Archery In A Mall

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
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Where I stayed

Flag of Malaysia  , Melaka State,
Saturday, June 16, 2012

Knowing we were pushing our luck we opted for another bus trip- this time we were heading south of KL to Melaka, another UNESCO heritage site. And much to our surprise, we are now counting two comfortable bus rides in a row although there were no video players on our latest ride. Our basic hotel was just 1 street removed from the famous Jonkers St, and the whole area was a collection of architecture frozen in time- most of it from the Dutch colonial period. The night market which greeted us was much more engaging then the ones we had seen in KL- there was even a karaoke-on-steroids event taking place at the end of the street. A huge open-air stage (empty, except for a lonely teleprompter machine) was available to anyone who might want to explore their 15 seconds of fame (or, in this case, 3 minutes of ear bleeding pain), complete with a relatively large and interested audience. I didn't think there'd be many takers for this hall-of-shame public fiesta but when DH went to enter her name, she was met with a lineup that would take most of the night to get through. Fortunately (I'm sure I meant to say "unfortunately") Melaka was not to be blessed with DH's rendition of 'I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar'. The rest of the market was a mix of surprisingly inexpensive designer brand goods (like DH's new GooChee sunglasses) and unrecognizable food products- would you really want to eat something that has to be broken into smaller pieces using a hammer and chisel?? A cold beer to cool off and it was time for bed (11:00pm and it was still around 30C with a humidity level that would make the Pacific Ocean seem like a dust bowl in comparison- DH just can't do a thing with her hair in this environment!!).

Melaka has a number of different walking trails that facilitate the towns journey through time including the Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonial periods (the walks involved only a handful of near-death incidents with rogue vehicles which was good given recent experiences). Massive land-reclamation projects have pushed many of the former seaside sites inland, and there is a real threat that this historic centre is becoming too much of an amusement park in order to satisfy the domestic tourists, but at this point you could still sense the former glory days under the Melaka sultanates when the city was a wealthy centre for trade with China, India, Siam (Thailand) and Indonesia.

In addition to another bad haircut (perhaps I look like the kind of guy who should have a Mohawk?), the lasting memories of Melaka will include cheesy flower-covered Trishaws that blasted music out of over-sized speakers attached to the back (Trishaws are basically bicycles with a side carriage attached usually peddled by an older gent at a pace just slightly slower than walking), and a shopping mall storefront that offered up archery lessons. Archery in a mall?? If Australia hears about this, they'll be posting a red circle with a slash through an arrow on all their mall doors poste haste!! This was a wide open store front with zero security (when we first wandered in there was a "Back In 5 Minutes" sign hanging off one of the bows and nothing was locked up) and after the heavy security of other Asian malls so you couldn't help but think that unrestricted access to bows and arrows in a shopping area was wrong on many different levels. Having retired from policing, DH saw absolutely nothing wrong with this, and started flashing back to her days as a high school all-star in archery- she stepped right up and unleashed a flurry of arrows doing her best Robin Hood impression. After the sales girl removed a couple of arrows from the cash register and an innocent light fixture, I gave it a try myself- just practicing for Mongolia. Still not sure that archery in a mall will catch on??

Melaka also confirmed another bit of folklore about Malaysia- the suggestion that about half of the population is employed cooking food for the other half of the population. I might suggest that it is more a matter of thirds. About a third of the population is cooking for a third of the population while the remaining third digests their meals while chain-smoking. How Malaysians stay as thin as they do is something of a mystery.
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