Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Jackie and Julia. Episode 1 - Forays into Setiawangsa and Melaka

Jacqueline Newman and Julia Thistlethwaite are two of our best friends in Leicester. We had nagged and cajoled them to come to our abode in Kuala Lumpur and enjoy our company (yeh?) and our world here before we became too old and decrepit.   Much younger than us, they are both nurses, one retired and the other still working it out with the famed and 'de-famed' National Health Service in Leicester.

Intrepid travellers; they have (like most Brits) travelled all over Europe.  They toured Sri Lanka, Bangkok and Australia.  We do admire their stamina and guts when they travel. They (mainly Jackie because Julia's shoulder gave up the ghost) drove in Arizona to see the Grand Canyon etc, and spent an autumn in New England and a winter in New York

We witnessed that same stamina - and an enormous enthusiasm for the environment, the people and the culture they met - when they arrived here on September the 22nd.

We two septuagenarians have not been in the best of health since we came back in June.  I brought home with me a nasty infection after a visit to Singapore in mid-August.  And we so looked forward to J & J's arrival.  They were like a breath of fresh air and a ray of healing sunlight- just what the nurses ordered!

Hardly ten hours into their arrival, they were up and about 'exploring' our little slice of  "kampung Setiawangsa"

A photo to kill for - AsH snapped the shot that almost lopped off their heads - taken at the end of our side road.
Jackie (left) and Julia and a dried up coconut frond.

Clockwise :  bananas, coconut, turmeric leaf, serai all of which can be found in Leicester shops;  growing by the wayside near our street.   (Photos taken by Jackie - Ash cannot be trusted with the job after that first debacle!)
J & J are very, very keen gardeners  and between them they have a full time job looking after their high maintenance garden in Leicester - with its lawn, its vegetable garden, its fruit trees, its shrubbery, its nursery, and its many floral borders.  Of course we had to show off our wild senduduk bush (mainly for feeding the birds), our date palm from 6 Ramadans ago, out skinny lanky (like the spouse) frangipani, our serai wangi (citronella) that suffered a lot of pummelling from a stray, randy tom cat and pots of infected chili plants that need a high dose of plant antibiotics.   Hardly a grand garden, and hardly high-maintenance - but we love it first thing in the morning!

They took quite a nice picture of our garden.  Taken from the right angle, our wee garden does look quite presentable.  But I must be fair - they too have a lovely garden.  They must be as proud of their gardening skills as we are of ours(?).  See below and compare.

East and West -the twain shall meet.

On the very next day they left for Melaka - on their own, by Express bus.  The outward journey was fine, but the return trip was a harrowing experience - of a driver speeding on the highway, weaving in and out of the hard shoulder while talking on his mobile phone.  Sometimes he drove hands free while his attention was taken up by someting else more important than the rules of the highway code and the safety of his passengers!!  Julia had to be on the alert all the time as a kind of self-defence tactic on a Malaysian road.  I had to assure them that what they experienced is quite normal for Malaysian drivers and driving.

Melaka at least did not fail to capture their attention and interest.  We got them a nice hotel at Jonker Street, a good base for capturing the sights and sounds and food of Melaka.  They spent about one hour and a half  in the vicinity of an an empty restaurant, sheltering from a heavy downpour but it was all taken in good humour as another experience to be chalked up.  Nothing like a torrential tropical rain to energize the spirit of two dauntless Brits from Leicester. EYUP me duck!

Here are some photos of their walkabout in Melaka.

Something I've never seen before :  Melaka, a World Heritage City.

Symbols of Melaka's heritage.  The X is something Malay (other than the Istana of the Melaka Sultanate) I have to find out by visiting Melaka Baru (post-1960s) one day, InsyaAllah.  

For our two dear ladies from Leicester, Melaka was a new and wonderful experience - as we hoped it would be.    And they made the most of their short time there, taking a river trip, tasting the food, walking for hours, and enjoying the kindness of Melaka taxi drivers, coffee shops, and a nice little hotel.

Of course, Jackie and Julia would have no way of knowing this.... but as I belong to the dinosaur generation of "locals" (and proudly so!), I much prefer the Melaka of the 1960s.  As I've mentioned many times before, the present does not impress me at all.    Those were the days - just look at those empty streets!

Melaka - 1966.  Photos by courtesy of Iain Buchanan.

Episode 2 of Jackie and Julia's venture to the East Coast will be next.  It is full of thrills and spills and food and sun and sand and snorkelling.

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