Saturday, September 3, 2011

Woe to Commercialization

I spent the Merdeka and Hari Raya holidays in Malacca with my family, I ate too much durian cream puffs, and I'm never ever going back there during a public holiday if I can help it.

Throughout my family's stay in Malacca, there wasn't a tourist spot that wasn't overflowing with humans. When we first arrived at Jonker Walk, we wanted to eat at our favorite cendol and nasi lemak shop, but the queue was crazily long. We wanted instead to eat the famous chicken rice where asam fish was also served, but the queue was crazily long. We thought then that we could try getting some satay celup Jess had with her classmates a week earlier that was, according to her, really delicious, but the queue was crazily long. No, wait, there was hardly a visible queue for satay celup. So many people crowded outside the shop's entrance, they seemed to blend into a blob of humans spilling unto the road. So I ended up eating a lot of durian cream puffs, partly because they were so reasonably priced for such delicious treats that my mum didn't mind buying them in dozens or so, and also because they were eaten in replacement of what could have been my family's proper meals if those other shops weren't so crowded.

Seriously, Malaysians and foreign tourists alike have got to find a better place to explore in Malaysia other than this UNESCO site of Malacca. I don't think the crowd would have been this bad if UNESCO didn't recognize Malacca as a World Heritage Site three years ago. Such recognition is always a blessing and a curse at the same time. But, I am not going to judge people's choice of holiday destination since I myself have been there for like the twentieth time in my lifetime -- and still loving it. I think many people can't help but fall in love with the charm of this place, especially in the touristy areas where the buildings and trademarks are either reminiscent of Chinatown, remind us of this land's history with the Portuguese and Dutch and British or showcase the beauty of the Peranakan culture.

I've always adored the feel of the old-style architecture of centuries-old shophouses. I love how the boldly colored wooden doors and walls, and the different colors and patterns of tiles plastered to the floors and walls of the narrow front porches, give each house its quirkiness. They make Malacca so charmingly photogenic. And they definitely have more personality than the modern houses of today that try to look minimalist but to me only look like boring, assembly-line produced residential buildings.

I wish Malacca doesn't become an overrated, over-commercialized tourist site. Oh, I think it already sort of is. That's the curse of being a world heritage site. However, I can't deny that putting Malacca up there as some precious heritage to be protected has its good, because that is the only way to make sure these precious buildings do not get destroyed, however commercialized this process may have turned into. I hope with my fingers crossed that the old charm never dies.

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