Indonesia: to Borobudur Buddhist Temple

We had all enjoyed the sight of sunrise over the rice paddies. But if we didn’t get a move on, the tourist hordes would descend upon us… for Borobudur Temple is a UNESCO world heritage centre, one of the most visited sites in the whole of Indonesia.


We drove on, leaving the twin volcanoes of Mt Merbabu (3145m), which last erupted in 1797, and Mt Merapi (2911m), smouldering in the morning mist.

Arriving at Borobudur, a local guide joined us to take us around and interpret for us what we were to see. However, I became a little doubtful about what he was telling us when he stopped at a Melaleuca or paperbark tree and told us that it was a Eucalyptus. And no… he didn’t believe me when I said it wasn’t a Eucalyptus. Certainly, the two plants belong to the same botanical family (Myrtaceae) and they do have similar volatile oils in their leaves. BUT, you can’t tell an Aussie that a paperbark is a gum tree! And since horticulture and Australian plants have been my career for many years… Oh, well.

DSC04164.JPGAll that aside, we walked on towards the temple, amazed as we had our first sighting of  the various terraces that make up the giant structure. On the way to it, we walked through the gardens where there were many plants to enjoy and photograph.


One was an intriguing tree I’d never seen before (Maniltoa sp.).


The new leaves are pale as they are yet to start producing chlorophyll.


A tiny mushroom struggled to stay upright in the dewy grass.


…and just because I can’t resist, here’s another photo, same mushroom. This time it looks a little like a worker in the rice paddies with a cone hat!


Arachis sp. is a dense ground cover plant with striking yellow flowers.  The peanuts we eat belong to the same genus.


A well maintained fountain in the well maintained grounds.


One of the gardeners with his barrow and broom.


We were getting closer, but the Temple was still quite a walk away.


A long path with a central garden lead the eye to the main stupa.


The list of “Don’ts” was quite long but very necessary due to the number of visitors.


Having read the rules, our next task was to venture up all those steps to explore this immense structure and discover why it attracts so many visitors every year. More anon.


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Indonesia: to Yogyakarta

We had a lazy start to the day as we didn’t have to be in the lobby all packed and ready to go until 10.00. So, after breakfast, I wandered by the pool and in the garden.


The pool was beautifully warm, no heating needed in this environment.


The gardens surrounding the resort were very well maintained.


Water lettuce (an environmental of many tropical waterways around the world) and an unknown yellow flowered water plant.




Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminiodes) was enjoying the humid weather.


Closely related to Iris, this Yellow Walking Iris is called Neomarica longifloia.


Rickshaw wallas waiting for a passenger or two.


At the appointed hour, our mini buses arrived to take us on a one and a half hour transfer to the rail head. There, we would join our train for the 4 hour journey to Yogyakarta.


My train ticket.


The platform was deserted when we arrived.


Lush, tropical growth lined the tracks.

Watching the world go by as we rolled along the tracks, we saw snippets of life in this part of the world.  It was interesting to note that the school uniforms in the area are usually made from traditional batik patterned materials. Very colourful, and so much better than the plain old uniforms we tend to see at home.

It was a fairly long and tedious journey, but we finally arrived. Dinner was partaken and then yours truly headed back to the hotel at around 21.30.  Most of the others have gone on to some venue or other…. but as there was to be a 05.00 departure for Borobudur in the morning, this old fox decided an early night was in order… a good idea.

All members of the group were indeed in the foyer and ready to go at 05.00. The early start was so that we could get to the Borobudur Buddhist complex before the hoards of tourists … and before the day warmed up. Mind you, it was still around the mid 20’s at that early hour of the day, and still dark. We drove through the somewhat, but not completely deserted streets, for the hour’s drive to the Temple.


The sky slowly got lighter. Mt. Merapi, an active volcano, was quietly blowing smoke and steam into the sky as we drove past.

DSC04140.JPGAs the moment for sunrise drew closer, our buses pulled to the side of the road in the middle of a paddy field area. There, we all got out and waited for the sun to rise above the horizon. Some pretty pictures were taken.


An already harvested, but regrowing rice crop, formed an interesting foreground.


