Ice Cream Expo
1/2/2005, Malaysia trip day 7: Melaka - arrival
We woke up very early to prepare for an early departure from the Teman Negara Jungle. We took a few pictures of the place we were staying before we left.
|The dining area at the lodge. It was open air. Very, very casual. Basically, the wife of the owner of the place cooks for the guests if they're too lazy to go out to a restaurant. The food is dirt cheap. An omelette or a plate of noodles with chicken or a bowl of Thai tom yum soup all cost about 3 Malaysian ringit (≈$0.83, ≈¥83).|
|The wife of the owner of the lodge, Akemi, and a girl who works there.|
|The wife of the woner of the lodge and me.|
|Some cool plants near the dining room.|
|Aki, the owner of the lodge, called "Park Lodge".|
We caught a bus from Teman Negara to Melaka. Teman Negara is in the center of peninsula Malaysia. Melaka is near the west coast, south of the capital Kuala Lumpuer. We had some hot sweet corn and yam ice cream at the bus station in Melaka.
We checked into a guest house called Shirah's Guest House in Melaka. When I made the reservation, the owner, Hussein, clarified the spelling of his name by saying, "Hussein, like Saddam Hussein." He turned out to be a really enjoyable guy. When we got there, he was particularly courteous and welcoming. He gave us a little tour of his guest house, gave us a pick of a few rooms with slightly different features, and provided lots of information about things to do in Melaka. It was really good, especially considering it was the cheapest place we stayed the whole trip, at 40 Malaysian ringit per night (≈$1.11, ≈¥111). We joked that the cost was about the same as a good ice cream sundae in Japan. Anyway, Hussein was great.
Throughout the trip, people always asked me where I was from. If possible, I often just told people I lived in Japan. I was a little worried about confronting anti-American sentiments head-on. But, Hussein was so nice, that I decided to ask him about it. He told me Malaysians have no prejudices. Everybody is the same to Malaysians. We talked briefly about our mutual dislike of George W Bush and the war in Iraq. We talked about the 2000 US presidential election, of which we both disapproved. Then, he brought up the conflict between Israel and Palestine, a hot button with many Muslims around the world. He said he was disappointed that the US didn't try to help the Palestinians. I explained that I didn't understand the situation well, but that I thought the US's reason for supporting Israel somewhat was that if nobody supported them, they'd surely be murdered by their neighbors in the Middle East. He seemed to understand the position, despite his sympathy for the Palestinians. We talked a bit more. Then, suddenly, his attitude changed completely. He started ranting about how horrible the Israelis were, how they were murdering Palestinians, how the US was supporting the whole thing, how the Palestinians had been totally reasonable, how the tragedy was partly the fault of the US, and so on. When I mentioned the tragedy of September 11, he essentially said he thought it was a justifiable act of desperation by a group that had been unsuccessful fighting by simply "throwing stones". It made me angry to hear these things, but I truly wanted to understand his position, so I let him rant on for a while. Finally, when I had had enough, I reminded him that I was simply a traveller. He immediately reversed course and apologized for his ranting. For me, it was a great experience. Akemi and I had some really interesting conversations about the whole thing that night.
I must emphasize that I very much appreciated Hussein sharing his views. I was glad to have a view into that line of thinking. He only shared his views because I asked. And, he was consistently friendly and nice for the duration of our stay.
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