September 2001

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September, 1  •   September, 8
September, 9  •   September, 17  •   September, 28

September, 1     TOP

the trip to dumai was as i expected it, no sleep and just really exhausting, i just can't sleep on buses. we arrived in dumai at 6am and had to wait for the ferry for another four hours, then of course it didn't leave in time and at the end i got my room in malacca around 5pm. sometimes you ask yourself why you're doing this to you. but then there are not a lot of opportunities (besides flying, which is of course much more expensive). anyway i got my room, walked a bit around the city, had some rotis and curry for dinner and after being 36h awake i fell to bed and couldn't sleep....

the next morning (28.08.) i got up fairly early, tried to get myself organised (better not trying it, it's hard work) and spent over 3h in the internet, writing a few letters and a part of the diary and spending a fortune on calling my mom for her birthday.
but being in a historical place you have to do a bit more then just hanging around. so in the afternoon i went to the people's museum, where they show a strange exhibition about beauty (about corsetts, tattoos, lipplates and other weird stuff) and walked around the old dutch centre just to get a new blister - i need new sandals.
it was just so hot, especially after coming from sumatra, where the climate is more moderate, i felt like i'm melting away. so where can you get some relief - in the shopping centre! i must say malacca is kind of a civilisation shock! but you can get yoghurt and milk, something i really missed, although it's f... expensive (rm 3,80 for a litre milk). i still felt tired or perhaps i was just tired again, so no late night, just a few chapters more to read and then i fell asleep.

during that night it started to rain and in the morning a storm came up with thunder and lightning. not the weather to go out. so i sat in our lounge, had some cups of tea, read my book and waited for the weather to change. around lunchtime the rain grew less and i walked over to the internet place (i've been here actually every single day now).
in the afternoon it really cleared up so i walked to the touristinformation and then to the stadthuis, which used to be the dutch government and where there is the ethnological and historical museum now (still not trusting the weather). the ethnological part was interesting but going through the historical part you might think, they either killed a few people or they just had wars....
on the way back i walked through the shopping centre again, i had seen a pair of sandals the day before but wasn't sure about them. but i don't want to walk around in thongs all the time, so i spent the money and got new ones. great, very comfy and i hope blistersafe!
walking through that shoppingcentre was strange, after sumatra it's overwhelming what you can buy! it's hard not to do these stupid shoppings!
anyway later i went with sahid, the owner of the guesthouse for dinner and then we ended up playing congkak from 9pm till 2am, you really can become addicted to this game!

thursday i woke up sneezing, with a sore throat and a slight headache - bloody aircon! but that didn't keep me from going on the heritage trail.
September, 8     TOP

these informations you get are really interesting. usually you walk around a town without knowing anything (especially if you don't have a travelguide or a little man with you). but so i've spent the morning walking around chinatown, taking my time to have a proper look round. went for a cheesecake (i just couldn't resist, f.... expensive) and then had a look around the old dutch buildings.
i saw my first warans. they just swim around in the river (snakes with four legs, as a chinese woman told me), really huge ones.
later i found a place where they served chicken rendang and the afternoon i've spent on the soda, reading and sleeping.
that evening melanie and i met up again. i like that, not travelling together but meeting up again and again, doing some things together and having a lot of fun... anyway, we went out for dinner and exchanged all our stories from the last days. we didn't stay up to long, she was tired from the trip. so back in the guesthouse i had another match of congkak with said (i'm getting better and better) but not as long as the night before. at midnight there was a firework for independence day, so we stood on the balcony watching it.

next day (friday 31.08.) it was independence day in malaysia. and of course it included a parade. from the balcony i could watch all the schoolclasses etc. gathering on a field. some of them had to wait almost 3h till the parade actually started. parades are strange things, still don't like them, so i went to meet melanie for breakfast - a long one of course. i mean it's melanie and me, what else would you expect. during the day we did seperate things. i just died on the sofa, my cold made me feel very miserable. sneezing, coughing, using up a roll of toiletpaper in one afternoon, watching my nose changing colours (call me rudolph the rednose). i wasn't sure if i could meet melanie to go to the nightmarket, but it's amazing what a cold shower can do to you.
so we went to the nightmarket, which was much smaller then we both expected. we had a look around the stalls trying to figure out what we would fancy for dinner. it was not a big choice more a variation of prices. afterwards we walked through the chinese quarter and ended up on jalan hang jebat where there was a lot going on. the whole street was a big market, a big crowd walking around - the chinese celebrating independence day. so we spent hours there, walking around having a look at this and that and decided to go there again the next day for dinner. great athmosphere, there was even some horrible chinese lifemusic - we walked a bit faster. the only difficult thing was to find a quiet place for a last cup of tea. at the end we walked back to our quarter and had our good night tea there. we decided to do something about our hairstyles the next day - maybe a bit henna?
September, 9     TOP