Soon, the sun was blasting its heat into the atmosphere.


Coconut palms growing on a paddy bund.


A rough shelter in the middle of a rice paddy.


Dew drops on young rice plants.


Rice plant reflections.


A delightful start to the day, but it was soon time to move on to visit the ancient, 9th Century, Buddhist complex of Borobudur.

More of that anon


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Indonesia: Green Canyon; West Java

After the village encounter we drove on for our next exploration… to Green Canyon. 


There we took a boat ride in a long narrow fibreglass craft with two blue outriggers.


We cruised up a muddy brown river. 

DSC04071.JPGJungle foliage met overhead.


The long-tail propeller was controlled by the leg and foot of the driver.


As we moved into the canyon, water dripped everywhere.

DSC04075.JPGAfter about 20 minutes, we came to a point where a cascade prevented any further movement up the river.


Our boatmen left our boats and climbed on the rocks.


Photos were taken to record the moment.


But before long it was time to turn around…


…and head back down stream.  This excursion was a pleasant diversion from busy traffic on the roads.


After the Green Canyon it was back to the Sunrise Beach Hotel in Pangandaran.  A swim, followed by a sleep seemed to be a good idea.


Around 17.00 someone found a ramshackle stall out the back of our hotel.  It served cold beer.  Our newly found establishment was called, The Glory Cafe.  It was right on a grey, ash beach littered with flotsam and jetsam.  A tropical thunderstorm raged around us.  A brilliant lightning show added to the drama.  This, I was going to remember.tsunami2006

Pangandaran has seen many storms. And it was devastated by a tsunami on 17 July, 2006 when a 7.7 magnitude earthquake occurred at 15h19 off the island of Java. This is not the same earthquake or tsunami that occurred on Boxing Day, two years earlier, that killed so many 10’s of thousands of people. Nonetheless the Pangandaran ‘quake caused serious damage although it was not felt by many people, nor did buildings collapse. The damage and death toll resulted from the tsunami which followed. The ‘quake occurred at low tide and as there was an onshore wind blowing, no regression of the sea was obvious.  Most of the population were caught unawares when the 4.27m (14 ft.) high tsunami wave struck. Three hundred km. (190 mi) of the Java coast was inundated, an area not affected by the 2004 tsunami. Although the earthquake and tsunami were recorded in earthquake centres in Japan and America, there was no way to warn the inhabitants of the areas which were to be effected. The global warning system set up after the 2004 tsunami was not yet operational. Six hundred and sixty-eight people were killed, 65 were never found and 9,299 were injured.


The Glory Cafe was run by two guys, Andi and Lemon. They were wonderful, jumping to meet our needs without being asked. Brian, the smoker in the group, only had to put has hand in his pocket to take out his cigarettes and an ashtray was produced. The beers came very quickly. We learnt that their much larger establishment was destroyed when the 2006 tsunami struck and some staff members had lost their lives.

I don’t know if there was a family link between the two or whether they were just business partners. Lemon seemed to be the owner and has two sons of his own.  We were to return later, and then learned more about these two guys.


Dinner time came around and as it is one of the few included dinners we followed the rest of the group to a seafood restaurant. It was reasonably good, would have been excellent if the whole fish and baby squid were not grossly overcooked and dried out. The crab shells were mostly empty except for the legs and claws which were almost impossible to break. The Asian greens were good. Dinners in Asia don’t last all that long so it was somewhat inevitable that we’d stop off at the The Glory Cafe on our way back.

Andi and Lemon were very happy to see us again. During conversation we learnt that Lemon has a third legally adopted son, the orphaned boy of one of his former employees killed in the tsunami. He was genuinely proud to have this extra son! Lemon is an extremely impressive guy and when I paid considerably extra for my beer than the bill required and said that the extra was for his family, his wife, who was nearby, literally jumped with joy and clapped her hands together. A lovely smile split her face open. My small contribution was obviously appreciated.


On the way back to the hotel, wandering across the road, we had to dodge a Barking Deer that had wandered into town from their nearby National Park. It was to scavenging in the street rubbish. A shame to see a ‘wild animal’ feeding this way!

