Watch out for insect bights.

Something was waiting for me.

I heard a sound. A snapping sound.

Then the pain. Then the mark. And it started expanding, outward.

Was my arm going to drop off?

I was slightly hallucinating after checking my detached arm, outstretched, for any clues what the bight was. A scorpion, perhaps. A fire ant? Not sure but whatever was in that bight, had me buzzing.

I had spent the last half hour on a massage chair. I fed that beast the notes. When the machine was idle, it reminded me to put cash into it. I’d let the little bitch wait and put in more cash when I felt like another satisfying massage.

I don’t care if the voice telling me to feed the machine is loud and trying to embarrass me. I feed of this kind of shit.

My arm was still paining me.  A fish burger at Macers didn’t help. The ice from my drink, did.

I wasn’t sure if the arm was going to fall off. Would it need amputating?

I ducked into my local. He sells tax-free cigarettes from Indonesia.

He told me how he worked in the wood industry, selling teak to Australia. Well that’s what I think he said.

What? I asked again. I had to lean in to listen better. I really wanted to understand what he was saying. He really seemed worth it.

Australia and wood, are the two keys words I had to work with and to build a picture of this little fellow who worked a very busy 24-hour store on the corner of the promenade and another busy tourist street.

‘You got anything for this,’ I asked.

He looked around the toothpaste section.

Colgate. He started to take the tube out of the box.

I’ll take it, I said and immediately paid up. Funny thing about pain, money is never an issue.

I applied the toothpaste on my arm and within minutes, the pain went away.

‘Watch out for those Indonesian whores,’ he advised, once we got over the main show of my irritating insect bight. ‘They’ll steal your money.’

He said also be careful if I travel to Pontianak, in Indonesia.

‘They’ll pickpocket your wallet without you even knowing it.’

I love these kinds of shops where you can buy tax-free cigarettes, get a free consultation for medical issues and advice on the folk across the border.

Nothing beats it. And it only cost me one buck for the tube of toothpaste, which I later used to brush my teeth.

I didn’t have the heart to tell Asung, I think that was his name, that I had spent three weeks in Pontianak. He said don’t fly, ‘catch a bus, cheaper.’

I’ll be tapping him for more free advice when I do a cigarette run later today.

I caught a Chinese holy man on my camera at this shop the other day. Asung thought it was funny as fuck. He’s an encouraging kind of guy. I would never have entered his establishment if it wasn’t for this mad Chinese, who was wearing a loincloth and a g-string and a t-shirt held together by a few threads, showing off his ribs.

I had been following him. He’d put his hand out at the busy intersection and cash would be handed to him. It’s Chinese New Year after all and people are obviously feeling generous.

As quick as that,  cash in his hand, he beehived Asung’s shop to buy cheap cigarettes.

I know because I was stalking him.

There’s a lot to be learned from the locals, there really is.


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