On the same day as we went to the Melaka Bird Sanctuary and the Melaka Butterfly and Reptile Park, we also drove around to see some of the areas around Melaka city. We saw a lot of palm trees. But we also discovered some lovely little gems.
The Melaka Bee Farm is located out near the Bird Sanctuary, Zoo and Botanic Gardens. Paul has a habit of buying fresh honey from roadside stalls and markets back home so it was only natural that he would suggest we stop and check this place out. It’s only a small tourist attraction comprised of two rooms in which the story of honey is told. Entry is free, which is always a bonus. A young lady greeted us at the door and guided us through the display. We got to see inside the hive of stingless bees. The taste of the honey straight out of the hive was delicious. Inside we saw some hornets nests complete with dead hornets. The hornets were massive! I never want to be chased by any of them. Some were the size of my thumb. We tasted a heap of different varieties of honey, ranging from honey with ginger to honey with apple and vinegar. Naturally, we were taken to the area where they sell the honey and bought a small bottle to eat for breakfast. The prices were actually cheap compared with the price of honey at home so it was still a cheap museum trip.
Honey eaten it was time for a drive. We started by following some inland roads southwards but all we saw were palm oil plantations, which are quite boring to drive through. I should mention that I’m glad I decided not to cycle tour Malaysia because I think the miles and miles of palm oil plantations would have done my head in. At least in a car you can escape quickly to the next town or to other landscapes. Today we escaped to the coast where we drove through rice paddies being prepared for planting and small plots where people grew fruit trees while warding off the encroaching jungle. I am struck by how tough it must be to farm here with the jungle constantly trying to take over. Everywhere there are trees and vines creeping into cracks in concrete or filling bare land.
The coast here around Melaka is largely tidal swamp. Out at the edges of the mud flats there are these house things on stilts. We can’t see them clearly enough to determine whether they are houses or just fishing platforms. They look rickety but have probably stood there for a long time.
It’s low tide and the creeks leading into the Melaka Straits are almost dry. All along the waterfront, Malaysian walking fish slide through the mud on their strange leg-fins. I’ve never seen a walking fish before so spend a good half hour just watching then from a small bridge. They leave a strange trail of foot-fin prints and a channel where their body has slid. The fish are seriously ugly but also proof that anything can adapt to it’s living space.
Another animal that has adapted is the monkey. Wherever there is a dump of food, there are monkeys stealing it. We pass a big rubbish pile where a colony of monkeys are greedily devouring all the edible items. There are probably half a dozen adults and a dozen infants. I wonder whether the locals think it strange to see foreigners taking lots of photos of these local pests. They sure did give us strange looks as they rode past on the scooters. But hey, we don’t have monkeys at home in Australia so it was pretty fun to watch them (and discover there is a reason for the saying “cheeky monkey”).
The sun sets late here in Malaysia. It was about 7pm when I took this photo. But once it starts to set, the sun drops quickly and before long everything is dark.
We head back to Melaka. It’s about 8pm when we return home. We take a short rest then head out to walk around the city. Mostly we are looking for an ATM because I’m low on cash. We find an ATM but it doesn’t accept my Mastercard and I have temporarily locked myself out of my Visa card account by forgetting the PIN (I have remembered it now though). The walk gives us a chance to experience Melaka at night.
We walk past the main historic tourists sites that we missed the other day.
I am more interested in the cute cats that come to say hello (i.e. beg for food) than the history. The cats are adorable.
We climb the stairs to St Paul’s, which offers an amazing contrasting view between old and new Melaka because you can see the lights on the new highrise buildings through the archways of the ruined church.
Back down in the Jonker Street area the night lights make things look very beautiful. There’s red lanterns for the Chinese Buddhist temples.
And green lights on the mosque.
The lighting even picks up the colours in this cool piece of graffiti art.
On the way back to our hotel we pass a carnival. It looks like a permanent fixture in Melaka. There are some rides that I don’t like the idea of going on and many carnival games. We try our hand at one where you have to roll balls to score points and win a prize. We play twice and win a soft toy. Sure, we could have bought the soft toy in a shop for about RM5 and we paid RM8 to play two games but it was fun playing anyway. Nearby, a group of people are gambling hard at a sort of roulette game. It’s fun to watch them but the house is definitely winning and doing so with a gleeful smile on his face.
It’s after 12:30am (yes, after midnight) when we finally decide it’s time for dinner. We’ve seen Restaurant Pak Putra across the road from our hostel is always busy so decide to try it. It’s an Indian and Pakistani restaurant three large tandoors out the front in which they cook chicken and naan bread. The restaurant is officially open until 1am but we are there until after 1:30am and still more customers are coming to eat here. And there’s not just one or two tables occupied at this ridiculous time of night; there are at least a dozen, maybe more. The food is delicious and it’s just a short stroll across the road to our hotel for a well-earned sleep.