It had been a long but really interesting day… what would the morrow bring?


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Indonesia: Visit to Village Puppeteer

It was very pleasant, if hot, to wander in this small west Javan village… with several more nature photographs to share with you all.


Rain lily (Zephyranthes rosea).






St Joseph’s spider


Gelatinous fungus.


White bracket fungus


Goatweed, (Ageratum conyzoides) is an introduced weed from South America.


In this same village we made a visit to the home of a puppeteer.


The man of the house carved and painted the puppet’s heads.


Careful work.


Part-finished puppet head.


Other members of his family made the puppet’s costumes.


The workroom was a bit of a jumble.


Hundreds of puppets were ‘in storage’ awaiting their next public performance.


And here are some close ups of some of the puppet faces he has made.  Some were gruesome, others were frightening and others were happy individuals.


Can you imagine the nightmares some young children may have after attending a show?


Some of them not so pretty!


a supercilious fellow


I wonder what the joke was?


The man who carved the heads was also the main performer.


Up to 13 other family members make up an orchestra of drums, gongs…


… and wooden xylophones.


It had been a fascinating visit to this place of unusual craft and local cultural entertainment. And we had a rather special farewell from a shy little boy… ta ta!


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Indonesia: A village in West Java (a)

After our family visit, it was back into the mini-bus to drive to a village where we began an interesting walk.


 The fields were full of people cutting and threshing the rice harvest.


This rice crop had already been harvested and was regrowing.


When we arrived in the village, we saw rice spread out to dry.

In the village we also we saw palm sugar being made, that dark brown sweet and distinctively flavoured sweetener used extensively in Asian cooking. The palm sap is cooked for 3-4 hours before it becomes palm sugar. I didn’t take any photos of this process, it’s a bit uninteresting looking at a slowly bubbling cauldron of dark goo, but I took plenty of other photos as we walked around the village. I’ve added a few of those.


What a peaceful life – the morning chores done – now it’s time to sit and watch the world go by. And on this day, there were some interesting looking foreigners to watch.


We were also the centre of interest for these two little boys. Cute, aren’t they?


A lovely portrait.


Sculptural bracket fungus were growing on a fallen tree branch.


More fungi, this time growing out of the cut end of a tree branch.


Oh what a tangled web! But effective. The hunter watches over its larder.


Who would have thought a spider could be such a work of art!


A mother and her brood.


A big fat snail, something the duck was no doubt looking for.


The outside kitchen of a village house.  I can’t imaging how uncomfortable that chair must be to sit in.


The washing up area of another house.


Perhaps this is a wok full of palm syrup in the early stages of heating to turn it into palm sugar. I hate to think what it might be if it isn’t!


What a wonderful face.  How many stories are there behind those eyes?


Seems every boy makes mud pies, no matter what their heritage is.


A pigeon coop – I could almost smell the pigeon curry! And I could small the poop!


A beautiful bird one day, curry the next!


We were all quite surprised when a pet fruit bat was produced. This friendly bat, called Michael, hung around lapping up the attention…


… and sweat from various peoples hands and foreheads… but not mine!   Although I’ve never been so close to a bat before, and I did have plenty of sweat on my forehead, Michael didn’t get any of it! They are quite remarkable creatures, particularly this friendly fellow.

After this unexpected experience, we continued our walk through the village on our way to visit a family of puppeteers. More of that anon.


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Indonesia: Jakarta to Pangandaran; West Java

I was looking forward to leaving the big, sprawling city of Jakarta to spend some time in the Indonesian countryside. We were all in the lobby ready to leave by 07.00 as we had a train to catch to Purwokerto City some 4 hours and 50 minutes away.

It seemed to take forever to pass through the suburbs of Jakarta, but once clear, the train put on a reasonable turn of speed.


The train had to cross a mountain range and this is when we first experienced some heavy, but brief, rain showers.


After eating lunch on board, we arrived at Purwokerto just as another tropical thunderstorm broke. As luck would have it, our carriage was just clear of the platform canopy, so we got absolutely soaked getting off the train… but, as the rain was warm, it didn’t matter much.


