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Malaysia and Cambodia


This is about my upcoming trip to Malaysia and Cambodia. The first part is pre-trip - information about flights, itineraries, accommodation and all the things that you need to do to plan an overseas holiday. This is my first trip to Asia and I hope it may help others. Comments are very welcome and anyone who has travelled to Malaysia and/or Cambodia, please feel free to comment and offer any advice or tips that you think would be helpful. As of today ( 28th February) , in exactly 11 days (minus 30 minutes) I will be in Kuala Lumpur.

I had the most amazing time and hope you enjoy reading about my trip. Each post is numbered and I'm doing them in order from start to finish - a little like a diary.



120. Going Home

Returning from taking photos of the dawn, I had toast and tea (breakfast doesn't start until 8.00 and I would be gone before then). The pre-ordered taxi came just a few minutes late - I was almost hyper ventilating at the thought if the taxi missed the bus, I'd miss my plane! Well it didn't happen I did catch the bus and I did catch the plane.

There are people who say it's cheaper to get the bus to Melaka Sentral, but me? If I had to scrimp and scrimp to save a few ringgit it'd be a pretty deplorable situation. No - I'd rather travel in comfort and go by taxi.

Above: Melaka Sentral
The taxi arrived here and for all my worrying, the bus didn't leave on time anyway! The bus terminal is quite large with good facilities - banking, food stalls, clothing and a host of other items - it is in fact a small shopping mall and inside a bus station! How neat is that eh?

Above: Plaza Toll
One of the toll booths that are prevalent on Malaysian roads. As you can see, there are many lanes.

Above: KL Airport
On the way we passed an army truck complete with soldiers and weaponry, but the photos all came out very blurry so I haven't put them up. After around two hours, we arrived at KL LCCT airport. I like this airport - it's my favourite. I like the way you can just step outside, go for a gander, there's greenery outside, to the left is a very large eatery and the Air Asia kiosk has some good souvenir items.

I like too, Marrybrown's - their fish is really good. (I am not a McDonald's person - yuk, dreadful stuff).

Above: T 18 - Waiting for the flight home waiting for Flight D7 2722
Well now, here we are - waiting for our flight in the departure lounge. People were going up to the counter to go through, but were told not yet. And every time an Air Asia person came along, up would jump several people.

Above: No, the door is still locked!
This lady tried to open the door. It was still locked!

Above: Our plane - 30 minutes later!
Finally, the doors opened, and we are walking on the tarmac. The time was around 12.30pm and the weather was very hot.

Above: Watching movies - MASH
As this was a daytime flight, I paid the $10 to watch movies for the flight. Watching the re-run of M*A*S*H. Soon it was meal time - eating always helps pass the time doesn't it? It breaks up the journey. I fell asleep later to find it was dark outside - night had fallen. Remember, Melbourne is two hours ahead of Malaysia, but being daylight saving time, it's three hours ahead.

Above: Tullamarine Airport
Back home, and it's 12.15am (9.15pm in Malaysia). I walked outside, lit up a smoke and shivered in the cool air. Had to ring my son who was supposed to be here to pick me up. I had to catch a taxi.

I came back with wonderful memories of my time in both Cambodia and Malaysia. This was my first overseas trip to Asia and it was a wonderful experience. Since then, I have been back to Kuala Lumpur, but the memory of this first trip stands out in my memory.

Below are two poems, one is a Khmer poem called "Angkor Wat II" written by Dan Haag which was inspired by Vikram Prakash's 4-15-03 Angkor Wat lecture. The second is a Malaysian poem called "Fairytale" by Malaysian poet Xin jo Ng.

by Jan Haag

No matter how you succeed
in pushing back time and oblivion
No matter what new knowledge
you may find circulating about the universe
No matter what exquisite perfections
the architecture of your civilizations may obtain
The jungle lush and green stealing carbon
pumping oxygen comes back for Angkor Wat's splendor
Until the sun in her omnivorous beneficence and warmth,
in her perpetual greed for growth, for incineration swallows up the earth.

by Xin jo Ng

Turn around and walk away
It’s nothing but a dream far away
The laughter and the tears and the memories
The truths and the lies and the fantasies
When all mistakes were done and made
Loosen your grip and let it fade
What was never yours will never be
Open your eyes wide and see
There is no beginning there is no end
Only a fairytale woven by hand



119. Sunrise in Melaka

It is my last day, I rose early to catch a last glimpse of the city I had come to love. As the dawn was starting to come, I waited silently in the early morning watching the sky gradually lighten and the sun rise heralding the start of a new day. Below are some of the photos - I have tried to choose ones which show the differing light from first to last.

