Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Malaysia tour diary IV

Read Part I here
Read Part II here
Read Part III here


This is modelled on the London Eye. This giant wheel comprises 42 gondolas (cabins) and during the 15-minute ride at the maximum height of 60 metres one gets a beautiful overview of Kuala Lumpur.

The Eye on Malaysia from the entrance
The laser show at Eye on Malaysia
Avoid getting on the Eye on Malaysia wheel at night, because one can’t see anything other than dots of lights. This was inaugurated on January 6 this year as part of Malaysia’s 50th year of Independence celebrations. The park is a good place to spend some time, especially watching the laser show.

There are plenty of them in Kuala Lumpur, and they come alive at night. One of them, on Doraiswamy Street in KL, is well-known for mutton soup. A very unique feature I found there was this: small plantain-leaf packets of rice and curry are kept on each table, and one can just unpack them and start eating before even ordering anything: a real blessing if one is too tired and hungry. At restaurants one is asked for “what drink?” before any dish is ordered. The practice seems to be linked to one ordering liquor before meals. So, even fruit juice or soft drinks or tea or coffee is served before ordering of meals.
A popular roadside eatery on Doraiswamy Street in KL.
The Indian restaurants, which are found in plenty, are locally called ‘Mama stalls’. Unlike Chinese, Japanese or Korean restaurants, Indian ones serve all varieties of food. One finds a mixture of all races among customers in an Indian restaurant.

We met Jebat, one of the local musicians, at a roadside eatery on Doraiswamy Street. He landed up there on a bike. And in dramatic staccato movements, took out his guitar to which a mouthorgan was attached. He pulled up a chair on which he kept a small bag for people to place their offerings, and he began playing a few very pleasant numbers with lilting rhythm.
This 36-year self-taught musician has been playing on the streets like this for 19 years and gets an average of RM 40 (Approx Rs 450) a day. He works at an office during the day.
Heading to Malacca

If Kuala Lumpur is all concrete and congestion, Malacca is steeped in history and folklore. It’s 120 km southeast of KL and 250 north of Singapore, provides an amazing glimpse of the 600-year old history that saw waves of rulers starting with Malacca sultanate, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British, the Japanese and the British again.

On the way, we got into a restaurant for breakfast. I found this cat there.

Strait of Malacca


Malacca has a separate enclave for people of Portuguese descent. Only such people can own land there. It’s a government initiative to recognise the Portuguese connection and ensure that they are not left out in Malaysia. The Portuguese were among the first foreign occupiers having defeated the Malacca sultanate in 1511.
A typical old house in the Portuguese settlement of Malacca.

Aloysius De Mello and his wife at their renovated house.
Aloysius De Mello and his family live in this settlement. He is about 70 years old and is a retired veterinarian. They don’t even remember from which generation they have been in Malacca, and have totally lost all contacts with their country of origin. They speak Kristang (a combination of Malay-Portuguese), English and Malay. He says the number of settlers has increased over the years and the government has built more apartments for them. Many of the traditional Portuguese-style houses have been rebuilt in modern style. The whole place was getting decked up for the St Pedro festival from June 21 to 30.
This is perhaps the most photographed monument in Malacca. Why not? A small arch is all that remains of a huge fortress that Alfonso de Albuquerque built after conquering Malacca in 1511. It’s atop a hill that overlooks the sea.
He has been atop this hill, he says, for the past 30 years sketching the history of Malacca and selling them. He has been to an art college and has seen the growth of this tourist destination. He says in the '90s there was lot of demand for sketches, but now it has declined due to availability of photos-postcards.
(To be concluded tomorrow)

1 comment:

  1. Ahaa.. feeling a bit embarass, being a malaysian some of the things that you wrote I even did not now existed... I guess you kind of take for granted most of the things at your back yard..