‘Don’t tell me how to do my fucking job, you cock sucker.’
There was something in the tone of his voice that was very familiar.
‘Looks like he screwed us over,’ said Bernie, who lit up a cigarette in the taxi.
‘If I wanted to rip you off,’ said the familiar taxi driver – I could even smell the curry puffs he had for dinner, ‘I would have taken you on the Stanley Ho Detour route.’
Well fuck a duck, it all clicked.
‘He’s just being a bitch, don’t mind him Mustafa,’ I said. He was the taxi driver who showed me around in Singapore. ‘How is business, any illegal Bangladeshi’s needed on constructions sites in Macau?’
In fact, according to my Google Map, we had just done a loop on a very tiny part of the island.
‘That connects to mainland China.’
Right Bernhard, so it’s a peninsular, and not an island?
I was really giving this travel business a fair shot.
Reunion out the way, and Mustafa refusing to take a fare, we parted ways, saying Macau was a small place and surely we’d meet up again.
‘I’ll just wait for you boss,’ said my loyal Pakistani driver, ‘ and once you are done fucking around a temple that’s been closed since six tonight, I’ll take you to a cheap guest house.’
He knew we were cheap travelers and I liked him for his honesty. He had got me out of a few pickles in Singapore and he might get me out of one tonight, if divinity had devined it.
‘Fucking verbose as ever,’ said Bernie, who was keen to do some sight seeing. Mustafa handed us a torch, ‘might help you see the way.’
And leave your fucking headlights on I said. We’d be needing all the light we could to explore this temple complex.
It was dead quite. I was almost expecting some defected North Korean to creep up on us and say boo.
‘You read too many novels,’ said Bernhard who was getting bored. ‘And wouldn’t you, it’s dark, the lamps are casting eerie shadows and I’m fucking starving.’
Well take a snap, proves we have been here.
‘Or steal one off the internet, which is what you have done.’
I brought us here for a reason.
‘I know. I know. I’ve read the fucking book.’
But you gotta feel the way he felt.
I gave Mustafa the thumbs up. He knew the routine from Singapore.
‘If I want to feel like a defected North Korean being shot at, I’d fucking rent a Blockbuster’s..’
He never finished the sentence. A bright light, electrified, had carassed over every surface of the Kiwi. This was Sparky meeting Fog Man, or a Human Christmas Tree, I mused.
Nice work, I said to Mustafa, ‘now put down the taser, he’s had the cheap thrill he thought he could get from a B grade movie.’
A barrel of rubbish was catapulted at my head. I was seeing birds fly around and bright lights.
‘Tit for tat,’ said the Kiwi, as he cleaned up the rubbish and put the bin back in it’s cage.
It was cheap thrills, indeed.
But far from being respectful. A shrine outside the main complex looked like as good a place as any to get our spiritual levels back up.
Or a beer down the road?
I’d only get a coughing fit once the incense started snaking around from Buddha’s fat belly into my nostrils. Me and temples interacted in unbecoming ways. Come to think of it, I had been booted out of more than I cared to think about.
‘It’s sulphur in the incense sticks,’ said Bernie, ‘ just like when were on top of Mt. Ijin, you were coughing like a crackhead.’
That’s right. Coughing like a crackhead. Have you ever thought about becoming a travel writer?
A beer down the road was sounding better and better.
‘I know just the place,’ said Mustafa who let me off the hook with a Bernie comeback. He was keen to show us his Macau.
It would have to be dodgy as fuck too.