Winter Escape – Muar – 2015

THIS SHORT TRIP WAS PURELY medicinal, with the bitter taste of two long flights offset by therapeutic benefits, both climatic and culinary.

We swapped the ‘Antarctic vortex’ of a particularly frigid Sydney winter for a week in the sweltering respite of lowland Malaysia. Our bones quickly thawed in the thermal contrast, the redness retreating from my chilblained fingers, the circulation returning to my icy toes, and our taste buds tingling in anticipation of gastronomic heaven.

The transition to our other life was seamless – our ears interpreted the sounds of a language suddenly relevant again, our olfactories drew in the familiar aromas, and our survival instincts led us into the embracing metropolis of Kuala Lumpur – deep into our comfort zone.

After a 6pm touchdown, it was quite late as we made our way from the Pasar Seni LRT through the Saturday night throng of Chinatown to our preferred hotel. Our reliable Chinese hotel was friendly and well located on Jalan Sultan, with our 80 ringgit room waiting in honour of our e-mail request. Our turn around time was about thirty seconds as we dumped our bags and headed out to another reliable stalwart – the bak kut teh vendor just up the road. I’d been day dreaming about this fragrant pork soup for hours, and we dunked our char kway into the steaming clay pot with satisfaction as the city raced around us.

By the time we returned to our room we were completely exhausted after our eighteen hour day. We enjoyed the bliss of a cold shower, most recently hitherto an unthinkable torture, and collapsed onto our bed, falling asleep to the cacophony outside – cars honking, motorcycles buzzing, merchants spruiking, even gongs crashing – all drifting up to us from the streets below.

IT WAS DARK AND COMPARATIVELY quiet when we woke the next morning. The sun came suddenly at 7 o’clock and, after the previous days rain, it was cool when we stepped out. In Jalan Hang Lekir we took a leisurely breakfast of chee chung fun (wide rice noodles doused in a spicy red sauce with sesame seeds) and johk – the fish version was fresh and gingery, while Dave’s pork option was even better with a flavour punch of sesame oil. We washed it all down with icy teh pang, a milky oolong brew there at the Tang City food court, and a tooth stainingly strong kopi pang.

A Sunday morning stroll was then in order. After an entire day squashed into seats intended for people my size, we needed to stretch our legs, so we headed to the Taman Tasik Perdana. It was a bit of a hike in flip-flops, but the lake gardens were a botanic oasis where we could sit conspicuously on a bench and relax as the local population indulged in their morning exercise. Jogging, walking, stretching, roller-blading, cycling, practicing tai chi – paunched Indians, hijab-clad Malay ladies, elderly Chinese, everyone was represented, and it all happened as if in slow-motion to counter the equatorial heat.
We sat for some hours and made a plan for the day ahead, finally moving off when the city’s commercial face awakened.

Back in the hubbub we set off through Chinatown, ducking into the Sze Ya temple and filling our lungs with incense smoke as the idol was lovingly prepared for the day in an atmosphere of easy-going devotion.
Further along, Little India was still wiping the sleep from its eyes. The incense smell in the air subtly changed to something more sweetly floral as we wandered into Jalan Melayu and along Jalan T.A.R. browsing and shopping all the way to the Pasar Baju Bundle on Jalan Haji Taib. Across the road in Chow Kit we braved the wet market in our flip-flops to buy some kopi serbuk, roasted with sugar and margarine, then sat to enjoy rations of jackfruit and durian while we found our bearings. The smell of durian had been luring us since the baggage carousel at the airport and we could resist no longer.

Re-oriented and back on our way, we soon found ourselves in Kampung Bahru, a traditional Malay neighbourhood juxtaposed in front of KLCC, the Petronas towers rising incongruously behind kampung houses looking as if on the cusp of extinction. The Gerak 21 food court, nestled in a grove of tropical vegetation, was heaving with lunchtime activity. Ikan bakar berempah, spicy grilled fish, was the focus of the menu, and the buffet table stretching away from the barbeque groaned under the weight of dozens and dozens of delicious dishes. Sambals, curries of every description, gorengan, stir-fries, soups and salads. Hungry after our mornings activity we dived in head first, going for the barbequed cencaru and filling our plates from the smorgasbord. We both ate very well for just 22 ringgit. The fish was spicy and delicious, the lodeh perfect, and the tahu a flavoursome addition to the sayur-sayuran, not to mention the ubi leaves and pumpkin in santan. The kretek smoking rasta at our table and a live dangdut musician only added to our dining experience.