Pagi tidak Sunrise sahaja, tetapi satu keajaiban yang indah alam yang kekalahan kegelapan dan merebak Cahaya


Morning is not only Sunrise, but a beautiful miracle of nature that defeats darkness and spreads Light

118. Last Night in Melaka

WEll It's my last night in Malacca and my last night in Malaysia and I am a little sad - I wish it could go on forever. I wish it was three weeks ago and my time was just about to begin and I could relive it all over again. But of course that doesn't happen, except in fairy tales.

Above: Jonker Walk
This is my last photo of Jonker Street and I walked along thinking of all I had seen and experienced. I found a little hole in the wall operation somewhere on the left hand side and went in to order a meal. I chose the chicken and rice. There was an old grandmother, her iron grey hair tied in a bun, coming down in wisps about her face, holding this huge ladle as she stirred the large pot. A young girl (her granddaughter?) stood to her right helping with other foods. There was a fridge on the wall opposite with round tables and stools. It wasn't a pretentious place, just a very ordinary little eating house.

All the other customers kept staring at me and I wondered if there was something wrong with my appearance. Did I have dirt on my nose? Am I doing something wrong? Then the penny dropped - I was the only westerner there - everyone else was a local. I'd found one of the places where the locals go to eat not the tourists. I must say it was rather pleasant sitting there, no loud mouthed tourists, no flashy looking foreigners, just me. And the locals. (Not by a long shot is there anything flashy about me at all - some tourists even look down their elegant noses a little!), just my usual clothes and hiking sandals. And no, I didn't think to take a photo. Wish I had.

Above: Lagenda Antik
This building caught my eye - the startling white decorated with red, yellow and green. Red roses, leafy foliage and yellow urns. The three colours are repeated at the top of the columns. There are also some salmon pink designs as well - on the upper right hand side is a pink lion, on the left what looks like a flamingo.
Lagenda Antik is an antique shop in Jonker Street and is decorated in the style of a Straits Chinese house. Behind the hall is an inner courtyard and a collection of knick-knacks, porcelains and furniture of the era.

Over the River
It is time to cross over the river again and do something I promised myself I was going to do - ride in one of those colourful trishaws.

Above: Clocktower at night
Here I passed the clock tower again. For this photo, I turned the dial to dusk or sunset and this is the result - a warm orange glow, the colours are warm. The only downside is the photos come out a little blurry. I have included it to show the difference in camera setting.

Above: 7.30PM
Same subject, same time, but in this photo, I had the camera set at the normal setting. You can see the difference between this photo and the previous one - here the colours are darker and are cool colours and the photo does not have the blurriness - it is sharper.

Above: Trishaw ride
And now - it is rickshaw time! Which one shall I choose? That one there with the blue and yellow? Or that one over there decorated in blues and greens? many to choose from. ...I think ..... this one. I like the glorious pinks and reds. Yes, I'll choose this one. The trishaw driver and I discussed price - 40 myr for an hour, but due to the lateness of the evening, I wanted only half an hour. So that was settled and off we went. I wish I had done this in the daytime and been taken around - I'd have stayed for the whole hour. And it is such a pleasant way to travel. I could have save myself a lot of hot huffing and puffing and walking in the heat. Then again, I would have missed a lot - some of the best things are just walking around getting lost and finding yourself seeing things you otherwise wouldn't have.

Above: My trishaw has the best flowers
This is the full view picture - check out the other trishaws towards the right - none of them can hold a candle to "my" trishaw.

About Trishaws
In the old days, trishaw was one of the main methods of transportation in Malacca, but today with modern vehicles, the trishaw is a thing of the past. Fortunately they are still seen and used today - as a tourist attraction. They are beautifully decorated with flowers and an audio player with popular songs being played out loud.

There are only two states with tourist trishaws - Penang and Malacca. I rode in both and enjoyed them, but the trishaws of Malacca are the best looking and best decorated. Sitting behind the plethora of (artifical) flowers, a wonderfully padded seat with silver floral design, I truly felt like royalty.

