• Bob Taylor

Musings - Day 40

Day 40 – 4th February 2020

The journey continues into Day 40 with a sad adieux to Kuala Lumpur. Appreciate the comments and messages guys – keep them coming. A tough decision coming up.

Now, it is 07:10am as I leave my first experience with Airbnb. Have to say that it does what it says on the tin, I would on that experience recommend it whole heartedly. I start today with no plan absolute. That in itself is uncomfortable, but hopefully things will become more laid out as the day unfolds. Retraced yesterday’s steps only this time with a heavy back pack. Pretty hard to leave Kuala Lumpur today because I really warmed to the city, and actually Malaysia in general. With its quirky old fashioned embossed black and white registration plates on cars, and the rich lushness of foliage, I find myself somewhat dismayed by my departure. Another point just for reference, this is the first city, that I am aware of, that has special ladies only segments of the stations, and carriages on trains. Never seen it before, but they are made quite obvious in their pink livery. I don’t really have a definite opinion on this but something about it makes me feel that it is a backwards step. Surely women would feel safer if there were other men around? An observation worth noting, for further deliberation perhaps?

My provisional plan was to catch the train to Seremban, (£2.11p around 48 miles) then a local bus (just £0.60p for a forty five minute fourteen mile trip to Port Dickson. Everything to this point was going swimmingly well. It is now around midday when I discover that I have about half a mile walk to the ferry office to book a ticket for tomorrows ferry to Dumai, in Sumatra. The taxi driver I took advice from wanted a wad of ringlets just to take me, fetch me , then show me to a nearby hotel. (Which as yet not booked until I knew exact timings for tomorrows trip, plus accessibility from where I was billeted.) I declined his very thoughtful offer of fiscal rape, by being as polite as a buzzard would be to a crow, tramping off wearily. Backpack fully laden, thirty five degrees midday heat I set off to find the ferry office. What do they say about mad dogs and Englishmen? After a gallon of me fell on the stony earth drip by drip, I made it to the oh so wonderful air conditioned office about twenty minutes later. They had a leather couch affair that took most of my weight and muffled a great deal of involuntary sounds emanating from various parts of yours truly. I was banjaxed! The lady in the office was trying to be very helpful to me, believing that I was an out of breath mute. She gives me her version of Bobby talk. Once everything liquid inside me had done another two laps of my frame I was able to impart my requirements for the ferry. This followed a sharp intake of breath from her, the tassels on her Habib, indicating with a left to right sway, that it wasn’t happening. Owwwkay then! Let’s find out what’s is making the tassels throw a benny. We already know that the schedule for the ferry is 10:00am every day bar Sunday, so what could be the problem? The captain has a hospital appointment and the ferry won’t run tomorrow. Lovely – so glad the captain is getting sorted! Is somebody going to come out from behind the curtain and start laughing, “Had you there boyo didn’t we?” How could this be? Somebody please explain how this could happen? Are there no Vice Captains, Captains elect, or even the ships cat with arm bands, who could drive the darn thing across? Apparently everybody local knew for weeks, they even had a sign up, but never thought to post a notice on their website.

It was not going to be, no matter how nice her explanations were, but she did offer to get me on the only available ferry tomorrow from Malacca – some seventy odd miles away. I had to take it for fear of the captain being kept in the hospital overnight. So rationalise. The bus option could take around seven hours, because of the service schedules and would mean me going back into Seremban, to arrange. This leg was turning into a wasted one really rather rapidly. If I stayed here then I couldn’t guarantee getting to Malacca by the ferry time tomorrow. I had to bite the bullet on this one a get a Grab cab. The cost for seventy odd miles was 130 Ringlets. (Around £26 ) Normally, you just wouldn’t hesitate, but when you are on a budget of just £0.21p per mile it cranks up your leeway. It unfortunately had to be done. Before I made the Grab booking I had to get a hotel within half an hour of the ferry. I got one through my app at £7 per night (not including breakfast, I hasten to add.) Job done let’s get the car!

Her name was Yassa, and she was the best taxi driver that I can remember. Telling me all about her four sons, showing me the refinery where her husband works as a maintenance officer. Dressed in a navy blue Habib with no tassels she gave me recommendations on local food, told me how palm oil production has given work to so many Malaysians in this area, and talked with much fondness of her taxi driving job in her little Proton car. I didn’t know this but apparently the Proton was the first car actually built in Malaysia. My hotel was everything you would expect from a £7 hotel, with two kettle replacements and an internet router, after many complaints downstairs place virtually outside my door. In the restaurant recommended this evening I had the most wonderful local dish called ‘Assani Padat as praised by Yassa earlier today. She was right. It was the closest I have come to an genuine chow pot in my life. The cardamom pods just jumped out through the rich dry spices. Magnificent. (I must explain. when I was a young man in the Merchant Navy, the Goanese crew contingent, used to make a chow pot, and just add left overs to it for weeks. As the sauce dried or became low, they used to top it up, thereby preserving any ingredients that were subsequently added.)

Chow pot here

Hopefully a ferry tomorrow to the penultimate country and a land equator crossing.

Position: 02°12'59” N 102°16'04”E – Miles completed: 11858

Location: Melaka, Malaysia 21:42 - 4th February 2020 - Journey 40 days 18 hours

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