We still hadn’t reached our destination of Pangandaran… that was still a longish trip by mini-bus away. It rained heavily on and off during the transfer and was still raining very heavily on arrival at the hotel.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 6.01.48 PM.png

Most of us were hot, still wet through and very thirsty. So, when we realised that there was a little cafe across the road out the back of the hotel, that overlooked the beach and water, and that it sold cold beer, then there was no debate as to where we would go next! All but three of us ended up having our dinner there as well. Two large bottles of Bintang beer and a plate of special fried rice with a fried egg on top cost the princely sum of AUD14.


And that was the view! The rickety old jetty (I use the word loosely!) partly obscures a fishing fleet tied up just beyond.  And the horizon? – there was none, it was lost in the rain. We hoped for better weather on the morrow!


And next morning the rain had cleared and the resort’s swimming pool looked very enticing, but, some time in it had to wait until later in the day. We had this part of West Java to explore first. Our first stop for the day was at a home business where the family worked together to make krupuk, a product we know as rice or prawn crackers. The whole manufacturing process was fascinating to watch.


On getting out of our vehicle, we were met by the sight of small flexible woven split bamboo trays covered in little circles of extruded goo. We were to find out later what these were made from. They were laid out to the edge of the road to dry in the sun.


One of us wasn’t looking where he was going and began trudging across the drying trays. The neat little circles stuck to the underneath of his sandals like chewing gum.  It wasn’t the entry the group wanted to be remembered for!

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 8.09.18 PM

We went into a largely open building where the actual making of the goo took place. A wooden tank was being filled with water, a fish slurry and tapioca flour.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 8.14.11 PM

This was stirred by a guy with a large wooden paddle.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 8.28.14 PMWhile this was happening, a fire was rekindled under two 200 litre discarded gasoline drums filled with water. The fire was fed with rice husks. Nothing is wasted in this subsistence culture. And there are no Occupational, Health and Safety rules here… just plain old ‘be careful’, and take responsibility for your actions.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 8.16.46 PM

As the water in the drums began to boil, a large plastic tube was introduced into the tank. Steam everywhere. In such a hot, humid climate this was doubly hot, sweaty work!

.Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 8.27.33 PM.png

The steam heated and cooked the slurry which was constantly moved around in the trough by the young man. This part of the process took about 20 minutes.


After this initial cooking, the gelatinous goo was extruded onto the perforated trays we saw drying in the sun as we arrived.


After drying, the pieces are fried at a relatively low temperature in a large wok filled with cooking oil. They are then tossed into a much larger wok, filled with hotter oil, to finish off the cooking. The hot oil puffs the crackers up into the familiar tasty crisp we know. The heat for these two cooking processes was also generated from a fire fed with rice husks.


The cooked crackers are then put into long, narrow plastic bags and tied shut. This little family business produced two kinds of krupuk, a white one and a yellow one. 


The routine of this little guy’s  normal day was somewhat changed by our arrival. He seemed somewhat bemused… but we had enjoyed our visit to his family. Seeing people work so hard to make a living, makes you feel very grateful for our lifestyle.

More of our explorations anon


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Indonesia: Jakarta

Our night out in Singapore was the end of the first leg of my Asian tour and so it was time to bid farewell to most of my fellow passengers. However, six were to continue on with me and, for us, a good night out was to be followed by a long, boring day of transferring by plane from Singapore to Jakarta in Indonesia.

There was no time for exploration on the day of arrival in Jakarta but I did have time to do some reading about this teeming, chaotic city of over 9.6 million people. It’s the Capital of the Republic of Indonesia, a country with a population of something like 240 million!

The rapidly expanding province of Jakarta is located on the north coast of the island of Java. Over the years, village after village has been absorbed in to this sprawling city which is built on a delta of 13 rivers that meander through the city! Fronting the city is the Bay of Jakarta which is known for its many islands, the “Thousand Islands” or “Pulau Seribu. To the south rise two volcanoes, Gede and Pangrango.

