Melaka (Malacca), Malaysia – Tuesday, July 5 2011
I’m just coming back from an amazing afternoon and evening here in Melaka, Malaysia.
This is so ‘not western’. I love it!
After my Hotel here in Melaka turned out to be not quite suitable for me to work here – after all at least a window or a chair would have been nice – I had to look for alternatives. So I kind of – literally, actually – worked on the street today and decided around four a clock that I should try another approach. Sitting at an open air eatery by the Sungai Melaka, just a few meters off the water wheel, extending my stay for a pau and kopi’o for way to long I logged on to the couch surfing website and posted the question “Desk-Surfing – possible in Melaka” to the Melaka discussion board.
It took two other members of the couchsurfing community less time than it took me to cross the river to answer to that request – one of them being Siew Yong Pak, the owner of the tea house at 3 Jalan Kg Kuli who offered me table at her tea house. My workday was done already but I decided to visit her place anyway – according to google maps it was less than 100 meters away from the place where I was.
Being the good netizen that I try to be I posted my intention to go there to the Melaka message board and tried to map the virtual 100 meters to the very real 400 meters it actually took me to hunt the tea house down in concentric circles. Intending only to have a short look and then negotiate the details I was swamped by the friendliness and open-mindedness of Pak’s son who showed me around a simply amazing, peaceful and very distinguished chinese tea house that would have fit into any romanticized chinese movie. The gallery on the top floor with chinese wall scrolls and painting also added to the overwhelming atmosphere of the place.
But this is not the moment when the afternoon ended with me saying “ok, I’ll drop in tomorrow, thank you very much” – instead Pak’s son asked me if I would like to stay to wait for his mother and offered me “a tea for the waiting time”. And what a tea that was! A complete chinese tea ceremony – much less formalized than the japanese version, and “only one of a dozen” different ceremonies – that extended itself until seven o’clock.
And of course the fact that I had been a good netizen in stating my intentions for the afternoon online had its effects. All of a sudden William, the other couchsurfer who had recommended some places to work showed up – well he didn’t only show up. He also showed me a place to have dinner – which we did – that I would never have found of my own.
But the story is not yet quite over – although we’re coming close.
After I returned the bicycle to the tea house – didn’t I mention that the family from the tea house didn’t let me go to dinner without urging me to take their bicycle? – I was invited to the next tea ceremony – this time conducted by K. K. Lai – the husband of Siew Yong Pak. The story ends – three quarters of an hour later – with me, standing in front of my hotel – where Mr. Lai had dropped me, because he “lives somewhere close”, so it is no problem at all – completely baffled by the positive effect of a short inquiry at the couchsurfing website and especially by the openness and friendliness of the family Siew Yong in Melaka.
So for tomorrow I’m really looking forward to my working day at the best place I could imagine to “do some mind consuming thinking and writing”.
Melaka (Malacca), Malaysia – Wednesday, July 6 2011
And that’s how working here looks like: