Friday, 30 December 2011

price of progress

Is tourism progress?  Does it bring in needed dollars into the economy to help small towns and forgotten cities to flourish, prosper and regain some of the splendour of times gone by.  Or does it bring about chaos, with hordes of tourists.  The once slightly decaying streets with their old grandeur turn into cheap gaudy stores with tourist trinkets.  I took a one day trip to Malacca and I found the old city bursting at the seams with hordes of hungry tourists from the region, determined to spend their time and money wandering the heritage trails of Malacca.  To me it just looked to be adding to the destruction of the heritage.

Conservation of the world heritage site doesn't seem to be done properly and this is my opinion only, but somehow the progress of the tourist trade seems to have spoilt the feel of the whole Heritage thing.  I wandered the small lanes and I stumbled upon old houses, grand dames of the past, crumbling but still magnificent.  Old styles and architecture fading into decay, restoration probably too expensive for the families, so they leave them to rot.  It kind of reminded me of a grand old lady,  trying to live quietly, and  all she wants is to be left alone to remember her old glory days, but somehow they wont leave her alone, they dress her up with too much make up and glitter and make a sorry exhibition of her.

 The once humble trishaws now are trussed up with displays of  plastic flowers and music blaring loudly to attract tourists, to take a small trip around the heritage areas.

I know there is a price to pay for progress, and we can't sit and look through to the past and wish for things to be the way they were.  But how I wish we could allow progress in slowly and do it properly, keep our heritage and teach the younger generation to develop and nurture it instead of turning everything into a theme park!

 There is so much to conserve in Malacca, Jonker street with those pretty roofs and interesting walls, the old church on the hill, the dutch and british buildings.  Am I one of the old souls that wants to remember the past of these old cities and keep those buildings intact rather than bulldoze everything into the 21st century.   Am I too romantic in my thinking that progress shouldnt be at such a heavy price?

 All I know is that I was disappointed with the trip, to see a city that I hadnt't seen in twenty years, take the plunge into just another tourist vacation spot.

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