so saturday was the day for a change, do we get a new colour or just a cut? something to talk about over breakfast. we thought after a while it might be a better idea to have a look at the hairstylists, in malacca they can understand you - don't even think about getting a haircut in sumatra. of course we were to early, so we had another hour to think that project over. after that it was clear that i would get a new haircut and melanie still didn't know. While my hair was cut, not that short again, we still tried to figure out what to do about melanie. at the end she got a haircut as well and we both didn't change our colour (for me it was a bit of a change, my blonde hair is gone now - good!)
in the afternoon i tried to get a ticket to mersing. i wanted to meet up with a friend there. but no chance, because of the long weekend all buses were booked out for sunday, so i only got one for monday. it was not too bad, so melanie and i had one more day together.
in the evening we walked back to that streetfestival in the chinese quarter. it was not as crowded as the day before and in a way i enjoyed it much more. we had a look around at the galleries, but didn't buy anything. this time we even found a nice place for a cup of tea on the street.
they had put up an open stage and some of the people who went to sing were not to bad. because we didn't want to block the cafe the whole time we sat down on the pavement. what a mistake, underneath all the dirty water was flowing and it stank so much that even i with my cold could smell it. so we moved to the other side and sat down on the street. one time i had to walk off (officially getting cigarettes), two girls tried to sing and it was so much out of tune i couldn't stand it. but otherwise it was fun. they tried to get us to sing but we refused, i mean singing through a microphone so that everyone can listen to you, how embarrassing. so we just listened. at the end one guy started singing "sorry" by tracy chapman, the only english song in fact. i was just sitting there, singing along (quietly) for myself... i'll never do that again, i ended up standing in front of a crowd, holding a microphone, feeling my legs shaking and singing that song. i was so embaressed! melanie said it was oakay - liar!
after that i felt like having a beer, so we went back, i bought a few bottles and sat down in my guesthouse. the night ended with a long discussion with a friend of said about religion and the differences between our cultures. the best question actually was: "i've heard, i mean that was in england, not your country, i mean is it true that women are having sex before they get married?" any further questions?!

sunday morning it rained, so after breakfast i went back for another nap, it had been a long night the night before. in the afternoon melanie came around, we played conkak, had a few more chats, some noodlesoup and yoghurt and then she left.
so that was our last day together, it will be strange not to meet up again, i really enjoyed her company. but my little daughter (of course she's taller then me) is on her way back home. so maybe next year in berlin!
that night i had a very early night, getting back some sleep.
September, 17     TOP

so on monday morning i left malacca to go to mersing. it took me two buses and a taxi! taxis are always more expensive but it was my only way to get from one busstation to the other in kluang. anyway, midafternoon i arrived in mersing and of course it was raining. standing at the busstation, waiting for the rain to stop i tried to figure out where this guesthouse was i wanted to go to. there are moments you feel so helpless, three men trying to explain to me different ways to different guesthouses and all that at the same time of course. and not really understanding that i wanted to know the way to only one specific one. after about ten minutes they got the name and showed me the direction. just when i started wondering which way they meant from the roundabout on i saw johann sitting in a restaurant. so that problem was solved.
there's not that much to say about the time in mersing. it's just one of these small towns, a few beaches around (min 6km away), but it's nice to stay in a place like that for a bit longer to get to know it better. i actaully stayed there 10 days (3. - 12.09.) and it was a great time.

just a few stories: the first beach we went to was quite far away, so we had to take a taxi. the beach was nice and of course after a while it started to rain and our shelter (under a tree) was not really rainproofed. but then who cares, you get wet anyway, either going for a swim or by the rain!

we decided to try to get a bike for me the next day. no chance - in whole mersing was no bike for rent at all, it's just impossible. so we walked to the next beach, of course in the middle of the day, being good stupid tourists. about two km before the beach we got a lift. this time we found a much better shelter (not only for the rain, i mean two days ago i got sunburned) and it was quite rainproofed.
we tried to get from there to another beach (a little bushwalk, there's always a little man who takes you out in the bush or jungle, although this time the little man was a bit taller, but when we got there we figured out that it was closed for some kind of covention going on there.
quite lucky we got two lifts back to mersing, especially lucky for me. i had twisted my right foot the day before and it did hurt a bit. that didn't stop me from going for some more shortwalks the next days, i even got up the small hill (you remember there was something about hills and me) on which the mosque was built.

