Well, I am really unemployed now…
When I started my trip, I had a year off from my job, and planned to travel for 10-11 months. But now that I’m well into the trip and pretty much addicted to it, I’ve given up on the idea of making it back home in time. So it looks like whenever I make it back, I’ll have to figure out what to do then.
It’s been raining a bit more in Malaysia…typically it comes down really hard for 30 minutes or so, then lightens up or disappears altogether, so when I’ve run into it while riding, it gives me a nice excuse to take a little break under some type of covering while I wait for it to pass.
I also found a bike shop there that had some helmet and gear cleaner called Muc Off. After 9 months of riding (and producing god only knows how many olympic sized swimming pools worth of sweat), without ever washing my gear, you better believe it needed it. It seems to have worked fairly well…I mean, my gear no longer smells like shit, which is all that really matters. We’ll see how long it lasts.
The next day I rode to Melaka (or Malacca depending on who you ask). It’s a great town…not really small, but it has the feeling of a small town…a bit more quiet and slower paced. In 2008, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so that must mean it’s cool, right?
Melaka first got on the map during the 15th century when it was settled by the Malays as they came from Sumatra. Under Malay control, it was one of the busiest ports in the world…an important connection between Europe and Asia. They say that at it’s peak, there were 84 languages spoken throughout the city, so there must’ve been plenty of countries, or kingdoms, or whatever they were called back then making use of it.
In 1511, the Portuguese captured the city with plans to control it and expand the port. They controlled it until 1641, when the Dutch took control. And following the Dutch rule, the British controlled it until the beginning of WWII.
While it started as a prominent sea port, it ended up losing much traffic to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang. This started because of the excessive taxes put in place by the Portuguese and Dutch (who would’ve thought that excessive taxes could drive out business?!), and continued in the late 1700s as the Melaka River narrowed and silted, causing problems for the large ships that were trying to reach the port. While under British rule, they focused more on the continued development of Penang and Singapore as the primary ports in the area.
The Ruins of St. Paul’s Church
It was built as a Catholic church by the Portuguese, and when the Dutch took over, it was converted to a Protestant church, at which point it was give the name St. Paul’s Church. During British rule, it was no longer used as a Church and became and ammunition depot.
The Portuguese were ahead of their time in the retractable roof department.
A sampling of some of the grave stones that had been around the Church.
These are probably two of the most badass one’s you could ever find.
Amongst the darkness of tombstones with skull and crossbones…napping church cats.
The view from the hilltop that the Church is on.
A good place to learn a bit about the history of the city is the Maritime Museum. It’s built in a replica of a Portuguese ship called Flora de la Mar. The actual Flora de la Mar sank not far off the coast of Melaka when it was on it’s way back to Portugal, filled with loot after plundering the city…suckers!
Models of a Dutch warship, Indian trading ship, and a Chinese Junk
Model of a British Battleship
Seems pretty close to Google Maps…
Transportation throughout the city is not achieved by taxi or tuk tuk, but rather by trishaw, which are customized beyond belief, with artificial flowers, stuffed animals, stereo systems, and lights (at night).