Yet again, I couldn't find a suitable picture so this one is a stock image of the Gobi Desert. In Mongolia. Enjoy.
It's funny how things work out sometimes. Malacca wasn't even intended but it couldn't have turned out better. I have added fluency in Portuguese and Malay to the list of things I want to do before I hit 30. i know it won't happen but I will try. I will try very hard. I will try my bestest. Its so quiet here but it allows time for reflection and lots of eating. The food is the best in Asia. Yes, I'm biased but I don't care. The town pisses all over Hoi An. In every way. The food is beter, the people are more accomodating, the culture much more diverse and interesting. And I really like Hoi An. I liked all of Vietnam. I suppose the difference is that in Malacca I have felt at home. There is a level of natural affinity through my dad's past. It feels like he should be here. I hope he comes back before they rip down more of the buildings and replace them with yet more non descript shopping mall s***e.
I'm staying in a threadbare guesthouse in Chinatown. Its held together with string. Kind of ethnic shabby chic. I like it a lot. Food has been bountiful and cheap. I shovel troughs of wantan mee, smorgasbords of curries, piles of roti cania and buckets of nasi lemak down my throat. Sat at the bottom of St Paul's hill eating my breakfast, I couldn't think of anywhere better to be. I am a lover of beauty and food. I am a lover of Penelope Cruz and Oxtail stew. I am a lover of Siena Miller and belgian chocolate. I am a lover of Eva Longoria and spaghetti so it seems logical that I am a lover of Malacca. When people tell me that they pased through malaysia without going to Malacca, I have to wonder what the f*** they are playing at. Now, I'm not going to tell anyone else about it. You, my devout (or not) reader will be the only ones to hear of it. I don't want it overrun by tourists in Chang tank tops. I don't want it shat over by Sharon and Dave. Leave it rough cut and f*** off to Thailand instead. Having said that, Mike, Ariel, if you don't go, you'll be right of my Christmas card list. I don't even send Christmas cards so you know the consequences will be dire.
I am sat outside in the Portuguese settlement. I am sipping Milo, the greatest chocolate beverage in the history of chocolate beverages and have just gorged myself on curry devil(debal) and kailan. I am a disgusting fat pig. I have wondered round Bandar Hilleh and the setlement looking for people who knew my grandparents or even my dad and his sisters. I met a guy at a restaurant who asked me who I was looking for and he responded 'Oh Darling Frois!' which made me smile from ear to ear. Mass is going on next door in heavily accented english. I don't really know what I am looking for but i gues I'l know when I find it. This is turning into a really bad episode of 'Who do you think you are?' so I'll shut up now.
I have met a lot of people since I have been away. Anyone who has ben Kerouacing (I just coined that phrase...)will have done the same. Some you like a lot, some you think are w***ers and some are just f***ing weird. I'm weird, but some of the people I have met along the way have been absoluete f***ing nutcases. The dutch girl who loved Mcdonalds who I bizarrely met in KL with james Brown and the Rasta bar owner in Krabi are good examples. And then there was Jackie. Jackie is what you might call 'special'. This silly old tart (her words, not mine) rolls into the guesthouse at 1am. Lucky (the nepalese kid who looks after the place) and I were 10 games into our card marathon. Jackie stumbles through the door, knocks over one of the bikes and catches sight of the plant on the table. 'Can someone tell me what the f*** bits of grass are doing in that f***ing plant pot?'. She's from Rotherham originally, the armpit of the Milky Way but I guess her heart is in the right place. She's just a f***ing nutjob. 'You didn't tell me you were having a party!' She runs out to the shop over the road and comes back with 3 cans of carlsberg. Lucky looks at me with a slightly forced smile. This 21 year old Nepalese kid has been in Malaysia for 23 weeks and has just met someone from Rotherham. Poor guy. She cracks open a beer and lights a smoke and proceeds to tell us how she threatened to kick some indian bloke's head in because he wouldn't put in for a round. fair enough. 'Selfish c*** she says.