it were wonderful relaxing ten days and there are just two special things to say about mersing: every single cat is pregnant and everywhere they've got these fancy blinking lights so that even the policestation looks like a bar.

a strange feeling came up when we saw the attack on america. we couldn't understand a thing, sitting in a chinese restaurant watching chinese tv. but the pictures were just scary. so we listened to the radio later, bbc and deutsche welle and it really puts you aback it is just bloody scary. the last days i tried to follow what happend on the internet.

anyway, after ten days it was time to move on. johann gave me a lot of information where to go and where to stay on my way back up to thailand. really helpful especially when the only thing you have is a map of the country and nothing more.

so on thursday (13.09.) i hit the road again to get to cherating. i thought of staying a couple of days, but it was not my place to be. there's nothing to say about cherating, after a couple of hours you've seen every guesthouse, every restaurant and every place you can do your own batik. so i was easily convinced to leave the next day, especially after getting the worst nasi goreng i ever had! the only really nice thing is the place i stayed in the "mak long teh". for 6rm you get your own bungalow and mine was quite big.

so after swapping my books the next morning i caught a bus to rantau abang. good decision! the accomodation is much more expensive but the beach is great and there were very few people at that time. of course there were no turtles in sight either, but then a couple of days just swimming and reading can be nice as well.

on the first evening i walked up to a malay restaurant and after my dinner i started teaching english and german to three young boys. they were pointing out things or saying a phrase in malay or english and i wrote everything down for them in malay, english and german. the three were really funny, teasing each other, trying to pronounce everything the right way and actually i learned a few new words in malay myself.
later i met sophie from switzerland and we had a nice chat, and then of course we were joined by two guys wanting to be our tourguides! ("there are still a lot turtles, if we are lucky we might see one ......only 5rm") as i said, wherever you go there will be a little man waiting for you.
sophie went out with them that night and didn't see any, later i got told there are non at all to find anymore, only in june and july.

saturday morning sophie and i had the whole beach to ourselves, for sure i got sunburned (my left thigh got the colour of a lobster) and in 2 days i read 3 books.
September, 28     TOP

that afternoon i thought i might better stay out of the sun, finishing my third book in the shade.
for dinner i went over to that restaurant again and one of the boys was there and he tried to improve his english a bit more.
later on the little man of the night before started telling "funny stories". he actually tried to get 25rm each from two other people to go to see the non-existing turtles. explaining them he had charged sophie and me the trip for 5rm the night before because that place was much closer. first of all i didn't go with him and second sophie didn't have to pay anything. of course then his story changed again and so on, at the end no one went with him. people shouldn't try something like this when one person who knows about them is sitting close by.

sunday (16.9.) i took a bus to terengganu. johann had told me about this place to stay on pulau duyong (it's a bloody trap). people staying there were quite a mixture, everyone had been there minimum a week.
i like to explore the places i get to, so i went for a walk around the two villages. bad decision - especially to walk alone. besides one time before i've never been so insulted. after a while you get used to all these kids shouting at you (hello! what's your name? hello!) and people asking you where you were going to (jalan jalan) but to be asked "you want to fuck" or "come here, fuck you" was something new. okay, i'm able to ignore that but when someone tries to touch your breasts!? and of course, again on a bike so that i couldn't react, that made me really furious! i was not really in the mood to smile back to the kids or something like that anymore, actually i was more in the mood to leave straight away. even though that guy was just too stupid to touch me, he just grabbed between my breasts - perhaps mentally retarded?! (okay that's not pc, i know)
i told the others about that incident and because i didn't want to go out for dinner on my own i went with a nice french couple and tried to improve my french (they couldn't speak english that well, i always had to remind anthony to use keywords and to go back to the basics).
mentioning anthony i might say a few words about the people living/staying there. there's marc from lausanne, the youngest who's been there for 1,5 weeks, kiyomi from osaka (6 weeks) and anthony from england who's more or less living there. it's a nice bunch of people, especially when anthony is quite sober and not loosing his sarong. kiyomi is the one with the big mission, trying to find the best way of killing ants (i told her to try baking powder - most times she's using boiling water). and marc seems to be infected by both of them not to leave that place, surely not before the end of the month. they tried to persuade me to do the same, especially kiyomi, but i was sure i just stay one or maximum two nights.