Back across the river again
All too soon, it was time to go home - by home I mean my accommodation place. It's funny, but when I'm travelling, I always refer to where I stay as "home".

Above: Nighttime on the river
Here I am, back near Heeren House and one last look at the river. Photos don't do it justice - the river flowing quietly, water lapping gently alongside, a myriad of light reflected in the water showing ripples of gold.

Next: Sunrise in Malacca

117. Chinese Funeral

As I was walking here, I saw a Chinese funeral. It was the music which alerted me and I headed over. I took some photos, but not wishing to be disrespectful, didn't go too close and zoomed the lens. I found it wasn't easy finding information about Chinese funeral processions and what some of the symbols are - e.g. two large paper lanterns carried on long poles. What do they mean, what is the significance? At the head of the procession, a man carries something that looks like the shape of a fancy bird cage with white, pink and red ribbons/bows on it but that too, I have not found what it is. If anyone reading this can answer this, I would welcome comments so I may increase my knowledge. (Thank you)

Chinese funeral procession is pictured here.
Traditionally, the procession starts from the house of the deceased to the cemetery. According to custom, the route follows the normal route the deceased used to take in his or her life. For example, where he/she used to go to the market, shopping, to work or to visit friends. It is the last farewell to this life.

Above: Drummer and musicians
The procession is accompanied by live (or recorded) music, sometimes the tune is lively and upbeat but in some cases it is sad. From my research, the time for this procession is usually done either at around 10.30 a.m. or 2.30 pm. It was around 2.30pm when I was here.

Above: Undertaker's vehicle
Sin Hock Siew Undertaker

Above: Family Photo
Chinese traditionally wore white clothes at funerals. Grandchildren wear blue clothes and great grandchildren, if there are any, wear light blue clothes. Two of the men wear red sashes and three are holding sticks with red handkerchiefs. I have yet to find the reason for this.

Above: Photo
A photo of the deceased is placed at the front of the hearse.

Above: Inside the undertaker's truck
Musicians stand behind the undertaker's truck in which can be seen yellow and white floral wreaths and a mock sedan chair.

Above: Chinese funeral
Occasionally paper models of objects such as cars, statues ships etc. are carried with the procession symbolising the wealth of the deceased's family.

Above: Procession
Vertical banner bearer in the front. This banner is known as "Teik". Normally the color of the banner is white, but since the man died after reaching 80 years old, the colour is red. It bears the eulogy of the deceased man.

Above: Drummer
Musicians follow.

Above: Funeral procession
Next come men carrying large Chinese paper lanterns.

Above: Funeral procession
Two of the men are holding what looks like a tambourine, the man on the left beats his with a stick.

Above: Hearse
Mourners follow the hearse. Yellow and white “holy” paper is placed on coffin to protect the body from dangerous spirits. A yellow cloth is draped over the coffin.

Above: Procession
Mourners place a cloth over their heads. Some have a cloth draped over their shoulders.

Ancestor Worship
A funeral is not the end of the journey. The deceased will always be remembered, especially during the Qing Ming festival (Tomb Sweeping Day). It is the old custom of the Chinese people to honour their ancestors. They believe that the spirits of their ancestors will look after them in this life, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Therefore, offering of joss sticks, sometimes food like fruits or cakes are always present on the main altar in their houses, accompanied by daily prayers.

Next: Last night in Malacca


116. Chinatown

After leaving the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum. I made my way further into Chinatown with the intention of seeing several "sites". I do find Chinatown(s) fascinating, no matter where they are. Home here in Melbourne, we have a wonderful Chinatown right in the middle of the city in the Little Bourke Street area from Swanston Street all the way up to Spring Street. It's the oldest Chinatown in Australia (1851).

As I wandered around I was immersed in the sights and sounds and gaiety and hubub. I was so enjoying myself, that I did have to retrace my steps not a few times and the many tombs etc I had intended to see and photograph went unseen. I did however, manage to see a few.

Masjid Kampung Kling
This is one of the oldest mosques in the country with Sumatran architectural features. It has a three-tiered pyramid-shape rood and a pagoda like minaret, portraying a mixture of East-West architectural influences. It is the site of the Mandi safar or bathing festival celebrated by Indian moslems during the moslem month of safar. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, safar changes throughout the seasons. (From tourist brochure)

The mosque is in Goldsmith Road (Malay, Jalan Tukang Emas) and is also known as "Harmony Street" because it's near the Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple and Cheng Hoon Teng Temple. With so many religious buildings it's no wonder the street is nicknamed "Harmony" Street.