We sat up and played cards until 5am and I soaked up everything this crazy lady had to say. She was out of her f***ing tree. You'd have to speak to her after a few ales to get the full extent of her specialness. She has spent her life moving from place to place. Rotherham to Manchester to Spain to Australia. She won her fist pool cue in a game of strip poker (god knows how that works) when she was 15. She used to regularly enter pool competitions. She is related to Lisa Stansfield and someone who might be Bett Lynch (is this a real person?). I think she has been to jail but I didn't push her to divulge what for. Her two previous husbands are still alive i think so I guess she didn't kill them. She's nice enough I suppose. Just a bit of a mental. When she was 17 she discovered that she had a gift. But this gift is a mixed blessing. She can heal people by touching them. I wonder if she can speak in tongues. She's prety much the big black guy in the Green Mile. Stephen King based that novel on her. She touches people to heal them but brings that person's pain upon herself. I wondered if she could take away my cough. Doctors told her that if she didn't stop healing people then she would be in a whelchair by the time she was 30 so she stopped at 28 for the sake of her kids and vowed never to do it again. But that night she went back on her word. She had met a couple in a bar who were trying to get pregant but to no avail. I have no idea how this conversation came up. Jackie decided that she would help them but did not tell them that they would be having twins. The moral of the story; be careful what you wish for cos you might just get it. I think the Pussycat Dolls have a song about this. Jackie and Nicole Scherzzinger are probably the best of friends. So, yeah, this lady is going to have twins but Jackie got a terrible tension headache. Thats the price she pays for having this gift. I'm sure a skinful of booze did nothing to contribute. jesus, I'm such a b****.
I didn't get up until 1pm the next day and immediately went to stuff my face with curry. I didn't eat again until 10.30pm. Given the rather sporadic nature of the buses, I had decided to walk to Bandar Hilleh and the Portuguese settlement. Its 3 km from the guesthouse and quite demanding in the heat but I enjoy it. I rocked up at a restaurant and met the curator of the local museum, George. He knew my grandfather and his brother. My great uncle taught him. We sat and talked for about 3 hours during which he gave a brief history of his life and the plight of the Portuguese in Malacca. George is the man. Before I had got there, I passed by Bndar Hilleh and visited the house that dad grew up in. Sounds stupid, especially cos I think mystical stuff is mostly bulls***, but there was a calming energy about the place. All the people in the area were helpful and inquisitive about what I was doing. I could imagine my grandmother fussing round dad ands his sisters. I was in some ways, not far from cming full cirlce and satisfying my curiosity. From a mental perspective, I'm probably still years from figuring myself out but historically speaking, knowing where my family came from has placed another piece of the jigsaw in the puzzle. I really need to come up with less cheesy metaphors. I'm so glad I came back, even if it was by mistake. I called dad straight away when I got back to town. He was extremely excitable and I wished he was with me. He would have loved it.
I ordered a massive plate of Ho Fun (it was meant for 3 people) and I polished it off in 4 minutes before making my way ba ck to the guesthouse. The ex owners are in the process of packing up their stuff and moving out but still live there for the time being. The lady is Swiss German and is completely mental. She giggles like a little girl with a lisp and builds up to a witch's cackle. If the Exorcist had been made 40 years ago then she would have landed the lead. Its definitely not beyond the realms of possibilty that she has spent time in a mental institute. Even Lucky thinks she's a freak. Locals call her Space Cadet. She has the ugliest accent I have ever heard.
The next day I ended up going for a late breakfast with Jackie. She's not quite as mental as I had previously thought but still fits into the 'special' category. I suspect she has a file box with a 'cliche of the day' sticker on it. She means well but says things like 'you get out of life what you put into it' and 'he's the first man I have met in 20 years who has kept me laughing all night'.
