up the west coast instead
Malaysia Travel Blog› entry 46 of 86 › view all entries
The roads were wide, nicely tarmaced and the traffic not to bad. However after a few days of palm plantations with hugely uncomfortable mossie-infested pee breaks for me, and a coastline consisting of unfinished empty appartment blocks and shabby beaches I realised the beauty of the Malaysia, that we were going to see, was not to be found on our rides. So for a while the destinations and not the journey, became the fun bit.
Almost as an antidote to the countryside, the Malaysian towns and villages turned out to be lively beautifull places. Muar, approximately 50 km south of Melacca, surprised us with lines of old chinese shophouses and grand colonial buildings forming a quirky old style riverfront.
The population of Malaysia consists of approximately 25% chinese, 10% Indians, some europeans and other minority groups and about 60% malays of whom only a few are aboriginal malays. All have brought their own cultures, religions and traditions; The Chinese build beautiful temples for ancestors and clan houses for families and villages emigrated from China.
On 'harmony street' in Melacca all of the religions are gathered and in the morning the hindu puja bells and incense from chinese offerings mingle with the calls of prayer from the mosques as women in shari's and men in long garnments and people carrying various offerings floc to their respective places of worship.
All of Malaysia's people are shaped by their history and with some of the chinese having arrived as early as the 14th century, none as labourers but all as free people they are well established and prominent in the buisness world.
We rode through streets lined entirely with old chinese shophouses. They are 2 storey, wodden houses, forming a long line like the british terraces. Blue paint was peeling of and for a while the good roads became bumpy and buisy. Tinroof overhangs created small teracces at the front of the shops and in connection with all the other shophouses the overhangs created a protective, lightstealing walkway .
The wodden walls and ceilings were darkened by many years of cigarette smoke and the furniture was old and heavy. Appart from the open front there were no windows and the air was cool and smelt old. At the far end almost in the dark, a woman speaking only chinese sat behind a big desk. Here, our malay words were useless and our trouble ordering coffee in chinese amused the other guests. A young man had to help us. Eventually we were served strong coffee in brown patterned 60s porcelain cups. A long hallway behind the chinese gatekeeper women lead into the livingspaces and to a stairway up to the first floor.