We wake up and it’s steamy, but understandably so given Malacca is only two degrees north of the equator. I’m still feeling like shit after being sick yesterday but I’m determined to rally and get some breakfast in me, see some of this town before I go – I missed about half of the touring around the boys did the previous night and don’t intend to miss any more. I was about four and a half years overdue for seeing this place already, as back in 2012 I’d smashed my head on an I-beam on my way to catch a bus here for a week and ended up missing it entirely, but that’s a story for another time.
Drisdelle’s flight back to the US of A isn’t until the wee hours of the next day but Murphy and I need to get to the airport by early evening to catch our flight to Penang. That still gives us most of the daylight hours to do stuff. First things first, we head to the Kaya-Kaya Cafe a couple doors down from our hostel (we got a voucher, it was an easy call). Noms.
Back at the ranch we pack up our things, check out and stash our bags in the lobby. The place is filled with old knick-knacks including a stack of floppy disks, I grab them and start flipping through and it’s the usual suspects – an old version of MS-DOS, some ancient word processor, etc – and Murphy says “I’ll bet Leisure Suit Larry is in there.” Sure enough…
I reshuffle the disks to ensure LSL is on top and put them back.
The boys are keen on renting bikes from our hostel, but I’m not so hot on the idea. After feeling really shitty the last couple days I’m not sure what’s going to happen if I have to pedal hard to climb a hill or evade an automobile. “You’ll be fine,” they assure me. “Well if I shit my pants it’s on you two.” They seem unfazed and we roll out.
One strip of the town close by the 18th-century Dutch colonial “Chirst Church” in the pic above has something like thirty museums all back-to-back so we pedal over that way, go past a few, lock up and just randomly pick one that turns out to be “The People’s Museum”. Okay let’s have a look-see.
The first floor is pretty dull, some exhibits about the history of the city and some “3D” exhibits that are without exception out of service. There’s a small science adjunct that contrasts facts we know about the universe with Islamic teachings to show how accurate the latter are. I believe they may have been a bit selective.
The second floor seems to be dedicated to kites, tops, and other ways that kids fuck around when they should be digging coal and walking to school through snowstorms uphill both ways. This rig makes it seem like tops are serious business in Malacca, though…
On the third floor was a museum of beauty. The first two pictures we saw were of Axl Rose and a group shot of the LA Guns. Well that was unexpected.
I’ve heard of cornrows but this is ridiculous *snapping suspenders and jiggling eyebrows*
Okay pretty lame all said, back to the streets. Scattered among all the museums and hotels and other buildings are the old colonial ruins of the place, some from the British, some from the Dutch, and some left from the Portuguese before them:
We scoot around on the bikes, go the wrong way in traffic a few times, narrowly dodge getting smoked a few times, zip through a hotel’s valet parking queue in the wrong direction and much to their consternation – dirty looks only, no fist-shaking and get-off-my-lawns – and come across a drydocked wooden boat. Let’s go in that thing. But first let me drip some ice cream on myself. The boys wait patiently while I end up with ice cream in my beard and all over my palms like a filthy seven-year old. Time to touch stuff!
Yeah… Also kind of a lame museum. Can’t say a single really interesting thing sticks out in my mind, only thing I can recall is what’s in these pictures, and I’m not even sure what the deal is with those. It’s getting to be drink o’clock though so we pull into the Hard Rock Cafe and order up some pina coladas at higher-than-western-prices and chill to 80’s music vids.
We drop off the bikes, grab our shit and hit the streets to look for a taxi. Five minutes pass and no luck. Ten. Fifteen. Hmm, we actually need to be at the bus station pretty soon, besides the fact it’s hot and uncomfortable carrying around all our shit this is getting to be annoying. After a solid twenty minutes of walking we finally find one and we’re off.
The bus is alright, nice AC and space to stretch out, ahhh this will be a peaceful trip to the airport. We certainly aren’t breaking any land speed records but by the time we’re about (what we estimate to be) thirty minutes from the airport the bus starts to smell hot, slight burning motor oil smell. Can’t be us, sure it’s just the traffic around us.
