It’s always good to know your local.

Even in a little neighborhood, it’s easy to stand out and piss someone off. There’ll be little quirks to figure out like where the local drunk hangouts, and how to avoid him, or where to surf free Wi-Fi, or a place that offers a socket to charge your laptop.

Or which place hires mercenary Indonesian waitresses who don’t mind coercing tips out of the customers. I gave her a ten ringgit note, and paid for my tea tarek. Five ringgit was for her noodles. She thanks me. I put my hand out, and said, “Come on cough it up.” She was trying to short change me.

I’ve now moved next door into the food hall. The Indonesian waitresses speak better English and don’t beg at all. They come over from Indonesia and are being paid more to work here than at home, so why would they want to beg? I’m entering very slippery territory here and I should lay off the hard working waitresses. What’s five ringgit among friends? When she gave me my change, I said Merry Christmas.

Know your locals and save a few ringgit. I know where do get the cheapest cigarettes, the cheapest tea tarek, and the free Wi-Fi. I even know where the whores are. But I’m not prepared to let go of my money. There’s an incentive to be celibate, and that’s high prices.

I like to move around. I work on the principle of sticking around one place for the long haul. Then just disappear for a week or two before reappearing. It’s a shame to eat at the same place and miss out all the great food from other stalls. It’s more of shame to miss out on the quirks of the staff and customers at new places.

I’ve been told that the Indonesian waiter was told to leave at my other local. He’s the one that asked me how big my weaner was when I went to the toilet. After that, he never spoke to me. I’d order a tea, and he’d ignore me. I never complained about him. The poor bastard needs his salary and I never want to be responsible for getting anyone the sack.

The Indian manager told me today that he was getting too many complaints from customers. “He’s gone since last week,” he said. I told Mohammad the Bangladeshi, the head cleaner at my hotel, about the Indonesian waiter. “Oh that restaurant, all the staff are useless.” He then started bitching about an Indian waiter.

She’s nattering again. I didn’t know the Chinese lady at the noodle stand was so noisy. She’s quieted down now that he husband has given her a beer. She’s sucking it from a straw out of a large mug. That’s one way to shut her up.

Now she’s getting animated from the National Geographic show that’s on the big screen. I don’t even bother to turn my head to see what’ s on. It’s probably another series on the Monster Crock.

I’ve missed this food hall. The waitress brings me my dish. Doesn’t look like pork and rice with an egg. I taste it, “Throw an egg on top.” She comes back with the dish I had ordered. I’m now in the death throws of MSG. Koon, the night manager hasn’t arrived yet. I’ll wait, before I plug in my charger. It’s always good to know your local.

Toothless granny is back in the kitchen and shrieking again. Luckily the volume is up high on the television that’s filtering out her witchy shrieks. I think it’s time she has another beer. Koon has just arrived, and so has the night shift waitress. They both say hello. It’s good to be back at my local.

“I didn’t know the platypus was the most venomous animal around,” said an old man who was bitten by one. “Now I know everything about them.” Even granny is riveted to the TV screen. But I still don’t bother turning my head to watch the visuals. I must be the only person in this food hall who can understand the running commentary of Australia’s Most Deadliest Animals.

Personally, a platypus has never bitten me. I guess I’m not too familiar with the local watering holes of Australia.

A punter walks in and takes a seat next to me. He’s Chinese and has the grooviest hair style. On each side of his head, vast tracts of hair has been shaved off. I can’t stop looking. I’m intrigued. I’ve had worse hair cuts inflicted by my own hand and I’m thinking how can I get a photo of him without him noticing it.

The cackling witch who serves him his food saves me. Perfect, I say, as shoot on continuous mode. The photos are not to my satisfaction so I get Koon the manager to pose in front of his table. To the left I say, I needed to get the haircut in the shot.

One more tip about your local, pay as you go, in case you meet a dangerous Indian drunk or you pissed someone off by taking photos of their daggy haircut.

It’s easier to make a quick getaway.

The butts under my table are building up. I’ve not been here for a good two weeks. I’m practicing my Indonesian with one of the waitresses wearing I Love Johor T-shirt who is always smiling. Satu lagi, one more drink please.

Now I’ve got my nail clips out. Oh my, aren’t my toe nails getting a bit long? It’s now raining very hard and while everyone’s distracted I add nose picking to my list of trespasses. Oh and I have a few nasal hairs to pluck, oh shit I’m in trouble if I get caught.

No, this is Johor and anything goes in this border town. “Just don’t crap on my table,” says Koon. He’s got a wicked sense of humor.

And who do you think entered the food hall next? The Sock Man was being wheeled in a wheel chair. I never bought any socks but I took a lovingly portrait of the Sock Man and his minder. I just didn’t want to explain why didn’t own a pair of shoes.

Traveling is a state of mind that can change every day and luckily it isn’t the domain of glossy magazines, otherwise I’d be out a job.

I’ve just dumbed down traveling to the level where it belongs. So don’t forget to get to know your local, that’s where real traveling begins.







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