Above: Masjid Kampung Kling mosque
I quite liked the roof architecture, the pyramidal type roof has white sculptured joinery and blue and white lacework around the rooflines is decorative and pleasing to the eye. As far as photos go, this was the best I could do - trying to capture the roofline in one section. I'd have liked to be able to get a shot of the roof plus the pagoda (minaret) but it wasn't possible. Now if we could just get all the people milling about with their cameras and other paraphernalia out of the way I might have stood a better chance. But alas, as often happens, it was not to be.

Above: Entrance detail
The entrance arch which is quite unique, was built at the same time as the main building.

Above: Kampung Kling Mosque
It is a minaret but resembles a pagoda. This too, has a matching green roof which I couldn't get in the shot. There are a couple of loud speakers up high in the top windows. Minarets are used for the call to prayer and provide a visual focal point. I liked the smooth straight lines of this - quite plain with unfussy detail it is the simplicity which draws the eye. At least in my opinion. There is a place for fancy artwork and carving and there is a place for understated simplicity.

Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
This beautiful old temple is at 25 Temple street (Jalan Tokong) and is one of the oldest Chinese temples in Malaysia, being built in 1645 and was was founded by the Kapitan China Tay Kie Ki aka Tay Hong Yong. It is also the most venerable of Malaysia's temples. Known too as "Temple of Clear Clouds", the main shrine hall has no nails whatsoever - nails are unlucky in Chinese culture - which makes the stateliness and dignity of Cheng Hoon Teng's structure even more impressive.

Above: Cheng Hoon Teng Temple Gates
Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, Quan Yin and was constructed by skilled workers from China - master craftsmen, artisans and carpenters and with its curved roof ridge, chien nien decoration, and gable design, reflects the architectural style and craftmanship of Southern China, mainly from the provinces of Fujian and Guangdong.
The roof of the temple, in Chinese tradition, has beautiful carvings. All the building materials were imported from China.

Above: Chien Nien ~ decorative sculptures

Above: Chien Nien
The term Chien Nien literally means "cut and glue," and is a centuries old art which is one of the most outstanding visual characteristics of Chinese temples. It is the art of turning ceramic bowls and pieces of glass into artistic figures that come alive with colour and symbolism and your eye is drawn to the decoratvie visual. Traditionally, Chien Nien turned waste into art, because the artisans used broken ceramic and porcelain bowls to construct the figures.

Did you know?
The building of Cheng Hoon Teng Temple conforms strictly to the feng shui principles, incorporating the fundamental belief that every aspect of life is closely related to attaining perfect harmony with nature. The temple was carefully laid out to ensure a view of the river and high ground on either side.

Above: Round window
This is the elaborate design on the left side of the temple gate.

Above: Cheng Hoon Teng Temple doors
Chinese characters on the doors

Above: At prayer
Inside the Cheng Hoon Teng temple. The central altar is dedicated to Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy. To her left (in the worshippers' direction) is Ma Choe Poh, guardian of fishermen, sailors and sea travellers. Next to her is the goddess of birth. On the far end is Kuan Kong. The diety with the gold face is Pau Sen Ta Tek, the god of welding.

Welding? There's a god of welding? I mean most of us know there's a god of fishermen, and a god of war, or a god of thunder - but welding? Well, chalk that up in your memory under "Bits of Useless Trivia" - Just think, next time you're at a party, or a gathering and some smartarse know-it-all brags about his knowledge, you can bring out this little gem - bet there wouldn't be too many who know that there's a god of welding, much less the name of that god!!
There was a women's sanitary product some years ago which had bits of useless trivia on the wrapping. One that sticks in my mind is "Sausages were legal tender in East Germany until 1990" - see what I mean by Bits of Useless Trivia?

Hang Kasturi's Mausoleum
Hang Kasturi was one of the five famous Malay warriors during the time of the Malacca Sultanate, particularly during the reign of Sultan Mansur Shah (1456-1477), the other four being Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Lekiu and Hang Lekir. As young men, they studied the martial art of silat under the same silat master.

Above: The mausoleum is surrounded by high, white walls.
Do yon know, one thing I've never really understood is why are there always high walls around a cemetery or mausoleum? I mean it's not like those on the outside want to be in there and those on the inside aren't going to get out. Hmmm ...

