The area was inhabited many, many years prior, but in 1401, a Hindu prince from Sumatra reached this city and realized its potential as a deep-water port. Melaka was ideally situated halfway between China and India. Business boomed.
In 1511, the Portuguese arrived with 18 heavily armed ships and defeated Melaka’s army. They built the “A Formosa” fortress immediately, which still stands. The following 130 years were full of wars and skirmishes.
In 1641, the Dutch East India Company captured the city from the Portuguese and controlled it for the next 150 years.
The British arrived in 1786, with the East India Company, and eventually settled in Singapore, where business boomed and attention shifted from Melaka. Thus today, Melaka remains a small scale, charming, historic city.
We started with a tour of A Formosa:
Porta de Santiago (one of 4 main gates to A Formosa) (above)
Wednesday was 100% Ricky and Lindsay day. We set out in the morning on a motorboat and snorkeling tour of Phi Phi Islands. We didn’t take a camera or anything valuable, so we’d be free to jump in and out of the water. The islands were beautiful, and we stopped at various points along the way to enjoy seeing more tropical fish and coral, similar to what we’d seen on Pulau Mamutik.
We returned to Krabi and hit the strand in search of dinner.
Despite the relative variety in food thusfar (Thai, Malay, Chinese, Indian), we caved into our American tendencies and chowed down on some Burger King and Haagen-Dazs. I wasn’t really paying attention and purchased the most expensive ice cream I’d ever eaten, something like $10 for each of us, which gave us a good laugh, considering you can get a plate of pad thai for less than $3. Oops.
The afternoon adventure included an obligatory elephant ride, complete with a British family of 4, which seemed to make the whole thing like something out of a movie set. The little boy’s name was Monty, and at one point, his little sister gave him a sharp jab with her index finger and declared, “Naughty boy!” Her mother followed this instantaneously with a sharp index finger jab of her own, directed at the daughter, saying, "Don't you dare!" (I think I figured out where the little girl was taking cues...something that hopefully won't become too painfully obvious in my own parenting!)
The surprise ending included a tour of a fish farm, where you could toss in fish kibble and watch the water erupt with seemingly thousands of hungry (sometimes hideous) fish mouths.
The evening was capped off with another delicious Thai meal with Palm’s family. We were champs and tried the fish stomach dish. No one at the table was a true fan of this one, though.
They treated us to a fabulous restaurant and wow did we reap the benefits of their ordering expertise. Unfortunately, I don't know the names of most of what we ordered, but the Tom Yum soup was delicious and not too salty.
Our next big adventure was a trip to Krabi, Thailand. Palm (but not Scott) came along for this part where she was able squeeze in some work at the family business.
We hesitated about taking this part of the trip, due to the political protests going on in Bangkok. The “Red-Shirts” (National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship) had called for the prime minister to dissolve parliament and hold elections. It escalated into violent confrontations between protestors and military, killing 86 and injuring 2100 between March and May.
We went anyway, given that we flew directly to Krabi (not via Bangkok). Krabi is a good distance from Bangkok, and Palm’s family was keeping an eye out for us.
“Palm” is short for “Paramee Palm Hongsilathong Feist.” She goes by Palm (at least in America) and was given the name because she was born the year her father started his Palm Plantation, about 30 years ago. Since then, he has expanded is acreage and built a refinery, which makes crude palm oil.
My favorite part of Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood was the factory tours, and this became apparent to everyone when I couldn't keep up with the tour group because I was snapping photos.
The palm fruit
becomes palm oil (used in foods and tons of other things) and palm kernel oil (more frequently used in cosmetics).
and hopped on a flight back to Kuala Lumpur.
For dinner, we met up with community group leaders from Scott & Palm's church, who took us to the biggest hawker stall we'd seen. I completely dropped the ball in photo-documenting this meal, but let me assure you that it was delicious, and we were stuffed at the end of it all.
Interesting item #1: Guso Seaweed. The seaweed had tiny seawater-filled pearls that you can nibble off during your meal to add that salty flavor.
Interesting item #2: Stingray. This meat was slathered in sauce and tasted great. It was served bone-in, as was most fish we ate over there. Instead of bones, their wings are supported by thin strips of cartilage, lined by meat on either side. It meant you had to slowly enjoy your meat, rather than wolf it down, which makes for a fun dinner.
Lastly, we wandered through the mostly Chinese marketplace. A lot of the stalls had similar items, including vases, textiles, and costume jewelry. There was a food market as well, with dried fish, including shark, and then an enormous mango display.
Palm and I picked green and yellow mangoes from a woman who eagerly allowed us to taste before buying. They were the best mangoes I’ve ever had.