After lunch I wandered back to the settlement, took more photos, talked to more people and hung out with George, my 78 year old portuguese malaysian homeboy. A lady at the restaurant made some enquiries and found out that Don Beins, one of dad's old friends whom he used to play in the band with, was playing 6 nights a week in a wine bar round the corner from where I was staying. I went to go and see Don later in the evening. He was kind of gobsmacked when I told him who I was. I didn't really know what to say either and had a couple of ales inside me so I kept swallowing my words. I met him he next day and he gave me a cd to give to dad. Nice guy.
Jackie had mentioned that she was going out with some people the day before so, having little to do, I went along. I didn't pay for a drink all night, Met some interesting people. One guy had a Vietnamese wife and would tell her how to behave in public. Infront of everyone. What a dick. I met a father and daughter who kept kissing each other on the mouth. Not snogging but it was still f***ing weird. When we had nowhere else to go, we ended up at a gay bar. The barmen kept staring at me so I kept my head down, drank my beer and played some awful hands of cards. I wasn't really drunk but fatigue had set in and by the time I went to bed at 5am, I couldn't form sentences.
I spent the next day wandering around town in a complete daze. Lucky gave me a note from someone I had met the previous night instructing me to meet them at the Light and Ez bar at 8pm. Apparently I had been invited to a Hari Raya dinner and had accepted. I went along with Choo (the lady who had invited me) and Jackie. We walked to someone's house. I have no idea whose hous it was but I ate a s*** load of food. I love open houses. They f***in rule! Some people asked Choo if I was Jackie's son. Which was a bit embarrasing.
After dinner I got shown a bunch of videos of people who had apparently been posessed by evil spirits, sometimes being rendered into paralysis. It got even weirder when we went next door to the local shamen's house. Although he didn't really do anything shameny, all I could think was 'What the f*** am I ding here?' The others started patting themselves down and encourage me to do the same. I felt slightly awkward.
My final couple of days in Malacca were spent doing bits and pieces. Don took me for lunch and and I met some of dad's old friends/bandmates; Basil, Roman and Jerry black (this isnt his real name. They call him jerry black cos he's err, black). Roman's son is a highly coveted tattoo artist in KL and said that should I drop in then I will get a big discount. I really wanted to meet this guy Kitty Boy (not his real name either) cos I thought that was a f***ing sweet name and he must have done something badass to have earned such a moniker.
At lunch, Don had decided that I needed to drink beer. I was 3 in and on the verge of asking them if they wanted to form a renegade rock n' roll band that would tour Malaysia and rip the live music scene to shreds, leaving a trail of destuction in its wake. We would build our way up through pubs and underground clubs. We would name ourselves The Portuguese Men of War and we would be the most rollicking rock n' roll band the world had ever seen. I don't know if I can even play the guitar anymore but I immediately wanted to get down to Don's studio and lay down the basics for 'Skin the f***er' which would be first of 9 singles from our first album 'Lepers of Mass Destruction' which would eventually go triple platinum. We wold play for the Sultan of Brunei and he would buy us a countryu each. My lack of talent ultimately got the better of me so I just sat there and ate my Kway Teow.
No space on the airport buses caused me to get a local bus to KL and my way to KLIA by myself. I had booked a flight to Padang, Indonesia a couple of days before. I wasn't even flying out of KLIA, my flight was from the neighbouring Low Cost Carrier Terminal but my logic led me to think that there would be more to keep me occupied in KLIA what with it apparently being voted best airport in the world. I go there and it was choc full of people but with next to nothing to do. There wasn't even anywhere to sleep. I wandered around looking for the food court and got touted by a taxi. He told me that LCCT was much more happening and that in any case I wouldn't be able to get a shuttle bus in time for check in for my 8am flight. I trusted him and got into his 'taxi'. Motherf***er wasn't even licensed. Surprise surf***ingprise, LCCT was a s***hole. There was even less to do than KLIA, every seat was occupied by bums like me waiting for their morning flight, thiking they're saving on accomodation. I saw the most beautiful air stewardess in the world and wondered why I hadn't become a pilot. Probably cos I was s*** at maths and thought sciences were for freaks. I was s*** at sciences too but this wasn't helped by my dickhead teachers. Me not being a pilot and spending time with beautiful ladies is the fault of Mr Grahma Porter, aka Clem, one of the biggest p**** I hve ever met. A look in the mirror did me no favours. My hair badly needs a cut but the Bangkok Butcher has put me way out of synch with my haircut schedule. Next time I get a chop I will be sure to let them know that I do not want to be in n Asian boyband.
