01.01.2009 26 °C
We have always felt a certain shame in not having the courage to participate in the New Year's Day plunge, so this year we decided to break the ice and throw caution to the wind. Let it be recorded that at 7.30 am on January 1st. 2009, we left our waterfront cabin and dived into the ocean off Cherating Beach, Malaysia.
Imagine our dismay when we discovered that the water was a tepid 30 degrees C. (even warmer than the bath water in the Grand Continental Hotel, Terengganu). Undaunted, we swam around for half-an-hour seeking a chilly patch. We gave up eventually, telling ourselves that we had tried and that it's the thought that counts.
We have now returned to the west coast of Malaysia - a day's drive through plantations of every kind. On Gabriola we brake for the deer and raccoons. Here we brake for monkeys, goats, water buffalo and the road-kill remains of a six-foot python. Same, same but very different.
The tropical flora is stunning with flowers and fruit of every kind. The regulars are everwhere - oranges, coconuts, pineapples, bananas and papaya - but so are exotics like star fruit, tapioca, pomelos, cashews, tea and rubber.
Now we are in Malacca - the Dutch/British trading port of southern Malaysia - with its narrow streets of colonial houses and a museum which houses the largest collection of empty display cases we have ever seen. We found room after room of empty glass cases - no exhibits and no attendants of any kind in the entire place. We still don't know if someone broke in during the night and nicked the lot, or if the curator bought a job lot of display cases and is still hunting for Malay artifacts.
Malacca, (also spelled Melaka), is a fascinating town with Portugese, Dutch and British architecture housing hundreds of Chinese and Indian stores. The only thing missing - in fact the one thing that seems to be missing throughout Malaysia - is anything Malay. We have been here for nearly two weeks and have yet to encounter Malay culture.
Tomorrow we return to Kuala Lumpur and then fly to the island of Langkawi in the extreme north. Maybe the sea will be colder there? Maybe we'll discover the true Malaysia.
Happy New Year to you all.