From those far-flung reaches we somehow found our way back to Chinatown where we rested a while at the fountain in Medan Pasar, entertained by groups of Sunday leisure seekers posing in the water which shot from the pavement, dripping and fixing their hair, while loud masala music boomed from the public speakers. It made for great people-watching and we sat there  on a bench taking in the scene for some time…

Thus rested, we decided that there was time for an excursion to Bukit Bintang for a spot of shopping, so we jumped on the purple ‘gokl’ bus and shot out to the Golden Triangle. The said bus was the scene of a moment in time that tickled us with an Indian tourist securing seating for his family by self-confidently nudging a Chinese local from his seat with a brusque hand gesture indicating his proposed re-location “take a seat”. The looks exchanged were priceless.
Over a couple of hours we bagged ourselves some jeans and trousers in the glitzy neighbourhood, then bused back to home base.

But the day wasn’t over yet. On Sundays there was a night market in Bangsar Bahru, so we decided to check it out, first taking the LRT to Bangsar, then finding our way along by-ways and highways to the small but well patronised pasar malam. At 6pm it was already in full swing and we joined the parade of grazers, whetting our whistles with a couple of tumblers of soy milk before tucking into the deliciously spicy popiah made by Alex Yeoh – he could barely keep up to the demand, slapping chilli sauce, stirring preserved turnip, flinging savoury fillings and rolling delicate wrappers as fast as lightning. This was a not to be missed treat – and only 2.30 ringgit per piece! Food at the next stall also couldn’t be passed up – the aroma of asam laksa drifted through the air from a giant bubbling cauldron and, still wiping the remnants of popiah from our lips, we sat to enjoy a couple of bowls brimming with goodness. Fat and chewy rice noodles, hunks of sardine, slices of pineapple and a sprig of mint in a spicy broth prepared by a specialist of his trade – 5.50 ringgit per serve. We looked longingly at the other dishes on offer which we no longer had room in our stomachs for – fried cempedek, lala omelette, puttu, fried tau kway, appam, martabak… We left with half a kilo of mangosteens, heading home to collapse after a great day.
The cold shower was even more welcome than the previous days, our feet were tired and swollen after a marathon 24 kilometres of walking – no easy feat in a city so hostile to pedestrians.

WE CHOSE CLOSED-IN FOOTWEAR THE next morning when we stepped out – an essential requirement for a wander around Pasar Pudu, the city’s largest fresh produce market located in the south of the city. Dawn was just breaking as we found our way into the tumult, the frenzy of early morning activity at its peak as we were swept along with shoppers and delivery men, pushing carts through the mucky passageways surfaced with a midden of crushed shells.
We munched on a hot appam balik (crispy peanut pancake) in a rather unappetising setting – the smell of death coming from the slaughterhouse heavy in the air, along with the fragrance of fresh herbs, spices, fruits and roasted ducks, sitting picturesquely in baskets, cloaked in white paper with their heads poking out. We bought a pineapple to keep us sustained, 3 ringgit for a sweet and juicy specimen which we ate adjacent to the santan kelapa vendors, fresh coconut falling softly like snow from gigantic grinders…
In an adjacent street we found a curry shop and sat streetside enjoying roti canai, slapped into flaky perfection and served with a thick, yellow gravy and frothy teh tarik. Even though it was an Indian establishment a variety of faces sat around the tables. Next to us a Chinese gent dunked you tiao into his teh tarik, and a Malay man put down no less than three of the nasi lemak parcels from a tray on the table. The diaspora that makes up Malaysia seems to fit together like a jigsaw – the pragmatic Chinese with their easy-going nature and astute business acumen keep the country prosperous; the equally hard-working Indians keep the nation functioning and, like the Chinese lending their best culinary ideas; and the Bumiputra seizing the opportunities granted to them by the government.

Moving on we went back to the LRT station and crammed ourselves onto a carriage with the peak hour rush. The train was amusingly equipped with Rexona dispensers, strategically located next to the overhead handles, and in between station announcements a cheery voice invited us to stay fresh with Rexona! We next transferred to a more sedate monorail ride to Tun Sambanthan. There we climbed the hill to Thien Tou, a large Chinese temple with a nice view of the city. Devotional music lent a calming atmosphere to the busy shrine and we found a pavilion to sit in, capturing the religious activity on the terrace below and the hazy view.