What is Silat?
Silat is the word for indigenous martial arts that originates from Malaysia. Silat is one of the sports included in the South East Asia Games. The best way to describe this (Silat) in my own words would be it is a collection of different styles of fighting combined together.

Above: Hang Kasturi's tomb
Hang Kasturi's tomb has strong Hindu influences in its structures, typically there are the triangular holes for putting oil lamps. (So says the brochure). Me? I thought the uprights had a Moorish look to them and the triangular cutouts were for decoration.

Who was Hang Kasturi?
There's obviously been very little written about him because if there was, I would have found it by now. I've searched that many websites (even translated from Malay to English) to no avail. The bare minimum is all that comes up and by the bare minimum I do mean the bare minimum - it's not enough to fill a postage stamp.

Now, I've read through the stories and rather than do the stilted version, I'll just write it in my own words .....

ONCE UPON A TIME there lived a fellow called Hang Kasturi who hung out with his four best mates - Hang Jebat, Hang Lekir, Hang Lekiu and Hang Tuah. Kasturi and his mates had learned the Malaysian martial arts since they were knee high to a grasshopper and by the time they reached adulthood were the very best warriors around.

Word of their great fighting skill reached the Sultan's ears and he picked them to be his personal guards. Sultan Mansur Shah was pretty pleased with them for they fought his wars, helped him conquer enemies and gained him greater power.

But (there's always a but) it seems that some people at the Royal Court suffered with the green eyed monster and got pretty pissed off and plotted and planned ways to get rid of them. Word got around that one of them (Hang Tuah) was having it off with one of the Sultan's fancy women. Now - a Sultan may be thankful indeed to these blokes for all they had done for him but come near any of his women and you're up you know what creek without a paddle. So what is a Sultan to do? "Off with his head" - Sultan ordered the bloke killed, in other words, shoot first, ask questions later.

The chap charged with getting rid of Hang Tuah thought it was a crock and hid him in the jungle.

Now, when Kasturi heard about his friend, he was so angry he rose against the Sultan who later found out that Hang Tuah was innocent, wasn't dead, gave him a pardon and ordered him to kill Kasturi. Turns out both of these blokes were good and honest and hadn't been dallying around - it was Hang Jebat who had been having it off with one of the Sultan's women. But ... with the annals of time it really doesn't seem all that important today. I like to think that Jebat fell in love and the lady returned his love and they were a pair of star-crossed lovers. In another place, another time, things may have been different.

I don't really think much of this Sultan, this Mansur Shah to be honest. He couldn't be bothered to investigate whether the claim against Hang Tuah was true or not, he acted in haste and made a bad judgement. One wonders whether it was his heart that was hurt or just his pride. Understandably, a man wouldn't much like the idea of being a cuckold but he should still have asked questions. Because of his pride people were killed. They were pretty ruthless and blood-thirsty in them days weren't they?

Above: Tomb of Hang Kasturi information board

Sri Poyyatha Vinayaga Moorthy temple
Moving on from Hang Kasturi's resting place, we come to this colourful little beauty - the Sri Poyyatha Vinayaga Moorthy temple. Bit of a mouthful that. Built in 1781 by the HIndu community, the Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple (sometimes referred to as simply Sri Poyyatha Temple) is said to be the oldest Hindu Temple in Malaysia. The temple is dedicated to the deity Vinayagar, aka Ganesha, the elephant deity.

Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple is the main focal point for the Hindu community in Malacca as it links all the other Hindu temples in Malacca.
Above: The gopuram of the temple
I couldn't get a decent photo of this place - the lower section was all locked and had bars in front of it. It looked rather old and forlorn and not very happy. So I've cropped the picture and just showing the gopuram and a section of roofline.

Above: Sri Poyyatha Vinayaga Moorthy temple
This is what the inside looks like, I pushed the camera lens through the bars to take this photo. From what I've been able to find out, it's mostly used for celebrations now.

Above: Chinese temple
A Chinese temple I found. No idea which street it's in or what it's called.

Above: Shopping

Above: Orang Belanda Art Café
The Orang Belanda Art Café (or Dutchman's Art Café) is in Heeren Street near where I was staying. They do French, Dutch and Scandinavian cuisine.

An Orang Belanda also refers to the Proboscis monkey

Next: A Chinese funeral.

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