Monday, March 23, 2015

Melaka on bike

We went on our first out-of-Singapore adventure this weekend. We headed up to Melaka, (or Malacca. Seriously so strange that they don't just have one official spelling.) Malaysia for the weekend. We rode the MRT down to Playa Labar and caught the bus there. We ended up getting to the mall that the bus company was in much earlier than we needed to but it ended up being a really good thing because we had a very hard time finding their storefront. Then the bus didn't even pull up even kind of close. It just parked on the side of the road quite a way down the street and we had to walk to it. It was all sort of strange and often seemed quite sketchy. The interior of the bus was a little much on the eyes but was really quite nice and comfortable. It made two more stops picking people up in Singapore before heading out to Malaysia. It didn't end up being a full bus which meant Declan got his own seat by Brennan which was great.

Don't mind my weird half-closed eye thing. 

The kids were really good and Declan slept for much of the journey. It was a lot of work to keep him awake until after crossing through immigration and customs. Tatum just colored and ate snacks and played some games on the ipad. The entire ride on the bus was just over 4 hours. 
It dropped us at the Melaka Sentral bus station and again just pulled over to the side of a very busy road and we then had to cross over this median/ditch area into the parking lot of the station and then walk into the building. Again, kind of sketchy. They also never made any announcements. So the bus driver just pulled over and got out but didn't say anything. We had no idea where we were or if it was the only stop he was making. Brennan had to get out and ask him and then come back in and tell everyone. Good thing too, or there would have been a lot of people going on to Kuala Lumpur who only wanted to go to Melaka. 

From Melaka Sentral we caught a city bus down into the main part of town and then walked to our hotel. It wasn't a very long walk but we were ignorantly unprepared for the lack of sidewalks and the crazy traffic. It was kind of scary.

When we got to our hotel Declan immediately found something to occupy himself.

And Tatum too. More of the same as what she did on the bus. They would have been perfectly fine just staying there. 
We decided to head out to find something to eat. It was a bit of a maddening search and we ended up at some average looking restaurant. But we all seemed pleased with what we got.
Then we headed to a nearby old time carnival, Asian Fun Park. Tatum really wanted to ride the "spinning wheel" and we obliged. Brennan decided to just wait with Declan and I took her. That was probably our biggest mistake. The whole ride she just kept saying that we needed to ride it again with "our whole family". She wasn't really that thrilled about the ride. Oh well, maybe now she will stop asking to ride the one in Singapore. :)

She was pretty excited at the start though. 
The next morning, after a delicious hotel breakfast of cut up hot dogs, nasty rice, tofu and noodles, and nasty milk (really?!) we got picked up for our Melaka on Bike tour with Alias. Alias is a very interesting, nearly toothless, Malaysian man.

In his van on our way.

We picked up two other ladies for the tour, one from Holland and the other from the Netherlands. I was worried that they would be frustrated being on the tour with small kids but they couldn't have been more nice. We ended up running into them a few more times around Melaka which was pretty fun.
Both of our kids freaked out when we tried to put them in the baby seats on the back of the bikes. It was the weirdest thing and quite embarrassing. Once we got that under control and bathed ourselves in bug spray we were on our way. 

The first stop was a rubber plantation. I am pretty clueless when it comes to...well pretty much anything, really. And seeing how we come by rubber naturally was realy quite fascinating to me. 
So the farmer has a special tool that fits in that crevice where the part of the tree that still has bark meets the other part. And every other day he comes out and runs that tool along there to bleed the tree which then bleeds latex which runs down and is caught in a little bowl on the side of the tree kind of like sap. He does that every other day until he runs out of bark, then he will do the other side of the tree and by the time he finishes there the bark will have grown back on the first side.
Even the roots bleed this latex. It was a lot like elmer's glue.
There it is running down and dripping into the bowl.

In that first picture of our guide, Alias, he is holding some of the hardened rubber that was basically like a rubberband. He and his son collected a bunch of strips like that and formed them into a ball, sealing it with some of the fresh latex and gave it to the kids as little bouncy ball souvenir. 

Those pods hanging from that tree are full of the cotton that Alias is holding in the second picture.

In those bushes are some pineapple. The owners with camoflauge them to keep monkeys (and people) away. 
A peppercorn plant.

The dancing lady flower.
Red pineapple. Apparently they taste the same, but they sure are pretty.
Little tiny, decorative pineapple someone was growing in their yard.
Alias pulled us over for a little break basically in somoene's yard. Tatum had to use the bathroom so Alias just took Brennan around the back where I guess he knew the bathroom would be but they didn't even ask anyone. So awkward! He kept saying that in Malaysia there is no such thing as trespassing. I'm not sure I'm completely buying that. But he did keep stopping on private property and pulling some of their plants for us to smell or feel or see closer. So he clearly wasn't worried about. The lemon grass smelled so good! I'm going to have to plant some of that eventually, just so I can smell it. :)
There were some shacks we passed and some really beautiful homes. The contrast was striking.
Declan found a giant coconut to play with.

The worker was kind enough to demonstrate how they harvest the palm oil fruit. 

Tatum looking grown up while she waits for the boring demonstration to finish.

Tatum is normally a very shy child. And on this day she was even more shy than usual. It was paintful, frustrating, and sometimes embarrassing. Alias pointed out these mimosa plants to her. It's the shy plant. When you touch the petals they close up. It was so neat! He kept telling Tatum the plant was just like her. :)))

The ground under that tree is pink from the flowers falling.
Declan zonked out on the bike, surprise surprise.

I can't even remember what plant it was that did this. Alias put one on my arm, Salandra's arm and Brennan's shirt. He just slapped them and they left their little print. 

So beautiful.
We asked Salandra to take a picture of us with Alias at the end. I'm not sure why she felt this would be the best angle. Seems quite awkward to me, but it's all we have. And we all seem very matchy matchy which also seems awkward. :)
This bike tour was hands down, my favorite part of our trip to Melaka. I read about it in a book my brother gave me and some friends also recommended it and I'm so glad we did it. My bike seat was basically like riding on a rock and my bum has been sore for days. But it was so worth it. It was fascinating to see all the amazing things these people grow right in their backyards and to get just a little peek into the life of some of the locals.  It was also great to get to know Trudy and Salandra. They were so kind and it was interesting to hear a little bit of their stories as well. Alias takes you far away from the more touristy, iconic Melaka. Not what you would usually see. So if anyone is reading this and thinking about going to Melaka, Malaysia, definitely contact Alias!

1 comment:

  1. Looks beautiful and such an adventure! I really am so impressed by all the fun and exploring you guys do! -Hayley