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Published: March 23rd 2005
Some of the tea fields
A little taste of Malaysia
From Bali, I flew directly to Singapore (again) and spent the day wondering around the city (again). The next day I purchased an overnight train ticket to Kuala Lumpur (in Malaysia…which is north of Singapore). The whole day; and the train ride, where pretty much event free. So I arrived in Kuala Lumpur early in the morning (6am) dropped my bags off at a hotel, and decided to walk around and get a feel for the city. I was pretty disappointed. KL (Kuala Lumpur) seemed to be just another big city with even less things to do then Singapore. That was until I met a “nice” older man who started to chat me up.
So here I am, it is about 8am and I am walking the streets. The older guy (about 50) comes up and starts talking to me…normal stuff, where am I from, where am I going, yadda yadda yadda. It turns out that his daughter is leaving next week on an exchange program to Washington DC. So he says that he and his wife (who he then introduces me to) would really like to talk to me because they are nervous
about there daughter traveling alone to the States. So I am a little cautious…but they seem nice enough, so I start to walk and talk with them, eventually they invite me back to here house for tea, and so that I can meet there daughter and answer questions that she has. My first instinct, as a weary traveler…is to get out of there, things seemed a tiny bit shady…but then I figured that I was just being too cautious and how would I ever get a feel for the local culture if I was always afraid to interact with the locals…so I say “ok”. But as a safety measure I tell them that I don’t have any money because I have just arrived and the banks are not open yet (a little white lie). Anyways, we get a cab (now I start to worry…where the hell do these people live) but I tag alone…eventually I get to their house, and I meet the whole family (well kind of…there is no daughter, she “isn’t home yet” (mind you it is still really early in the morning)) but everything still seems innocent enough (although not so innocent that I leave my bag
Me on a "Jungle Hike"
laying around). So they serve me this HUGE breakfast…all local food…and I am loving it. Then I notice that there are two microphones on the table by the TV…apparently they love there Karaoke (they ask me to sing…I almost said yes, but I figured I wouldn’t know any of the songs) so they sing a few songs (really damn funny). So the uncle (Jimmy) starts talking to me about his job, apparently he teaches casino dealers or something like that. Then somehow he invites me into his “office” to show me a few tricks. So now things start to get weird. We are sitting in this tiny room, about the size of our bathroom, and he is teaching me how to cheat at Black Jack. He apparently he is a dealer, and I am starting to get the impression that he wants me to come into his casino and make some money for him and I (70/30 split). I learn some neat tricks, but his “tells” would NEVER EVER fly in a casino..Maybe if I was at home playing you chumps…but never anywhere serious (jen, you better watch out, you’re not going to beat me anymore). So here we are
playing with fake money having a good time, and then the next thing I know he starts talking about some Chinese guy who is coming over to play dominoes and that he won a lot of money last time, and that this guy wants me to help cheat him out of some money in black jack. Now, that is no where even close to what he said, he was a lot smoother then that….so now I start to smell a hustle…next thing you know it, his phone rings, and then a minute later the “Chinese” guy comes in…first of all this guy was not Chinese..he was Malaysian; second of all he was all decked out in faux designer gear…all the way down to a LV purse thing (man bag?)..I’m talking gold this gold that, tie, fancy shoes the whole deal. This guy tries to get us to play dominoes (using the exact same words that my dealer “friend” said to me) pulls out these huge wad of cash and says “ok fine, how about black jack”…and I’m like oh shit, what’s going on here…now there are four of us all in this tiny room. I’m a little sketched out but
Temple in Singapore
Temple in Singapore
everyone here is about 5 foot nothing, and I weight about 80 pounds. So (George you’ll like this) I start thinking “worse case scenario” I look at the window…kind of tough to get out…then I look for possible weapons…the best I could fine was a pen (but I think a pen could do some damage in the right hands (weather or not I could do some damage with a pen…well that was to be determined). I’m starting to get a little excited wondering what is going to happen (I picture myself knocking the table into the guy with the “knife” busting through the door, grabbing another piece of chicken (and maybe the mic) and then running out the house and getting the first cab I see). You guys know how my mind works. But first I decide to try a smoother exit…”Excuse me, before we get started I would like to go to the bathroom, could you please show me where it is” (I figure that I could get out of the small room and then there was no way these little guys could out run me…see mom look at me…avoiding conflict…even in my thoughts). I get out, go to
the bathroom (AKA look for better weapons (still nothing)). I get out of the bathroom, and try diplomacy one more time “Look buddy, I really appreciate the hospitality that you have shown me, and the card tricks, but I really don’t want to get involved in this, so I am going to leave….well he tries to get me to stay, the wife tries to get me to stay, but eventually I get out of there….get a ride back into town (by there son) and everything works out (safe and sound), I got a free meal, a couple of free rides, learned a few tricks, and had a little excitement, and was still back at the hotel by noon.
So between that experience, and the fact that I was sick of the big cities, I caught the next bus out of there and ended up in the Cameron Highlands. The Cameron Highlands is a beautiful area in the mountains between KL and Penang. This is where the country’s TEA is produced. This place is just a nice place to chill out and relax. I have been here for two days, went on a few hikes, ate some great food (and
drank some good tea), and let a lot of interesting people. This place is exactly what was looking for.
I am leaving tomorrow and heading into Thailand, I hardly saw anything in Malaysia, but it just so happens that the “Full Moon Party” is in 2 days in a place not to far from here, so I might try to check that out (or maybe not….I don’t like the idea of rushing through a country to go to some party…but I need to get out of this heat too) and then find a place to settle down for a little while in Thailand. I am a little (actually I am very) worn out from all the moving around I have been doing lately. I have (to make) plans to take a few cooking classes, maybe massage classes (lucky you jen) or something like that while I am in Thailand, but first I need to find a nice place to settle down, I haven’t unpacked my backpack in weeks!!
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