Friday, April 18, 2014

Melaka, Part 3 - Trishaws

18 April 2014

There are buses and taxis and trains and subways and all, a variety of public transportation options.  And of course, there is walking.

But Malaysia also has the trishaw.  In KL, trishaws tend have a front end like a rickshaw, where the guests would sit.  The back end, for the driver, is like a bicycle, with just one wheel - the front of the bicycle being the two wheels of the rickshaw.

Melaka has perfected the trishaw, which is more like a rickshaw sidecar attached to a regular bicycle.  And then dressed up.  Pimped out, in modern parlance.  Beautified, kitsch-ified, and decorated with just about every single modern cultural icon or pop symbol that you can imagine.  Covered with artificial flowers like a miniature float in the Parade of Roses.  Or maybe Cupid's chariot for Valentine's Day, since hearts seem to be the preferred shape.

The trishaws are also fitted out with sound systems - some are speakers attached to either an MP3 player or a cell phone; others are old-fashioned CD players or radios hooked up from a platform on the back of the trishaw.  At any rate, raucous music blares from every single trishaw.  A different song playing from every single trishaw pedalling down the road.  So that there's a constant cacophony of pop or old rock music as the flower-covered, butterfly topped, Hello Kitty covered trishaws scoot by.

They are hysterical!  Hilarious!  Beautiful and quirky and funny and colourful and just, well, funny!

I fell in love with Melaka's trishaws.  I couldn't get enough photos.  Photos of drivers, who were willing to pose and slow down so I could catch a photo.  Parked trishaws lined up at touristy spots, hoping to catch a fare.  Bored trishaw drivers playing games on their mobile phones, because what else is there to do on a hot afternoon while tourists are shopping or eating or going on a boat cruise?

One night, walking around, I found a house or shop full of trishaws - I asked the man who seemed to live there if they were his trishaws, and he said yes.  I then asked if he made them?  He said yes.  I asked if I could photograph them.  He said yes.  So, there's a chance he didn't understand all of my questions and just answered yes.  There's an equal chance he understood and is indeed a trishaw artist.  I don't really know.
Of course we had to try a trishaw.  Which was even funnier than they look.

The seat is small.  It will fit two slim-hipped Malaysians.  It is a VERY tight squeeze for two somewhat overweight and middle-aged Americans who are of big-boned European heritage.

We managed, but we were squished, and only one of us could lean back at a time.

Plus the Hello Kitty dolls in back of me kept kicking my hat off my head.

Our driver put on "Stand By Me" and Richard and I sang along as our driver pedalled his way through the back streets of Chinatown and over to our hotel.

And we had a great view of the other side of the trishaw.

Whole lotta pink, isn't it?

And the following day, after a long day of walking and sightseeing, our trishaw driver recognized us and volunteered to drive us back to our hotel.  For another 30 ringgits, of course.  

But for a pink Hello Kitty trishaw ride, it was well worth it!

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