We only had time to see a little of this city; Chinatown, markets, a temple or two and then onto the old quarter of Jakarta, Batavia. That was the name of the city when these islands were under control of the Dutch East India Company. One of their ships, ‘Batavia‘, was built in Amsterdam in 1628. Armed with 24 cast iron cannons and a number of bronze guns, it was the pride and joy of the company. However, it was shipwrecked on its maiden voyage and that was followed by a subsequent mutiny and massacre!

The city of Batavia was the centre of a large trading network. The Dutch East Indies Company had monopolies on the lucrative trade of spices such as nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, and cinnamon as well as coffee, tea, cacao, tobacco, rubber, sugar and opium.

Batavia was a colonial city for about 320 years until 1942 when these islands fell into the hands of Japan in World War II. After that, the city’s name was changed to Jakarta.

We had lunch in the Batavia Cafe, a wonderful old Jakartan institution in the old quarter. Old world ambiance was recreated with leather chairs, dark wood paneling and lots of wall space covered in period photos of long passed away film stars etc.  One thing that didn’t really fit in with this ambience was the urinal in the male toilet. It was set into a mirror wall so one could observe one’s performance – a little disconcerting.

I concentrated my photography on the market area where I had time to wander and enjoy the sights and smells and do a little people watching as well. So let’s wander there.


A hand or bunch of bananas, anyone?  The narrow lane-ways were crowded with people, and traffic!


The stalls here were full of tempting fruits and vegetables. Beautiful golden pumpkins…


pomeloes, a large, thick-skinned grapefruit-like member of the citrus family…


mangosteens, no relation to the true mango…


snake fruit, named aptly …




fantastic guava…




papaya, a thin wedge removed to show the magnificent colour of the flesh inside…


and colourful lotus buds.


Bundles of Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)… to brighten up home or office.


Shiny stainless cooking bowls.


An old lady sat at a gate… people watching; as was I.


A quiet little fellow, sitting on a sheet of old plywood, no doubt waiting for his Mum.

DSC03865 - Version 2.JPGA couple of ladies, obviously from different parts of the country, but nonetheless enjoying each other’s company.


Having chosen my fruits and veg, it was now time for some protein. Snails? Maybe not.


Trussed up crabs… still very much alive.


Any one for fresh fish?  And they were very fresh.


A frog cum toad was still alive…  but for how long!


Smaller frogs …skinned, ‘butterflied’, ready for the wok. Look like can-can dancers!


Peanuts, still grubby with the soil they were grown in, firmly attached to their shells.


Strange, aren’t they? Nuts of some sort but I don’t know what they are.


At the end of the market, a stationer.. waiting, waiting, waiting for a customer.


Bundles of brooms…brightly coloured synthetic and the more traditional variety.


It was all very interesting… but I looked forward to getting out of the big city and back into the countryside… and that was the plan for the next day. More of that anon.


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Melaka to Singapore

Today we moved on from Melaka to Singapore. Breakfast was at 07.00, same old story as before… boring. Our bus left the hotel for the central bus station at 08.00.


Our intercity coach, 2×2 seating throughout, left at 09.00. This bus had a very noisy diff which whined with a very disturbing scream all the way along the highway. But it was getting us ever closer to our destination and that was the main thing.

It seemed to me that most of Malaysia is covered in palm oil plantations. We travelled for miles and miles with nothing else to be seen from the bus. Some of the edges of the highway are planted with teak which looks like a good idea as teak has been virtually stripped from the forests. These trees will become a valuable resource in the years ahead. 

The crossing from Malaysia into Singapore had Alif, our guide, worried about possible delay.  But we managed to navigate the whole experience of leaving Malaysia and getting through the customs and immigration for Singapore in 30 mins.  We arrived at our hotel at 13.00, but were out again 20 mins later.  No rest for the wicked!


Our time in Singapore was very short but long enough for a ride on SIN’s transit system.


We were on our way to Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the well known three-tier building which is linked across the top of the three tiers by an infinity pool.  Alif, knows somebody who works there, so he was able to get us into a restricted area/bar – the Skybar.


It’s actually above the pool, so very much on the top of the building on the 57th floor. Fantastic views of Singapore, but, as might be expected, the beer was very pricey.  One was enough with a small Tiger beer costing AUD18.85. I made it last a long time!

