Saturday, December 09, 2006

True story, about 2 years back. Friend rings me one evening:
Friend: Glenda, I have a client I want to take birding up that mountain in Negeri Sembilan, the one with the radar station on top, but I don't know where the turn-off is. Can you give me directions?
Me: Sure. Easy. You just drive up the road from Seremban towards Jelebu until you come to the ten foot pineapple, and then you turn right...
Friend: Come to the what?
Me: The ten foot pineapple. Well, you might think it's an oversized orange-coloured hand-grenade, only it's next to some six foot mangosteens. There's also some bananas the size of a small sampan.
Friend: Ah, there are some statues?
Me: Got it. You'd have to be legally blind to miss them...
Why on earth do the powers-that-be think these hideous decorations that they foist on us - using OUR tax money - are in any way pleasant to look at? I thought I'd seen the worst Malaysia had to offer, until recently.

There's a roundabout in Sandakan that is decorated with proboscis monkeys - now that was an exercise in judicious placement of limbs. The male proboscis monkeys - real ones - are near-permanently in a situation that suggests they have taken way too much Viagra. Awkward when you are commissioned to make statues of them, and everyone knows about this prodigious feat of erection, (which also happens to be bright red), so you can't lie, but you don't dare portray the reality either for fear of offending little old ladies and children. [Someone will have to tell me why they think either of those two groups of people are easily offended. Kids? You gotta be kidding. And little old ladies like me have seen it all and are way past being offended, believe me.]

Anyway, here's some photos of some of Sandakan's beauteous statuary.

And I discovered, when my friend rang me VERY early the next morning, that you can't even rely on the monsters to stick around...
"Glenda," he roared, "there's NO BLOODY PINEAPPLE."
The road widening people had been through, and...

3 comments:

hrugaar said...

Ooh, ooh, we have big ugly statues too, though ours are more 'arty' than naturalistic (if one can call an 8' pineapple naturalistic la). We also have a steam clock that looks like it fell off the back of a Mississippi steamboat, go figure.

Our magic number for any State commissioned piece of 'public art' seems to be quarter of a million pounds. Some artists must be laughing all the way to the bank.

One year our main shopping precinct was filled wih life-sized statues of cows, painted by different people - we had purple cows, cows with glittering gold stars, retro 1970s psychedelic cows, even one with a human foot or two instead of hooves. They were meant to be auctioned off at the end of the tourist season to raise funds, but I don't think that went too well...

And then we have the huge toad sitting atop a granite pillar inscribed with an historical list of statutory crimes and punishments, at a place where (I understand) people were one once publicly flogged. Mummy, what does 'buggery' mean?

Satima Flavell said...

This seems to be a universal circummillenial (geez, did I just invent that word? And if not, did I spell it correctly?) phenomenon. At Kingston, not far from Mount Gambier where I now live, there is a giant lobster. It is not beautiful. It is not, IMHO (but what would I know?) artistic in any way. And it's supposed to attract tourists...

Glenda Larke said...

Satima, you mean Sandakan doesn't have the world's only lobster? Sigh.

Hurgaar - I would hate to think that anyone paid a quarter of a million ringgit(forget about pounds sterling) for ALL of Malaysia's roundabout sculptures put together...

"Um, oh, something to do with bed bugs I think, dear."