We struck out from the Singapore bubble towards Malaysia, uncertain if we’d be able to readjust to the grit and chaos of the real Asia. Our first stop was Melaka, the old colonial capital. It turns out that Malaysia isn’t a hard pill to swallow as standards are pretty high and economic prosperity is evident in myriad gleaming new hotels and shopping centers.
Melaka abounds with culturally significant Dutch sites and Portuguese maritime history, but for us it was all about a little pot of bubbling peanut sauce. At Capital Satay you select various raw meat and veggie kebabs to dip into a boiling pot in the center of your stainless steel table (fueled by its own personal propane tank). Ingenious culinary innovation or law suit waiting to happen? In any case it was unique and delicious. I recommend the tofu.
Melaka had one last treasure for us before boarding our bus to the capital: the world’s craziest taxi driver. Not crazy as in can’t drive, that would hardly be worth mentioning, it’s so rampant. He was a self-proclaimed crazy jokster. I was partial to the fact that he said “Oh sheet” every time his phone rang, but his impression of Richard Nixon is spot on.
Right then, on to Kuala Lumpur. It’s a large, multicultural, loud and intense place that somehow turns charming at night and qualifies as iconic thanks to the easily recognizable Petronas Towers.
Once again, food figured as an obvious highlight; the clash of cultures will do that. But the sheer intensity of moving from city to city took its toll on the group and within a couple of days we were longing for a slower pace. Time to head to the country. Oh yeah, el campo!