Monday, January 17, 2011

Melaka, Malaysia

Old Dutch Stadthuis
Seems like I have eventually found a place where to relax. I mean, I really liked Singapore, but it is difficult to relax in a place where the accommodation alone costs almost double than your average daily budget....

Melaka in Malaysia is more suited to my budget. I have found a guesthouse with a really nice and quiet room for 10 EUR. Around the corner is a fantastic vegetarian restaurant where I can get a meal for 1 EUR. Melaka has dozens of small weird museums that charge around 0,50 EUR to 1 EUR. And my guesthouse has a cafe with FREE internet. Need I say more? Maybe you understand now why I stayed in Melaka for 6 days - and each day doing less and less, except sitting in front of the internet and doing research 8 hours a day....

Well, I did some sightseeing.... Melaka's museums are rather bizarre. For example there is the Museum of Enduring Beauty. It showcases bizarre beauty rituals from all over the world like tattooing, foot binding and scarification. As a Westerner you assume that only primitive tribes would use these painful beautification methods, but to my big surprise the museum dedicates a big chapter to corset wearing in Europe.....

Old Dutch Fregatta
I also visited the History Museum and the Malaysian Democratic Museum and was put to shame again not knowing much about Malaysian and especially Melaka history - which is actually quite interesting. There is hardly anyone who has not been governing in Melaka. First came the Portuguese, then the Dutch and finally the British. They were defeated in WWII by the Japanese and after their surrender the British moved in again followed by the Emergency. The Emergency was actually one big insurance fraud: After the Japanese had moved out and the British in again some sort of civil war erupted led by the Communists. But an official civil war would have made insurance for the big British rubber plantations impossible and therefore it was officially called the Emergency....Finally Malaysia became independent and has now some sort of Islamic Democratic institutional monarchy. Of course there is a Malaysian Islamic Museum as well...

I was really worried what sort of a feel Malaysia would have. I have traveled in many Muslim countries and hardly ever felt comfortable. I am too much of a feminist to feel comfortable around women with head scarves! Well, there are a lot of women with head scarves around here, but there are also a lot without. Malaysia is a big mixture of Malay/Muslim, Chinese and Indian people. I still have not figured out how they all communicate.

I had hoped to meet fellow travelers in a popular spot like Melaka, but alas travelers are not what they used to be. Instead of socializing with fellow travelers people sit in front of their laptops socializing with their friends back home via facebook... Well, I am not much better. Still it is frustrating after such a long period of hiking and cycling. When you are on the trail or on a bike, you always stop and chat when you meet a fellow hiker or cyclist. I am not used to such autistic behavior...

After 6 days of basically doing nothing I will move on tomorrow - to do some hiking in the Cameron Highlands. I wanted a long rest from hiking, but after not even 2 weeks without I already miss it. I guess I am an addict.

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