F YOU, Melaka

Want the full story? Click here to start with Question Authority, Question 3v3ryth1nG! – the post that started this little travel adventure.
I have finally left Tioman. It took me some time to detach myself from the place. I am not heading to Kuala Lumpur directly, but will try to get to Melaka. Melaka is supposed to be a really nice town with lots of history, however, only worth a day trip. I figured slowly getting used to larger cities again might not be a bad idea. Tim did not say a word about me leaving, no attempts to try and persuade me to stay. I am grateful. He is a liberal soul.

Getting to Melaka, however, turns out to be not as easy as getting off the island. When Aimee who is leaving towards Singapore and I arrive in Mersing, the bus is full and there is no other one that day. Attempts of talking the lady into letting me on the bus standing fail miserably. So I ask for alternatives at “the other bus stop”. Why has a town that only exists to get people on the islands have two main long-distance bus stops?

A lady points me to a local bus going to Kluang from where there are supposedly many buses to Melaka. Aimee is “just around the corner” to see if there is food. The moment I look over to the bus, the driver starts the engine and backs up. Time to go, now. I turn around to where Aime was two minutes ago. I run, get in the bus and take the seat behind the driver. “Ok, that was spontaneous,” I think to myself without but myself to recognize my bravery. And just like that, I am off. Farewell Tioman!

Kluang, I find, is not only not mentioned in the Lonely Planet, it’s not even on the map. Yay! Not exactly worried, the fact does make me think. Lucky enough, I meet a nice old man on the bus and we start talking. He has Chinese roots, loves Germany, and used to be a medical researcher. Today, he is retired and taking a vacation. It brings him back to his home town nearby, Batu Pahat (the stone mazon’s city), where he has spent the last week watching a Chinese Street opera. Arriving in Kluang, a town whose name sounds like somebody is throwing up a piece of metal, there are of course no buses to Melaka anymore. The place has the charme of a bus station, definitely not a place to get cozy, so I decide to take a little detour and see the Chinese street opera. Sounds cool anyway!

There is a reason some places do not appear on maps!

In Batu Pahat, which also isn’t on the map, I check into a cheap, but still too expensive hotel. The guy takes me out to dinner and we have what seems like authentic Chinese street food. There is spicy Chinese salad, fried raddish and squid. All that we flush down with a mix of pineapple and carrot juice, the thought of which disgusts me at first, but it’s actually quite tasty. The food on the main land is definitely an improvement to island food, which was one of the reasons I was happy to leave Tioman in the end. He takes note of all his expenses on a tiny sheet of paper while telling me that he is traveling with one shirt only. He washed it in his room every night. Uhhm, yeah, interesting. Then we get to the opera.

It makes me feel a little better when my strange friend tells me he understands as little as I do. There is a lot of high-pitched singing, angry cymbal crashing and indistinct ancient Chinese talk. Plot? No idea. Characters? Yes, the play has them. Stage…check, but don’t ask me what it’s supposed to show.! At least we get to go back stage, meet some of the artists and although the plot is completely unclear to me, I have a growing sense of understanding. Tired of feeling like his puppet, I stay at the theatre when he goes home. Too much personal contact for the first night back in the real world. After a while I actually start to understand a bit. It’s a love plot, between the main actress with the white painted face dressed as a woman and the other main actress and the other main actress with the white painted face dressed as a man. Too much excitement, it’s time to go to bed.

Chinese Street Opera

In the morning I am ready for another go at Melaka. I have been told there is a bus at 8.15 and one at 10 am. The office opens at 7.30 am and I get up at the crack of dawn, grab a few Pao (Chinese dumplings) on the way only to arrive at the bus stop to find out that the next bus with available seats will be in the afternoon. That does not leave me any time to actually see anything of Melaka without spending a night there. F you Melaka, you don’t want me? I can live without you!

Tired and frustrated I get on a bus to Kuala Lumpur (KL) that leaves in a couple of minutes. At least there I will have decent internet and can communicate with Caro again. Or so I think. On the way out of the hotel I’ve downloaded my e-mail on my cell phone and Caro is going away to Ostfriesland. She needs a change of pace away from all the stress and the computer. It makes me feel a bit sad that we probably won’t be able to talk. I would have liked to raise the idea of her joining me soon. But maybe it will help her to become her own self again. After that, she might know what she wants, too.

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