Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hard Rain

Welcome to readers from Luxembourg

Malacca, Malaysia

Malacca arrived as a moment of joy after the rat-infested promontory of Kota Bharu in the north-east of the country. The overnight bus doubled up as meat locker. Icy air-conditioning combined with movies played all night at ear-splitting volume.

And now the morning. Walking into Malacca in a daze.

In Kota Bharu the rats came out at sunset. They overran the town. The size of toy dogs they lumbered up to piles of rotting vegetables left over from the market. These rats were corpulent, overfed, languid, the sign that they had no predators. I would not have been surprised to see them smoking cigars together.

The Straits of Malacca are the longest in the world (500 miles) connecting the Indian Ocean with the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. 

Malacca, or Melaka, is a cute town. Low key, pretty.

Below is a Malaysian tower mosque in a sunblind street. Kampung Kling mosque, built 1748, is situated on Harmony Street near to the Hindu and Buddhist temples.

I make it to the river. Yellow spots before my eyes. No sleep, frozen and now thawing to the tropical morning. Fatigued. Ears-still ringing from Hard Rain and Christian Slater shouting at full volume. And in the corner of my eye, this log drifting in the river. A log moving at the same pace as me. Strange people around me. A market. A nonya restaurant. And on my left the river. And this log. What the fug? A moving six foot log. Like it was under remote control. Powered. Not some aimless hunk of wood.

No log. A monitor lizard. Fully six feet long. Just crawled out onto the river bank. Crashed out in the shade.

Reading: The Long Day Wanes (The Malay Trilogy) by Anthony Burgess

Burgess wrote three novels that deal with the Malayan Emergency and Britain's final withdrawal from south-east Asia. Burgess was one of the last writers of a colonial tradition of fiction.

Listening to: Days are Forgotten by Kasabian‎

The pretty church at the centre of town.

There's a shopping mall using most of Malaysia's electricity by the looks of it.  Perfect for the long distance traveller. Inside. Watch a movie. A late 90s version of Great Expectations with Ethan Hawke. Outside nearby Thai hawker stall for supper. The food delicious. Prawns, lemon grass, Thai basil, glass noodles. A steamy evening. The Equator close now.

After more walking it's up to the old fort overlooking the Straits. There is a museum of democracy here. Closed up. Further up what was the old church of St. Francis Xavier that then became St Paul's for the Dutch, then a fort, then a British ammunition store. This is now a fine look-out point over the Straits. Across the water, Indonesia. Sumatra.


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