Back down the hill we found our way to the Chetti district of Brickfields for another taste of India. We shopped for grocery staples and lunched in a ‘banana leaf’ restaurant. Vishal’s on Jalan Scott was busy with the midday rush, slapping down banana leaves in front of hungry patrons to be piled with scoops of rice and dollops of poriyals, dals and kootus. Our ‘pure veg’ meal included leafy greens, gourds, bhindi and paneer with spicy dal flavoured with a tangy fruit. It was finger-licking good and we were even complimented on our eating skills by a pair of KL’ites whose conversation distracted me enough that I turned back to my banana leaf to find it had been refilled to maximum capacity by a grinning curry-wallah. After paying our bill of just 13 ringgit we left, barely able to walk, let alone contemplate the sweets we’d been eyeing off earlier. A bus took us back to Pasar Seni.

Having already covered another 16 kilometres that morning we had an easy afternoon in our own neighbourhood. It was actually forced upon us by a thunderstorm; somewhere between adding to our crockery set at Kwong Yik Seng on Jalan Tun H.S. Lee and browsing in Peter Hoe’s homeware store we got stranded by a downpour, marooned on a bench watching the rain and the passers-by. The day petered to a soggy end and we retired, again worn out after clocking up a total of 20 kilometres for the day.

THE FOLLOWING MORNING WAS FRESH and clear, and we decided to move on from KL. A bowl of beef noodles and a plate of lam mee (fat wheat noodles with chicken and prawns in a gloopy sauce) washed down with teh o at the popular and atmospheric Lai Foong Kopitiam, set us up for the day ahead.

We packed our bags and took a commuter train to Bandar Tasik Selatan for the southern bus interchange. Along the way the view of KL, usually obscured by smog, was one we’d never seen, with skies cleared by the overnight rain we could see the city backed by the mountains of the central highlands. At the new and orderly Terminal Bersepadu Selatan we bought two tickets to Muar and boarded our Mayang Sari coach for a 10 o’clock departure. It was a two hour ride on the Lebuh Raya through palm oil and rubber plantations with the occasional housing estate mushrooming from construction scars. As we neared our target we passed quintessential kampung life – elevated wooden houses and roadside stalls selling home-made snacks and fruits – rambutan, durian and enormous pisang raja.

MUAR WAS AN OLD MALAY seaside town spread along the bank of the Sungai Muar – immediately likable for its old town charm and friendly faces. We wandered along Jalan Ali until coming across Hotel Leewa. Fifty ringgit got us a big, comfortable room which we were shown to by an elderly gentleman who was considerably slighter than myself. There was even a traditional bak mandi in the bathroom for our bathing pleasure. We settled ourselves in then went for a stroll to find lunch, soon realising that our allocation of one night in Muar may be insufficient.
We opted for the locally famous mee Bandung at Abu Bakar Hanipah’s shop on Jalan Abdullah. Hanipah himself beckoned us in and joined us for a photo or two when our noodles arrived, bathed in a heavy sauce of dried prawns, chilli and beef broth, garnished with school prawns and poached egg.

The thing we love to do most is to go where we’ve never been, so our afternoon exploring Muar was sheer pleasure. We roamed around getting our bearings, checking out what the town had to offer, and were surprised by how much we liked the place.
Rows of old shophouses painted in themes of pastel lined many of the streets and the riverfront offered shady spots to sit and relax. Eating options seemed limitless – we would have needed to stay for weeks to sample all the things which caught our eye. In the wet market we even found a fruit which we’d never seen before – pulusan madu was like a cross between a lychee and a rambutan but with a different honey flavour.
In a spice store on Jalan Maharani we were given a warm reception by the affable proprietor Zulaikha, our modest purchases incommensurate with the amount of time we spent there, chatting and taking part in a photo shoot.
Down near the river mouth, under the shade of tropical acacias we could see Melaka in the distance further up the coast, and the twin mosques of Masjid Jamek Sultan Ismail and Ibrahim called out to each other across the river at the time of afternoon prayer, their colour schemes of multi-hued blues creating a beautiful feature. We sat contentedly on the sea wall snacking on cool slices of guava and dragonfruit.
Here the promenade was a popular recreation spot. Some sat and caught the breeze like us; some fished; others walked with local briskness; and then there were groups making use of the reflexology circuit – a path paved with pebbles winding around a manicured garden of lawn and topiary which one walked barefooted. It looked very pretty, but was actually torturous and we limped away marvelling at the tenacity of the hand-clapping circuit regulars.

