Sat 9 Oct 2010 01:36
Wednesday, 6th October.
Port Dickson is as close as you can easily get, nautically speaking, to Melaka: the Capital of the Region, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not to be missed, said the books, and so diutifully I set off on the ten min walk to the main road, the wait for a local taxi to PD, the bus drive from PD to Seramban, the express (it is all relative) bus to Tesco in the suburbs of Malaka, and the no 17 bus to the Old Town Square. All of which didn't leave a long time to look round. This Heritage business is all looking a bit familiar to me now. Every dog has his day, and Europe's day was half a millenium ago. Everywhere I go on this Trade Wind trip round the Globe I find evidence of the systematic rape and pillage of everyone and everything in the paths of our intrepid ancestors. The usual Culprits of course, but not always in the same order. In the Case of Melaka the Portuguese were first, leaving the crumbling Porta de Santiago, and the odd church. The Dutch made the major killings, leaving for posterity the iconic (?!) Stadthuys: built to house the Governer on the Town Square, and painted a lurid salmon pink. Later the British came into the picture, and that man Sir Stamford Raffles actually preserved some of the original Portuguese stuff. Bear in mind however that history and population growth are new things here. The story is that there was nothing at all in Malaka until The Pirate Prince Parameswara (an Indonesian) breezed in about 600 years ago, and decided to settle there because the local deer were unusually brave (?) when confronted with his hunting dogs. Mrs Parameswara turns out to have been a Muslim, who coverted the whole of Malaysia to this faith.
Well there are some old buildings in Melaka, but hardly mouthwatering in style or conception. The Chinese Quarter is quant, and some genuinely artful art shops sell to the tourists. There are a many unforgiveably boring museums, and a big new shopping mall. Oh, they did build a marina here, great spot at the mouth of the river, just inside the bar, which dries at low tide and has a metre or so at high tide!! It would seem that they thought that dredging would sort the bar out, but of course the tides put nature relentlessly back in charge, every twelve hours of every day; and the Marina has been abandoned.
Still, nice to get out of the nautical routine for a while, and the scenary was interesting with palm trees cultivated everywhere (for palm oil, I think), mountains, and rivers chocolate with floodwater.
I got back to Port Dickson just in time to check out at the Port Office and Customs, took the school bus back to the marina (!), and after a well deserved all you can eat buffet at the Marina Resort (40 RM: about £9) an early night for tomorrow's jaunt up to Port Klang.