I have had some f***ed up dreams recently. one involved Hugo and Buffy killing another dog. I'm not sure if this dog was goig to attack me or not.
Another involved me getting carjacked and having my mouth elongated by razor blades.
A couple of nights ago I dreamt that Doug Walker, my ex deputy headmaster had become by nemesis and that w had begun full on mental warfare. For some reason i was working in a convenience store. Answers on a postcard. I haven't got a f***ing clue.
Alternative careers should the psychology thing not materialise:
- Ice cream salesman
- Air stewardess talent scout
- National anthem composer
- Fine denim homewares designer
- Girl Group Promoter
- Traffic cone graffitti artist
- Vietnamese travel agent
- French Duke
- Rhythm guitarist and occassional drummer for The Portuguese Men of War
- International Haircut Schedule Consultant
From 1am to 5am I sat outside the airport with everyone else, read my book, wrote and listened to Led Zeppelin. I didn't sleep. Everyone else did. I ate some appallingly overpriced nasi lemak and wished that I had bought stuff in Malacca instead. Like a packed lunch. I dont think I ever had a lunch box. I imagine it to be a briefcase for food which sounds awesome. Check in proved to be quite distressing. I didn't enjoy it. Not only had I been ripped off by a bent cabbie to come to the s***test airport ever, I had endured no sleep and crap food and now this lady was sayig that Indonesian immigration would not let me in cos I didn't have a return ticket. I tolfd her this was proposterous. She tried to get me to buy a return ticket. I didn't move. She had the worst eyeshadow I had ever seen. Powder blue, are you f***ing kidding me? She eventually conceded but made me pay excess baggae. Cheeky cow.
The departure lounge was even worse. There was even less to do. I bought an apple danish and a coffee which would go down in my book as 'f***ing vile'. I tried my best to stay awake and watched the steady stream of ridiculously good looking Air Asia stewardesses saunter past. I could just apply to become an air steward. Better still, I will make my own airline; Mongrel Air. All the personnel would be exclusively mixed race. We'd gave all sorts; Japnese/Polish, Mongolian/Welsh, Cambodian/Icelandic. Definite niche in the market for something like this.
Once agaion, the Lonely Liar is full of utter s***. Padang is a hole. Not surprising I suppose given that its literal translation means field. For starters, the pavements are s***, the curbs are at those awful heights/I nearly ripped my other foot open. The hotel I naively picked out of the LL is nowhere near the decription given. Or the price. Fuill of utter s***. Your days are numbered Loely Liar. I'm taking you motherf***ers downtown. My room is infested. I'm gonna kill those cockaroaches. I miss Malacca already. Malaysia Boleh! Everything else also must can. I dont think ther is anyone else staying at the hotel. I havent seen any other tourists in the town and I have been waking round all day. Walking back to the hotel this afternoon, I felt like I was being watched. I got a few 'Salam Alaikum's', a lot of staring and a s*** load of giggles from girls that Gary Glitter would find attractive. Unfortunately I havent seen any Air Asia stewardesses. It seems that very few people speak English here so I am having to use my frankly terrible pigeon Malay cos its the closest thing to Bahasa Indonesia. I asked for a bottle of water at the hotel and it took 20 minutes. Jesus, I havent slept in nearly 48 hours. I best stop writing. Its most likely rubbish. At least I wont need any valium tonight. I'm thinking of extending my ticket again for a couple more weeks. Thoughts?