anticipated. That's the luxury of not having a schedule I guess - life just kind of grabs you and takes you where it wants.

Today was a real scorcher so we headed for somewhere cool in the late afternoon...and cool is exactly what we found. Geographer's Cafe is the oldest cafe in Melaka and is a multicoloured, open-aired corner cafe with all of the character I could have ever wanted. The beers were cold, the food was divine and the atmosphere was perfect. They played classical Malaysian music and I could have spent all afternoon watching the people go by. In fact, I nearly did.

We are staying at a really neat little backpackers not far from the centre of town. The owners (who, being Muslims, have some intense rules on pork products in the house) are so friendly and the guesthouse is really clean and full of character. Off to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow!

In other news, my new camera is freakin amazing...

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