11 August 2019
‘Please help fund my trip’: Begpackers linger at Melaka’s Jonker Street despite ban
Foreigners selling handmade items at Melaka’s famous tourist district have been warned by authorities, but some have persisted in order to fund their travel expenses.
MELAKA: A lanky Caucasian man with tattoos on both arms strummed his guitar while seated at the heart of Melaka’s famous Jonker Street.
The tune of an Eagles’ classic — Hotel California — emanated from his small speaker, as he sang along in a soft voice, glancing hopefully at passers-by.
A handful of people dropped some money into a plastic container set in front of the performer, while others stopped to look at the items he was displaying. There were around 20 friendship bands cobbled together using twine, pin buttons and beer bottle caps.
When approached, the man stared warily at the camera.
“No photos please, but feel free to look, yes. If you like them, just pay me any amount and it’s yours,” said the man, who identified himself only as James, a tourist from Great Britain.
He gestured to a cardboard sign that said: “Please help fund my trip. I accept any amounts of cash.”
“I’ve been travelling for close to a year now, jumping from one city in Asia to the next. Been saving up to go to Thailand next,” he said in a crisp British accent.
“I hope to collect enough in two weeks because visitors to Jonker (Street) have been pretty generous,” James added.
James represents a type of tourist that has become a scourge across many cities in Asia, including Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Melaka — the “begpackers”.
These are typically foreign visitors who busk, sell knick-knacks or simply hold a sign asking for money to fund their round-the-world trips.
CNA has reached out to the Melaka Town Council for comments.
While some business owners are unhappy, others noted that the presence of begpackers has no impact on the locals.
Ms Suzy Goh, owner of Kocik Kitchen, a popular Peranakan restaurant near Jonker Street, said that while she is aware of the concerns of locals, she is indifferent to whether action needs to be taken against them.
“I saw the complaints online. Yes, they have been selling near H&M and Hard Rock Hotel. Some of them have tattoos, and are very vulgar, very fierce.
“I know they are not allowed to do this without a licence, and the authorities have clamped down hard on them. But as a Melakan, I have no objections,” she said.
She added: “They want to earn their living to have some pocket money. I think it’s fine. If they don’t steal, they don’t rob, I think it’s fine. As long as they don’t block the main entrances of shops or the walking paths for tourists, I’m alright with it.”
Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/malaysia-melaka-begpackers-linger-city-ban-locals-unhappy-11784706
31 May 2019