That aside, the views from the top were fabulous. So… let’s look down on SIN city.


Marina Bay with the Art Science Museum at lower right.  It was designed by Moshe Safdie to represent the 10 petals of a waterlily. Stunning architecture.


The massive skyline of Singapore city.


The Merlin fountain, half fish, half lion, is the island’s mascot.


Another view from the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel – the Singapore Sports Hub, at centre left.  The National Stadium boasts having the largest free-spanning dome structure ever built. The dome stretches 310m (1017ft) and can accommodate 55,000 spectators.


From the vantage point of the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, I looked down on the ‘Gardens by the Bay’ nature park.  This massive undertaking covers 101 hectares (250 acres) of reclaimed land.

First mooted in 2005, an international design competition was held just one year later which attracted more than 70 entries by 170 firms from 24 countries.  The whole venture has proved very popular with 6.4 million visitors in 2014.  In November 2015, the Gardens by the Bay welcomed its 20 millionth visitor.

Two outstanding features of these gardens are the Conservatories, (the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest) and the SuperTree Grove. The two conservatories have been designed to be environmentally friendly while the “trees” act as intake and exhaust vents as well as structures on which all sorts of plants are grown, and as viewing platforms.


Another view of the ‘Gardens by the Bay’ complex.


The SuperTrees.


Up at the Sky Bar on top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the girls in our group certainly enjoyed their cocktails. Goodness knows what they cost! But as we know, all good things come to an end and so we had to go back to our hotel.

We were warned that, unlike this super duper hotel, our hotel for the night was a ‘coffin’ hotel.  Many of the rooms had no windows. But, Madam Luck was on my side… it was my turn to have a room to myself AND I scored an outside room with no less than 4 windows, so the room was very bright. Yes, it was small, but perfectly adequate. And I had a really good night’s sleep. Just as well. I had a travelling day in front of me as I transferred to Jakarta, Indonesia. More anon.


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Malaysia: Meander in Melaka

Next morning, we were free to do some meandering of our own in Melaka. I answered some emails before going down for what I hoped would be a better, more enjoyable and more leisurely breakfast. Will I ever learn? At this time of the day, I’m used to muesli and unsweetened Greek yoghurt with fruit (prunes, apricots, peaches, blueberries) and maybe a crisp toasted piece of my own home made bread. So what was on offer today?

There was cereal, but just the same sugary stars that have been offered before;  a plate of sliced watermelon and honeydew, some pandanas flavoured cake and marbled chocolate cake; cold fried eggs, baked beans and two long-ago-past-their-best greasy sausages and warmed, but not browned, slices of toast; tea and coffee.  I made do with the fruit, ‘toast’ and coffee. Forgettable! But worth a grumble. I do like a healthy breakfast to start the day.


Out and about… so what should I do? There were plenty of trishaws touting for business. I declined the offer of a ride and decided to walk and just see where my feet would lead me.


In Melaka, you can’t help wandering by the canals that meander through the city.


 At every bend there’s a picture just waiting to be taken.


Some houses would benefit from a renovation job… but they do have LOCATION!


I stopped to watch a fisherman who was casting a circular, weighted net into the canal.  He was very proud to show me his plastic bag of fish, already caught – some twenty or so.


The main Catholic church is the Church of St. Francis Xavier which was built in 1849 in the European Gothic style at the site of an old Portuguese church. Once again, it is a symbol of the religious tolerance which pervades this old city which is also home to mosques and Hindu temples. Long may such tolerance of difference amongst its citizens remain!


The foundation stone of this central Melakan church was laid in 1741 by Dutch burghers, the business men of the city, to commemorate a centenary since they wrested the city from the Portuguese. A hundred years later, Melaka was transferred to the control of the British East India Company after the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824. The church was then renamed as Christ Church and reconsecrated as an Anglican church and it has been so ever since… making it the oldest functioning protestant church in Malaysia.


What has changed is the colour of these buildings… from white to red in 1911.


In the nearby square there’s a fountain… a cooling sight on a hot day.


Near the red church (Christ Church) is a small fort known as Middleburg Bastion.


