I woke up this morning with a gutful of poison: two bottles of Thai whiskey churning in the pit of my stomach. Our return to Malaysia had seen us imbibe epic quantities of alcohol and i was paying the price. I needed to get out of Kuala Lumpur and rejuvenate...
The bus journey to Melaka was not my finest hour. Feeling too fragile to even listen to my iPod, i breathed deeply and tried to avoid voiding the contents of my belly into the lap of my slumbering neighbour. Thankfully for all concerned he reached his destination in pristine condition. Which is more than can be said for me.
Things began to look up as i reached my hostel: arguably the best i've stayed in so far. Greeted by the extremely friendly proprietor, i lumped my backpack into a well presented, tastefully decorated SINGLE room. For the first time since our housesitting stint in Australia i had a room to myself. Such a luxury is a rarity when you're on the road. Invariably dorms are shared to cut costs and Rachel's presence is ubiquitous. But not today. February 18th 2010 marked the first day that Miss Harrison and i have spent apart since we left England on November 18th. Exactly three months into our adventure and, remarkably, we are both still in one piece.
Having escaped the hustle, bustle and relentless counterfeiting of the capital, a day spent meandering around Melaka's pretty little streets seemed like exactly what i needed. But in the three months i've been away, this sleepy port town has been transformed! The advent of Chinese New Year has seen swarms of tourists hit this World Heritage site in massive numbers. The sheer volume of people on the main street of Chinatown has led to it becoming unofficially pedestrianised. Paper lanterns swing from every available pillar and post. The queues for the best food stalls and restaurants were ridiculously long and constantly interrupted by tinsel-wrapped bicycles weaving colourful trailers of passengers through the crowds.
With my insides still churning and gargling, the only way to cope was to order an extremely cold beer and watch events unfold. From my bar-stool on Jonkers Street i watched as hawkers barbecued baby cuttlefish, children nagged their parents for bamboo whistles and bewildered husbands were dragged into souvenir shops. Thirst slaked and hunger sated, i went to meet Charles Cham, a local artist producing political works in vibrant colours. Utterly charmed, i was persuaded to buy one of his t-shirts - a purchase which was accompanied by a free orange - a Chinese custom which accompanies their New Year.
And now, at 9pm local time, having drunk five iced lemon teas, three large beers, one can of Malta (like sweetened non-alcoholic Guinness), one bottle of coke, one black coffee, one mocha milkshake and one cup of jasmine tea i have to admit defeat. Last night's excesses have ruined me. I'm going to hit the hay and enjoy a rare night alone. Tomorrow i'll rise early, hit the road, take to the skies and head to Thailand for tom sum salad, some cold Chang and some excellent company.