Indonesia: Cycling Around the Countryside… Rice Farm

We were all excited about the prospect of riding bicycles out into the Central Javan countryside. But, first, we had to travel for about 20 minutes by bus to get to the place that hired out the bicycles.


Those bikes were a somewhat interesting lot.


About half the group took the less vigorous option of being driven around in motorised tri-shaws. We had the prospect of a 20 km ride with frequent stops along the way.

It only took a few metres for me to realise that the geometry of an Asian built bike is not the same as the geometry of bikes built for Western people. The seat was far too close to the handlebars, in fact it felt as though the seat was in front of the handlebars! And the seat was definitely not designed for my bottom… each time I remounted, the seat was a little more uncomfortable. I must also say that it’s been nearly 15 years since I last rode a bike any distance so that may have had something to do with it all.


Not withstanding the discomfort of the bike seat, it was fascinating riding around the paddies because the rice harvest was in full swing. There would be much of interest.

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Rice was being cut by hand.

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The knife blade was kept sharp by rubbing across a sharpening stone.

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Bundles of rice were carried across the field to the threshing machine.

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At least the threshing machine was shaded from the unrelenting sun.

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Small bundles were prepared for threshing.

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The threshing wheel is powered by foot power… hard, hot work.

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Threshed rice was spread to dry on sheets laid out on any available flat surface. 

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Older members of the family raked over the drying rice to make sure it dried evenly.


Three rice crops can be grown in this area each year.


It’s a case of one crop harvested, another planted. This is a new crop.

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Time out for a bit of a rest in the shade.

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Leaving the farmers, we rode on through the paddies to a village where we were to visit a family run tofu making business. More of that anon.


All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

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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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