Getting stamped into Malaysia, I put my stuff through X- ray. “Good to see you are awake,” I said to the Indian Malay customs officer. “I thought you were asleep for a moment.”

Yes, I said I have been here before. He didn’t’ even look at the monitor while my stuff went through the scanner. I had ten packets of Rave cigarettes in my bag.

“Well you have a lovely trip,” he says.

A middle aged Indian dressed in a long white shirt hobbles past my room. He’s doing his daily walk along the corridor.  He has two artificial legs. “I need the exercise.”

I thought he was wearing socks. “No, they are artificial legs.” It was a result of an accident. He’s  now a fortune teller and does consultations in his room. “What is your birthday date.”

Not today I tell him. “I can read past present and future.” All I know is I need more vegetable in my diet. “Yes your stools are bloody. It could be piles or something worse.”  

He said it was likely the McDonalds I had last night. He says I’m stressed. “I can see you were ripped off in Batam.” He said it served me right for  mixing with the whores. I protested I didn’t. “Well then you were really screwed over. But whatever you have lost you will gain ten fold.” I told him I’ve only sold ten travel books ever. “Don’t give up your day job, ” said the fortune teller who  hobbled back to his room to meet his client. That was the best free advice I’ve had in a long while. 

The day manager at the Indian cafe hasn’t changed. I had boycotted his place for two weeks because he threatened to charge me for using the power socket. He tried again. I’m not paying. I said call the police, but I’m not paying the 2 Ringgit surcharge. He gave in. “But next time you pay.” There won’t be a next time.

I just don’t understand where he’s coming from. “But if you called  police,” said a Singaporean. “He would have big trouble. You need to have a license to charge people to use sockets.”

Then the One Ringgit Man arrives. “Don’t give him money,” said the Singaporean. “He only uses the money to buy beer.”

It’s cooled down in Johor.It’s raining and it doesn’t feel like the tropics. After a month in Indonesia island hopping between Batam and Bintan, it’s good to be back.


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