Back in town we headed for the Pusat Penjaja Bentayan, a cavernous food court sheltered by a large tin roof with whirling ceiling fans and dozens of stalls plying their evening trade. At 6:30pm it was already lively, so we found a table and made a bee-line for the otak-otak stall in the far reaches. Palm leaf wrapped parcels were lined up on the grill like a xylophone with chef tending his charges like a musician, turning, rotating and dispatching. There were fish and prawn flavours, so we got a mix of each – ten pieces for 7.50 ringgit.
No wonder Muar was famous for these morsels, the spicy filling was flavoured by the palm leaf, steamed with a smokey barbeque taste. The prawn ones had the edge and I polished off most of them while Dave devoured a nasi campur, highlighted with a stir-fried bittergourd dish and a chicken curry with attitude. Not to be outdone by my otak-otak glutony, he then indulged in an ais kacang – the icy confection particularly good with red beans, grass jelly and cendol. Pleased with our day we headed home to put our feet up, not sure if they were swollen from the heat or our venture into reflexology.

MUAR WAS SLOW TO GET started in the morning. At 7:30am there was little streetside activity, everybody perhaps exhausted after a night of disturbing our sleep. By 8 o’clock, however, palls of smoke were issuing from a row of cafes on Jalan Maharani and we pulled up some chairs streetside for a breakfast of sate. Flames were leaping from the grills on the footpath as our order was prepared at R and H Cafe. A mix of sate daging and ayam was accompanied by nasi impit and a good, chunky peanut sauce with a side order of lontong sayur with tahu, egg and beanthread amongst the shredded choko and cabbage in a tasty coconut gravy and a ladel of chilli sauce. We ate very well for 18 ringgit.
A few doors along at Sai Kee 434 we stepped inside for a coffee fix, taking our brews hot Dave opted for the 434 kopi while I went for the ‘elephant bean’. The kaya on our toast was dark with gula Melaka and the coffee was strong and smooth. We bagged some packages of coffee powder to take Home and left with a nice coffee buzz.

By this time we had already determined to stay another day in Muar, so we set off on a morning walk, heading along Jalan Miriam toward the coast. This neighbourhood, close to the Istana and grand colonial administration buildings was very genteel as was the seaside jogging park adjacent to the golf course which we eventually came to. With benches to sit on, birds to watch, and mangroves lapped by the Straights of Melaka, this was an idyllic public space, and we whiled away the remainder of the morning hardly bothered by the thunderstorm that passed over. Topics of conversation revolved around ways we could retire to this place and how soon we could do so…

Back in town we headed for the local bus stand to design an afternoon excursion, but the 12:30 bus to Parit Jawa still hadn’t shown up by 1 o’clock, so we abandoned that idea and instead headed to Jalan Sisi for lunch at the Muar Recipe – a restaurant we’d noticed the previous day which specialised in local dishes. It was deservedly popular, with a scrum formed around the buffet and a scramble for seating. We piled our plates with spicy goodness – ikan asam pedas, sour fish curry was the speciality, but just as good was the spicy sardines, sardin berlada, and the range of sayur-sayuran was wide and varied. There were big smokey chunks of tahu gorengkentang, onion and garlic omelette, fried chicken, tauge tumis and stir-fried leaves with chicken gravy. The friendly propietor kept checking that we were enjoying our meal, and our 25 ringgit bill included a fluorescent sirop Bandung, a milky soda in an alarming shade of pink.

Our afternoon turned into a leisurely amble around town with some shopping and snack-tracking activities. We bought some kitchen mats for a bargain at the ‘two ringgit’ shop, and discovered a culinary sensation at Ma Ma’s Soya Beancurd shop – flavoured douhua… The black sesame was to die for – not too sweet, delicate in flavour, silky in texture, and 100% organic – excellence in douhua for afficionados.
Muar was certainly home to a sophisticated food culture, an untouted serendipity which we wanted to bottle.

In the evening we again sought out the breeze by the river, lazily demolishing a kilo of rambutans which we bought in the market for a mere 2 ringgit. In the hawkers market on Jalan Haji Abu, also known as ‘t’am cjia kuay’ or ‘voracious glutton eating street’, we drank air limau (fresh kalamansi lime juice) and tried the teo chew o chien, an omelette made with fresh plump oysters served with a sweet chilli sauce on a plate of plastic coated newspaper. We teamed it with some otak-otak – more succulent than the previous ones, but at the expense of a less leafy, smokey flavour.
Well satisfied with our repast we dropped into the Nuttukottai temple on our way home, in time for the evening puja. We sat in front of the mandap warmly welcomed by the chowkidar and two priests as bells rang and thick frankincense smoke perfumed the air in ancient ritual. One sole worshipper took part in the puja. It was a beautiful thing which made us yearn for India…

DISTURBANCES ON OUR SECOND NIGHT in Muar came mostly from Mother Nature. At midnight the noise behind the reception desk was withered to silence by a look from our doorway, and at 3am a powerful electrical storm drowned out the sound of the nocturnal drag strip along Jalan Ali. Torrential rain came with crashing overhead lightning strikes. It continued until first light, so it was out into the drizzle we went to find our breakfast.