Pull over to the side of the highway. The driver gets out to have a look, as do we after a few minutes. I haven’t seen so many unexpected fluids sprayed around since my last date – hey-oooo! Drive belt also looks to be shredded. Awesome. We’ve still got plenty of time to make a domestic flight but some of our fellow passengers leave before we do on international flights and they’re not feeling so great about their prospects of making it.
We pull all our shit out and try to figure out a Plan B. Through some of the locals we learn that the bus driver has apparently called for a new bus to come – even if it comes all the way from Malacca at this point we should be okay, if it comes from KL or KLIA we’ll still have time for plenty of airport drinks. No fuss, no worry, we toss our bags on the ground, lean on the guard rail and watch the traffic go by.
Some other buses pull over; our driver runs ahead and we’re not privy to the conversation but it seems like he’s telling them that everything’s fine and we don’t need help. If that’s indeed what he said, I would say he’s wrong. A mechanic in a pickup pulls over and starts working on the bus. It seems that at this point our driver cancelled the new bus that was coming to get us because – spoiler alert – it never came.
Some of our more panicked co-passengers start waving down taxis and anyone else who will take them the rest of the way to the airport and our numbers begin to dwindle. I’m starting to get worried myself and suggest we walk to the next exit – about 500 m – and see if we can grab a cab or something from there. Once we pass the “it’s been two hours and no bus has shown up yet” point we know we have to do something, but this moment corresponds with the setting sun. The highway streetlights do little to illuminate us for motorists traveling a few meters away at 100+ km/h. Well fuck.
A flicker of hope appears as we hear the bus engine come to life. We start piling on only to have the engine wheeze and quit and fail to re-start. Okay it’s action time, start walking away from the bus and to a clear and well-lit area that’ll give us the opportunity to wave down a taxi. After a few minutes we get an empty one to stop for us but Drisdelle has drifted back toward the bus in hopes that it’s actually going to start. “Fuck the bus, we don’t have time!” He runs back with an older Asian gentleman in tow. His flight leaves soon and he wants to jump in our cab. Okay let’s go go go go go!
Our cabbie takes the opportunity to screw us out of about five times the normal fare but the important thing is we make it. We have to pay an extra 10 ringgits each (about $3) to skip the self check-in process, the girl at the baggage desk seems confused why we’d do this but we insist we’re baller. “Baller?” “So baller.” She digs it and laughs.
We look for beer, wine, antifreeze, anything, but alcohol is hard to find in the KL International Airport. We do find one place with a couple of beer choices and have a quick dinner with Drisdelle before we part ways and go through security – his flight isn’t for another 8 hours or something and it seems to be at the other terminal. We give him bro hugs, he returns my fake Oakleys that I forgot at the restaurant, and Murphy and I head toward security. Another rad adventure with Agent Getz.
With all the rush the flight ends up being delayed by more than a half hour. While we wait this plays on repeat. Sweet jesus that’s horrible. The flight itself is a puddle jump, we’re landing in Penang in under an hour, then waiting almost an hour for our bags to show up on the carousel. No exaggeration there, it’s pretty dumb.
Our cabbie is awesome, however, hell of a talker, more like a tour guide than a cabbie. He’s telling us about the history and different neighbourhoods of Penang, even getting into specialty local dishes and what we need to try while we’re here. We drive past some kind of carnival-looking thing but he says it’s really a kids’ thing, no need for us to go with limited time like we have. We tell him our next stop is Langkawi and he starts telling us all about the recent history and special tax status it enjoys as well. “Langkawi is a virgin island. Now why do I call it a ‘virgin’ island? Development only began there in the 1990s, before then it was only fishing villages…” Very enjoyable ride into George Town with this cat.
When we arrive at our hostel, The Frame, it’s past midnight and technically the front doors should be locked but the manager has waited up for us. He shows us the room, we throw our shit down, crank the AC and pass out for a tour day tomorrow.