Malacca was for sure our best stop in Malaysia. On our free day we roamed the winding narrow streets and explored the shops. We sampled the famous chicken rice balls, which were basically rice that had been cooked in chicken stock made into a ball. They were pretty good not that great though. We tried the Chendol, which is a shaved ice treat topped with molasses, i thought it was gross. We also visited the Baba Nyonya Heratige Museum which explores the marriages of the native Malay women and the Chinese business traders that immigrated to Malacca. It was in an original Baba Nyonya home of the Chang family who were spice traders. It was beautiful and it was amazing that the intricately carved teak staircase was built with no nails because the Chinese believe nails should only be used in coffins. They also said that when they were married the bride and groom would meet each other for the first time (arranged marriages back then) and they would drink sweet tea, to have sweetness in life and eat sticky food, to stick together. Then later the group enjoyed the night market and dinner together.
We left the hotel at 6AM for Singapore yesterday and it was quite the interesting journey, at least for me anyway. We drove about three hours to the border and went through the exit point of Malaysia then reboarded the bus to drive over the straits of Mealacca and enter Singapore. We arrived at the border of Singapore to go through customs, being sure not to have any illegal contraband. including chewing gum, we had a gum chewing party while we packed the night before to use it all up before crossing the border. I get up to the customs agent and hand over my passport. It won’t scan. He tries and retries. He tries at the neighboring agent’s desk, no luck. The rest of the group has already gone through and is waiting at the bus and they shuffle me off to the sixth floor to a waiting room with several other people. I watch as the agents behind the desk scrutinize passports and one by one call people into the back like a doctors office only to release them and not let them leave yet. I ask the Indian guy next me how long he has been waiting there, he says 30 minutes. I have no way of contacting anyone from the group and I had already been briefed that the bus would leave after 20 minutes. They finally call me into the back for questioning. They ask me all sorts of questions, how much cash do you have with you (random small amounts of several currencies and no Singapore dollars), how long will you stay in Singapore (one day), do you often travel from country to country (once in college), Have you ever been to Singapore before (no), where do you travel next (Lombock, Indonesia). In my head I’m thinking this story sounds more and more like a drug smuggler the more I tell it. They finally decide that I am not a threat and allow me to take my passport and enter the country, after about 40 minutes. I find Anik waiting for me on the other side and we take the next bus into the city. The others went a head on the first bus. Turns out that since my passport was issued in 2005 it is the old version and does not scan in their scanners, however it is completely valid so I’m not sure why that should matter.
Finally Anik and I arrived at the hotel and relaxed for a minute before we went to lunch at a nearby food court. I had chickens feet with noodles which I was happy about because its only the second time I’ve seen them on a menu since I’ve been in Asia and the first time they were fried and were not as good as the black bean sauce kind. Later we waled around the city and it is for sure a modern westernized city. Also the first city in Asia where they actually follow traffic laws! Lots of impressive modern architecture and shopping malls everywhere. We even enjoyed a cocktail on the rooftop of the boat building, it had great views. We also sipped Singapore Slings at the famous Raffels Hotel, where apparently Hemingway used to do the same.
We also said goodbye to all of our trip mates, which was sad. They have all been so great and I will miss them all. I’m sure we will stay in touch via Facebook and hopefully share all of our photos. The one thing that I think I will miss out on the most by skipping my next tour is the people. I will meet plenty of others though I’m sure.