This second morning it was yum cha which caught our eye – a non-descript shop house on Jalan Haji Abu was doing a brisk trade while all around it were deserted. We edged past the huge steamers stacked high out the front to find a table inside. It was assumed by the wait staff that we would understand Mandarin so that was the lingua franca of breakfast in which we swiftly ordered a pot of green tea and a plate of xiao bao, delicious steamed buns filled with braised pork. From the cart we chose la jiao, doufu and eggplant expertly stuffed with fish paste, as well as seaweed dumplings and pork dumplings. Our spread cost “shi liu kuai” and even though we were quite full we couldn’t resist the urge to try another coffee blend from the Sai Kee 434.
The drizzle had eased and we were in no rush to get to the bus stand for our onward ride to Melaka, so we sprang up to Jalan Maharani to see if the “Queens coffee” was available.
We were in luck and our chosen brew came to our table in a pukka floral tea cup, prepared as a cappucino, but with the outstanding addition of a coffee flower floating regally on the milk froth. The heat of the coffee amplified the sweet scent of the bloom, and once stirred we inhaled it as we sipped. The taste was luxurious with a floral note that lasted as an aftertaste and became more pronounced the longer it steeped. The price of luxury was 7 ringgit.

AT THE BUS STAND WE took the local 9 o’clock service to Melaka, following the coast road at a leisurely pace, wending our way through small towns and villages, collecting and setting down the characters who were lucky enough to live along the way.
By the time we reached Melaka, two hours later, the rain had set in again and when we touched on the closest point to the old town centre we launched ourselves out into the wet – the worst conditions in which to search for a room.
Dave stepped up, dumping me and his pack in the shelter of the place we stayed in last time, for a less encumbered hunt. I had just about dried out when he returned, dripping but successful in his endeavour, with a key to a room at a hotel just across the river in Jalan Kee Ann. One hundred and forty ringgit for two nights of peaceful comfort. We trudged there in stages, caught by another downpour, only to have to venture straight back out again in need of money and food.
After securing the former, we headed to a reliable favourite for the latter – Poh Piah Lwee on Jalan Kubu. Again we dashed in stages between deluges, eventually reaching our goal to be rewarded with two bowls of rich, spicy laksa and a plate of popiah. We already knew that the laksa was good, but the popiah was exceptional with crumbled doufu, lettuce, and perhaps a hint of pork crackling rolled in with the mix. We then cooled our palates at ‘Jonker 88’ with a baba cendol – the red kidney beans the only sign of good nutrition hidden beneath the orb of shaved ice doused in coconut milk and thick palm sugar syrup.

We mooched for the remainder of the afternoon, the inclement weather passed and we eventually returned home with a dragonfruit and a big bag of jambu merah unable to face another meal.

I WOKE ON FRIDAY MORNING with a strange sensation which I hadn’t experienced in almost a week – hunger… An early breakfast can be tricky to find in Malaysia sometimes, but we sniffed out a food court on Jalan Bukit Cina, just beyond the tidy little Eun Seng wet market. The place was packed with regular patrons, most going for the fish ball noodle soup. We opted for the chewy kuay tiao version with fried wanton, regretting that  we couldn’t also accommodate the banana and green tea muffins on offer from a roaming sales lady. We could, however, manage a deep fried red bean doughnut as we passed back through the pasar, also picking up some of the elusive kopitiam coffee cups. We paid ten ringgit for two sets, so solid that they weighed over a kilo.

Later, once the shops opened, we did some more trading at Taman Melaka Raya – first purchasing our bus tickets to KLIA, then losing track of time in Dataran Pahlawan buying trousers, pants and shorts in a size-friendly shopping environment. Struggling under the load of our booty we stopped at Selvam’s on our way home for a lunchtime thali. The Friday banana leaf special for 9 ringgit was an obvious choice and included eight curries plus dal, sambhar, pappads, chutney and vada. The beetroot poriyalbindhi lobia korma and potato masala were the stars of the show and we ate like champions, adding to the burden we carried home.

