Street art near the Red Garden.
Every single night we spent in Georgetown, we spent in the Red Garden. Faith and Ty had described the place with wistful sighs and starry eyes–a kind of magical fantasy land where dreams came true, where magical nymphs roamed with beer fountains sprouting from their serene heads, where fresh unicorn meat was always available on the spit. Where the gods of Olympus themselves came down to frolic and enjoy the pleasures of Earth.
It was, indeed, pretty awesome: an enormous cornucopia of Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, and other Asian cuisines; a battalion of viciously efficient, middle-aged beer waitresses; a sea of free tables filled with dozens of happy customers. But the true glory of the Red Garden laid in the entertainment.
High above Melaka.
In the central hub of Melaka, there was a cluster of trees–a tiny, urban mini-orchard. Just before the river leading into the major cultural hotspots of town, before all the restaurants and tourist sites, there was this empty lot, filled only with trees, wedged in amongst buildings and lights and neon. If you had any desire to explore the town, and especially to cross from the area where the guesthouses were located to the areas of interest, you needed to pass below the many boughs.
They were filled with birds.
During the few times where we were not sitting in food courts being entranced by mostly-Mandarin karaoke singing (but for one charming Chinese-Malaysian nymph that sang a bunch of Queen, but we’ll save those stories for another time), we occasionally went sight-seeing. Sight-seeing! Us! Doin’ things in another country! Malaysia is a country of fairly interesting and harmonious triarchal multiculturalism, resulting in wicked-cool temples and mosques and mandirs wedged in all over the place. It also does good things for their cuisine. They are also maybe the nicest people on the entire planet.
But you didn’t come here for my stupid words, or my dum-dum observations of Malaysian culture. Those are for next Tuesday. No, today, you are here for the pictures! Lubricate your eyeballs with vaseline and get ready to look at things!
Let the fun begin.
Our friend Jongsu showed us to the airport. We had all met that day in Seoul, where Faith and Ty had stayed for the night, and our friend decided to escort us on our last journey in Korea. We had another sad goodbye, and then headed to the immigration line, where suddenly the weight of the trip and of leaving our Korea lives behind struck us. We were red-faced and teary-eyed as we approached our immigration lines. We showed our foreigner cards, and because they need to keep the cards if it is your final exit, the officers inquired as to our intentions.
Seeing Ty’s expression, his tears, the officer asked with a rueful, understanding smile, “You’re not coming back, are you?”
Mine, confronted with my same expression and fairly open weeping, simply remarked, “Leaving forever?”, snatched my card from me, and went on with his merry day. If he had had a tip jar, it would have remained empty.