It was built by the Dutch after they took control of the city from the Portuguese in 1641. The Dutch were concerned about ongoing threats, so they fortified the existing walls still further, constructing this bastion strategically at the mouth of Malacca River.


Beside the fort, on the banks of the river is a huge old watermill, the first and the largest watermill ever built in Malaysia. It’s quite a sight but is in need of some conservation.


And in the shallows by the wheel, I saw this water dragon… not sure what kind. I eyed him (or her) and the stare was returned without so much as a flinch.


Another fascinating sight along the banks of the river is this replica of the Portuguese Galleon Flor de la Mar… 34 metres high, 36 metres long and 8 metres wide. It’s the centre piece of a maritime museum that also houses exhibits, artifacts and documents from the golden era of the city of Melaka… the era of the spice trades.


It’s amazing to think of the men who sailed this ship around the world. It looks so top heavy. Imagine being sent up those masts and out onto the rigging to unfurl or furl sails! And I don’t think I’d like the job of manning the crows nest. Not my kind of travel!

I could have gone on board but, it was so very hot and humid, I decided to begin to make my way back to the hotel keeping my eye out for interesting sights along the way.


Back along the street, I walked by many a well kept building dating from the Dutch era.


Most of this ‘wall art’ seemed to be graffiti with a purpose.


Now, how could an Aussie walk past that bus without taking a photo?


A peak through the gate of a rather palatial building near the docks.


A peep through the door of what appears to be another temple. I don’t know it’s name.


Some well kept, old time buildings in a street.

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I wandered into a narrow street and followed a trishaw… not hard to keep up. I had the chance to have a close up look at this one, the driver’s bright yellow shirt not in keeping with the trishaw’s decorations!  I guess that the only thing preventing the riders from being all dressed up too, must be the oppressive heat and humidity. Otherwise, I’m sure they would be as gaudy as their trikes!

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These narrow streets are not the best for pedestrians to navigate. No footpaths here.

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Not good for motorised traffic either!  A nightmare to drive here, I would think.


Walking has its own rewards. You have time to take in some interesting sights. Hopefully, I would not need the services of this particular vendor!


This green-leafed creeper growing on an overhead balcony, had amazing aerial roots.


Eventually, I found myself back to the Jonker Street area… close to the temples we’d been to the day before. This is the main street of Chinatown, the central hub of activity, a lively area known for its antique markets, a place for bargain hunters.


As I wandered along, I found a tee shirt that I rather liked… cost RM10 (a tad over AUD3). Another one to add to my collection of tees from places I have visited all over the world. In the future when this one comes to the top of the pile, I’ll wear it to the gym and it will remind me of my interesting, but very hot and sweaty walk around Melaka.

When I finally  arrived back at the hotel, just short of three hours from my starting time, I was absolutely, totally wringing wet from perspiration. So all of my clothes joined me in a cooling, washing shower. It was then time for a well earned snooze.


Later, with some of the rest of the group, I returned to Jonkers Road to the night market that starts about 18.00.  It really was a fun visit with thousands of people, locals and tourists alike, all milling around, taking in the atmosphere, smells and some street food. We ended up at the Geographica Cafe where I chose to have a curry chicken soup that came with noodles and a beer. I was feeling so hot, the first beer didn’t even hit the sides, so a second was quickly ordered. This cafe is mentioned by Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet so it was quite over-priced for what it was. We should probably have settled for hot, fresh cooked street food.

In fact, later, I bought a Taiwanese egg which I’d seen at the very beginning of the market street. The concoction is cooked in small shallow, straight-sided pans about the size of a rissole. The egg is broken into the pan and gently stirred to break the yolk and to let it run up the sides of the pan. Various fillings, such as octopus, chicken and the like, are then placed in the eggy well in the centre of the pan. Once cooked enough to hold its shape, it’s flipped over to cook the top. I decided to try the one with the Taiwanese sausage filling. It was absolutely delicious and, yes, I wished I’d chosen this in the first place instead of going to an overpriced tourist filled cafe. I’d also loved to have tried some of many different varieties of dumplings I saw being cooked. Oh, to be wise after the event.