on monday (17.9.) i went to town with kiyomi. i wanted to get some fruits and do a bit e-mailing. so we went to an internetcafe, to get annoyed about computers not giving us access or just crashing down.... so we were better off going to the market, getting my fruits and duck eggs for anthony and having a bit of a look around. later we tried another internetcafe and that was okay.
we took the ferry back and coming back anthony gave me a really interesting book about colonial history of malaysia (the british time) based on a murder which took place in malaysia around 1911. nonfiction and a good view into the living of the british in malaysia around that time. how clever, so i had to stay one more day, just to finish that book. the rest of the day i spent reading and talking with anthony and kiyomi. afterwards i could imagine why anthony started drinking in the first place.

so instead of leaving on tuesday i spent another day at awi's (awi's yellow house?). sophie (the one i had met in rantau abang) arrived the day before as well, and then there is always this question why do you want to leave when you enjoy a place. of course there was a reason, before going back to tassie i wanted to spend a few days on the beach!
the day was filled with going to town (getting some money), lot's of talks with kiyomi, finishing anthony's book and then meeting mr. daud. as his business card says he's the chief coach of the malaysian national cycling federation, chief coach of the terengganu state cycling association, physiotherapist and traditional masseur. so with my right foot still in pain what do you want more? i got a free reflexology massage for over an hour, was totally bruised on my right foot, leg and arm afterwards, but i felt very relaxed.
later i went out for dinner on my own and no stress at all this time! one more story about kiyomy. she had had toothache for a few days so awi took her to the dentist that day (next day she had to go again for the wisdom tooth had to be pulled out - autsch!) talking about our diffrent experiences with dentists we figured out that kiyomi could write a guidebook about dentists all over the world - besides japan! she had been to them in bolivia, hungaris, rumania..... and she's still bloody scared. wednesday morning i had breakfast with kiyomi as usual, counted my bruises and then mr. daud came to pick me up and bring me to the busstation (he likes women). without him picking me up i might have stayed even longer.
anyway, i took the bus to kuala besut and arrived just in time to catch the slowboat to perhentian kecil, having the whole boat to myself! i had bought a returnticket and that was not a good idea. while out on the sea this guy was asking for my ticket, took half of it, gave the returnpart back to me and i thought i might better put it in a safe place, not wanting to loose it, and took out my wallet. that moment there was a bit of a breeze coming up and my ticket flew over board - gone with the wind. shit! but then these things happen (and why to me) and after all it was not going to spoil my day, i just had to get a new ticket.
i had a wonderful lazy afternoon, got my hut, talked to hassan, the owner of the place, and dolar, one of the guys working there, went for a swim and otherwise did just nothing!

thursday was the same, just doing nothing besides exploring the beach, going for a swim (crystalclear water, warm like in a bathtub - a bit too warm for my taste), reading and just feeling like i'm on holidays. some people think travelling is like having long holidays, rubbish. lots of decisions you have to make: do i get up early or do i have a sleep in, do i stay another day or move on again.....
the only annoying thing was that i couldn't use the toilet - it was just a great mess. someone had turned off the water and people do use toilets even when they see there is no water to clean them afterwards, bah. and because it hadn't rained for over a month there was no freshwater left. i realised that when it was to late. i wanted to wash the saltwater out of my hair, using a piece of soap, but there's no way to rinse your hair with saltwater - i had to wear a scarf because my hair was so filthy and sticking out to every single direction, a good start for dreadlocks.

after two lazy days i thought of doing something. so i got up early the next day, went to coral bay for my breakfast and then started to walk to the fishing village. i took my camera with me in the hope to see some warans or so. on the whole walk not a single one, lots of squirrels, butterflies etc but no waran. the walk was very nice, through the jungle along the coast. there are a lot of small beaches with just single resorts or guesthouses, some of them closed at the time and i didn't meet anyone walking along that track. it was pretty nice being on my own, taking rests on some of the beaches.
arriving at the fishing village it was about lunchtime, so i got something to eat and decided not to walk the same way back, it was just getting too hot. so i took one of these quite expensive watertaxis to get back to long beach.
the rest of the afternoon i spent on the beach, swimming, reading...
over dinner i felt a bit like talking with someone, not having done that for a while besides "yes, that's the queue for the shower" or something else like that. strange thing, there were four single travellers in that restaurant including me. all sitting on their own. so after i finished my dinner i went to one of these guys, picking the wrong one of course. i must have been desperate for some talk otherwise i would have moved away after five minutes. it was this strange conversation about "which places have you DONE" you don't DO places, that's weird.
afterwards i thought that there was a reason why i usually went back to my place early, besides that you have to listen to three different kinds of music at the same time. every single restaurant trying to play its music louder than the other.
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