This was one of those things which seemed like a good idea and fortunately enough lived up to its billing – if we had awoken with a hangover things could have been so much worse! Again another scorcher but we were collected by a man who described himself as ‘Man Rasta’ on his email but who signed off with ‘Alias’ – so we had no idea what to expect but what arrived was a shrunken Rasta whose dentist had taken a few years off – teeth, I am one to talk! – but a very nice chilled out guy, well at least until he got behind the wheel of his van!
The ride started easy enough as after five minutes on the bike we stopped and he talked us through the extraction of latex from the rubber trees and the cycle to get it to production. He showed us how to make a simple rubber ball and gave it a few bounces. to test it for us, this was what him and his mates did as kids. Then off we went with a bit more gusto but as we went along he would stop at trees or shrubs that grew anything we would know as fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices and would explain each and to be fair this pat of Malaka apparently grew everything!
One of the most important to him was the palm and the palm oil production. Now I am not so sure about this as palm oil production seems to be taking an enormous amount of Malaysia’s forestry land but he argued his case well and explained how the palms there had been planted on a lot of swampy land (as I write this I am now in Sabah, Borneo and have just taken a five hour journey where there were an awful amount of palms planted as far as the eye could see!).
At one point we came across a lot of Oxen in a field pretty much the same as cows back home – not really sure what I expected them to be doing – living in mud huts I suppose! We also later came across an area growing green beans and Rasta explained that the Bangledeshi’s who were tending to the land were immigrants doing the job much cheaper than the local people wanted to do it for, we explained that this was happening in the UK as well which somewhat surprised him!
On we peddled past some canals and rivers that the local fishermen were trying to fish with as much luck as fishermen everywhere. Here there were herons and a funny looking black and white Kingfisher as well as a big one that was wearing its more normal ‘home strip’. After the birds and a bridge across a canal we came across what our Rasta-friend described as Malaka’s White Elephant.This is a replica of a Malaysian nobleman’s home and it is huge with outbuildings etc but the council do not advertise it and the only signs are in Malaysian and there are not many of those so most people simply come up to it drive round, possibly taking a couple of pictures then bugger off!
As Rasta explained it could be put to all sorts of good uses for either the local community or to promote it to the wider world but no-one in the council was interested, again a problem I explained that is not just confined to Malaysia!
After this we then stopped for roadside Banana Fritters which were excellent we had now been riding on and off for the past two hours and we were heading for home So the fritters really hit the spot. It was during the last hour that my ass-bone was playing up the most, I would have sold my soul for one of the old fashioned comfy bike seats but that said in another hour or so we had completed the ride – some good three hours and 25 kilometres which was a good deal more than we were used to. After some swearing at other road users our Rasta friend got us back to our digs and besides my ass we were none the worse for the experience!
There was a good amount of day left so me and Liz decided it was time for a haircut – well Liz decided this more than me but even my few bedraggled locks were getting me very hot indeed. I was first one up at a Chinese barber who seemed to be suffering from a touch of the Larry Graysons but did his job well enough and I emerged newly shorn. Liz visited another Chinese hairdresser and soon she too was looking spick and span – all for the princely sum of £4.20 – amazing eh!
On the way back we stopped at a place that would book our transport to Singapore – so tomorrow country number three would be in our sights.
The night we ate well and even treat ourselves to a drinkypoo but then ‘home’ to bed and one last word or two with Mr Bala – who could not speak very good English but neither do we so we all got on like a house on fire!