Before our meal, I’d spotted some cheap glasses at one of the stores, so I wandered back and bought a pair for RM5 (AUD1.60). Having used them to read the menu at the cafe, I decided they were a pretty good buy so went back to the store for another couple of pairs. Why not?


Walking back to the hotel was rather special with lights reflected in the canals.


And those trishaws really do come to life at night with dozens of LED lights, pulsing and flashing in every colour. And as this day drew to a close, so does our visit to the city of Melaka. I’d recommend this enchanting destination to anyone travelling to Malaysia.


All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

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Malaysia: Melaka: “Harmony Street” Area

Our next visit in Melaka was to an area known as “Harmony Street” because, here, various religious groups have their temples and mosques… religious tolerance existed here long before the founding of modern Malaysia.



First stop was at the ‘Siang Lin Shi Temple‘ (sometimes spelt Xiang) where there were very few other tourists. It doesn’t seem to be on the main tourist menu of ‘things to do’ in Melaka… maybe because it’s new and rather austere in contrast to the older, much more ornate temples.  But it’s really a special little gem of a place to visit. Originally it was just a traditional Malay wooden “kampung” house built on stilts or piles. In 1985, it was rebuilt in brick to be this simple two floored Buddhist temple with few decorations. A sign noted that only nuns live here and only females work here.


In front of the main entrance there are three, well used incense burners.


There were photos here just begging to be taken… and so I obliged!


And another one!


On entering the temple, you’re greeted by the laughing Buddha, Maytreiya Buddha. The name means friendly, amicable, benevolent, affectionate and, certainly, this rather unusual Buddha statue can’t help but bring a smile to your face… it just oozes with joy!


Further inside, the temple was all but silent, giving a sense of calm and serenity. This temple follows Mahayāna Buddhism, one of the three main branches of Buddhism, the others being Theravāda and Vairayāna Buddhism. The cool, dark, rather stark interior is given a lift by bright red banners, each one adorned in stylish calligraphy.


I don’t know what they mean, but each section of this banner is a work of art.


Up on the second floor there’s a bell, also adorned in calligraphy, and a drum. These, I understand, are used before evening prayers. However, neither the bell nor the drum broke the silence while we were there.


The balcony of the second floor was a good spot to look out over the neighbouring area.


Another view down along the “Harmony Street”area.


Some of the roof decorations attracted my attention…so I zoomed right in on this one.


Leaving the Buddhist Temple, we walked to the nearby Taoist temple, Cheng Hoon Teng. This much more ornate temple upholds the principles of all three major Chinese religions equally — Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Built in 1645, this is said to be the oldest Chinese Temple in Malaysia. It has, of course, undergone restoration since then and in 2003 was awarded a UNESCO award for outstanding architectural restoration. Here there were many more visitors and many more roof decorations to photograph.



This fascinating roof sculpture was none too peaceful! But it was colourful.


The roof was a feast of wonderful colour and sculptural creativity!


One wall mural portrayed marvellous creatures from the deep.


One young visitor made friends with a ‘lion-dragon’!


I can’t help myself when I see unusual door knobs.


One section of this three religion temple was devoted to a Buddhist shrine… so much more ornate than the newer Siang Lin Shi Temple we had just visited across the road.


Detail of one of the delicately carved ivory murals above the shrine.


Detail of some of the gilded carved wood representing the lotus plant.


And amongst all of this decoration was a stack of rice sacks!


Those rice sacks did look a little incongruous in this ornate, gilded sanctuary!


Back out in the courtyard, there were pots containing heavily laden cumquat trees.


They looked so tempting… but I guess it’s just not done to take a temple fruit!


It was time to move on and explore more of Melaka on those trishaws as we wended our way back to the hotel.


We had dinner at a nearby restaurant and ended up at the Hard Rock Cafe where we celebrated the three birthdays that occurred during the trip. It was a choice of cocktails or beer! Beer for me…I’m not into cocktails. In the end, we were driven out of the place by the incredibly loud music emanating from the live band. It was 22.15 by the time we walked back to the hotel and fell wearily into bed. It had been a long day.


All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

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