Tropical Punch Tour: Malaysia Part 3
Featuring a dance party with Hiasan Budaya and a night market in Chinatown, Melaka.
Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010
Melaka, Malaysia

After enjoying a bowl of yummy stir-fry veggies at the really nice and clean Cafe 1511, I planned to visit a couple of museums, but I got unexpectedly sidetracked by a live performance by an outfit called Hiasan Budaya, who was playing down at Town Square. Right when I walked up, I caught the last few seconds of some kind of traditional Malaysian dance they put on, then the musicians proceeded, without dancers, into a seemingly endless stream of ballads.

Suddenly, an emcee got on the mic and boisterously invited a bunch of passersby to join the dancers, and the band kicked into high gear as a full-blown shindig exploded. Happy faces and bobbing bodies shimmied about and piloted a train around in circles. It was quite a joyous sight to behold. I hung around for over an hour after that subsided, hoping to catch more of the traditional dance, but it never resumed, and the band packed up its gear, so I went for a bowl of spicy noodles and tofu at The Geographer.

Right when I was finishing my meal, I glanced out upon the street, where a little yellow car pulled up and a Chinese woman, her young son and daughter got out, popped open the back and set up a miniature candy factory right in the middle of the intersection. Did I say the sidewalk or the edge of the street? No, I said the middle of not only a street, but an intersection. I've never witnessed such a high degree of anarchic bad-assery in my whole life. The little girl grabbed a hammer and chisel and incessantly chipped away at a big tray full of hard taffy-like substance while the boy cut off small chunks of some gooey stuff and bathed it in brown crumbs. Mom then packaged it all up and collected money from customers. Then, just as I expected, more vendors began to set up their stalls up and down the street, as a full-on night market got underway.

After visiting Blogland at the Discovery Cafe for a couple of hours, I moseyed back down into the intense hawker fair on Jonker Street in Chinatown. There were so many sardined humans waddling as slowly as possible all up and down the street. On the far side, a huge, lit-up stage served as ground zero for scores of kaoroke masters, each of whom took the stage to grab their few minutes of glory. The most comical part arrived when four old codgers augmented the singing with a geriatric yet (broken) hip dance routine.

Right after I ate dinner, I was walking toward the exit of the street fair when I rounded a corner and stumbled upon an old Chinese man brandishing a table full of vinyl. I flicked through his offerings for a while and ended up buying nine seven-inch singles of vintage Singapore pop from the 1960s. I recognized some of the artist names from a CD comp I bought a few months ago called Singapore A Go-Go. I was so stoked I found some of the original records, and for only $1.00 each! I was kind of surprised, too. It seems like you'd really have to put the word out and schlep off to some really dusty, obscure places to find vinyl like this. It's almost like the records came looking for me.

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