Disco Rickshaws

Disco Rickshaws

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Local transport is always a hit or miss affair… squeezing into ‘jeepneys’ in Manila, bouncing around in the back of an ox cart in Nepal, or super clean Japanese taxis with automatically opening doors and drivers in pristine white gloves.

Somewhere in between are what I can only describe as ‘disco rickshaws’ in Malacca, the famous old Portuguese settlement in Malaysia.

Completely over the top in terms of decoration by daylight, these flowery, feathered, soft toy covered cycle rickshaws are transformed into something awe inspiringly worse by night – they sparkle with flashing lights and emit the blaring tunes of recent pop hits as their drivers pedal enthusiastically round the old quarter.

Clearly there is an ongoing competition to come up with the most mind boggling decorations possible, with Hello Kitty and Barbie featuring heavily amid the multitude of canopied and winged vehicles. And sadly, there appears to be no regulation on the hours during which these rickshaws operate – next time I won’t be booking a room facing the street!

In passing, let’s just add in here the similarly decorated but much less noisy version that is found in Singapore… ‘disco’ bicycles. These are the pride and joy of a small group of ‘uncles’ who like to show them off on a Saturday night as they cycle round the tourist spots between Marina Bay and Chinatown, pedalling happily amongst the evening strollers and stopping off for photos.

They have become such a popular sight that they now have a regular spot in the annual Chingay (Mardi Gras) parade.