February 7th - Day 1 - Singapore to Malacca, Malaysia

So, this is it. After more than a year since we first heard that HERO were thinking of doing a SE Asia tour, we are finally starting the event.

It was up at 6.30am for an early breakfast, final packing and then down to the car park for our allotted time of 8.40am. We are car number 5, and the first five cars drove from the car park to the official start in front of Raffles Hotel. What a great place to start from!

A few photos of the start, including the Landcruiser waiting in line for the off.

Dancing dragons, our car and Dr.Greg Williams in the foreground.

John Brown waving the start flag for Car No.2, which is from Oman.

There were two dancing dragons and drummers making a hell of a racket. Each car was waved off at one minute intervals, so at 9.05am we were away.

The drive through Singapore to the border took only about 40 minutes. I nearly made a complete mess of the paperwork by forgetting to get the International Carnet stamped. My navigator was attempting to tell me what to do, but I knew better!! I had to go back through the Singapore customs to get the Carnet stamped. I won't make that mistake again.

You leave Singapore by going over a bridge into Malaysia.

There followed a pretty chaotic period with Malaysian customs who it appeared had never seen a carnet before. With help from several of us we got them to stamp the correct parts of the carnet and we were free to drive north, to Malacca.

The drive, up a modern motorway, took only a couple of hours. A total distance of about 250 kms from Raffles. One of the shorter days of the event.

Malacca is a mixture of Portuguese, Dutch, British and Malay. Our hotel is in the centre of the old town, with a view of another giant Ferris wheel near the sea.

Just below us is a curving river which has tourist boats sailing along it. Unfortunately when I took this photo, there were none!

We have a free afternoon and later we are meeting a local businessman who Jim Carr knows, for an evening meal. In fact we met up with Tony, who supplies car parts to Jim Carr, early in the afternoon. Just before we left the hotel we met up with Jane & Paul Wignall riding in one these amazing bicycles.

Tony then led us into the centre of the old town of Malacca, with its beautiful buildings, narrow streets and lots and lots of very colourful bicycle taxis.

In the main square there is an old Dutch church, painted bright red and built in 1753.

We stood as a group in front of the original gateway into the fort of Malacca, built in the 16th century. From left to right, me, Jeremy Stream, Jim Carr,Helen Peacock,Thelma Howells, Wendy and Bob Howells.

A walk round the old town included the evening market where all sorts of goods and food was available. A typical bustling market. In the middle of the market street was Tony's warehouse, which he showed us. Wendy took this picture of Tony in his office.

We headed back to the hotel and then in the evening, very generously Tony hosted a wonderful Chinese meal at a local hotel. Once again a day ends on a perfect note. Tomorrow we have a short drive up to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.

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