Jonkers Street Malacca

This street is famous mainly for its antiques, but many other items are for sale too. These range from the commonplace to the bizarre. You really need to know what you are looking for here because some prices are set very high (or were they very low – a bargain?), you don’t know unless you are familiar with what you are looking at. Typically items were marked at around 200-900RM. Some things looked very old and if you asked the shopkeeper they all claimed that whatever you were looking at was everything was rare. This included an old Australian 1958 penny I saw being offered for 900RM (about $AU300). I know for a fact these coins are only worth a few dollars at best. I wished that Pat and my daughters Rachel and Megan could have been with me though as there was a lot of jewelery and clothing (80RM for hand painted silk blouses). Unfortunately most things I saw that I really liked were made of wood and customs regulations would not permit me to take them into Australia. Here are a selection of pictures to help give you the flavour of Jonkers Street.

They have special arrangements just for tourists! I hope that the “Bambo Hut Bistro” is not a metaphor for a prison for tourists!

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Pedestrians are well looked after with spacious footpaths to stroll down. (I had to leap off the road onto whatever space I could find as no one seems to slow down for, or in fact even notice, pedestrians. The fellow on the bike startled me with a sharp tirade of abuse as he came up behind me yelling “Move! Move! Move!” I guess he was worried about being hit by cars as he peddled the wrong way up a one-way street! There were more spacious areas though like this scene below, where it was less cramped and I didn’t have to worry about coping road rage from cantankerous, directionally challenged men on push bikes.

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I saw a lot of mass manufactured items purchased for the tourist industry, but a lot of local items like … whatever this cluster of something is in the picture above. Also the bizarre, perhaps even sinister, could be found such as the shoes for women with bound feet. I thought that this practice was now banned throughout Asia so I went over and asked the shoemaker what this was about. He said that his was the only store now in existence outside China that still makes them in the traditional way and sells them. His pride in saying this was obvious. The maker was about 40 years old and he explained how his father had made his living making this type of shoe. He showed me a black and white picture of his father actually making them. He asked if I had daughters and I did not respond as he just made me feel uncomfortable. He showed me a pair he had made. They would have been 10-15cm long and must have been excruciatingly painful. As a hand made item they were indeed beautiful and had it not been for what they were used for I may have even bought a pair as a curiosity, but I would hate to have upon my conscience that I had in anyway supported this practice if it is still going on. I said to him that I thought this practice was now illegal. He smiled and said, “Oh no no, only tourist buy, only tourist.”, putting them away as he said this. Since I was a tourist that seemed to me to be a strange reaction. I left not knowing what to think. He did not hide what the store did? Is it still practiced and the authorities turn a blind eye to it? This was the only thing I saw that really bothered me; shocked me really. Maybe I read it all wrong?




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