The weather has everyone coughing Borneo way.
It’s the humidity, said the guard.
That might explain why my teeth are running hot and cold, one moment pain free, the next a dull throb. I refuse to self medicate myself. I’m riding with the punches.
The Dayak on the plane really enjoyed my Medan story, about nearly being arrested for gate crashing a hot spot between the Sunni and Shiites. I only wanted to see a buffalo race.
‘No worries,’ he says, ‘if they do that shit here in Borneo, we’ll eat them.’
He gave me his number and said to give him a call if I’d like to meet up and have a meal.
Should I call him?
He was sympathetic.
And it confirmed his suspicion.
‘They are dangerous people.’
I said they should have been sent to Sumatra. There, they could fight it out with the Muslim Bataks, who like nothing better than a good fisty fight after the slightest provocation.
On the way into town, signs, spaced every ten meters, saying ‘No Nacoba.’ Is that some kind of biscuit, I asked my Christian Batak driver, a small thin man, late thirties, fond of his clove cigarettes and techno music.
‘No, it’s narcotics.’
Is there some of it around here?
He points across the Kapuas River, where we were having a coffee at the riverside, the kind of cafe you sit on the ground, next to a low table, and eye the noisy cats off, thinking how can you kill them without being noticed by the Muslim owners.
‘Many drugs over there.’
I raised my eyebrows, a half hearted effort. His English wasn’t so good and misunderstandings were easy and the last thing I wanted him thinking was that I was into narcotics. He was now raising his eyebrows.
‘Don’t do it, don’t do it.’
I put my hands up. It’s not illegal to drink coffee is it? He smiles. He’s getting the message that I’m not into Shabu, that’s shipped from Malaysia via the river systems that flow across it’s porous border. Well I hope he thinks that.
Fuck, my gums are flaring up. I’m thinking Tramadol. It will be the end of me.
And Mr. Batak is thinking Karaoke girls.
He’s being paid to entertain me. I’ve been flying all day and I’m a stink bag. The humidity has soaked me and there’s my own biosphere circulating around me, a cross between a sewage and wet shower.
He didn’t say that. They never say that. Not when I’m the one doing the paying.
He gives me the run down on the rates of the local whores.
For once I wasn’t fishing.
‘Over there,’ he points , as we drive past a place with black tinted windows, ‘only 100 000 for a girl. If you don’t like, can choose another one.’
Does he think I’m a sex tourist? I have no idea what would make him think that.
‘No, I don’t think you are sex tourist.” I’m smiling now. “If you were, you would be chugging beers at some go go bar in Pattaya.’
This guy has character. I think I’ll be using his services again.