The day had heated up so we took a bit of a breather and when we stepped out again the weekend crowds had already begun rolling in. Tour buses cruised into town with faces pressed expectantly to the windows, pedestrians began crowding the streets in Chinatown, and Stadthuys was like a press gallery with a picture in front of the fountain de-rigeur. The wand of Narcissus was a much used accessory in facilitating imaginative selfies and group shots before all climbed aboard tricked-up rickshaws for a lap of the block, with a loud soundtrack non-optional.

After dark the three-wheelers came to life with LED lights and parked at the end of Jalan Hang Jebat which morphed into the Jonker Walk night market, a great evenings entertainment. That we weren’t really hungry didn’t matter – we funnelled along with the crowds, our senses so assaulted by the food on offer that we felt we’d sampled everything anyway. We did share a char kuay tiao and a freshly squeezed sour plum juice before making our way back through the crush, cautiously avoiding the punters photographing their
‘one bite durian puff” challenge, and the sate sticks being wielded by mobile diners. Just a few metres in any direction away from this throbbing neon night market the streets were practically deserted, and we walked home in the dark as if we’d imagined the whole scene.

WHEN THE DAY DAWNED ON the final morning of our trip we had already established ourselves at a table in Lou Yong Mo with a selection of dim sum spread out between us. The yum cha restaurant opposite the Kampung Kling mosque was full of tea-sipping locals, even as the stars were still in the night sky. We lingered over several pots of green tea, the perfect palette cleanser between xiao bao, fried yam balls, sweet red la jiao and turnip cake. By the time we got through our mo man ji the sun had risen and tourists from KL began to filter in while the locals drifted off, the staff stashing their personal teapots for their next visit.

We strolled to Bukit Cina in a half-hearted effort to get some exercise, walking to the top for a view of town in the early morning quiet of the Chinese graveyard, only active with other exercisers and golden orioles. We spent the rest of the morning mooching, poking around the shops and climbing Bukit Saint Paul. Inside the ruined church we were peering into what was once the tomb of Francis Xavier only to be surprised by the sight of fingers suddenly reaching through the grill below, then a man appearing, climbing up from the forbidding depths to retrieve some of the coinage which had been thrown in. The caretaker then unlocked the cage he had appeared into and non-chalantly walked off, unaware of how he appeared to be rising from the dead!

We put a lot of thought into what should be our final meal before our departure, but when we spotted Wilson’s, a traditional nasi ayam shop on Lorong Bukit Cina it was a simple, unanimous decision – and a good one. The chubby uncle wielding a cleaver at the preparation bench was an expert who served nothing else in his shop but chicken rice. He chopped with a tap-tapping expertise, sliding the chicken onto a layer of sliced cucumber, spooning over a ladel of special sauce, then garnishing with a tomato and coriander tribute to the succulent poultry. The accompanying broth was flavoursome, the rice delicious and his chilli sauce rounded it out to perfection. We ate to the sound of his constant chopping and the “ahhh’s” and “mmmm’s” of the other diners, most of whom snap-chatted their meal before consuming it. The entire priceless experience cost ten ringgit.
Just a few steps down the street we finished off with some tauhu halia and a ‘Michael Jackson’ – icy soy milk with black grass jelly. We sat with a family from Singapore, their patriarch Siow so delighted that we shared his love of the hot gingery tauhu halia that he treated us to it, and left us with a fist full of business cards and important tips on where to find the best noodles, cendol and hair treatments for next time we visited Melaka.

WITH THAT WE RETURNED TO our hotel to collect our bags and headed for Mahkota to catch our transport to the airport. All that remained of our week long sojourn was the unpleasant journey Home to the freezing depths of winter. We had enjoyed our break a lot, so much so that our retirement plan was open for review.
But for that moment in time we were in suspended animation, sucked into a spiral that would see us emerge back into another life where different things mattered.

A gold Transnasional bus with a singing fruitloop behind the wheel spirited us back along the Lebuh Raya to the mini city of ‘KLIA Dua’ where we remained sealed inside our transit cocoon that continued on to a midnight flight, the intervening hours  at the terminal dissolving in between shopping in the Megamall, spending the last of our ringgit on some guavas to go with our finger bananas for breakfast, and settling ourselves into comfortable lounging nooks. It made our own Kingsford Smith look like some under privileged backwater.
Cold and depressing as it was to be Home, we felt recharged as we re-traced our steps from Milson’s Point back to our door, better placed to take on the rest of winter.