Jonker Street: A Trishaw Odyssey [BIMT19]

June 8, 2009 at 5:39 pm

We got a bit turned around during our tour of Malacca’s old quarter and weren’t entirely sure how to get to our next stop, the antique and curio district of Jonker Street. Given how small and centralized Malacca is, I’m not entirely sure how we accomplished this. I blame the disorientation on Red Bull and constantly looking through camera lenses while walking around. In any case, we decided to avail ourselves of one of the lavishly decorated trishaws which are ubiquitous in the Town Square.

Preeeeeettty...

Preeeeeettty...

Covered with wreaths of flowers and often blaring pop music from oversized radios, the trishaws themselves are as much of an attempt to attract the attention of tourists as the drivers themselves, calling out destinations and prices to all who pass by.

We found a cluster of trishaws and were instantly hailed by one of the drivers. Ian explained that we wanted to get to Jonker Street and began negotiating a price. The driver didn’t want to budge any lower than 20rm until we began to walk away towards one of the other drivers (a canny move which we’d use later in our trip), at which point 15rm suddenly became acceptable.

We were still pretty sure we were being taken for a ride in more ways than one, but we agreed and squished ourselves into a cramped bench which the driver insisted was intended to carry two passengers (maybe if one of them had been one of the little monkeys from the Batu Caves) and set off.

We got our bearings within a block and realised that we could’ve easily walked to Jonker Street in as much time as it took to find the ride and negotiate its price. Still, the ride was a chance to try something new, and while we’d seen plenty of bicycles and scooters hot-dogging through traffic in Kuala Lumpur, actually weaving through oncoming traffic was something we’d yet to experience. Eeep. Also, Ian was pleased to be able to listen to Flo-rida’s “Get Low” on the trishaw’s radio, and we were impressed at the driver’s ability to pedal two 180 pound guys up an incline.

Upon arriving at Jonker street, the driver began insisting we pay him 20rm, the reason being Ian’s weight. No, seriously. He puffed his cheeks out and pointing at him, indicating that the apparent extra weight Ian had added to the load. I caved and gave him the extra five under heavy protest from Ian. I’m not sure whether Ian was more offended by the driver’s remarks or the fact that all of his savvy bargaining had been for nothing.

Me trying not to look Ian in the face after I rendered his haggling useless

Me trying not to look Ian in the face after I rendered his haggling useless

In any case, we set off down the festively decorated Jonker Street.

Welcome to Jonkter Street baby!

Welcome to Jonkter Street baby!

Gates and lanterns were set up at every turn to welcome the tourists who flock to the shops which offer all manner of souvenirs – ranging from legitimate antiques and handcrafts…

…to slightly more mass-produced fare:

Ah yes - as opposed to a Loser T-shirt - I'll take it!

Ah yes - as opposed to a Loser T-shirt - I'll take it!

Ian picked up some porcelain elephants for a friend, and we both bought T-shirts designed by Malaccan artist Charles Cham.

Charles Cham's Orangutan House

Charles Cham's Orangutan House

I chose one with an orangutan for my ape-loving girlfriend, while Ian opted for one which proudly displayed his newly discovered love for Malacca’s signature cuisine:

He's wearing his feelings.

He's wearing his feelings.

We had to leave Jonker Street before sunset (like most Malaysian markets, Jonker Street really picks up only after nightfall) in order to taxi back to KL, and grab a quick sleep before flying out early in the morning to our next destination: the island of Penang.

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One Response

  1. faride mir says:

    hi.we are coming next week.thanks

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